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allison arieff has a fluff column in the NYT (by design opinion blog) allowing the extended design community (including designer, manufacturer, retailer, advertising and news media) to wiggle out of a history of championing design irresponsibility. again the column is B.S. but the COMMENTERS (the consumers) GET IT (heres just one):
Our consumer-driven society is precisely why “toothbrushes can’t be designed to last longer”–if they do, then the manufacturers don’t make money on us buying new ones every few months.read all 68 of 'em. most express their disgust. i smell consumer revolution in the air. i wonder if the NYT is rethinking this comments feature thing yet...
That downturn in endurability is something that’s happened, visibly, within the past two generations. I’m thirty-five, and my mother had small appliances–a sewing machine, an electric mixer, things of that nature–which lasted for twenty or more years. The sewing machine, in fact, lasted so long that when it finally broke, they hadn’t been making replacement parts for years. Even early lightbulbs would burn virtually indefinitely, rather than going dark after a few hundred hours. Very few modern appliances have that kind of shelf life, and from a manufacturing point of view, that’s a design feature, not a flaw.
The idea of “heirloom design” is obviously a winning one, but my fear is that a toothbrush designed to last won’t find its way onto the shelves, and if it does, it’ll be a specialty item that costs three times as much as the competition. Even in good economic times, that’s daunting.
I don’t know if America’s come far enough for that paradigm shift, the one where we fall away from being conspicuous consumers. I certainly hope so; the result would be better for us and for the world. But we’ve proven to have embarrassingly short memories in the aftermath of previous economic woes, and I’m afraid that we’ll return to laissez les bon temps roulez at the slightest opportunity.