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11 awesome everyday design quirks you probably never noticed

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Tom Fordy
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In the modern world we’re surrounded by familiar products, brands, and logos – things we see and use every day. But how many of secret and tricks hidden away have you spotted in their designs? 

We take a look at some the best design quirks you may have never noticed. From the iconic to the seemingly mundane, but all secretly awesome.

The FedEx arrow

What makes a truly great company logo? Something that sears into your brainbox and makes you forever associate that company with its particular service (anyone who starts salivating at the mere sight of the McDonalds golden arches knows the score). The best ones achieve this with a crafty design trick. Take a close look at the FedEx logo, which has an arrow hidden between the E and the X – negative space turned into a pointy bit of marketing genius.

And Amazon going from A-Z

FedEx isn’t the only company to sneak a cheeky arrow into its branding. You’ve probably looked at the Amazon logo and thousand times but never noticed the smiley arrow point from the A to the Z. Not just an indication of what Amazon does – getting stuff from one place to another – but a nod to the fact they stock absolutely everything from A to Z. And we always thought the name Amazon was random gibberish. 

Fizzy drink straw holder

The ring pull on your fizzy drinks can isn’t just for making that satisfying “chhhhh” noise and then twiddling with. Turn it around and position it over the hole, and you’ll see that it’s actually a straw holder – used for keeping a straw in place and to stop it bobbing out of the can because of the bubbles. Perfect if you’re the sort of person who likes to drink your coke through a straw (i.e. you’re about eight years old).

Your Macbook light ‘breathing’

You know that LED light on your Apple laptop that blinks slowly on and off when you close the lid? Well it does that for a reason. A patent filed by Apple in 2002 notes that the light is intended to mimic the typical rhythms of breathing to make it more “psychologically appealing”. So your laptop breathes. If that’s not a sign that the machines are actually alive and about to go full Skynet any day, we don’t know what is.

Takeaway cup coasters

While we’re on the subject of fizzy drinks, those big takeaway cups – originally a staple of the Big Mac or Whopper meal, then given the middle-class upgrade by the likes of Starbucks and Costa – have a quirky secret too. If you take the plastic lid off and turn it upside down, it creates a coaster. The circular grooves and little bumps that you’d always written off as one of universe’s great mysteries are actually designed to hold the bottom of the cup. 

The royal coat of arms is so money

Here’s one that will bring a tear to the eye of any true patriot. The British coins that have been in circulation since 2008 are like a regal puzzle, with the 1p-50p coins each featuring a piece of the royal coat of arms – making the whole picture when pieced together alongside each other. The standard £1 coin – let’s the honest, the best of all coins – featured the complete coat. Of course, the updated version that’s just been released has gone and messed things up by being all new, fancy, and different. Still, makes you proud to be British, Ma’am. 

The Tic Tac tray

Despite what you may think, Tic Tacs aren’t for tipping into your cakehole as fast as possible. They’re a classy candy, and meant to savoured one at a time. Just to prove it, Tic Tacs have a secret serving tray built into the lid on their container – a little plastic ridge for your that’s the perfect size to hold one Tic Tac. Just turn the container upside down, open the lid and there you have it – a single Tic Tac for restrained, breath-freshening consumption. 

Your pan’s saucy secret

Ever wondered what those holes are for at the end of your saucepan handle? No, of course you didn’t. It’s just one of those things that exists and we never think to question. But they do have a purpose – they’re for holding a wooden spoon for easy sauce-stirring access. A particular good trick for when you’ve got a date over and you’re trying to prove that you can not only cook, but know all the kitchen secrets. While hiding a takeaway in the microwave. 

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The bear on Toblerone Mountain

The mountain logo on Toblerone is no great mystery – the triangular Swiss chocolate was inspired by the Matterhorn mountain. But there’s a hairy secret in logo: the silhouette of a bear, hidden in the side of the mountain. It’s a nod to the chocolate’s city of origin, Bern, which has a bear in its coat of arms. Now perhaps this bear might have some satisfactory answer as to why Toblerone changed its classic shaped and destroyed everything that was good and true in the world. Eh, bear?

Bump ‘n’ type on the F and J

Have you noticed those two tiny bumps on the “F” and “J” keys on your computer? Those are there to help touch typists and time-strapped writers find their way around the keyboard without having to look at the letters. That might seem like cheating, but even for experienced computery wordsmiths it’s harder to type without looking than you think. Go on, give it a try and see how you get on. Hnaksjfbanjsbhg. See, told you. It’s well difficult.

The long story about the tape measures 

Top DIY knowledge is a virtue of true rugged manliness. Some of us have it, some of us are just plain embarrassing. Here’s a design trick to help you blag it and use a tape measure like a man who knows what he’s doing (it might take a bit more work to figure out how to properly use every other tool in the box, mind you). Those seemingly pointless holes at the end of tape measures are for hooking over screws in the wall, so you can size things up without the tape slipping and losing your spot. Not only that, but the metal end has a serrated edge too – for marking the wall and keeping measurements. This DIY lark is easy.

Handy hydration

Like the products above, there is more to smartwater than meets the eye. smartwater is vapour distilled from British spring water, with added electrolytes to create a distinctively crisp, clean taste. Plus, each sleek bottle is 100% recyclable. smartwater makes staying hydrated completely effortless and stylish.

For more smart content, follow @glaceau_sw

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Tom Fordy

Tom Fordy is a London-based writer. He is former men's magazine editor and is now works as a lifestyle and entertainment journalist and opinionated beard for hire. His interests include the great literary works of the 20th century, New Wave European cinema and the career of Hulk Hogan. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TheTomFordy

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