Do you think it could sound racist?

Hello, I’m working in a personal project for my portfolio.

The product is a high quality toaster built with good (noble and recyclable) materials and is intended to last for a long time, reducing the amount of junk we produce.

The design language used is clean and sober, trying to be neutral and resist the passage of time.

I wanted to play with the product graphics and the scale used for the toasting levels, so I came up with different ideas, but the one that I like the best is the “Jacksons” scale.


being Michael the younger (and the less coloured).

I understand that it could be sensitive for some people. What is your opinion?

Other favorite is:

-Based on hair color: (blonde, red haired, brunette)
Marylin (Monroe)
Nicole (Kidman)
Penelope (Cruz)
Whoopi (Goldberg)

Can you think of other interesting/fun alternatives? :slight_smile:

You have a nice looking design there. Stay away from the cutsie black terms like the plague. Good way to ruin what you have.

What about just circles with different fills? Use a cross-hatch pattern. The darker or more burnt you want your toast, the more dense the cross-hatch fill becomes.

That’s simple enough and would go nicely with your surface design.

There are a bunch of other terms for black out there, but once something is black, that’s pretty much it. If something is truely black, there is nothing “blacker.” That’s like saying something is less than zero.

Yes, I know I could use circles or something similar, but I would like to have something different. All the design is very “low profile” and I wanted to add something fun/different for the (very simple) UI.

That’s why I was thinking of un-conventional scales.

Short answer is yes, it can and will be deemed racist.

You can be more clever than using something that is sure to be controversial.

What about something similar to how color printers work?

Or use darker pantone colors of brown/black? For a lightly toasted piece of taste, put “Pantone 7407.” As you get down to charred, simply put “Pantone Process Black.” That would be humorous.

A lot of things can be cute, but cute doesn’t mean it’s easy to use.

In the end if you want to take that route, then go for it. I doubt your overall design would hold up as well though.

Are you gearing this to a certain age group? Do people have to be up on their pop culture to be able to toast their bread to their liking?!?

It also has me wondering how do I like my toast? I think I’m a Jermaine, but maybe I’m a Marlon? I guess I would just have to try them both before I can determine that.

not so much racist… but the whole comparison smacks of immaturity. its a toaster for christ’s sake… what do the jacksons have to do with toasters?

i know you’re trying to be cute… but it doesn’t work for me.

ditto, plus it doesn’t go with any of this:

The product is a high quality toaster built with good (noble and recyclable) materials and is intended to last for a long time, reducing the amount of junk we produce.

The design language used is clean and sober, trying to be neutral and resist the passage of time.

Aside from the obviously polarizing nature of the graphic, the idea of using people is going to date it as well. I would suggest you look at product graphics that have been around forever like on the Dualit Toaster or Waring Waterfall blender. These are products that have not changed 50 years!

… this project is pretty much the Dualit come to think of it, so it might be good to explore how your product idea is better than that…

For over fifty years, Dualit toasters have reflected an attitude that’s fundamentally British. Dualit toasters can turn out hundreds of crisp, golden slices per hour. They are gleaming, sturdy and tough as old boots. And as much a part of British life as toast itself.

A bulwark of craftsmanship in an assembly-line world, the Dualit company actually hand produces each and every one of its famed top-quality toasters. A tribute to British design, the toasters have cut a stylish profile and withstood rigorous use since they were invented by engineer Max Gort-Barten in 1946. Dualit has its roots in catering equipment and creates its products–from corkscrews to coffee makers–with innovative engineering, functional structure, and rugged durability. Each product is also designed with an elegant appearance in harmony with its hard-working components. Today Dualit toasters are recognized as the best in the world. Part of a range of hard-working products they are designed to a standard that remains unsurpassed.

I like the idea of a intuitive coding scheme that adds a touch of whimsy.

I don’t like the skin or hair color idea for a variety of reasons: its not intuitive, it’s not timeless (the point of your project right?) and its brings too much judgemental emotional baggage, including racism.

If you have to ask if its racist, it probably is.

wow, thanks for the quick replies.

6ix: I like the pantone idea, I will explore it.


Maybe you are being a little hard. I am just trying to have some fun with this personal project.

I wanted to have a second opinion because in Argentina there are no african descendants and we do not have this kind of racial issues. I have a different cultural perspective and I apologize if I hurt anybody’s feelings.

Jacksons 5, blonde-brunette scale? It does not matter. I wanted to play with an un conventional scale to determine the toasting level/toasting time.

I know what you mean about the consumer group. Supposed target is above 25, settled down, fond of quality, concerned about environmental issues, rational/symbologist (by Wilensky’s segmentation), etc. (don’t want to go further here).

I guess that you would have to experience the toasting levels as with any other toaster (even if it has icons or numbers) because it also depends on the bread you use.

I thought it would be fun to say: I am going to have a marylin/michael/whatever with cheese…

So you’re asking if it would be ok to name the “dark” setting on your toaster “Whoopi Goldberg”? I think you’re just playing a prank on us but just in case…

I don’t think I’d call that “having a little fun”. It’s also strange that the three other women you wanted to name toast after are known for their beauty, while Whoopi although beautiful in her own right isn’t normally known for her attractiveness.

What if you had a piece of toast cut out somewhere on the toaster, and then a slider with a gradient printed on it underneath the surface, so the cut out toast graphic went from light to dark?

I hear what you’re saying though. It would be fun to have a distinct name for different levels of toastedness. Just not anything race related.

yo: Yes, maybe you’re right that it might not sound well for some people to say: Make it quick…toast Michael

I came up with the idea of using famous people to make it time resistant. I don’t want to use this one, but based on characters could be another option: Luke - Chewie - Vader (just as an example)

I see now that base it on real people could be controversial. I will look for something else.

About product graphics that have been forever: there’s nothing wrong with them and that’s the easiest road. I’m sure the dualit is a good toaster, but I wouldn’t want my phone/computer/etc with the same product graphics as 50 years ago. I’m don’t mean better… I am looking for something different (that works well too)

IMO it was bad idea, heck taking away the race card how many people know the faces that go with the names. A thought, use a shaft of wheat for light, a coconut for medium and lump of coal for dark, if its whimsy your after.

a phone with out numbers/letters ummmmmmmmm ok sure, I guess some day voice reconition will be that good and pure icon driven interlaced with your world wide id code will happen too. I rue the day when there is such a thing as a mandated universal ID, going to happen but I dont like it one bit.

I came up with the idea of using famous people to make it time resistant. I don’t want to use this one, but based on characters could be another option: Luke - Chewie - Vader (just as an example)

you didn’t come up with this idea. some one at an ad firm in the 1950’s did. and using celebrity names of people to enhance a product is lame and does date the product. try using some actual design to enhance your toaster.

now i’m being hard on you.

linking to pop culture is one way to ensure your product will NOT last for a long time. Nothing ages faster than the sort of material that is common fodder for late night monologue jokes. The Jackson’s references is already out of date, in-fact.

I don’t mind the whimsical concept, but I do question how it relates to your concept of “sober, clean, neutral, and resisting the passage of time”.

if anything, how about something that is a little “off” from standard, but still universal and fun?



even still, you will have an issue given different geographical locations and the interpretations.

i say toss the fun/alternative, or get a new concept. You are working against yourself trying to be cute, and only reducing the concept to a joke. a poor one at that.

Being clever for clever’s sake, is not very clever.


Believe me that you are far from it. I didn’t say Woopi was ugly!!! It didn’t even came to my mind. I love her!!!

I will check the color slider alternative, but I would like to have everything centralized on the knob-slider.

Note: Not playing a prank, just asking your opinions to have different views about an alternative to conventional scales. I was not sure and the best thing I could do is ask. There are no bad intentions here. :slight_smile:

Do you feel better now? :smiley:

I didn’t say I invented this, it is an alternative design exploration.

By the way, why don’t you share a link to your work so I can watch and learn? I am not fighting here, I mean it. If you don’t feel like posting, send it by PM or email.

rkuchinsky: I like the sun position idea. What about a geographic location? (being the Ecuator the maximum level)

how about avoiding the cutsey-ness and just being straightforward with “a difference”

Almost Burnt
Almost Toasted