A criticism on design
The Raleigh Armchair from Design Within Reach, available in natural or bright leathers, may catch your attention with its beautiful walnut base. This lounge chair - designed by Jeffrey Bernett and Nicolas Dodziuk, may attract consumers through its harmonious combination of well constructed walnut base and supple leather cushions, but other than that it’s just another lounge chair.
This philosophical value is reflected perfectly from the aesthetics standpoint: the designer duo successfully created a trendy, highly crafted mid-century furniture using the best available materials.
But, even seen from the aforementioned standpoint, the originality of the design is questionable. It seems that the design is no more than a mere generic competitor to other existing high-end furnitures - which existence and success themselves are debatable and controversial in the design world. The holistic experience of using the chair seems to be expected merely from what can be seen, in accordance to the superficial description of the chair by Design within reach: “Visible from the side and back, this Sofa is cradled in a solid walnut frame.“
In comparison, when I saw and observed a similar $600 lounge chair in Office Depot, I thought there was no reason why I shouldn’t just buy the latter. It uses high-quality leather and mahogany frame as well, in fact, mahogany is typically seen as of higher quality/price compared to walnut due to its durability and availability (being an imported type of wood). The chair is also a regular leather chair with similar sitting proportions to the former designer version that costs more than 8 times more.
While the emotional aspect may be more well-reflected on the Raleigh chair as it is from Design Within Reach, which is famous for its distinctive values and visions, it doesn’t seem to possess any substantial advantage against the chair from Office Depot.
The Raleigh Chair is just a new expression of the old idea of having a pleasant-looking, comfortable lounge chair at home. Ironically, it provides almost no fresh, new idea and/or innovation, under the pretense of a mid-century Scandinavian-inspired design. The Raleigh chair was designed in 2009, more than half a century after the mid-century modern era, the period where innovations in technology were celebrated with fresh, and new visions reflected in various fields from architecture to graphic design. As an example, Eames was able to make use of war-technology based bent wood production and incorporating it into a greater product for public.
After analyzing it, the Raleigh chair seems to be more of a pure marketing move, instead of design-focused furniture idea that persists on being innovative in a way that the user may interact with the product as a holistic experience on daily basis. At this point, Design Within Reach delivers an accomplishment of the persuasive gimmick of design. The chair becomes a mere reflection of the personalities of the person buying it. To this day, this kind of identification occurs in everyday products. As example, a lot of people have their smartphone customized using factors like protection to justify.
Looking from different perspective, the characters of the product might play a big role at Design Within Reach. Emotions in design provide an extra selling point to market the product to be more emotionally desirable and valuable in the life of the user. Especially in postmodern products, where metaphors used to suggest functionality are found in various well-designed products.
By purchasing something at Design Within Reach, the consumer has the feeling that they are part of a selected demographics that are able to purchase this luxury due to its price and design as well as thus boosting their sense of importance. By serving just ten or less percent of the population, it is far easier to keep inventory in a business with about 700 different designs. High efficiency with the right attribute to the customer gives it the impression of a useful persuasion and an added value to purchase an expensive product.
Design-and its derivatives-is an overly used word in today’s society. It has become an illusion of something that gives the user greater advantage than regular products. Design has become a metaphor for a well constructed product that includes the experience and thoughts of the potential user into consideration in its most desired and admired way, where in reality, it is a marketing vocabulary. Still, the majority of our society has not become immune and more rational about the overuse of the word.
I don’t understand why when we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something by nature we call it progress.— Ed Begley Jr
Iceland New Year 2013
Some Impressions from my trip to Iceland.
Inside the famous Hallgrímskirkja church in Iceland
Impressions from the countryside at 1pm.
(c) Mathias Hintermann
Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.— Bruce Lee