I was reading an article on consumer guilt shopping. Some people, when they feel as though they are being watched by other shoppers, will include browsing in the up-market labels and make a selection. However, just as they make their way to the register and feel as though no one is watching, they quickly swap their selection for their lower-market preference. This is fascinating retail behaviour, but beyond the psychologies that influence our buying, it raises questions about the validity of the price/quality relationship, value for money and who are you supporting in the economy when you purchase an import compared with locally made.
By and large, as the price goes up so does the design finesse and the manufactured quality. Better design and manufactured quality typically mean better functionality and longer life. Do we really want to be that throwaway society? No longer do we seem to weigh longevity in our purchasing decisions the way our parents and grandparents did. For them, things were meant to last. An example is our consumption of cheaper furniture items, often copies that quickly move to landfill and represent a false economy.
A friend of mine pulled out a floor polisher made in the 1970’s and dusted it off, plugged it in and switched it on. Thinking it won’t work, surely. Low and behold it buzzed away polishing the floors just like it was intended to 40 years ago! Instead of purchasing cheaper items, saving x amount of dollars, there is value in investing in items carefully designed and built with quality.
We can create our living environments with items that are purchased based on well considered thought and design that lasts. These environments will give us lots of pleasure and buy-pass planned obsolescence.
We have so many talented Australian designers that are world renowned. Quality vs quantity. I recently attended a furniture showroom that presented all Australian made furniture on their floor. The designers spoke about the design process they took to arrive at their particular item. Ross Gardam talked about his research in working with local artisans to perfect the glaze on his pendant lights. Helen Kontouris spoke about her numerous prototype coat hooks, to be fixed to the coat stand. There were to be no sharp edges and every hook had to feel like an organic form from nature and be aesthetically pleasing. She considers and mulls over every detail before releasing it to the public. Maybe if we were more aware of the quality, passion and dedication put into objects by designers, more of us would take buying locally made items more seriously in our purchasing decisions. Then we can appreciate them for the next 30 years, just like the floor polisher.
Written by Krystal Sagona of Krystal Sagona Interior Design (www.krystalsagona.com.au)