Thursday, 20 October 2011

Design for Design's Sake

Are you disappointed that you're no longer noticing your fragrance plug-in?

During my trip to see customers in Italy earlier this week I visited a rather swish office in Genoa. The whole place was an homage to designer chic; milky, illuminated glass staircases, wood veneered walls in an oval room, an outdoor meeting room, slate floor tiles, a staff jacuzzi, a staff gym and a staff sauna.

There was only one problem - when I asked to visit the loo I was unable to leave the meeting room; the door handle was totally unfit for purpose. Unless you are a child or a woman with very slender fingers, it is impossible to open the door handle. Sausage fingers just won't do the job. Of the three blokes in the meeting room, none of us could exit and had to phone for help from the other side (of the door, not reality).

The offending door handle

Slate floor tiles and fancy lighting.

Outdoor meeting space with jacuzzi round the corner.

Illuminated glass staircase - gorgeous!

Brushed steel uplighters on wood veneered walls.

Designer lighting.

At one of my meetings the MD did nothing but fiddle with his BlackBerry - which I thought the height of disrespect. I simply stopped talking and he didn't even notice for about 30 seconds before looking up sheepishly.

At Rome airport I was assaulted by the usual range of expensive tat.

Please - what's the difference between D&G and M&S?

....or Moncler and the Army Navy Store?

...or Prada and Primark?

As usual, none of these shops sported a single customer.

One of the shops was an Italian food outlet selling Italian specialities at twice the price I can obtain them in British supermarkets, which I thought a novel sales approach. An example is 500g of bog standard Arborio risotto rice for 15 Euros - which I can get in Tesco for £0.85.

Talking of airport shops; I have always been bemused by a duty-free electrical shop in Tel Aviv airport which sells large items one obviously can't take into an aircraft as hand luggage - such as cookers, vacuum cleaners and the like. On questioning an Israeli colleague about this he told me that it is solely for the benefit of locals who can purchase these large items at a knock-down price before going on a trip and collect them (or have them delivered) on their return to Israel. Smart cookies these Israelis! I'm surprised no-one has thought of this in other countries. Needless to say, the shop is a hive of activity.


  1. And have you seen the price of cauliflowers at the airport? £5.50... and also very bulky in your hand luggage.

    P.S Probably easier and cheaper to conduct all meetings via Facebook.

  2. At first I thought the photographs were pictures of your new house. I am impressed that you seem to have mastered the terminology - I would have no idea what a "brushed steel uplighter" was - but no doubt you have looked at such fittings for your new abode. We could do with an update on the state of the housing project - not seen anything for ages.

  3. SB: I suspect you're right - or BlackBerry Messenger.

    Alan: That's because we've been waiting for our artisan window frame maker to fit us in, which he now has. Should be windowed and plastered by January.

  4. Glass stairs in your house mate...
    ill build the SS support

    I expect the MD fiddling with his BlackBerry was no worse than you pulling your new dentures out in the middle of our last lunch meeting.. i suppose you were good enough to have waited till i had finished my nosh !!

    heavy weight Duty Free has been about for YEARS all over the world.. oh i forgot its only very recently that you have been allowed to get out of Blighty... You could have purchased most of your new house bits for 20% cheaper !!

  5. Phil: Never took you as being squeamish.

    As for the staircase, give me a quote - we're getting near execution. Dropping the solar PV as too expensive.

  6. Bill, you've just caused my Blood pressure to take off.

    Nowadays we have designer clothes, designer furniture, designer this and designer that but what does it mean? Better functionality, better quality, better reliability, better durability, better look? No,no none of that, that would be too simple, too rational, what i it means is the promise of ??? and higher prices. It's not even that that P's me off - if some silly so and so wants to pay over the odds for something indifferent but "designed", you cannot blame the designer - ˌkæviːɑːt ˈɛmptɔr (excuse the Greek - lifted from Wikipedia).

    What actually does my head, is the concept that everything else is not designed - what a load of designer bovine excreta