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.