Form over Function - Style and staying On Trend

For some consumer products utility always wins. The design of many products is dictated by their intended purpose or use. And they all very much look like each other.

In the real world of the consumer how many decisions are influenced by the form of the product? IE It’s presentation and visual appeal.

Most, might be the response.

Should Choice offer a separate or additional assessment for products based on the visual attributes of the product?

Obviously not something relevant to all products. A can opener is a can opener right? Although at home we are yet to agree on this simple utility device.

Without pre-emptying others views, as an example consider a toaster, kettle and bench top coffee machine.

In one way of styling a kitchen these are hidden from view. Lest they make the kitchen fail the home beautiful photo shoot standard of an average Australian home.

In an alternate universe, ours perhaps, such essentials of the kitchen sit on the bench. On what basis were they chosen?
The three C’s (colour, coordination, cleaning), Cost and Choice reviews. Could be five C’s?:thinking:

Noting visual appeal can be very subjective, properties that relate to the quality of finish, lustre, even treatment, durability, balance of the intended styling etc can be assessed.

If ‘The Block’ can do it, could Choice follow boldly and assist the average consumer to avoid the ultimate embarrassment of a style-less home?

Or should the perfect Choice home make it’s own statement through products with five star recommendations, and appeal more eclectic, but not like a discount warehouse store room?

Our home runs mostly on heart, function and recycled armageddon. The styling guru would love a large skip as the next addition.


I will vote that suggestion down. As you properly wrote, visual appeal can be very subjective but it is not ‘can’, it is ‘is’. Trying to add such subjectivity to a soft feature like style / look / feel would dilute function and quality that would further erode decision making to ever more fluff qualities.

I’ll add that the fashion / style industry survives by updating itself and what is good or trendy from 1 to 4 times p.a. depending on the industry. Find a product with a high style trend score? How embarrassed you would be to have last quarter’s interpretation!


The answer is to design appliances with skins. As the fashion changes, you of course update the colours of your designer kitchen so as well you replace the skins on your gear. No more tossing out the whole product because it has become aesthetically unacceptable, only the skin goes in the skip by the back door. $$$

The cost of being on trend will be reduced, creds maintained and the planet saved. Conspicuous consumption is so old hat when you can simulate it. The skins would come in two styles, one that is undetectable for the serious poseur and one that has subtle labelling so that your friends will be able to notice your virtue in taking the eco-option. Like having the labels on the outside of your clothes but keeping it discreetly small. That’s class!

$$$ The savvy domestic goddess will save the old skins in the shed as there is a good chance that if you buy well the style will come around again within the life of the appliance.


Do you mean like ladies dresses? :rofl:

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You might well think that but I couldn’t possibly comment.

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I like you enthusiasm @mark_m. It’s something that we’ll have to aspire to for the meantime, but I’ll be sure to raise the suggestion and see if there are any avenues we could test offering more of this type of commentary. I’d encourage everyone to use the Design :+1: or :-1:: category for further ideas of products we could look into.


A couple of articles one of which is an older article (2008) but I think the rules would still be very much applicable (I don’t think much will have changed in 10-11 years). No.6 of the article is the one I think relates a lot to this discussion.


Form was what made Apple in the early days. Apple used a Cray supercomputer for a then secret purpose, later revealed as modelling injection molding to keep the plastic ridges out of sight and thus making the ‘box’ look more upscale. Some say Apple sells ‘tech jewellery’ and customer experience more than technology.

At the time Cray reputedly sacked their sales manager because Apple was not even on the prospect list, Apple just rang and ordered one (not quite that simple, but). In response to Apple buying a Cray, Seymour Cray noted that Cray Research used Apples to design Crays.

If Apple had not paid so much attention to the overall user experience from their beginning would they be where they are today? We will never know nor be able to authoritatively guess.

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