Apart from the fact that the current climate seems to suit their brand, Howies are nothing like Gordon Brown. They now have a range called hand me down. The idea is a noble one; consume less as a consumer by buying better designed stuff.
This got me thinking about consuming in general. I guess the most offending product is the mobile phone. Every year we get a new one. There's a paradox here with a lot of people who are early adopters (which very often means new hardware and thus more consumption) as these are often the same people pushing for more sustainable world.
I wonder if that paradox can be sustainable. I hope so. For a long time I've thought that the future will be a hybrid of very new and very old technology; keeping what works and ditching what doesn't. My ipod is great. It works. Yes please, I'll keep it. Flying to Scotland? quite apart from carbon emissions, it's rubbish. It takes hours of waiting in interminable airports punctuated by the waiting room that is a small passenger jet. Ditch it. I'll take the overnight train. At the same time, I'm growing vegetables, and fixing old clothes. I may even buy a pig. One day.
Anyway. The Howies thing reminded me I've got loads of stuff that was used before. The reason I've got it is that it is well designed. And as a bonus, whenever I use it, I enjoy it much more knowing it's served people before me. I can't explain why, but it's definitely a better experience than using something that i know will be outdated within a year (linked, somehow, to the patina obsession). Here're some examples:
These are Em's grandma's spoons. Like most grandmas, she was a great cook. She was a prolific cook. I'm not quite so prolific but am pleased to keep wearing down the top corners.
Two stools at our breakfast bar. And a plant. More Grannie related items
Ercol bentwood dining table.
my favourite. My great Uncle's stacking system. (well, the top 3 bits.)
Would you just look at that. That is a proper volume knob. A couple more down the other end for bass and treble, and some great big long buttons in the middle to select the function. They clunk. between them and the volume is a lit dial with little arms that tell you the output of the music as it's being pushed through the amp. I actually sit and watch it.
If something pisses me off about modern design it's that buttons got smaller. Look at the piddly buttons on the CD player. One little click does the job then they resume their position. Rubbish. And I wonder how long it's going to be till we cast out touch screen technology. (Maybe there's another case for a hybrid way forward - touch screen with real, chunky, pushable buttons.)
So well done Howies. Who's going to be next? Maybe Innocent veg pots served in clay?