My hearing is a little shot so I frequently hear people ask each other for this. It brings me a quiet laugh so I thought I’d mock it up and share.
I wrote my master’s thesis on the historical relationship between product design and social class and I really wish I’d found this advertisement in time to have included it. I’ve never seen an historical document spell out in more brutal terms the extent to which product innovation has changed the means and behaviors of menial labor to render the working class more “presentable” and the leisure class more able bodied. Whether they were on their way up or on their way down, families at the beginning of the 20th century who found themselves members of a new middle class were suddenly forced to maintain house and composure simultaneously; and mass produced consumer products filled the gap left by unaffordable servants, creating a huge market saturated by what have come to be known as labor saving devices. I was searching for something else when I found this ad in an early 20th Cent Brooklyn Blue Book here.
In my book, the holiday market at Union Square is to be avoided by any and all means necessary. The one exception to this, as I discovered today, is when one’s child desperately needs gloves immediately because it’s freezing out. Only in this instance is it safe to move quickly and decidedly into the chaos of tourists and the shopping dispossessed. Anyway…
There was this one stall… a slavic woman is selling big fluffy alpaca hats. They look great. And alpaca is a great material– being wool it causes relatively little harm when sheered and its typical finish requires little processing. But that’s not the point– gosh I’m really stuttering this one out!– the point for this blog (!!) is that the booth had a clever design. To drive home the material, the whole booth was lined in faux white fur. Floor to ceiling. Wall to wall. Wrapped around the pipes. And the fluffy hats hung off the fluffy wall. Very smart. You stepped inside and you were in the hat, in the fluffy white warmth of the product. It’s not a sophisticated design solution– it’s wall to wall white faux fur– but given the product, it’s one of the most simple and effective display choices I’ve encountered.