Friday, May 24, 2013

Design is Paramount

I was on the plane yesterday, and had an interesting conversation with the man next to me.

He brought up the Kimball Electronics Group which is a global electronics company which he represented at one time or another. KEG was once Kimball International, which was one of the largest manufacturers of home organs. He remembered a conversation he had with the CEO which described their transition from organs to a giant electronics firm.

The CEO said that from the '50s through the '80s every newlywed bought an organ for their home. By the time the '80s came and went into the world of electronics, no younger person was interested in having one in their living room. They were no longer a status symbol.

To be sure, I remember them as a kid. Those home organs were everywhere. We used to have a stand at the county fair, selling Grandfather clocks next to those heavy organs thumping out "Oh When the Saints Go Marching In..." in every beat from a rumba to a disco groove.  Where did they all go?

Why don't people buy them anymore? Is it just because young people aren't interested in having a big piece of wooden furniture anymore?

I'm a musician, so my thoughts immediately go to how these things sounded. There weren't enough keys to properly play any piano music. The sound was not great. Actually, I would have preferred the reed organs that came before them, or even the more flexible synthesizers that came after.

And how do they look? I remember a lot of fiberboard covered with cheap plastic veneer.

Design is so important in today's market. Regardless of what a product does, or what kind of materials it uses, it has to look good. Another example of this can be found in smartphones.  Palm, Blackberry and Windows phones have been around since at least 2001, but almost nobody had them until the iPhone came out with it's sleek and elegant design with metal and glass casing.

It's why we, at North Coast Imports, put a very high importance on the design of our clocks. We recognize that people don't buy clocks as a tool anymore. Clocks are meant as an aesthetic accessory to your home or working space. A clock is a living kinetic and aural sculpture.

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