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An Eye On Design:

February 27, 2014

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The Importance of Quality

December 9, 2015

There's a need for things that last. For furnishings and goods that aren't disposable, and are meant to be handed down from generation to generation. There's a need for quality and integrity, for honesty and transparency. However, can these things exist in the world of mass production? How do you heal society through design? I'm not the first to ask this question and I hope to god that I wouldn't be the last. How do you do what you love and make it count and matter and change people and the world for the better?


I had a dream last night that played like a dramatic movie trailer set in the 1970s. That one song played over the trailer, "there must be some kind of way out of here", (you know, that Jimi Hendrix song) while clips from the movie played images of a relationship gone wrong between a brilliant man and his beautiful wife. The man appeared to be some kind of philosopher, college professor, who had the power to move and change people's thoughts with his words. The wife appeared to be once his muse. But something had changed in their relationship. They were unhappy; both were unfaithful. The man finding new muses in his young female students, the wife finding comfort in the arms of this younger handsome man who was volatile and would never live up to the light of her husband.


They both lost what held them both together as I watched the trailer in my dream. The wife became more and more unhappy in her affair; more and more upset at her husband, while her lover acted like a lunatic. I realized what she was really upset about wasn't that guy’s behavior... And it wasn't even the affairs her husband was having; she was mourning the loss of believing in "them", her and her husband, the philosopher.


She longed to be his muse again, to inspire and be inspired by him; she wanted to see what those young girls still could in the man that she loved, but couldn’t see for her self any longer.


It was so vivid. I wish I could play it for you. 


What it made me think however, was about how sometimes what we mourn most isn't tangible, it's a feeling or emotion. It's how something makes us feel, not necessarily what something actually was or the truth of the thing itself. 


I had initially thought that the movie was about the man, but now realize it was about the woman. Her misery was created not by her husband, but by the idea she held of him in her mind. She allowed herself to be completely upended and emotionally torn apart because she longed for what she lost. But to be honest, the man probably wasn't all that great to begin with. He probably always had a wandering eye and a grandiose sense of self. Or maybe he was great once, but the changes they both had gone through over the years, left them incompatible. Either way she could finally see past the illusion of perfection she once saw, and into the face of a man that was just a man... Built up in her head as something more. 


Isn't it funny that the words singing over the trailer were "there must be some kind of way out of here"? Out of their lies, out of their misery, out of their delusions, out of their unfaithful and faithlessness? It seems all too perfect. 


My own interpretation of my dream is that the man, the husband, is life; the dream of our lives. The idea. The hope for the future, that once inspired us and felt as though it was inspired by us. It was about the relationship between us and our dreams and the reality of those dreams verses the reality of our waking lives. When we hold on to ‘the dream’ to the point that we can't see when it's not working for us anymore, we're only hurting ourselves. We need to adapt, and change, and see that if something isn't working it may be time for a new dream. The woman in the dream then is of course us. She’s you, she’s me… she’s everyone. She’s the embodiment of our need for love, integrity, inspiration, intimacy, and to feel as though our lives have meaning. She’s settling for less, but feels in her heart that she deserves more and displaces her anger in things she can’t change because she holds on to a dream of a life that no longer exists.


There's a need in the world right now; a need for things that last and hold true meaning; for integrity; for honesty.


Each and every one of us should be apart of fulfilling that need, because things that don't matter are taking over. We build obsolescence into the design of everything we create. Even our movies are being remade practically before they're even out in the movie theater. Newer versions of our technologies are being released days after we buy the previous ones. Our furniture falls apart as soon as we get it home to use it. Quality should matter. Quality does matter, but we're being tricked into thinking it doesn't and that to expect it is asking too much. It’s time to demand quality, to create quality, to produce quality, and to live with integrity. If we want a world that inspires us, we have to create a world inspired by us, and the belief that there is something more precious than a quick buck.


There was a time when there were craftsmen, not just furniture makers; artisans, not just bakers; visionaries, not just developers. We have to see the greatness in what we do and what it can inspire, because money isn’t and shouldn’t be the only qualifier of success. There IS a need for things that last, both tangible and intangible; for quality, for hope, and true engagement with our life as it is and as it can be… Because our lives do matter and what we create both seen and unseen affect everything. It is up to us to create a world for the better. 

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