investing in good design

By investing in good design I don’t mean buying an outstanding piece of furniture that might make a fortune at an auction in the future but buying something that is beautifully designed and that is well made and is a pleasure to use.

When I was a student and living in a shared house I invited my tutor and his wife round for supper. Although there were glasses in the cupboard in the kitchen they were all different and all pretty grim - either donated by parents and obviously dug out of the attic as “good enough to do a turn” or they were glasses with odd logos on them and had been “borrowed” from one of the local pubs.

I went out and bought a set of plain glass tumblers from the recently-opened Habitat store. Forty years on I still have those tumblers; still use them every day at breakfast for juice and at supper for water. I still enjoy using them and I still think the design cannot be bettered. 

It was some years later that I found out those tumblers were designed by Kaj Franck in 1958 and that they are still made by the Finnish company Iittala. Occasionally Iittala adds a new colour to the range but the form and the quality of the glasses is the same.

So that’s what I mean by investing in good design. Buy something that you like - something that not only looks good now but will not look dated next year; buy something that is well made and does what it is meant to do and does it well. Those are key qualities that mean that a piece of furniture or an item of tableware can become a design classic.

Maybe one day my tumblers will end up in a recycle bottle bank but they’ve served me well for forty years so they probably have a place and a use for a few more years to come.