So I work for a moving and interior design company in Philadelphia. The company I actually work for generally has tasteful furniture for sale, however as part of my job as a mover I come into contact with other companies’ specifically owners of condos who for the most part employ my company to move their furniture around various condos to help prospective buyers imagine what the apartment might look like with come chairs and a bed. A lot of this stuff is relatively nondescript and as tasteful as something like that can be. There are numerous exceptions to this rule, the glaring example being a chair decorated with abbreviations.
At first this chair seems silly (it is) but the more i look at it i can’t help considering the fact that this isn’t a mass produced chair designed to be cheaply distributed in anonymous rooms. This is a desk chair that someone has deliberately designed, another person has commissioned it to be made and successfully sold to someone who is now using it as aspirational furniture. This means at least three people (probably more) think this chair is the kind of thing people like.
I say this has to be something people think other people are into because 1) Market forces mean that investors have to assume others will want to buy things before investing in them. 2) the chair’s function is to attract people. And finally 3)This chair is objectively terrible. The fact that someone had bought this to make apartments more desirable begs a few questions about the prospective buyer they have in mind. Who do they imagine looks at a chair decorated with decontextualized abbreviations and says “yes. This is exactly the apartment I see myself living in”? No one who actually uses these abbreviations on a daily basis would want this chair because if you know what these things mean they don’t mean anything (imagine a chair decorated with a series of random words with no link or meaning), which rules out anyone under 35 as a potential buyer. If however You don’t know what they mean (so like if you’re a baby boomer) then this chair might as well be covered in random letters for all the meaning/aesthetic quality it might have.
This has to mean that the target audience is somewhere in between; in that, whilst you are aware that young people use abbreviations on the internet, you don’t know what most of those abbreviations mean. People who sell apartments have come to the conclusion that middle aged people will buy apartments that has stuff they assume the youth are into decorating them. This also means that both middle aged home-buyers and those who sell homes to them have an image of young people as spouting meaningless letters as a primary means of communication.
I say meaningless because there the only thing in common with these abreviations is that they are shortened versions of words. Some are Acronyms ; “T.M.I.”, “B.T.W.”, “T.T.Y.L”, etc etc; some are abbreviation of words “CUZ”, “CUL”, “PLZ”, etc etc; and some don’t mean anything at all.
I am aware this is just a chair, but it’s positioning as something you are assumed to like has made me wonder what it is they think we are like. The people who made this chair seem to be insisting that the Generation who grew up using text messages and emails have somehow become so devoid of meaning that we think a chair covered in lettering is something other than weird and meaningless, which is something that a lot of people who are older than me seem to be insisting about everyone my age. So whilst I understand it is just a piece of furniture, every time I see it I am reminded the society that produced this chair has also decided that $100,000 is a reasonable amount of debt to start a working life with, because we were spoiled with participation medals anyway.