Spring 2004

Whoosh and swoosh culture [EXTRACT]

Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness

By Virginia Postrel
HarperCollins, £15.62, 24.95 dollars

In her effervescent new book, Virginia Postrel proclaims the aesthetic age has arrived. From the whoosh of the espresso machine run by the local barrista to the ‘Swoosh’ of the Nike logo on virtually every conceivable item, consumers these days expect more than just functionality from their products and they get it.

Postrel, a New York Times economic columnist, asserts that the value added to products by the attention to aesthetic ‘look and feel’ drives the new new economy. Since the dotcom bubble burst, ‘high-touch’ has taken the place of high-tech. Design and other aesthetic considerations not only increase profit margins, she says, they make the world a better place to live, work, and shop in . . .

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