“Hi, My name is Betsy, and I’m a design snob.”
Moms (in unison): “Welcome, Betsy.”
Well, thanks for the warm reception! You know, I haven’t always been this way. I owe it all to five intense years spent in architecture studio, which was more of a Zoolander-style brainwashing exercise than anything else. Let’s just say that it taught me to appreciate really, really ridiculously good-looking objects.
This was great, until I became pregnant and created a baby registry. I’m pretty sure my mom had to bite her tongue repeatedly because I either a) wanted every single cute, pointless thing, or b) couldn’t bring myself to add the practical, yet super tacky objects to the list. I had visions of turning into Veruca Salt and demanding a Golden Goose for my registry!
Then I remembered Vitruvius! Vitruvius was a classical Roman architect who created a number of design theories and writings which are still referenced today. (Google “Leonardo DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man”, and you’ll find countless pop culture interpretations) Today though, I want to share with you The Vitruvian Principles.
Before I lose you, let’s phrase it a little differently:
So how does this relate to you as a mom, or more importantly, your kiddo’s growing stash of toys and other schtuff? Let’s dig a little deeper into these principles…
- This is the quality and materiality of something. For example, I am drawn to wooden toys because I can feel the quality in the weight and texture of the wood. More so than any flimsy plastic toy, an object made with quality materials is not going to shatter when my son decides to practice his fastball and pitch the toy onto the sidewalk.
- I don’t get too hung up on this one. If I buy a product, I expect it to work. Otherwise, it’s defective and not worth discussing. Though I’ve definitely fallen for the “OMG it’s so fluffy, let’s buy it” product, only to realize that it doesn’t even serve the intended function. Read your Amazon Reviews. Thas’all.
- This is the trait that makes you either swoon with delight or roll your eyes with disgust. Certain qualities can make an object especially beautiful – with the right color, proportion, pattern or shape – an everyday object can become a work of art. This is where I typically geek out and buy one in every color because apparently I love rainbows.
Each of these three qualities has value in creating a product. With all three powers combined, you’ve got something magical. This is the heirloom toy, or the gear that you rave about to your friends. These products create the moments where you catch yourself with a goofy smile while changing your kid’s diaper because the pattern is “oh so adorable” and you know that poop isn’t going to leak out of the super absorptive, high quality construction of the diaper. Anybody? No, just me?
With these three principles in tow, congratulations, you can now scrutinize every single object that you put in your shopping cart and be a design snob like me!
Of course in the end, sometimes an empty milk jug and a paper towel roll is all my son really wants to play with… and that’s OK, too. I’ll teach him about the Vitruvian Man when he turns four.
Check out these links to find some unique products and brands which I feel Vitruvius would give two proportionate thumbs up:
- Grimm’s Toys
- ABC3D Book by Marion Bataille
- Land of Nod
- Dwell Studio
- Petit Collage
- Eames Elephant offered by Vitra
And of course there’s always the usual suspects: