Design is all about putting yourself in the shoes of the subject i.e. consumer/user/viewer. If you design without your customer in mind then you are creating art, or bad design. If you design a chair that cannot be sat on, it is no longer a ‘chair’ in the functional sense. It is a ‘chair’ only in an archetypical sense i.e its recognisable form based on our previous experiences of a functional chair. Therefore it is art because it is through the very fact of its lack of function that it makes its statement/analysis of the solution to the problem to which a chair is the answer.
Design is a method of communication between designer and user/experiencer – subject-object-subject. A designer who does not want to communicate or has no care for his subject, only care for the object, is not a designer. A designer hopes to understand and be understood as originally as possible. Or just beautifully.
What distinguishes design from marketing, accountancy, lorry driving, bricklaying etc is feeling. For design to work there must be a feeling communicated from one human to another. Design is a human endeavour. Design is the ultimate mass non-verbal communication tool.
However, the ‘lack’ is an inherent part of all human beings and not just a result of bad parenting. It is the loss of the original omnipotent immortality of a new born baby who believes she has created the world and everything in it. It is the Fall, the original sin, as the Bible calls it.
Therefore buying a new Mac is not just a thirst for new technology, or a need to read your email on a 24 inch screen – it is in fact a satisfaction of a deep internal need to recapture that loving beautiful object (i.e our mother) which was lost when we grew up. Similarly, taking things into the body such as tobacco smoke, alcohol, drugs and food can be seen as a way to fill the hole (however temporarily) left by the ‘loss’ of the original all loving mother.
PMR brands are brands that promise above all else safety, security and honesty. They perform a holding function for those who need it. Surrogate Mother brands.
Waitrose – the most obviously PMR brand out there. Sometimes called the ‘third parent’, the shopping experience, branding and general after care service all aim at making their customer’s feel loved, secure, and listened too. Waitrose fulfills the role of a loving mum who has bubbly baths, hot tea and sweet cakes ready for us after a day playing in the mud. Waitrose represents a surrogate breast – all feeding, all loving.
Volvo – the safety and security of Volvo cars are directly related to the security and warmth of the womb. Sitting in your warm Volvo on a cold rainy day drinking warm tea from a flask is as close as you can get to kicking about in your mums amniotic fluid filled womb.
Apple – all of Apple’s products are based around one key sales concept – design beauty. We replace perfectly working Apple products bought less than year ago with new Apple products because we feel an internal need for more beauty. And what is the need for beauty? It is the need for a replacement for the first object of beauty we ever see – our mother’s face. So when you are sitting staring into that iMac 24 inch screen and you catch your own reflection looking back at you – there in your own eyes you will see what you have been searching for all along. Your mummy.
Marlboro – smoking is in many ways about filling holes. Physically it is about filling the holes in the brain made by the nicotine. Psychologically it is about filling holes made by the past (and future) losses. Filling ourselves with smoke via the mouth is in some way very similar to filling our stomach with our mothers breast milk. The cigarette is a replacement for the lost breast (and therefore the lost mother). Malboro’s ads show strong men sitting in the wilderness on their own, having a cigarette (or now just having had one as legislation prohibits them showing the man actually smoking). What the ad is in fact saying is that you can be out in the middle of nowhere far from your mum and still be ok because you have your breast replacements – your cigarettes. Smoke two every hour and you won’t miss her too much!
IKEA – our homes are our castles, our little boxes of song. IKEA are continually pushing the message that our homes are the most important place on earth and they fill their brochures with warm loving living rooms. This is because our homes are in many ways a good representation of what’s going on in our heads. We spend countless hours moving furniture around, changing this and that, trying to find some perfect relationship between the walls, the objects and our internal feeling of serenity and calm. Our homes are like our mother’s arms when we fall over – a place of safety and soothingness.
PFR brands are brands that promise freedom, adventure, strength in the face of adversity, and encouragement when life gets tough. These are brands that function as surrogate believers in our abilities and freedom of man to go forth. Mythical Father brands.
Nike – Nike is all about acting, doing, pushing, getting internal stuff out, from the subject to the object. Nike is like a competitive father urging you on, shouting encouragement from the sidelines. Nike is the coolest dad – strong and handsome, with a good sense of right and wrong, a master of his own universe and a strong supporter of other’s universes. He is tough and loving in equal measure, and never hides the difficulties of life but in equal measure always celebrates its greatness and wonder. Nike is about leaving the warm nest and flying off into the wilderness with hope in your heart.
Porsche – the cliche of why a certain type of man is attracted to certain type of car is that it is all about the penis. I would say it is more about precision. Precise instruments, curves, corners, engineering. Like watching your dad saw a piece of wood, or hammer nails into walls. A Porsche is hundreds of precise dad’s hands melted down into one beaming object. A Porsche is what that mythical dad would have built in his shed had he had the tools and the materials and the time. A Porsche represents exactly the internal need for a mythical father.
UPS – from a to b. From here to there. Bang bang. Done. Logistics, lorries, fuel. UPS represents the doers, the movers and shakers. Out on the road, getting stuff to the people who need it. Doing what a man has to do. Badabim. Your dad says he will be there at 8pm. Bang – there he is. Your dad says he will take you to football practice. Boom – he takes you there. UPS is what your dad should have been – on time, on the phone, always available, always moving heaven and earth to get you what you need when you need it.