Honestly—I don't like to start everything that I write with a preface, but I think when I editorialize a bit more than report something, I'm a bit less confident, so here we are with another preface. This is a piece of writing which I think is going to have to develop a little over the course of this experience, and I don't think that that's a bad thing, but it is definitely going to be half baked at this point. Any feedback or thoughts are more than welcome, so please chime in.
Let's start with a bold statement shall we? It seems like consumerism has helped the human race evolve from hunter gatherers into non-gender-specific bargain hunters. I’ll admit I’m a bargain hunter too. Our world is ruled by sales events and deals which present moments of opportunity for us to score those things we’ve always wanted—or things we’re convinced we might need at some point.
The reason I’m bringing this up, is that it seems somewhat central to the whole experience I am having. It is basically an argument between quality producers and counterfeiters—the difficulty being the “education” of the consumers to know why the cost of a piece of furniture is so high. When I have seen online commentary swirling around this debate, some consumers tend to say that the cost is “ridiculous” for a single chair.
Since the beginning of this experience I've been trying to come up with the perfect metaphor for originality within the interior product market, and why cost can be justified, it’s just really hard to find a perfect one, or even one which works in a good context. The thought process behind this was as simple as, "if someone says its ridiculous, maybe you can say: wouldn't you pay for quality for X, this is the same as X".
First off I thought: Designer bags, but that doesn't seem to work for a few reasons. Sure they're expensive, but that's really their defining feature (feel free to argue with me on this point, someone from the fashion/textiles world). They can be made of high quality materials, they can be sustainable and they can be hand made locally, but that doesn't jump out at me. The purpose of this metaphor is for people to easily draw a connection as to why this cost is actually value for money. I would define expensive bags as pure luxury (not a word any of these companies wants to associate with), pure show off, and quickly out of fashion.
How about a precision watch? That's definitely closer. All quality and engineering in it association. Long lasting and possibly even something you'd hand down to a child or grandchild. To me, this one falls down a little in the usage of the item. It's used so frequently that its hard to draw a straight line between a piece of furniture which you might use once a day and a watch which is in constant contact with you body. The other thing that irks me about using this as a metaphor is the aspirational nature of the product. Maybe it's just me, but I don't feel like people see a watch and aspire to own a specific, iconic one in the future?
You have any ideas? Maybe if I lay out some qualities which overlap between these companies:
- Heritage product—it should be able to be passed from one generation to the next.
- High cost for high quality—hand-made, often locally, by experts using high quality materials which mean the item should last for many years.
- Friendly to both the environment and humans—environmentally friendly materials and production facilities promoted.
- Long development process—developed over many years, sometimes utilizing revolutionary design and manufacturing processes.
The reason this feels important to me, is that if we had a comparison we could make between the interiors world or the furniture world, and another consumer sector which suffers from counterfeits, that could help up learn from their mistakes, connect better with consumers and even plant a seed in society, which can help to change values around the topic.