Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is Design Really Within Reach?

For those of us who have every wanted something custom that was made new for us it has often been a shocker at the price tag. I think of my first kitchen remodel. Everybody wants to save a buck thats for sure, me included. And we sure have become accustom to inexpensive goods made from over seas. At times the quality is quite good and the price is reasonable. But as many are learning there is often an unseen cost to the peoples and environment to those overseas countries that produce these goods.

True, to produce something here in the US under appropriate laws that protect workers and the environment it is often considered expensive by many.

Can we produce quality goods here without breaking the bank? Is there a balance?
Does it make since to purchase a product that is three times the price of one off the shelf if it is quality built?

Consider this first. An Italian mathematician long ago proposed the 80/20 rule. Take for example your carpet. Only 20% of the carpet area gets walked on 80% of the time. Thus the path marks. So you could say that you could vacume only 20% of the carpet 80% of the time and collect the same amount of dirt as if you vacumed the other 80% only 20% percent of the time. I know, you are wondering, where are we going with this?

Big box stores are producing for the 80%. Most of this is products that fit the immediate needs of shoppers but won't do so for very long. Now the other 20% are expected to either deal with what is mass produced or pay for the exclusively priced alternatives. I believe there is a resurgence of a need for products that fall in between those two extremes.

So is quality design within reach? Suppose you buy a piece of furniture for $200 as apposed to one for $600. Now the former is discarded when you move 5 years later because it has not withstood normal use. But the latter was made to last 20, 30 years or even a lifetime. Which is a better deal? 

Where do you fall in the range of the 80/20. If it is somewhere in between then come join and maybe we will meet. 

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