I was going through my RSS feeds today and I came across a post from the Washington Spaces blog indicating that Yesterday was Consumer Day at the Washington DC Design Center. On this day, the showrooms that are normally open only to the trade (architects, designers, etc) were open to everyone. While this sounds like a rare opportunity, it’s not really: showrooms that are not open to the public are a rarity in the building. In addition, most of the things that you can see in the show rooms are available to browse online, plus you can find out more information without having to interact with a sales clerk. Sure, its nice to have a lot of vendors in one place and be able to see and feel their products instead of having to shop from a catalog, but I wonder about the viability of this market model in today’s world. The Design Center is located mid-block in Federal Southeast, far removed from any of the major architecture and design hubs, like Dupont or Georgetown, and out of the way for most aspiring home owners. On my first and last visit to the Design Center the building was practically empty; [...]
I just read a great article on the New York Times about a new product from Autodesk (Design Your Dream House, Lamps and All – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com). It looks like Autodesk is getting into the 3-D home architect/interior design business with their new product “Project Dragonfly”. But instead of charging an arm, a leg, and the blood of your first grandchild like they usually do, Autodesk is giving it away to the public and charging the product manufacturers to list their products. I don’t know what to think about this. On one hand its great that there is a free way for people to redesign their interior spaces without having to use the IKEA planner or The Sims. But on the other, the product placement aspect and limitations to using Autodesk’s approved library of products rubs me the wrong way. In addition, I can just see the army of housewives and weekend warriors storming their local home depot with print outs from this website in hand believing that they should get a “trade” discount because now, they too are designers.