Does Design Matter? And other social media DOHs

Does Design Matter? And other social media DOHs

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

Fellow blogger Ralph Dopping asks if design matters when you are buying a toaster. Read it here:

Does Design Matter when you are buying a Toaster?

The higher cost of a well designed product, Ralph suggests, deserves a second chance – even if the price tag stabs you in eye. Because there’s a chance that the functionality of the design may represent benefits (for you) which may or may not be immediately obvious and useful to you.

All of which reminds me of a frequent and recurring conversation that comes up when someone new visits with me in my home office.

The conversation usually begins like this:

Them: I like this chair. It’s [interesting, cool, and makes a statement]. Where did you get it?

Me: It’s made by Poltrona Frau. The company that does the leather upholstery for Ferrari – among other things. It’s called a Hydra armchair.

Them: FERRARI?! It must be expensive. How much was it? $1,000?

Me: $5,000. Each.

At which point, the person recognizes that their curiosity about the price was inappropriate.

Or, if they lack tact, they say that they would never spend that kind of money on a chair, that they could never imagine having the kind of money that would allow them to make such a purchase decision as I have made, OR they ask me if it’s the best fucking chair in the world.

My favorite armchairs for sitting, however, are not the Poltrona Fraus. They are also “design” products – leather upholstered, cubic in form, but they cost about $500 each. They were made by a currently bankrupt, no name company in a bad neighborhood of Bucharest. Those well designed arm chairs are in the living room and they have resisted  heavy wear and tear for ten years. And, I suppose, they shall go another ten years. Or longer – if I rehabilitate them.

I once put a Poltrona Frau Hydra armchair in the living room – it did not take kindly to wear and tear. It was yellow and the color of the leather faded on the arms in two years. In three years, the leather began to wear noticeable in places. And, then, that poor thing suffered from the affections of my then toddler son.

Johnny loved the Poltrona Frau – a testament to the proposition that good design, like art, can appeal to all ages regardless of prejudice.

The Poltrona Fraus in my home office, however, serve different purposes. These armchairs inspire and provoke the imagination, they are fire starters to passionate conversations, and they make an authoritative statement. About design, mostly. But, perhaps, the Poltrona Fraus also tell a compelling and interesting story about me, what I know, what I have done, and what I can do.

Perhaps. Function and value should never be overstated.

The question, however, does design matter?, is an important question – especially to those of us interested in a successful online strategy – online presence, online advertising and marketing, websites, blogging, ecommerce, etcetera.

Good design matters. It goes beyond the first impression. It goes beyond the look and feel. It is an end to end matter. Good design, however, is not perfection.

Regardless of your design insight (or lack thereof), your own resources will determine how and when you can apply design solutions to the various present or impending challenges at hand.

Too often, the lack of resources which we (you or I) bring to the design of whatever we are doing – will, unfortunately, overstate the following:

  1. who we are not
  2. what we have not done, and
  3. what we can not do

That sucks…

What’s your junk saying about you, your business, your product, or your services?

Stan Faryna
25 October 2012
Bucharest, Romania

Other quick meditations of online strategy, social media, design and everything else:

Professional brand (yours) and other social media DOHs

Sustainable Failure

The Future of Blogging is Hot Magenta

11 Responses to Does Design Matter? And other social media DOHs

  1. Betsy Cross says:

    I appreciate beauty, and quality workmanship,…of which my children are the ultimate examples. So, even though I would love to invest in things and surround myself with the best because it makes me feel wonderful, and inspires me, I make the conscious decision to make the other choice.
    So, my “stuff” does say something about me, but one would have to want to look beneath the surface to see the real me.
    I hope that who I am with other people shows in my countenance and makes up for anything I lack materially.

    • Stan Faryna says:

      I don’t disagree, Bets. Our investment into beautiful intangibles can be the most profound, worthwhile, and illuminating of all of our investments – especially as we encourage, uplift, and help others: our children, our family and friends, and others.

      Unfortunately, those beautiful intangibles may not easily lend themselves to seemingly necessary efficiencies of self-promotion, marketing, connection, shares, reach, money, and collaboration across the digital divide.

      Not to mention that our attention and loyalties are increasingly diminished (spread too thin) as our access and ambitions grow with the increasingly and accelerating intimacy and public space of the internets – off the internets too.

      • Betsy Cross says:

        You’re right. And that’s why people stress so much on how to balance it all and “make it work”.
        On our own we can rely on what appears to work for other successful people and lose the connection we need with God to stay true to to Him and our mission(s).
        Add inspiration received through prayer and the divide between both worlds is bridged,
        Right?

        • Stan Faryna says:

          What works for the rockstars in our sights – tends to be a hell that we can’t even begin to imagine. Hence, the addictions, the pain, the pressure, the forbidden fruits, and all the other problems that fill the tabloids at the check out stand.

          That reminds me of a song by Depeche Mode:

          So no, as far as results go, it never “balances out, works, and provides epic results”. Not even for those who serve a higher purpose. Moses didn’t roll in a Rolls Royce (or a straw-covered wagon) – he walked with everyone else (on blistered, tired and dusty feet) while just barely keeping his – and everyone’s shit together. [sigh]

          Christ didn’t enjoy a comfortable, balanced or snuggly life – according to the gospel story.

          I wish it were otherwise, Bets. I really do. But the lack of ease and convenience, the troubles and the sorrows, how it all gets a little hectic, they too do not decide whether or not what one does is worthwhile…

          Nor does the money, the fame or the influence (or lack thereof).

          How well what you do (or did) reflects the beautiful, the good, and the true – that is the measure – even if its illumination is less than the fleeting flash of a firefly.

  2. Hi Stan, Loved the stories about your chairs (though the link to Ralph’s article didn’t work). What really matters is your satisfaction, not anyone else’s.

    A store here in the US called Target has common household items that are well-designed in that they are beautiful. Having beautiful items in my home makes me happy. These items weren’t more than other, less beautiful items so I would get the beautiful ones to make me happy.

    But then I often found that the beautiful ones weren’t as functional and broke quickly.

    While I like beautiful design, I also appreciate function. Form over function or function over form? I have to choose function.

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Carolyn,

      I agree completely with you: function always trumps pretty. And durability and wear resistance are not to be ignored – replacement and repair weighs heavy on the unseen cost.

      But sometimes pretty is the function. [grin] In which case, you might need two. A pretty thing that looks like it does something useful. And the thing that gets the job done.

    • rdopping says:

      Caroline, what is it with my site and you? You can’t comment and you can’t link. Huh? It’s fixed. I tried it. I hope you can get back there for a read.

  3. rdopping says:

    Stan, thanks for the mention and link. Much appreciated. Your statements on overstating are painfully true and an excellent way to refocus your own personal talents.

    BTW, which Poltrona Frau do you have. I have to admit this line is new to me so I have spent a bit of time poking about the collection. I must give it some more attention.The Brief is interesting.

    Ciao for now, sir.

  4. What a timely post for me as I just decided to spend some cash to hire a designer to re-do the website. I want a new office chair, the “leather” in my cheapie has cracked and snags the back of my thigh, sigh.

    Nope; not gonna spend a pretty penny like you did. In this case, ignorance is bliss and I can’t get awesome European design like you can. IKEA is the closest thing!

    Thanks for writing; thanks for coming back. I’ve not commented on your fiction works as those are yours.

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Chairs (and to some extent, tables) fascinate me…

      At the moment, I’m sitting in a 300 year old Black Forest throne-like chair with carved wood details: lions and shields tower over my head from the chair’s tall back. Dragons roar from the arm rests. I had it reupholstered – replacing the original horse hair cushions with memory foam and the ruined red silk fabric with a multi-color (two shades of greens and gold) striped fabric with a champagne background. I can fall asleep comfortably in it. [grin]

      The modern Aeron chair is a good work chair. As is the CXO. Both are North American designs, I believe.

      Ikea does offer some strong visuals but their products tend not to stand up to the rough and tough wear that happens in the typical American home.

      Big hug to you, Jayme!

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