Design a la Postrel

JOHO blogs Virginia Postrel at PopTech:

    Design has three purposes: Function, pleasure and meaning. Biological pleasure is universal, but fashion is cultural. Meaning can be an association or identity (standing out and fitting in [Saussure!]) "The substance of style can be summed up in two sentences: I like that. I'm like that. Pleasure and identity.

    We are in the Age of Aesthetics. That means that on the margin we try to make things special, "enhancing the look and feel of people, places and things." And there's more aesthetic competition: it's a key part of product design and store "experiences." There are more aesthetics in more aspects of life. Everyone uses fonts and pictures when doing the simplest of documents.

    This is a big change. For a hundred years, the big news was that you got stuff. We wanted it to be standardized, e.g., hotel rooms and fast food. Function but not style. Now we want more. And not just in hotel rooms: 71% of US women 45-54 dye their hair to cover gray, and 13% of men. But color sales among young men are up 25% in 5 years. Teen boys spend 5% of their income on hair color.

    Aesthetics is becoming the killer app for information technology.



Posted by Jay Cross at October 18, 2003 01:05 PM | TrackBack
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