We've touched on this topic only briefly before, so I'd like to hear impressions on the topic of limited-edition goods—impressions specifically from the industrial design community, as ID's raison d'etre, of course, is mass production. We all have our different views and opinions of things, but I'm starting to worry than mine is veering so far outside of what's currently normal that I'm in danger of no longer being able to comprehend the normal consumer's thinking.
Here's what sparked this. These are shots of the Deux X Makr Tool Roll, a collaboration between Australian handbuilt motorcycle outfit Deus Ex Machina and Florida-based bag manufacturer Makr Carry Goods.
As you'll see in the quick vid below, the bag looks beautiful and appears nicely functional:
It was intended for a small production run, but "unprecented demand" meant the bags sold out extremely quickly. This prompted Deus and Maker to order up another production run, which seems logical. But what struck me was this comment left on their page by a purchaser of a first-run bag:
Glad I brought one before they sold out! I hope thought [sic] that there is a point of difference between these and your next re-run. I brought one because there was potentially only 50 available—that justified the price I paid for it. Please don't dilute the value of these awesome rolls by producing more than was promised (in this design anyway).
I understand the part of society where we pay more for things that are scarce, a model based on the allocation of natural resources. I get that we make houses out of wood and engagement rings out of gold and diamonds. What I'm not keen on is the notion of contrived scarcity, where seemingly every manufacturer with a stylish product artificially limits the production run purely to justify a higher price tag. I understand this practice's value in fashion, where two society women at a party don't want to show up in the same dress; but I'm having a problem mapping this notion onto machine tools.
What got me about the commenter's words was that producing a second run would "dilute the value" of the roll he'd already purchased. Is this because I'm looking at the roll as a tool in itself, whereas it is not, strictly speaking? If I need a 3/8” socket wrench and I buy one, it has value to me every time I use it. If the amount that the company sells of those wrenches subsequently doubles, that doesn't change the value of the tool to me at all. I needed it, I bought it and now I have it and use it. What lies in other people's toolboxes doesn't concern me. Is that where I'm missing something?
While setting contrived production limits is the prerogative of the manufacturer and really none of my business, I think the reason it doesn't sit well with me is because it seems to go against the mass manufacturing spirit of industrial design. But in an age of increasingly digital manufacturing, where you no longer need to crank out enormous production runs in order to create economies of scale, I have a feeling I'm just going to have to get used to it.
Your thoughts, please. And if you have a more involved point of view that won't fit into a comment box, feel free to e-mail it to [rain] -at- core77 (dot) com.