Why Is Simple So Damn Hard?
I’m a design nerd and an immediate fanboy of anything simple and experience-oriented. From single-feature software to intelligent kitchen utensils made from cutting edge materials, well-designed items that last a lifetime are simply delightful to use.
A product is great when I use it and feel like the designer spied on me during intimate moments of struggle with inferior competition.
In many ways, this month-long project has been a pursuit of the ultimate simplicity in diet design. Not a diet designed to lose weight or build muscle or with any particular body metric in mind.
The goal was simplicity. I guess I’ve somewhat achieved that. I’ve survived the last two weeks by consuming only a beige powder mixed with water. Meal preparation is dead simple. Cleanup is even easier when compared to scrubbing pots and pans.
Unfortunately, simplicity is only half the battle.
Without a keen attention to each detail in the experience, a product falls short of greatness. For Soylent, the experience is in every sip and how each sip makes you feel.
I shake my batch each morning by hand in a large pitcher. The mixture fills about halfway so there’s plenty of surface area to help it dissolve. Yet each sip is still grainy. I can feel grit in my teeth after a “meal” and I’m compelled to use mouthwash to rinse it out. Sometimes that texture sticks in the back of my throat too, needing a mug of coffee or water to rinse it down.
And the moments in between meals can be frustrating.
Aside from some idiosyncrasies, my stomach has mostly adjusted to the diet. I’ve been regular, if slightly less frequent than usual. I’ve still been gassy. And I can’t help but wonder what is causing an acrid, chemical smell to my waste.
Arguably, this experience isn’t that much different from eating a sloppy meal. Ribs and corn on the cob get stuck between my teeth and need a toothpick. And after a BBQ binge, I want nothing more than to slip into a food coma on the couch for hours. Too much beer or greasy food back me feel gassy and bloated (and makes for an unpleasant morning ritual too).
So what’s the difference in the experience? I guess it comes down to taste, texture, and variety versus convenience. Are those variables worth enough to give up in favor of an less complex experience? I guess that boils down to personal preference.
I just hope that Soylent’s creators spy on these moments and learn how to make the experience a great one.
Hours slept: 7
8:00AM : 12oz
12:00PM : 12oz
3:00PM : 12oz
9:00PM : 12oz
Weigh-in : 168lbs