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Substance of style: how the rise of…
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Substance of style: how the rise of aesthetic value is remaking commerce,…

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Whether it's sleek leather pants, a shiny new Apple computer, or a designer toaster, we make important decisions as consumers every day based on our sensory experience. Sensory appeals are everywhere, and they are intensifying, radically changing how Americans live and work. The twenty-first century has become the age of aesthetics, and whether we realize it or not, this influence has taken over the marketplace, and much more. In this penetrating, keenly observed book, Virginia Postrel makes the argument that appearance counts, that aesthetic value is real. Drawing from fields as diverse as fashion, real estate, politics, design, and economics, Postrel deftly chronicles our culture's aesthetic imperative and argues persuasively that it is a vital component of a healthy, forward-looking society. Intelligent, incisive, and thought-provoking, The Substance of Style is a groundbreaking portrait of the democratization of taste and a brilliant examination of the way we live now.… (més)
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Títol:Substance of style: how the rise of aesthetic value is remaking commerce, culture, and consciousness
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The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness de Virginia Postrel

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This is another book I've had forever, one actually recommended to me by Daniel Pink. The book, as the title says, deals with the importance of style and design in varying cultures. Why do we pay a premium for products that are the same as their counterparts, just differently colored? Why do we even care so much about style in general? The book tries to answer these questions.

The book is worthy of more than a two star rating in terms of how well it is written, as well as for its general premise - the topic is a fascinating one. I only rated it so low for two reasons: 1) The book is out of date. I'm uncertain whether or not a new edition has come out, but it would behoove the reader to search for it if it has. 2) The book, likewise, could have been significantly shorter. By the end I felt as if the same exact thing was just being reiterated over and over again.

Essentially, as our general needs are met i.e. shelter and food, we begin to search out things to make life pleasurable. In instances wherein general needs cannot be met, we still seek out escapism in the form of better things. So, essentially, if we can find something to bring a bit of novelty into our lives, we will; if we don't find novelty, our creativity dies and we suffer burnout. A basic idea, but one that perhaps doesn't come up quite as often as it should. Interestingly enough, the book also counteracts a lot of the beliefs of design being merely frivolous. It's in our nature to find pleasure in the shiny and new.

No wonder Project Runway is so popular. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did, but I found it to be all over the place. Most of it felt like a series of more or less unsupported assertions, with little in the way of a hierarchy of ideas or sustained development of arguments; unfortunately very like a business book in places (and not a very sophisticated one.) Postrel has a very unconvincing historical perspective; she seems to feel that widespread interest in, and application of, aesthetics to consumer goods and daily life is a recent invention - which of course makes no sense whatever. The recent "rise of aesthetic value" that she claims to identify is the result of much more complex economic and, especially, technological changes than she seems equipped to discuss. The first chapters of the book were the most frustrating to get through: I thought she was at her strongest in Chapter 5, "The Boundaries of Design," where she begins to sound more like an essayist developing several lines of thought rather than a journalist stringing together sound bites into book length. ( )
  theparsley | Mar 24, 2016 |
Postrel is posing the claim that aesthetic qualities are becoming increasingly important in our society, from retail to lifestyle to business. From an interaction design point of view, the recent turn of the mainstream towards experiential use qualities parallels the broader development outlined by Postrel. The book offfers a range of observations from different fields, presented in a highly accessible way. The reasoning is somewhat simplified and the style is journalistic rather than scholarly. It is sometimes hard to tell whether the book is about a line of societal/cultural development or about Postrel’s own growing up in terms of aesthetic sensibility. In short, The substance of style serves as a useful indication of a phenomenon that has far-reaching implications for design in general, including interaction design. What those implications are is largely left for us to find out for ourselves.
  jonas.lowgren | Aug 2, 2011 |
I read Survival of the Prettiest, and I still wanted more. This wasn't it. Since I ate at Dairy Queen first and Lopez Island Creamery second, I still call them both ice cream, of sorts. That's the sort of comparison this book begs. Unless you are stuck in flyover country with no hope of the good stuff, don't bother. ( )
  jonesjohnson | Apr 30, 2008 |
Virginia Postrel is magnificent in the way she synthesizes a completel novel observation and then supports it so clearly. Her previous exposition of dynamism is followed with an equally strong stance for the importance aesthetics as being more than a superficial factor. ( )
  jpsnow | Apr 27, 2008 |
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Whether it's sleek leather pants, a shiny new Apple computer, or a designer toaster, we make important decisions as consumers every day based on our sensory experience. Sensory appeals are everywhere, and they are intensifying, radically changing how Americans live and work. The twenty-first century has become the age of aesthetics, and whether we realize it or not, this influence has taken over the marketplace, and much more. In this penetrating, keenly observed book, Virginia Postrel makes the argument that appearance counts, that aesthetic value is real. Drawing from fields as diverse as fashion, real estate, politics, design, and economics, Postrel deftly chronicles our culture's aesthetic imperative and argues persuasively that it is a vital component of a healthy, forward-looking society. Intelligent, incisive, and thought-provoking, The Substance of Style is a groundbreaking portrait of the democratization of taste and a brilliant examination of the way we live now.

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