“Good taste is the most obvious resource of the insecure … Good taste is the anesthetic of the public.” Harley Parker

What is good taste anyway? Is it primarily personal? Or is it by necessity a form of groupthink – so that we can judge relatively the idea of “good”?

One example of mass good taste (group taste?) is the Asian obsession with brand name goods. The brand name appears to the primary relevant fact in the purchase decision. There is little understanding or curiosity about aesthetics, design, visual literacy, usability, historical references, or any other facets around the consumption of a retail item. It often seems to me that a brand name can sell any thing as long as their brand has sufficient social cachet (snob value). It does not matter that what they sell is technically flawed, aesthetically abortive, or ethically bankrupt.

This committed myopic consumption has to be fuelled by some deep seated issue, like insecurity. There is a need for the nouveau riche to buy mass-endorsed good taste to bolster their self-esteem. To remind themselves of their new-found status. If indeed this is fuelled by mass insecurities, then simply fuelling the unthinking obsession cannot improve matters.

This blind consumption of branded products kills innovation and impedes individual expression. Consider Burbury. If we were to look at what they sell, and what people buy (and show off), there seems to be little substance in the “design” beyond the application of the trademark pattern to as many objects as possible.

Images from a Google search.

Granted they are probably more immediately interested in milking their cash cow, than to engage in any innovation processes that could threaten their established practices.

If course, here is nothing inherently wrong with buying something beautiful, or something ugly that nonetheless spoke to the individual. But when whole industries and whole generations are consumed by an unthinking obsession, it becomes a problem.

See also my previous post on A matter of degree