Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Crappy furniture

A stock of clothes may last several years; a stock of furniture half a century or a century;
Adam Smith - The Wealth of Nations

Half a century? Not if you buy it from one of the big retailers matey. We recently wasted quite a few hours looking for a pair of armchairs which are both comfortable and likely to be reasonably durable. What an experience that was.

Most modern armchairs and sofas are crap displayed in vast soulless sheds. Ergonomically they are so poorly designed that most are not even worth trying. No head support, no lumbar support, no attempt to fit the human form, no attempt to inform potential customers about materials, springing or durability. Only glaring lies about amazing special offers which aren't amazing and aren't special.

As for quality, Adam Smith’s half a century is long gone. We even tried DFS as we found ourselves driving past the horrible place. Why anyone would go twice is a mystery. We won’t. If too many customers accept rubbish then rubbish is what we’ll get from the faceless corporate bean-counters. When it comes to furniture we certainly do accept rubbish, mountains and mountains of rubbish. It’s the same with politics but we never learn.

In the end we found some locally made furniture which looks promising. Lots of info on the materials and no hard sell. Expensive but not much more expensive than the crap so I think we’ll give the crap a miss. It isn’t simply a desire for a modicum of quality, but an equally strong desire to stick two fingers up at corporate indifference.


Demetrius said...

We are lucky enough to have nearby a place that does good quality etc. second hand Ercol and Stressless. Still pricey by ordinary standards but worth it if you have a lot of aches to nurse.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - seventies Ercol has become quite fashionable. It was well made and much of it is likely to pass the fifty year test easily. Stressless swivel chairs are good but in my experience some of their other chairs and sofas are not well designed.

wiggiatlarge said...

This sadly is the way of the world with most retailing,the Primark effect as everyone strives for ever lower prices at ever lower quality.

M&S went this route years ago, socks that lasted became throwaways after three or four washes, sturdy British made sweaters that lasted became knee warmers in weeks after being outsourced to China etc etc.

The same can be said of so many items, a security alarm recently purchased fell apart after trying to put cover on after installing batteries, the fit was so bad I taped it in place , my smugness was soon replaced as the alarm then either refused to be armed or went of straight away, it is now in the bin, buy better ?,they all come from some vast complex in China that makes the whole worlds alarms, we are stuffed.

Anonymous said...

Old 'brown' furniture is pretty cheap and old oak is very fair value and stands up to almost anything. Locally the British Heart Foundation flogs pretty good soft furnishings. Still, all this is only a problem for the sort of people who have to buy their own furniture.

A K Haart said...

Wiggia - inexpensive electrical goods are a problem, mostly made in China and much of it crap. We recently bought an alarm clock which turned out to be dead on arrival but too cheap to be worth sending back. We bought another from Argos as it is easier to return the duds.

Roger - most of our furniture is old but many old armchairs were not particularly comfortable. Perhaps previous generations did not sit down as much as we do. As for people who have to buy their own furniture, did you know Alan Clark?

James Higham said...

The age of "well-constructed" is well over.

A K Haart said...

James - also the age of well-designed. Cars are too complex.

Derek said...

"Cars are too complex" Precisely. And despite road accident statistics being the best for many decades, we have all sort of folk climbing on the "road safety" bandwagon including fully autonomous cars, while the fatality rates for hospital contracted disease is seven time higher.

I'll be sticking to my 2cv. Built in '67, it's noisy, slow, leaks in rain at times, but does 60mpg, and when it breaks - I can fix it!

A K Haart said...

Derek - presumably you don't pay road tax either. To my mind cars should be as simple as your 2cv but that's not what people want.

Derek said...

We are victims of our desires. Colour, convenience, the misnomer of safety gadgets, power and chic. To which the manufacturers bend over backwards to supply - and in the process beat the competition in the race to win the avarice of the human race. You have to be a little 'different' than average - and part engineer to boot - to fall in love with 2cv's and their kin.

Yes, currently it attracts zero road tax as an Historic vehicle. But such things have a habit of changing.

Flyinthesky said...

It's all part of an ongiong conundrum, We are encouraged nay threatened to conserve but we must continue consuming.

You can't, by design, mend anything. Kettle element anyone, fix your car.

An analogy for consideration A 1960 1.6 morris oxford 30ish miles to the gallon everything repairable, you could even refill the front shock absorbers! A 1993 ford mondeo 1.6 weighing half a ton less 30ish to the gallon, nothing on it repairable, when it gets to five or six years old it's central computer, definitely not repairable, costs more to replace than the car's worth. Where's the progress!

The death of an old car used to be brought about by rust, there has been huge advances in rustproofing, now you have decent looking cars scrapped because everything else has failed and isn't mendable.

Conserve but consume, mutually exclusive I would have thought!

A K Haart said...

Derek and Fly - this seems to be an issue with electric cars. They could be very easy and cheap to maintain and very durable but that's not what manufacturers want. They want complex, expensive and disposable.