1970: NASA, the American space agency, completes the “Skylab“: a space station designed to accommodate 3 people for a period of three months. But, while the technology is advanced, the interior decoration looks sad: the cockpit is cold, and austere … the astronauts deserve better!

NASA then asks for help to a professional designer, Raymond Loewy, who works in the field of aesthetics applied to industrial objects. He conceived and designed, for example, several logos of famous brands, car and locomotive lines and even the Air Force One, the aircraft of the President of the United States.

Arriving at NASA, Raymond is amazed but speechless. The decoration of the Skylab? Too blue that diffuses a pale color. The lighting? It comes from above and creates distressing shadows. He therefore proposes to install portholes to look outside.

Photo by Arnaud Devautour on Unsplash

Raymond follows the M.A.Y.A. (Most Advanced Yet Acceptable) principle, which in practice means: dare but not too much. If an invention or design is too revolutionary, the consumer is frightened.

This idea takes into account the “cognitive bias“, that is a very common deformation of our way of thinking, of familiarity. We tend to prefer what we know, because it reassures us rather than what we don’t know. For this reason, for example, producers use advertising to make their products familiar to consumers.

According to Raymond, an important innovation must contain elements that users would be able to accept and embrace.

With the portholes, the brave occupants of the Skylab could admire a familiar sight: our dear old planet Earth!

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash