Why you should invest your money in product design
The second in a series of columns by Design Days Dubai fair director Cyril Zammit.
Ahead of the 4th Design Days Dubai – the region’s eminent design fair – EDGAR has taken on the creative mind of its fair director, Cryil Zammit, to provide an insight into the world of design.
Here, in the second of three columns - the first one can be read here - Zammit explains why we all should invest more money in unique design pieces, and why luxury brands attribute to the faddishness of product design.
Design is a staple in our lives. Before moving into a place the first items you want are practical and decorative objects of design. They might not be of limited production but they have gone through a series of processes to reach the final output.
Consumers invest in high priced items, but more often than not their investment is short-lived, potentially because of quality or aesthetics. Private spaces are a reflection of a person and extend their personality. But the question remains, why should we invest much more money in product design? When I was preparing for the first edition of Design Days Dubai, back in 2012, I would be asked for my opinion on furniture lines produced by luxury brands. I was never attracted to such designs, because you are spending a fortune on the brand name rather than the piece itself. The item will not increase in value and its mass production lends itself a cookie cutter feeling.
Before or after the acquirement, the buyer will have no knowledge of how the piece got manufactured, what was the series and how long did the production take. These brands attribute to the faddishness as opposed to the timelessness of product design. It has always been said that design provides a solution to the problem, so why not make the solution a long lasting, sturdy one? These to me are vital questions I ask myself before I purchase a piece.
Knowledge is key, it increases understanding and opens the mind, and as a result will divert you to look elsewhere, research more and become aware of what you place in your private environment. While design solves the issue of practicality, it also provides an alternate solution with innovative and experimental materials and production methods.
As part of our extensive public programme back in 2012, we invited renowned Korean designer Kwangho Lee to lead a workshop.He decided to use camel leather from Al Khaznah Tannery to produce a lampshade through his creative weaving cycle. This item has two various aspects that make it unique and worth acquiring: camel leather; while it is scarcely used, it remains a soft and durable leather even when dyed; and that it serves its purpose of being a lampshade.
Investing in such a piece means you possess a unique object produced from good quality material, and only a handful of people around the world may own the same piece. This is what Design Days Dubai aims to convey; product design isn’t simply furniture. Limited edition product design is the result of a coherent and well-researched study that can certainly be utilised, but when the time comes, you can place it on a stand and it becomes a museum piece.
There are many campaigns globally that try to raise awareness about the process of production of various items. Design is a large part of that, and every year large amounts of leathers and un-used natural materials are tossed away, creating an increasing pile of waste. This has become the inspiration for London based Studio Swine. Swine ventured on a week long expedition with fishermen to extract all the waste thrown by various ships. They culminated the trash, fused them together and the result was the Sea Chair series (main image).Designers that have developed their signature style through upcycling show the importance of investing in well-produced pieces of high quality materials. A fair such as Design Days Dubai provides the opportunity to collectors, buyers and enthusiasts to experience the best in contemporary and modern design all together in one roof.
I invite our audience to question, speak and engage with designers and gallery directors. Take the opportunity before the fair to research about our exhibiting galleries and the pieces they’re bringing. Look beyond the price tag, and focus on the materials, the processes and look at the aesthetic and monetary gain from acquiring a piece.
Unlike regular furniture pieces, limited edition design will only gain in value with time. Follow me next time for my final column ahead of the opening of Design Days 2015.
Design Days Dubai is the leading fair in the Middle East and South Asia dedicated to collectible and limited edition furniture and design objects. It takes place March 16-20. For more visit designdaysdubai.ae