(Nobody needs a stretch Hummer. Photo from here.)
I’ve been very introspective of late, if you didn’t notice already.
So here’s the latest thing to occupy my brain:
I wonder what would happen if the market for “wants” suddenly vanished.
As a designer, I often find myself in ambiguous territory, attempting to qualify the necessity of what I do. I think most artists are in this place from time to time. It’s easy to see the value in an apple, or in basic articles of clothing, or a glass of water, but how do you determine the immediate value of a painting or a really well-crafted logo? Is the logo even an essential thing? (Knitting does not present me with the same sort of quandary, in that I’m actually making an item that I would have bought, although the question of whether or not I need fancy yarn is still up for debate.)
I started in on this thinking after reading an article on “fighting chairs,” which are expensive, high-end chairs mounted to yachts, that aid in deep-sea fishing by giving the fisherman a place to brace himself and fight against the marlin or sailfish, or whatever is on the end of the line. I’m pretty sure no commercial fisherman sees a need for this.
People do not need the fighting chair for survival.
Or do they?
Have we progressed to such a point, as a society, that the creation of something non-necessary for one person is, in itself, necessary? The angler may not need the chair, but the production and sale of the chair has provided a livelihood for many other people. Computers are not actually necessary for survival (in the traditional sense), but without them many, including myself, might be without shelter, food and other basic human needs.
And if society limited itself to the production of essentials only, does that impede innovation? Where do you draw the line between the necessary and the excessive? Is inspiration a necessity (I think it is)?