February 6, 2013

"Imagine that, you know, you built a table. Maybe it came out a little bit crooked."

"Probably your wife or your neighbor would see it for what it is, you know? A shoddy piece of workmanship. But to you that table might seem really great, because you're the one who created it. It's the fruit of your labor. And that is really the idea behind the Ikea Effect."

Said Daniel Mochon, a Tulane University marketing professor.

I don't identify with that feeling. If I've done something myself, I'm particularly irritated by the flaws (and I'm more likely to know where they are). If someone I cared about had made it, I'd be more lenient.

107 comments:

Methadras said...

Ikea instructions are pretty bullet proof. If you built up something from Ikea, like a table and it still comes out crooked, then you didn't do it right.

Scott M said...

If I've done something myself, I'm particularly irritated by the flaws (and I'm more likely to know where they are). If someone I cared about had made it, I'd be more lenient.

I think that's very true, with the possible exception of the complexity of what you did/built/accomplished. If you personally know that the task or craft was of a very high difficulty relative to your skills, and yet you pulled it off almost perfectly, a few small flaws are going to be inconsequential to the overall accomplishment, to the point that you might get irritated with someone pointing them out.

Mary Martha said...

I am with you... far more demanding of my own work than I am of others. If I am going to take time and effort I am going to make sure it is as perfect as I can make it.

I have an Ikea bookshelf that has to be placed against a corner because it was dinged up by my roommate when assembling it.

I don't care because at least *I* didn't put the time and effort into assembling it. He assembled it as a favor and I appreciate the effort regardless of imperfections.

Rusty said...

Yeah, but it looks better if you do it right.
Doing it right takes a little more effort and planning.
So read the directions and follow them.

Scott M said...

"Enjoy your affordable Swedish crap."

bagoh20 said...

I understand the sentiment about DIY, but Ikea is about as far from DIY as you can get and still touch a screw driver. It will come out the same as every other one of the thousands they sold, unless you have a post-graduate degree.

rastajenk said...

I read the piece twice and still didn't get anything out of it. Seems like the worst kind of pop psychology: an unoriginal idea, a new label, and senseless pap.

bagoh20 said...

"Enjoy your affordable Swedish crap."

The end of that short clip says it all.

Shouting Thomas said...

Homer Simpson has encountered the DIY problem frequently.

Pogo said...

Where's Sippican when you really need him?

Scott M said...

Those Swedes know how to give you just about everything you need to put a piece of their furniture together.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
X said...

what bagoh said. Some Assembly Required and building a table are two different things.

bagoh20 said...

I do most everything perfectly the first try, then I go back and screw it up so people will still like me. I also do this so well that it looks seamless.

Sorun said...

"Ikea instructions are pretty bullet proof."

I assemble everything twice. First time with a cursory look at the instructions, and then again with a detailed reading.

Pogo said...

I just replaced some godawful cheap molding I had installed 15 years ago in my son's room, now that he's off to college.

I made a 3-piece baseboard molding, window molding, and used some 100 year old moldings around the doorframes. I did a much better job than 1.5 decades ago.

But I can still see every little flaw. It drives me mad.

RecChief said...

As a wood worker, I know every mistake and flaw in my work. And I apologize to the people I give my works to, even though they never notice them.

Irene said...

The second thing a knitter learns is how to rip out mistakes. Start over.

GrandpaMark said...

I once read that a Japanese ceramics master would intentionally include a minor flaw in his work "because only God is perfect".
In my experience, competent craftsmen are quick to point out flaws in their work when complimented.

Revenant said...

I don't identify with that feeling. If I've done something myself, I'm particularly irritated by the flaws

Likewise.

On the other hand, if I created it for my own use then I created it to MY specifications. So there may be things about it that irritate OTHER people and not me -- but because those things don't irritate me, not because I'm so in love with my work.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Whoever invented the term "The IKEA Effect" must love it because they put it together, even though they did a shitty job.

I call dibs on the "I Love My Shitty Kids Effect."

Bob_R said...

"I asked Mochon whether this meant that stores such as Ikea could boost sales by asking people to solve very difficult math problems when they walked into the store."

And now we know why Shankar Vedantam works for NPR, rather than at a job that requires a modicum of common sense.

Astro said...

The flip side of that coin is a guy like Norm Abrams who had every tool imaginable in his old/New Yankee Workshop.

The wife: "Can you make a Shaker-style dresser like that?"
Me: "Can I go spend a hundred thousand dollars on tools and supplies?"
The wife: "No."
Me: "Then, no."

Rabel said...

"Participants saw their amateurish
creations – of both utilitarian and hedonic products – as similar in value to the creations of experts, and expected others to share their opinions."

This could explain why some of you people don't appreciate how well my comments stack up against those Fitzgerald sentences.

hombre said...

It's an attitude reflective of the sociopathy of the new left, i.e., intentions/apparent sincerity are everything, results/competence are unimportant.

One might call it the "Obama Syndrome." It is unfortunate to see it show up in the business college, even if it is just marketing. Hopefully it was only for illustrative purposes.

Bob Ellison said...

I like the concept, and I think it's valid. Consumers (customers) tend to place more value in things they have to work on themselves. Any idiot can buy a cappuccino at Starbucks. The real customer will pay a thousand bucks for the machine, make a crappier cappuccino, and still think it's better than the one from the store.

chickelit said...

I made a pedestal table in high school shop class. We had an excellent teacher, and we were graded so we tended to avoid or hide flaws. My mother still has link.

Recently, I made a large tack trunk for my daughter and I had her help because I know they don't teach those things in school anymore.

Larry J said...

GrandpaMark said...
I once read that a Japanese ceramics master would intentionally include a minor flaw in his work "because only God is perfect".


I've read the same thing about Persian rugs and for exactly the same reason.

Bob_R said...

Maybe this is urban legend, but I remember the story that Duncan Hines designed their cake mixes to require the addition of fresh egg because women doing the baking perceive the product as much better when in fact they couldn't tell the difference between the recipe that required no egg in blind tests.

I think the key issue is the difference between our expectation of competence and our accomplishment. It's kind of appalling to me that there are people out there who would be proud of having put together an Ikea table, but I guess that's the case.

Original Mike said...

"If I've done something myself, I'm particularly irritated by the flaws (and I'm more likely to know where they are). If someone I cared about had made it, I'd be more lenient."

Ditto.

Peter said...

"Ikea effect" seems a poorly chosen phrase here. You din't "create" the furniture, you just put together someone else's design.

Admiring your badly assembled flat furniture makes about as much sense as admiring the crack you put in your car's bumper when you hit the parking lot's concrete barrier.

Big Mike said...

I've assembled a lot of Ikea shelves and cabinets for our basement so I agree with Methedras -- if it came out wrong you were drunk, stoned, or really trying to screw it up (probably so your wife wouldn't make you assemble anything else).

@chicklet, looks like a nice little table, friend.

Chip S. said...

He's a marketing professor. Of course he's learned to admire his own work, despite its flaws.

Success in that field is well-aligned with the bogosity of one's "insights".

Shanna said...

So, this guy thinks it has nothing to do with price, ease of moving a flat box compared to a preassembled piece or quality?

I have bought a couple things from Ikea. One was really easy to put together and never wobbly, one was kind of complicated and tried to fall apart. I did not buy either piece because I wanted to build it myself or have pride of building something (although it is occasionally fun and satisfying to put things together - like playing with lincoln logs as a kid)

bagoh20 said...

I think the best thing I ever made was a table lamp in 7th grade wood shop. Turned it on a lathe out of walnut and maple I think. It was very cool and completely one of a kind. I just cut it without any plans or sketches. I wish I knew where it was. I imagine Mom sold it during a garage sale some time after I left home, and today it lights slowly turning pages of "The Great Gatsby" somewhere in rural Pennsylvania.

Typical of the times, in metal shop we made cast aluminum peace symbols, and in electric shop it was music activated strobe lights for our hallucination filled bedrooms. Good times.

chickelit said...

Typical of the times, in metal shop we made cast aluminum peace symbols, and in electric shop it was music activated strobe lights for our hallucination filled bedrooms. Good times.

I think I failed or pre-emptively dropped metal shop in HS because I couldn't butt weld.

CWJ said...

Yep, Mochon's got it backwards.

But if somehow he does have it right, does that mean we've achieved the logical end of the the self-esteem movement? You think you're wonderful no matter how screwed up your popsicle stick house might be.

edutcher said...

If you put together a kit and the pieces don't fit, it's not your fault.

If you build it from scratch, well, it just goes to show how wrong Barry is.

Ann Althouse said...

If I've done something myself, I'm particularly irritated by the flaws (and I'm more likely to know where they are).

That's the result of discipline and real pride in one's accomplishments.

Bob Ellison said...

Some of the commenters on this thread don't seem to understand what marketing is. If you poop a little turd out and find a way to sell it for a dollar, then you've got a business model. If you find a way to poop a hundred of them each day, then you've got a business.

Some of you are assuming the marketer must be virtuous in your eyes. There is no such requirement. He's selling guns, crack, software, ideas, whatever. It doesn't have to be good. It just has to sell.

Christy said...

IKEA doesn't pretend to be more than it is. I like that. It's also fun to put together.

BDNYC said...

I agree with you. It probably helps explain why you hate to host parties. It doesn't bother me at all if someone hosts me and serves me less-than-stellar food, but if I'm the host, I become so nervous and so hard on myself that I can't even enjoy the party.

AllenS said...

I've done a lot of things in my life, and having said that, I've also made a lot of mistakes. If you don't show someone your flaws in your work, you'd be surprised how few, if any, will notice them on their own.

Levi Starks said...

There is a difference between shoddy workmanship, and intentional disregard for perfection.

Bob Dylan (of whom I know Althouse is a fan) is famous for his apparently disheveled appearance. However in a book written by an ex girlfriend, she describes the great amount of care required each day to maintain that look.

bagoh20 said...

" I couldn't butt weld."

Have you tried the buddy system?

Rusty said...

It ain't how many tools ya got. It's how ya use the tools ya have.

CWJ said...

Bob E,

Oh surely, I understand marketing. I think most most of the commenters and our hostess are just saying that Mochon has the psychology backwards.

As mentioned at least once above, the marketing lies in the affordability and ease of transport, not in the feeling of accomplishment that you put it together. Some people may feel that, but those are the individual "turds" you mention, not the majority of buyers. At best they feel a sense of Lincoln Log fun as Shanna suggests.

MadisonMan said...

Count me with the perfectionists who don't make things because it's too much an annoyance when things aren't perfect.

This does not extend to food however.

Rocketeer said...

I think most most of the commenters and our hostess are just saying that Mochon has the psychology backwards.

"Wet streets cause rain."

traditionalguy said...

Using Perfection as your standards is a form of cruelty.

Using perfection as your standard on your own work is good for others but cruelty to yourself.

But on behalf of us half ass guys, please don't change a thing.



BDNYC said...

One time I made ribs and, upon tasting them, realized they weren't spectacular. I tossed them in the trash and made burgers instead, to "protect the brand."

Rabel said...

Interesting. The study (here) doesn't back up the quote from Mochon.

The builder does not place a higher value on his own work because it is "really, really great," but simply because he built it and it is the fruit of his effort.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I used to be much more of a perfectionist but the booze has helped a lot.

DADvocate said...

I am more like Ann, tend to be more critical of myself than others. Mochon's statement his more a reflection of his personal outlook and approach, as such statements often are. Perhaps he's an extreme ivory tower guy, more critical of others than of himself. Having reached the pinnacle of college professor, he has that inflated of opinion of himself as doing no wrong.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Ellison said...

CWJ, I would like the world you describe, but you misunderstand it. Those turds are the products, and those customers buy the turds.

This effect is real. This affect is real. Why do people value a $10k dress more than a $100 dress?

It's affect, and it affects the effect. Customers are surprisingly suggestible. They are not all high-minded commenters on blogs.

Leigh Fellner said...

The "intentional flaw" story (e.g., Japanese pottery, Persian/Navajo rugs, Amish/African American quilts) is a Western fantasy. It's invariably applied to the "other," and it seems to have originated in Oriental rug stores as a way to turn a bug into a feature.

Think about it for a minute. If you really are so humble as to think that "only God can make something perfect," why would you have to intentionally include a flaw (that, since intentional, isn't a flaw at all)? Isn't what you're doing the epitome of hubris? ("My work is so perfect I have to make it irregular by intention").

Nini said...

Two things.

The prof. from Tulane has never assembled an IKEA.

His example fails the point he is trying to explain.

CWJ said...

Oh lord, Bob E,

I'm not suggesting some alternate world. Let me try again. The marketing hook is affordability and ease of transport. You can buy it and take it home today. You don't have to wait for delivery, or pay to have it delivered. I get that. OK. What I don't believe is that any appreciable number of people shop IKEA because they get to put it together themselves. Some maybe yes. But that does not drive their marketing as Mochon seems to be suggesting.

I don't see what world you think I'm trying to suggest to you.

Sigivald said...

I'm sure the effect is real.

But it's kind of harsh to refer to IKEA; I've assembled a fair number of IKEA products, and none of them have been crooked.

Given their methods, the only way to get a table crooked is either a manufacturing flaw, or an almost unbelievable failure to follow the instructions.

And I've never seen a significant manufacturing flaw like that in their furniture.

(Their small electronics, on the other hand, are less impressive. Clocks, not their forte.)

(I also don't care nearly as much about imperfections in things I produce as others here seem to.

I've made a lot of things, often from bare lumber. I keep my expectations sensible, and am not disappointed.)

Chip S. said...

Really, who here hasn't said to their guests, "I hope you enjoy sitting on this sofa. I made it myself. I call it Ektorp."

Fred Drinkwater said...

Astro: I heard that Norm Abrams once remarked that he had so many "contributed" tools that (for instance) he never changed router bits. He just changed routers.
Me, the only tool I have enough of is clamps, and even there, I don't have enough, because any woodworker will tell you that you can never have too many clamps.

Brew Master said...

RecChief said...
As a wood worker, I know every mistake and flaw in my work. And I apologize to the people I give my works to, even though they never notice them.


I do a great deal of DIY work, from woodworking, car restoration, beer brewing, house remodeling, gardening, etc...

I love making things myself. However, I'm very conscious of every flaw in my work. I have to make a concerted effort to allow those flaws to exist, and make peace with them otherwise you can obsess over them and never get anything done. I've gotten better at this as I've done more projects, and aged/matured.

I've learned that I don't have to point them out, even though I know they are there (I'm not making things for others, just myself). People who do not do things themselves tend to look at the work I do and are completely amazed. They do not see the flaws, or if they do, do not care.

I can see how assembling an IKEA item from a kit will boost the perception of it, it is a sense of accomplishment to be able to see/use the fruits of ones own labors.

This is something I've thought about in the modern economy, how a lot of people do not see the end product of their work in their jobs. They do not actually 'make' anything on a daily basis, shuffling papers and numbers around is not the same thing as being a welder, or plumber. This can sap enthusiasm for that work.

This is one reason why I do so many DIY projects, I work in IT and rarely have a physical product that I can point to as product. I fill that need on my own time producing items for myself and family.

Shanna said...

Given their methods, the only way to get a table crooked is either a manufacturing flaw, or an almost unbelievable failure to follow the instructions.

My brother and I put together a desk a year or two ago and one of the legs really, really didn't want to stay put. I think it was a manufacturing flaw. Not that I'm perfect at putting things together, but it was just that leg that was screwy.

The other item I bought there was very easy to put together and still sturdy and perfect years later. I'm not sure if their quality has gone down or I just bought something more complicated this time.

Sigivald said...

Bob Ellison said: The real customer will pay a thousand bucks for the machine, make a crappier cappuccino, and still think it's better than the one from the store.

You misspelled "sucker".

(I can get a good machine, grinder, and roaster for under $500, and it'll make better cappuccino than Starbucks* even if you have no appreciable skill whatsoever.

Not that cappuccinos are what people actually order anyway...)

* Which is a pretty low bar.

Shanna said...

You misspelled "sucker".

Heh. But this is where their whole point falls apart. Why are they comparing IKEA to Build a Bear/making your own coffee for more money people? Those are people that are willing to pay a premium for the pleasure of making things themselves. That is not what IKEA is selling.

Tim said...

I can't identify with either feeling.

If I thought I could do it, and it turned out like crap, I failed.

I hate that.

If I thought I couldn't do it, and hired someone to do it for me, and it turned out like crap, we both failed.

I hate that.

CWJ said...

Shanna @ 4:06

Bingo.

Chip Ahoy said...

My parents have some crap furniture they bought because the people who made the pieces are retarded. That's the point of the whole project. Everything is crooked and looks clumsy sloppy and retarded and they don't care. Nobody does. People notice it too, and they go, "Hey, Jack, some of this furniture in this room looks retarded." and my parents go, "Well, yeah, duh, whatdaya expect?"

But. That's a local little group and not Ikea.

Lem said...

My experience has been that Ikea designs the assembly so that its done correctly... its like you have to actively seek to do it incorrectly.

Leads me to believe when the researcher said that his wife has to come in and finish the job... I think that was bs.

I'm not a peasant... I'm a researcher, philosopher.

Rusty said...

MadisonMan said...
Count me with the perfectionists who don't make things because it's too much an annoyance when things aren't perfect.

This does not extend to food however.

The worst thing. The absolute worst thing is not to try.
Everything we put our hands to is a learning experience.
To not learn is to atrophy.

GrandpaMark said...

Here are a couple of DIY tips;
"Those are not instructions, those are suggestions"
"Sometimes it is easier to do it the hard way"

kentuckyliz said...

The sinking feeling that I am less skilled than some third world illerate factory assembler slave child is somewhat mitigated by the glee that supporting IKEA means deforesting Russia.

kentuckyliz said...

*illiterate

That's really sad...misspelling illiterate.

Deb said...

the second thing a knitter learns is how to rip out mistakes. Start over.

Also known as "frogging". :-)

Coketown said...

My safety word is "Ikea."

It seems fitting since Ikea's business model is built around satisfying people's latent masochistic impulses.

From what I've heard--I've never been there personally and have no interested in ever going--the entire process is abusive and degrading. You're corralled through the store like cattle, desperately tagging anything you want. It's crowded. Then you get your crap and assembling it is tedious, exhausting, frustrating, and 7 times out of 10 there are obvious design or manufacturing flaws. Then the furniture sits there, in your studio (it is perfectly disgusting when people use Ikea to furnish anything else), looking ugly and cheap. You say "Swedish modern!" I say, "ugly and cheap." Consider for a moment whether your immediate association with "Sweden" is "great designers." They gave us Saab, after all. So you're humiliated from purchase to that satisfying day when you throw that piece of shit media center in the dumpster and finally, at last!, have enough sense to go to Crate and Barrel, which is my new shopping mecca. I love it. Everything is high quality and most things are tasteful!

I am in love with having used an exclamation point before that comma. Look what it does to the sentence! It infuses the middle with excitement without interrupting the flow of the sentence. Who says enthusiasm is reserved only for the end of the sentence? Not me! IKEA!

AllenS said...

Isn't reading the instructions kinda like cheating? If they say you only need a 1/2 inch open end wrench, a phillips screwdriver and a hammer, and it doesn't go together, did the thought ever occur to you that your hammer isn't big enough?

AllenS said...

Ikea job interview

The Roller said...

Building a table is minor....

When one masters the art of riding a table, that's the real deal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQ4owd3yQ_4

CWJ said...

Coketown,

I've bought and enjoyed my share of build it yourself furniture. But! I enjoyed your comment immensely.

Coketown said...

CWJ,

My media console from Crate & Barrel was build-it-yourself. Well, not yourself, but myself. I built it. It's not BIY furniture I despise. It's Ikea. Ikea is to BIY furniture as...gosh, I don't know. That normally comes out, "X is awful! X is to Y as Ikea is to furniture."

I have a sedan so build-it-myself is a necessity. It's fun building things anyhow. But if I spent more than twenty minutes building something from Ikea, I would feel ashamed to see a tacky particle-board abomination standing there as the fruit of my labors.

Revenant said...

I've never been there personally and have no interested in ever going

Well, I have; I've been to the Ikea here in San Diego many times, and mostly furnished my home office and bedroom there.

The process is simple: there is a big furniture showroom, with free little notepads an pencils to write down the names of whatever you want. There's also a second section with other items (lamps, dishes, wall hangings, etc) that you can shop in normally. The route to the cash register takes you through the warehouse area where you can grab whatever boxes of unassembled furniture you're planning to buy. Then you check out and leave like at any other store. It is no more "cattle-like" than a Home Depot and considerably less so than the average supermarket.

As for the furniture itself, well, compare sofas from Ikea and Crate and Barrel. As you can see, you can get nice-looking sofas at either place, it is just that the Ikea ones cost half as much. Similarly, you can get this chest of drawers for $250 at Ikea, or get this nearly identical one for $600.

Ikea has three major downsides:
1. Very limited selection, appearance-wise. I recommend it for offices and bedrooms, not something you want to wow guests with.
2. Terrible for kitchens, IMO.
3. Most of the furniture is not very sturdy, so if you move a lot don't buy it.

ampersand said...

In my childhood it was possible to buy affordable furniture made out of real wood.
Later, affordable furniture included some wood but mostly pressboard (glued sawdust) with a vinyl or paper wood applique.
Now it's pressboard ,but you have to assemble it yourself
I suppose in the future they will sell you the sawdust, the glue, the paper and a paint set seperately and you're on your own.

CWJ said...

Coketown,

Thank you for your reply. C and B has its own sense of style. If you like it (as do we) go for it. Pretending that IKEA has some sort of special monopoly on knock down furniture is just silly.

BTW, I just copied the C & B elevate room divider for our home. Yes, I see all my flaws, but for $100 of furniture grade wood dimensioned to the space we were filling, I'm happy with the result.

AllenS said...

I think ampersand has a crystal ball.

Coketown said...

As you can see, you can get nice-looking sofas at either place, it is just that the Ikea ones cost half as much.

My friend has an Ikea sofa. It was nice until I sat on it, at which point the illusion was shattered.

I cringed seeing the prices of Crate and Barrel's sofas, but I could see spending the extra money for the quality. It's not a good testimony to any retailer when you have to advise people against moving their wares because they are not very sturdy.

And come on! Functionally, yes, those two chests of drawers are nearly identical. But you can see in the pictures how big of a quality difference there is in materials and probably craftsmanship. It would be like trying to pass off EZ Cheez as brie.

Michael K said...

There is a reason why Mike Holmes is the most admired man in Canada.

Here we have Hillary who can't do anything right. Suggest anything ? About the recent election, I mean.

Paddy O said...

I thought I liked Ikea because it was a good enough piece of furniture that has just enough character to seem interesting while being significantly cheaper than other options.

Chip Ahoy said...

chickelit, when you made that table did your fingers turn purple?

tiger said...

"I once read that a Japanese ceramics master would intentionally include a minor flaw in his work "because only God is perfect".
In my experience, competent craftsmen are quick to point out flaws in their work when complimented."

It wasn't a Japanese person because Shintoism has no god - let alone God.

I read the one about Persian rugs too and think that's closer to the truth.

We all know where the flaws are in the things we make - even in putting together 'some cheap IKEA crap'.

I like IKEA's designs if not always their execution and as for making Shaker furniture: yup - $100k tools and equipment sounds just about right. :)

chickelit said...

Chip Ahoy said...
chickelit, when you made that table did your fingers turn purple?

No. That sounds like an allergic reaction. Back then we worked with safety googles but no dust masks. And even then (1974-75) walnut was expensive.

Lem said...

Imagine that, you know, you built a table... for the Althouse Cafe... Maybe it came out a little bit crooked... a mixed metaphor here a spelling error there... alls you know is you keep checking back to see if it lay an egg.



Lem said...

Back in 1980, I made a coffee table in wood shop.

I didn't speak English yet, but there I was in Mass following the drawing directions of the book and loving the smell of the glue used for wood.

We dragged that table move after move until the glue could no longer take that kind of punishment... I put some screws from the top to hold a couple of legs in place. The last time I recall seeing it in a nondescript back yard getting soaked in the rain. I knew it would not make back into the house again.

chickelit said...

I made a 3-piece baseboard molding, window molding, and used some 100 year old moldings around the doorframes. I did a much better job than 1.5 decades ago.

I did all the baseboard molding throughout our house 13 years ago after we had new carpeting put in. That was a mistake. Always remove molding when doing new flooring. Molding is meant to conceal the transition between floor and wall, not be part of the wall. I finally fixed it last year when we ripped the carpeting out and replaced with wood laminate.

Crown molding was harder for me. I put some up in the kitchen and my wife rejected it because it accentuated an imperfection in the wall soffit/cabinet transition. She made me take it down and do over. And, I thought I could do it with just a miter saw--crown molding angles need a coping saw.

David said...

My son the woodworker builds tables and other furniture that look flawless to me, but he is never fully satisfied by the result.

I have the same problem with sentences.

Dante said...

There is a concept called SPECIALIZATION. You can read about it in Barzun's book "From Dawn to Decadence," and it's a fairly recent concept. Maybe 500 years old.

Specialization means something like, Good actors make good actors, but not necessarily good politicians. Good lawyers make good lawyers, but not necessarily good carpenters.

I'm not denying there isn't an element of natural ability, as the first ever painting my wife did looks amazing, and they couldn't believe she had never been trained.

But, the idea that because you are "Good," you are "Good" at everything, is frankly stupid, in my view. Especially with the increasingly complex set of rules everyone has to learn, and the lack of reducing these to simpler things.

In fact, it seems we go the other way, making more rules, ipso factos, cutouts, and other BS to make the whole thing incomprehensible, especially at the elite thinker level.

My own admission is that I did not want to pay $300.00 or more to install a direct line to a new garage door I installed. I did a great job! Except for one minor thing. I hooked up the power to a switched circuit. I didn't realize that was what I as doing. So the garage door wouldn't turn on unless the florescence in the garage were on. I learned something! I still had to pay the $300.00, but not the $200.00 to install the garage door opener, which I did really well.

There, that's my 2C to this conversation. Very good topic, though. The whole damn economy works on specialization, and it can really screw people up when they lose their hard won skills.

Lem said...

I remember I wanted to use the wood lathe... but we only had so much time to do the chosen project and I had no experience using any of the machines.. It was a Jr High School and I was put in the senior year. (I dont know if they have those anymore)

Students like me were assigned tutors to help us finish.

ALH said...

You think you built that table? You didn't build that. What about the woodshop teacher you had in highschool. And do you think that tree just fell down spontaneously and splintered into boards? No, you didn't build that table.

chickelit said...

ALH said...
You think you built that table? You didn't build that. What about the woodshop teacher you had in highschool. And do you think that tree just fell down spontaneously and splintered into boards? No, you didn't build that table.

It's worse. Not a day passes when I don't think about that poor walnut tree somewhere long ago--felled by rough trade capitalists for profit--a beautiful piece of Nature's handiwork able to sequester more carbon each year than Al Gore's growing paunch. And why? All to satisfy the aesthetic choice of teenage boy to use luxuriant dark deciduous wood instead of fast growing pine.

Lem said...

There is a new post... and for some reason I can only see the headline sentence...

If I close this tab, I will be out of the loop for god knows how long.

This is not the first time this has happened.

Revenant said...

My friend has an Ikea sofa. It was nice until I sat on it, at which point the illusion was shattered.

Depends on which one you get. There are showroom models for everything they sell, and they're usually pretty worn (lot of foot traffic in that place), so you'll pretty much know how your sofa of choice will stand up to use.

It's not a good testimony to any retailer when you have to advise people against moving their wares because they are not very sturdy.

The way I look at it is: you can pay $250 for a piece of furniture, or pay $600 for the same piece of furniture with the optional "stands up to manhandling by the home movers" add-on. That's an overpriced add-on; I'd rather just leave the thing on the curb with a "take me" sign and buy a new chest of drawers when I get where I'm going.

But you can see in the pictures how big of a quality difference there is in materials and probably craftsmanship.

Well, no. Pine and made in China (Ikea) vs "poplar with birch veneer" made in Vietnam (C&B). Either way you're not going to be impressing anyone with it, so why pay twice as much just for a place to store your underpants?

Revenant said...

Also, let's get real -- this isn't EZ Cheez vs brie. This is, at best, EZ Cheez vs Kraft Singles. :)

Lem said...

I guess nobody else is having the problem I'm having...

There are now three new posts but I can only comment on the last two... The page ends with... "For a moment a phrase tried to take shape in my mouth and my lips parted like a dumb man’s..."

______________________________

the line ending the post... the one I cant comment on.

Steve Koch said...

I do quite a few projects and I frequently get an inordinate kick when I look at my work around my houses.

Marc said...

Why does is the Ikea chest of drawers sold/purchased when it "must be secured to the wall with the enclosed anti-topple device"? You pull a drawer full of underwear out and the thing topples over unless it's secured to the wall? don't regret never having been in an Ikea store.

kentuckyliz said...

I wonder if my parents felt that way about me.

Rose said...

Had a contractor friend who, when clients showed signs of being 'difficult' - would have them stain their own cabinets - the reason being, whatever flaws there were then, they loved them anyway, believing they had done good work. For some reason, it worked.

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