While it’s hard not to smirk at the so-called ‘slow economy’ in 2003 (you thought that was bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet!) but Virginia Postrel’s article on aesthetics becoming a business commodity is still as useful now as it was then. And it doesn’t mention Apple.
Aesthetics is not just for places. Computers, for example, all used to look pretty much the same. Now they, too, can be special.
The drive for aesthetic value is creating opportunity throughout the supply chain. “Aesthetics, or styling, has become an accepted unique selling point,” says the head of GE Plastics’ global aesthetic program.
At the GE Plastics design center in Selkirk, N.Y., customers’ industrial designers and marketers brainstorm and develop new products, ranging from razors to car bumpers, inspired by new materials. Since 1995, GE Plastics has introduced 20 new visual effects. Its heavy-duty engineered thermoplastics can now emulate metal, stone, marble, or mother-of-pearl; they can diffuse light or change colors depending on the viewer’s perspective; they can be embedded with tiny, sparkling glass fragments.
This is a short dip into what she discusses more in-depth in her book ‘The Substance of Style‘.