This is why we can’t have nice things.

I love industrial design. Love. I will happily sit around and design products, furniture and *stuff* all day long if someone asks me to, which is funny, because I genuinely and honestly hate *shopping*(I do as much shopping as I possibly can online- the only thing I don’t mind buying in person is groceries. Seriously.). But designing product? I’m right there. And I am fully behind the push for big name designers to do industrial design for stores like Target, because I think that’s a significantly more important sector of the market than high end, consumer-wise.

The whole thing about modernism is that it was supposed to not only be a departure in looks from traditional items, it was supposed to also be about accessibility. As much as people make fun of Ikea, they at least haven’t missed the point of that. But when the vast bulk of modern looking stuff comes out on the high end price wise, I fail to see how this is any different than what existed in the 15th century, where the only people who could afford decent furnishings were the very wealthy. Considering we have managed to move beyond the Industrial Revolution, this seems to me to be patently ridiculous.

Which brings me to this.

2007-11-1-hook.jpg

Cute, right? It’s a storage hook, with a little opening at the top to put your keys, or sunglasses or whathaveyou. It’s a good idea. Everyone needs a place for random crap and keeping it right by your coat isn’t a bad plan. I can see putting one of these inside your garage or in your foyer. Take off your jacket, drop your keys or the leash for your dog and you’re good to go.

For reasons that I’m not really clear on it’s ceramic, which is certainly not my first choice of material for this otherwise useful item. Ceramics chip. If it falls off the wall, it’s going to break. If you put something too heavy on it, down it goes, and the weight of it might pull a chunk of drywall with it. Ceramic stuff isn’t exactly lightweight itself. Good for dishes, but I’m not so sure this is its’ best application.

But let’s set that aside for a moment. Can someone explain to me in small words that make sense why that item is $270-(on sale now for $98-!)?

No, really. That’s not a typo.

I’m completely at a loss to make sense of this. Wouldn’t it make a lot MORE sense to make these in plastic and sell them for $20- at Target? You’d sell a hell of a lot more of them, and you’d actually be changing how people function within their daily lives. You know, the *point* of good industrial design?

The mind reels, folks.

In other, only tangentially related news, I designed a new lamp today. Or at least got the basics down on paper. Like I said- I love industrial design.

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7 Comments

  1. Because it’s High Design, sold at a High Design Boutique. Selling it to the mass market would demean it to the level of the common man, and that would destroy it as High Design. Kinda like High Art: making it accessible to the average person would destroy it as High Art.

  2. You know, the *point* of good industrial design?
    Ah, see, for YOU the point of good design is changing how people function on a mass level, and hopefully for the better. For many people, the point of ANYTHING is to earn prestige and make shitloads of money (preferably from alredy rich people). Just because your Target idea would mkae them rich FASTER doesn’t mean they’d get the prestige. You’re much too pragmatic in comparison to much of the population.

    Having just read the non-auto biography on Obama, it reminds me of the difference between him and one of his opponents for the Senate primary. Obama’s stated reason for being in politics is to change the world. The other guy, already a millionaire, said “Don’t you think being a Senator would be fun?”. Same essential divide.

  3. Jay-
    Though it’s being sold at a high design/high boutique price, it’s actually *NOT* being sold in a high design boutique. Look again. It’s being sold by Design Within Reach who seems to be defying their own mission statement here: “Authenticity is something we’re proud to do; elitism however is not. “ The (theoretically) whole point of DWR is what I’ve been talking about above. But it also seems like, at least on small items like this, they’re a bit muddy on that mission.

    Stacy-
    My father always said to never trust anyone who believed they were “destined” to hold political office. That the ones who were best at it really didn’t *want* the job.

    I’d also say that nothing gets recognition faster than exposure. If you build great stuff, but the only reason anyone knows you’re there is because your product is being sold at an unrealistically high price, I’m not so sure that you’re winning on the trade.

  4. No, they’re not muddy on the mission…that’s why it’s a mere $98 instead of $270. At least they can think they’re bringing High Design to the masses that way, while not bringing the price down so far that they dilute the Highness of it.

    You and I just don’t see these things the same way as High Artists and High Designers do.

  5. I think you’re giving them way too much credit. They dropped the price because no one was stupid enough to pay $270- for the thing.

  6. Yeahbut, how many folks are gonna pay $98?

  7. I have no idea. I guess we’ll see if the price drops further. I think they could probably get away with it for $45.


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