Posted by Richard Haut on September 21, 2002 at 10:44:47:
In Reply to: Re: the extinction of the nuclear family of the 50's -the disappearance of the front porch - technology what is happening? posted by Paul Malo on September 21, 2002 at 08:39:13:
I am with Brutus on this one.
I enjoy shopping, including the equivalent of the "mall", but it reaches a point (certainly reached in Britain) where "retail" equals "leisure"; a family day out is shopping (on credit).
This is not to criticise Paul or his children for going to the mall - nothing wrong with it at all (and in reality what is the difference between kids meeting at a mall or at the Fifties style diner of "Happy Days").
The problem is that money, the image of money are seen as social ideals - not the well-being and security that they can buy, but the money itself. The result is the in-your-face culture of the BMW. Well-engineered, but almost calculatedly of a dreary executive middle-management characterlessness. It is an easy opt-out version of a culture.
Why should all shops be the same - franchise outlets selling "stuff" ? No reason at all. If they are, they kill the character of a town. Perhaps that is why I prefer France - there are the franchised outlets, but there are also little shops where people put some thought and character into what they are doing, where their skills are used to make or select what is sold - where they have pride in what they are doing. Run a franchise outlet and any pride is limited to earning a profit.
Perhaps the middle-of-the-road architecture has become the equivalent of franchised design.
There was a very revealing battle about three years ago between a big US clothing designer-name and a large British supermarket group. The supermarket wanted to sell the clothes at a cut-price. The designer-name objected. The bickering went backwards and forwards; the lawyers produced their dodgy arguments; it went on and on. As it went on, so it became more interesting - because nowhere, but nowhere, in any of the lines of argument from either side was there even an implication that the designer-name stood for, or wanted to represent, quality - "value" in its real sense. Even the designer-name themselves clearly believe that their "stuff" is good because of the name, not what it is, how it is designed and made.
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