If you’ve been reading metacool for a while, you know how much I like Don Norman’s Visceral-Behavioral-Reflective model of design. It’s a nice way to reach a deeper understanding of the design of things as varied as cars, jeans, and shopping bags.
Or even fingers (or more precisely, the lack thereof). Here’s a great example of the importance of reflective design, from Joi Ito: Differences in the meaning of finger chopping in Korea and Japan
It’s fascinating how an absent digit can communicate so differently depending on cultural context. Clearly, there’s more meaning in a missing finger than can be captured in its lack of visual presence (Visceral Design) and/or its functional absence (Behavioral Design). Reflective design is about meaning and culture and is where things get interesting in the art and science of bringing cool stuff to life.