I love shopping in antique stores. I love learning about a different place in time. When I walk into an antique store, I feel almost like I’ve gained a free museum pass or a free ride in a time machine–and if buy something–almost as if I’ve purchased a small piece of time. As I observe the decor from earlier years, I find it very difficult to figure out why things were the way they were and always find it amazing how much things have changed.
Though I do not have first-hand experience of daily life in previous centuries, I do believe that the pace of life has increased. You can pick up any item in an antique store–whether it’s dinnerware, an appliance, clothing, or even a piece of furniture–and notice ways that our lives have changed. Many of the items that wouldn’t last us more than a year in today’s world still show up in antique stores, in decent and functional shape, from decades ago!
I believe the diminishing of lifetime product value comes from increasing consumer demand on manufacturers. We as consumers need more things but we want to spend as little money as possible. Thus it becomes difficult to purchase something handmade for $50 when we have the option of a manufactured version for $10.
When we prefer practicality, I wonder, what exactly do we forfeit? Perhaps the personal touch…
Years ago, when craftsman didn’t have the demand to serve millions at a time, they focused their energies on ensuring that the one who received their item would really enjoy it. They felt personal responsibility for their craft–a customer’s satisfaction and pleasure with their purchase directly reflected on the craftsman, as a person. Since they crafted most items by hand, each had a personal touch, which made them unique. I appreciate that craftsman, such as those at Bauer International, still exist today that choose to create products by hand and then finish them using traditional materials and methods (such as stain and shellac) rather than the faster and more automated way.
I also love the idea that furniture can do more than just serve a function in a physical space. Something about artistic expression and attention to detail cause people to pause more and feel free to enjoy a moment in time. Perhaps human nature needs moments where they feel inspired to just be–to enjoy beautiful things without evaluating their usefulness. It may be a big jump, but could you say that your furniture does that for you?