In Consumed: Emergency Décor

Posted by Rob Walker on December 8, 2007
Posted Under: "Good Design" (Tyranny of),Consumed,Ethics

HomeHero: A fire extinguisher makes a claim that good looks can be a virtue.

Not long ago, Home Depot began selling a $25 fire extinguisher that did not look like a fire extinguisher: white, smooth and resembling a countertop kitchen appliance, it is “attractive enough to keep within reach,” according to a sales circular. Earlier this year, the Industrial Designers Society of America came to a similar conclusion when it gave the HomeHero one of its top awards. As is typical, the organization’s judges praised both functional and aesthetic qualities of the object. The write-up for the International Design Excellence Award asserted that it is less cumbersome and easier to use than a traditional fire extinguisher. “Most importantly,” the statement concluded, its “fashion-conscious” looks mean that “homeowners won’t want to keep the HomeHero hidden out of view, ensuring it will be in reach when seconds matter.”

Industrial designers are forever pointing out they are not mere stylists; doing their job well means making better things, not better-looking things. So it’s attention-grabbing when IDEA judges call style the most important feature of a piece of home-safety equipment….

Continue reading at the NYT Magazine site.

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Reader Comments

Very interesting read. I have felt a renewed emphasis lately on design within the appliance category – Dyson immediately comes to mind. Interestingly, I find the design of the old-fashioned fire extinguisher to be iconic and reassuring. Maybe I’m just old fashioned …

Written By Ian Sohn on December 9th, 2007 @ 8:20 am