Good Design

How will the ongoing recession affect our interest in good design?

This is a question many designers are thinking about right now.  Without a doubt we are spending more time in our homes.  Our home is where we feel safe in an uncertain world.  Staying home and entertaining at home also saves us money.

Trend analyst Faith Popcorn pointed out how people were living in a recessionary climate before the economists would admit that the recession existed.

“The overwhelming reaction is to pair down, to simplify…Nearly everyone is considering opting for a simpler life as we believe there is a real relief in getting off the consumer treadmill.”

Our time is very precious these days and we want our homes to be convenient and help us relax.  Good design is critical in helping a person feel connected to their home and insulated from the problems outside their door.

A recession can have a positive side in that it makes us (whether we’re willing or not) re-assess, and chose to do things more intelligently next time.  The interest in renewable resources, repurposing and eco-friendly products is at an all-time high level.  While it seems only 30% of people are willing to spend more for Green products, the interest keeps pressure of companies to reevaluate their raw materials, manufacturing and packaging.

Instead of “Keeping up with the Joneses”, people are now in a competition to keep down with the Joneses.  This battle to see who can do with the least has created a cultural mindset that less is more.  As Faith puts it, “it’s cooler not to spend.” 

As a designer I am forced to step up my game because people still want and need an emotional link with the spaces I design.  The trick is to find and incorporate the one item they are excited or sentimental about.  This can include designing an heirloom hutch into a new kitchen or resurfacing the ball and claw tub from the salvage shop for the master bathroom.

The one area where I find people are spending more is in organizational tools and storage aids.  One reason is due to families downsizing their homes.  With individuals moving into smaller homes, more creativity and organizational skills are needed to store their belongings.  Another reason is due to the popularity of minimalist design and the desire to have things put away instead of out in the open.

 As a person who admittedly tends to hold on to things too long and live amongst (some) clutter, I embrace this chance to rediscover what it is I really need.

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0 Replies to “Good Design”

  1. Great post Ann. I try to convince my clients who are building new, to build less but with better appointments. Do it right in a smaller space and use “targeted” storage to fulfill the needs of the particular family lifestyle. I would much prefer to see a great space, well designed and appointed well over a large and rambling home with lesser materials because “we ran out of budget”. In a remodel, I try very hard to get clients to put the dollars where they can really feel the impact and save where necessary. I am finding that people are still spending on good design and good products and spending less on the newest electronics or latest fashion trends. Cheryl

  2. I can see where organization and storage would still be popular. I think any time you can solve people’s problems (as well as giving them a cool space to live in), you’ll have an audience of folks ready to keep buying, even in tougher times.

    Of course, it doesn’t hurt to do some extra marketing and make sure your name pops first into people’s minds when they do decide to spend money. 😉

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