February 9, 2005

At IKEA, extinction is seasonal, and every customer enables the demise of some product or other by not choosing. So I can't provide a link to this particular lampshade because it doesn't exist any longer. 

Does that make the lampshade in my living room more or less valuable? Will IKEA's designs become collectible? Will I see them in antique shops fifty years from now and shake my head at the 500% mark-up?  Would hordes of recent undergraduate couples buy, build, and discard this fiberboard furniture with such blind ambivalence if they thought it might generate retirement income? Is it even physically possible for such products to survive fifty years when they are designed for transience?

I'm not going to speculate. When the lampshade receives its final, irreconcilable, dent it will join its kin in the landfill. Future regret may be my fate, but in the end I'll have kept the part that is most valuable to me: the universally decipherable pictogram directions featuring a genderless community of grinning Homo sapiens without hands.


Clutterchick said...

Kate here, Amy’s friend. I sold collectibles on ebay for a job for a couple of years. Which doesn’t make me an expert but does make me opinionated. And I’ve asked myself that same “will I see Ikea in antique shops” question. And here’s my answer. Yes. But only the really cool, clever stuff. Like those little ghost lights. Or the little pastel colored tea set for kids. But, when you dent and then toss your lampshade you’ll be doing the world of collectibles a great service. You’ll be creating scarcity. So, on behalf of the lamp shade collector in 2096, I thank you for tossing out your lamp shade in 2014.

There! Who said I couldn’t talk for futuristic lamp shade collectors? Because I can.

Jeffrey T. Baker said...

Hello Kate. Thanks for reading.

I think this post must be a dilatory response to our recent conversation about collectibles in the Age of Obsolescence. You're absolutely right about the scarcity issue— where were your sage words when I was fourteen and frittering away my allowance on duplicates of X-men #1 (the deluxe edition, with the wrap-around glossy Jim Lee cover)?

As for my chucking the lampshade; well, the key to it's future desirability rests more on your point about "really cool, clever stuff" making the grade. I'm a guy who read X-men: there's very little likelihood that I have ever purchased anything really cool or clever.

Except maybe my Kellog's Circle K pedometer.

Clutterchick said...

Well, I wouldn't knock yourself too hard. After all cool and clever are inherent in the object -- not the purchaser. (Which isn't to say you aren't cool or clever but that's a whole different conversation). What I'm trying to say is paper clips are cool and clever and I bet you own some of those. But, alas, they are not collectible. Oh, this conversation is like a snake eating it's tail. Or not.