Aug 23, 2006

Design for the masses

Lileks buys a mop at Target:
It was a Michael Graves mop. I trust the mechanical aspects were not personally supervised by the noted architect, since the damn thing didn’t work – you turned the handle to wring out the mop, and the absorbent portion shot out and danged on a hook, like Spongebob performing the last minutes of “Braveheart.” Now I face a new problem heretofore unconsidered: the mop does not match the bucket. The bucket, you see, has a Michael Graves handle and a Michael Graves contour. Better than the Frank Gehry bucket I used to have – it leaked – or the Philip Johnson bucket, which could only be used if you were whitewashing reputations. Even though it was far too tall and thin, I liked the Mies van der Rohe bucket, but every time I took it out of the closet I knocked over the little piece of sculpture sitting in front of it.

I don't know how much supervising the eminent architect gives to his Target designs, but past experience indicates that Michael Graves products at Target stink.

I bought a phone there a few years ago. Very retro looking with a cute curved receiver, which receiver you couldn't prop under your neck to free up your hand--like 100 percent of non-Michael Graves phones--without it squirting out like a blob of jelly. Currently I own the Michael Graves teakettle--a passing imitation of the famous Michael Graves teakettle--but the top doesn't come off. Luckily, I can fill it up through the spout and, at a fifth of the price of the Michael Graves teakettle, it'll do until I burn it up. Virginia Postrel notwithstanding, aesthetics are great but products that actually perform the task at hand are more important.

Which is to say: I wouldn't buy the Michael Graves toaster at Target if I actually hoped to toast bread with it and not just put it on display.

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