What happens to bad design?

Ever wonder what happens to bad design? It gets left on the street.

I live next door to the warehouse where they paint the sets for the Seattle ballet. And right next door to that is an apartment complex with what seems to be a revolving door. Tenants move in and out, out and in, non-stop.

I’ve lived there for 4 years. In that time I’ve seen countless items left out in the cold, finding themselves suddenly homeless. Computers and couches soak up the rain on a regular basis, old chairs bask in the single sunray of our Seattle summer while various wood-like products prune up in the morning dew.  It’s sad.

Oddly, or not, I haven’t seen any Eames molded plywood chairs, Nelson clocks or Noguchi coffee tables. I haven’t seen anything even remotely Danish looking. That’s because people keep the good stuff. Or, they sell it to other people who want it.

Somewhat curious, hoping for a surprise, I asked one of the abandoners why she was leaving her stuff on the corner. She said, “In case someone wants it.” Even though it was hers, and she didn’t want it. But you never know. Someone might drive by, see that three legged chair and pump the breaks. There’s a chance someone could be walking by and think “hot dang, I needed a wrought iron plant stand and here one is!”  Lucky day.

There isn’t a chance actually. The stuff stays there, until the next set needs to be painted anyway. The artists clean the corner as a courtesy to the neighborhood. It’s sad.

To all the designers and makers out there: Make stuff that people want to keep, or that people can sell to other people who’ll want it, or don’t make anything.

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