Designers, Harrumph: The Potatoes Got Mashed, No Thanks To The Peeler


Whoever designed the humble potato peeler was not, themselves, humble, posits Glenn Scott. Cruel and incompetent? Sure, but humble? No.

It’s salmon night in the Jolly-Scott household. Everyone has their specialty. My “grew up in a country pub/short order chef by 13” wife Jo is (naturally), in charge of the fish. My daughter Zana does an excellent broccoli bake and Dad is master of the mash. And let’s just say my 14-year-old son Ji is fully capable of any of these tasks should the need ever arise….

So I’m peeling the potatoes. And having the same kitchen conversation I have every time I use this peeler.

Jesus. Where did we even get this? It’s fucking useless. Look, see these bits that stick out? They just hack into anything larger than a godamn grape! Oh, for fuck’s sake. This is going to take forever. You guys sure you won’t eat it with the skins on? Come on, widen your palate, they say all the good stuff is in the skins. (Who says, Dad?) You know, “they”, experts, them. Oh fuck it, I cut myself. Do you think the imbecile who designed this piece of shit actually used it to, you know, see if it fucking fulfilled its major, intended function? They had one job. What do these people even learn in design school?

I’ve often wondered this. Actually, I wonder this several times a day. Every day. Like when I did the laundry. I made the understandable error recently of trying a new laundry detergent. What I failed to notice until it came time to pour the liquid was that the bottle was not actually designed with this consideration. No handle, no indents, no clever shaping. Just a smooth, kinda flat style bottle that is fucking impossible to grip and pour with one hand.

It required a ridiculous amount of concentration and two hands just to pour the bloody liquid into the machine.


I always imagine that you turn up to design school and day one, lesson, is: Spout Design 101.

You know, something simple. Basic. Easy. Something impossible to stuff up.

Apparently not.

We own a number of variously sized containers with a spout. At least half of these take considerable trial and error to figure out the optimum height, tilt angle and speed of pour to successfully operate without disaster, or at least a bit of a mess and lot of swearing.

Why is this still happening? They’ve literally had thousands of years to get this one right. There’s probably a hieroglyphic design for the perfect spout on a wall of the great pyramids for fuck sake. We should get the perfect spout, every time, every time. Shouldn’t we…?

Anyway, despite being besieged by bad design, I managed to get the potatoes peeled and mash made. Dad makes a pretty damn good mashed potato even if he does say so himself.

The secret is the butter. Lots of butter. And spending the necessary time with the mashing but that’s another piece. I mutter as usual about “buying a peeler that actually peels” next time I’m “at the shops” as I throw the useless thing back in the draw.

Yeah. Sure I will.

Former owner of Melbourne’s Wick Studios Facility, Glenn has turned his hand to everything from music producer and venue operator to educator, wholesaler and commercial farm manager. Currently Glenn splits his time between home schooling his 14 yr old son, walking his dog Stella and his new side hustle as guest indignant rant writer for NM.