These are pretty handsome shirts, right? But you’ll notice one funny detail in each–which in fact is a minor stroke of design genius. Those black patches are microfiber, and they’re intended to allow you to wipe either your glasses or your phone:
The shirts were designed by Katsunari and Ami Igarashi, whose firm, FIFT, usually focuses on product design. According to Design Yearbook, their mission is to “promote interaction between products and their users.” Which ordinarily would sound like a lot of B.S., but you could also look at the Wipe Shirt as a sort of essay about the process of good design.
To create it, FIFT had to pay minute attention to what people do every day, without a second thought. Then they created a product that would fit that behavior seamlessly.
When IDEO talks about human-centered design, this is exactly what they mean: a hyperfocus on the way we interact with the world around us, with a finely trained eye for the small stuff. That, more than any ability to think of wacky new shapes or colors, is what being a good designer is all about.
But dammit! The shirt is only available in Japan (of course).