The Philosophy of Products

December 28th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

All products have a philosophy.

I believe that all products have a philosophy. No matter what they are. Even the most mundane ones. There’s a philosophy. It’s apparent in the way that they look, or the way that they feel, or their color. Their purpose.

-Patrick Rhone Minimal Mac | Enough

Every product has a philosophy–a reason for its existence; a role to fulfill. All product makers have a philosophy–a reason for bringing products into existence; to satisfy a want of many or few. Whether the product is a big-screen TV, pocket knife, paper cup, network cable, candy cane, defibrillator, or machine gun, it has a philosophy. Likewise, each of us has a philosophy. When we encounter a product, we examine, or attempt to examine, its philosophy for a possible match to our own.

Pay attention to the philosophy of the stuff that you use. Question the philosophy and say, “Hey! Is this philosophy aligned with mine?” and, if not, “Is there something better suited that does?” It really is that simple.

-Patrick Rhone

It’s not always easy to deduce a product’s particular philosophy and, depending on our own personal philosophy, it may not be easy to agree with or accept it, once we believe we’ve figured it out. I don’t mean to say that we should agree with or accept all philosophies. Although, I think we should attempt to understand a product’s philosophy enough to know why we neither agree with nor accept it. There may be a product we encounter that meets our needs so immediately and effectively that it might even be a waste of time to investigate other possible solutions. We all know what a hammer is for. Or, at least, what its originally intended use is. A table. A piano. Sunglasses.

The degree to which we put a certain product to effective use in our lives depends on our commitment to our own philosophy and how closely to it the product’s philosophy aligns. There are products in my home that I use on a daily basis. They are designed to fulfill a want or need, actual or perceived, that I have, and I use them effectively toward their purpose. There are other products that I’ve purchased without properly evaluating their philosophies and comparing them with my own. These, I either do not use effectively, or I use rarely or not at all. They are reminders of wasted time, money, and energy in my life. If you have kids (I have four), you may find that a product, or byproduct, like an empty yogurt cup or toilet paper roll, may have purpose beyond its intended use. Heck! A kid can have more fun with the empty cardboard box than with whatever, more valuable thing, it previously contained!

We should be aware of the products available for our use, their philosophies, and how the philosophy of each product aligns with our own. We should evaluate each product’s usefulness in our own lives. How acceptable, effective, and beneficial is this product? Is it even necessary? Do I agree with its philosophy? If so, how closely does it align with my own?

Have an opinion on this? Sound off in the comments.