February 24, 2006

Luxury Design

"It seems like we went from bemoaning junky construction to whinging about excessively good design in one fell hiccup."

That's Julie Iovine in an otherwise decent piece on 40 Bond Street. 40 Bond is the latest and, from a PR perspective at least, greatest luxury condo development in New York. Apparently what constitutes "excessively good design" apparently is a completely generic luxury condo floorplan surrounded by a large cast iron graffiti inspired gate. It's all in keeping with Schrager's trademarked slight of hand, his luxury hotels were built on a simple formula, the rooms were smaller (and thus more plentiful) than the competition, and well placed luxury items made it all seem ok. A classic maneuver, more sizzle less steak.

What irks me about Iovine's statement though is how blatantly it ignores what we can call the first guideline of relative design, if you can't afford it it's not good design. Any object out of your budget is not designed to solve your problems, and from that perspective can only be seen as piece of failed design. There is probably an angle or two from which Schrager's as yet unbuilt project can be seen as a good design. For example if you are filthy rich and are looking for an obnoxiously expensive apartment to let your peers know just how much you can waste than one of these units is probably damn well designed. But from just about any other angle? This is not good design, its good salesmanship. Sure there is probably a level of quality craftsmanship that will end up inside, and perhaps even some decent foresight. But there is a difference between paying for quality and paying for luxury. And once you are paying for luxury, then practically by definition what you are buying is not good design at all.

Posted by Abe at February 24, 2006 04:00 PM

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