Consumerism in Contemporary world

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1. Introduction

There is no other choice, people have to consume.

Consumerism is a way of life and an ideology which is developed further by mass phenomenon. Life gives people a lot of invisible pressure which makes people thirsty and their need to relax and to be happy keeps increasing. Singapore has an environment which can provide the happiness which people are looking for. Consumerism has become very much a way of life with the popular Great Singapore Sale, major IT Exhibitions, perpetual discounts in most retail outlets nations wide and many delicious restaurants with culture involved. Consumerism helps the economics of the country grow. Moreover, Singapore government supports people to consume, and Singapore is going to be a huge shopping hub in South Asia. Thus, it is important for us to recognize the value of consumerism that is within and around us. People are consuming in different aspects, and Food & Beverage forms a big part of this consumerism society. However, people need to consume, people consume also because they are attracted to all the different designed spaces which gives them an opportunity to explore more. In another word, consumerism is becoming design driven. Good design helps people to consume at a better place and consume a better product.

2. Analysis

Consumerism is known as an action where people purchase goods, which are more than necessary for their lives, but it can affect more than buying habits and personal and family life. Sometimes, it may even make people less aware of their own emotional reactions, as they seek to buy yet another item that will distract them. On the other hand, consumerism also keeps people up-to-date and modern as consumerism globalized. There is no right or wrong when people talk about consumerism. It is beneficial for people, but when people continue to keep consuming and consuming, the naturals resources   start decreasing and as a result of which problems like global warming occur.

In fact, consumerism has been around human civilization at the first place. It is strongly connected to the western world. People purchase goods, exchange things and trade between each other. It had a good turn in consumerism arrived just before the Industrial Revolution.

2.1 Consumerism in Contemporary world

In 21st century, consumerism is one of the arguments which is always discussed and argued by the scientists and researchers, in order to find out the reasons and how do people waste money on such expensive things, such as clothing, electronic items, cars, technological devices ...etc. One of many reasons that makes consumer spend lots of money for their consumption is advertisement. According to research, Billions of companies throw their commercials into market as many ways as they can. They will show their brand names on TV, magazines, in movie theaters, malls ...etc. To attract consumer, companies have million ways to entice people by advertising. If a company wants people know about its name or products, they then try to make an attractive poster or a nice page in magazine to advertise their products to the public. Containing a nice explicit picture and attractive colors, the poster is made to send an implicit message -the key- to consumers; this key convinces people to buy products. This has become a trend internationally. Indeed, a company advertised themselves is a way of designing themselves looks better and sounds greater to sell the product.

2.1 Design in Consumerism

From a design perspective, will a good design bring more consumers to the place?  The answer is definitely yes. Designing a place is designing an experience and how to leave people with a memory. It is the atmosphere that provides for the customers, which has a significant impact on them, and make them want to come back and hang out.

Moreover, consumerism is not only happened in the fashion world as motioned before, Consumerism is also applied for other industries as well. For Singapore, tourism and food & beverage are the most important industry which makes the income for the whole country. Food & beverage industry is the basic needs for people, how good the basic industry is, and it reflects how well the country has developed. In another world, the fundamental shows all. However, food & beverage is not lonely the food and drinks, it is a place where provides the feel of gathering; the atmosphere and the environment which design dress them up together. For some of Singaporeans, they consume on food & beverage as a lifestyle to eat fine food at well designed restaurants.

2.3 Case study

As a place of consumption, restaurants have to catch and hold the attention of customers that is where design comes in.  A case study on Shibuya, Yabu Pushelberg's restaurant in Las Vegas: The restaurant is inside of the hotel, and begins at the hotel's main lobby, the first slight through is a floor-to-ceiling glass panels etched with a "bar-code" detail. It separates the hotel and the restaurant as the space divider. Going straight, through the entry, there is a changing video show on the 50-foot-wide focal wall behind the sushi bar which unifies the whole theme and the small details. It is the key design feature which attracts consumers. The surface of the wall is composed of mirrored acrylic cubes, placed with a grid system. 18 individual television sets has installed behind to show the colours and images. The colour scheme of the space is changing as the video wall changes, the colour are well selected and reflected the Japanese culture, combine with the various colour of sushi and the lighting fixture. Moreover, in every area of this restaurant, there is organic element in it, the most obvious material is wood, and tabletops are rough edged rosewood and using primarily rosewood for the flooring of the sushi bar, plus, a series of sculptural forms in wood display in the 150-seat main dining room. The colour theme, the rich cultured atmosphere and Japanese dining experience make the design holistic.

Design creates a certain atmosphere; the atmosphere of the restaurant can greatly affect mood and appetite of the guests, even to affect the decisions of their ordering. Therefore, to create a health and warm yet special dining environment is necessary and important. In addition, atmosphere is something that invisible but you can sense and feel it. It is the spirit of the place and soul floats around.

2.4 Design solution

Based on research from Singapore Tourism Board, the busy life that Singaporeans have, the number of tourists that come to Singapore keep growing year by year and there is also an increase in the mixed culture background, all of these determine that there is a demand of more fine dining restaurants. Singapore especially has a strong influence of western culture, the percentage of Singaporeans who drink wine has grown over 214 percent during last 10 years, thus there is a potential to open a wine shop in Singapore.

As a result, the proposal for the Utopia project is to design a wine appreciation club and fine dining restaurant which aims to add on more value to the Singapore society, and enabling the Singaporeans to adopt the wine culture. According to the chosen site at South beach building which is located at the CBD area, the target market would be businessmen, tourists and local Singaporeans. The design intention is to create a space which carries the knowledge about the wine culture, the wine making process and history of wine within a rich historical building.

Wine is a product and a beverage in the market place, people always consume wine and dine together, delicious food with good taste wine, but how many consumers know about how is wine have been produced ? The design is able to tell consumers to appreciate wine. The design concept is based on the process of making wine, there are three main steps: harvest, crushing and ageing.  Even though it is a process, it is not necessary to follow it by the sequence. Instead, ageing is translate into a long journey through the whole space, the reason is deal with the meaning of ageing in wine making process, it is a matter of time, changing from grapes to wine and transforming sugar to alcohol; Secondly, a design has to be holistic, in term of design language, crushing has been translate to geometrical and angular forms and shape in the space; Harvest is using as the tool of gathering consumers at the first place. 

The journey begins with an option, one is a welcoming yet enclosed staircase to get through to the lobby at second storey, and another is a wine history gallery which is blocking by the wall beside the staircase. However, the design intention is to let consumers come up by the enclosed staircase and reach the reception area, so that people stand on the higher and more open space to view the entire space from there. Turning left is the wine making process gallery. Normally, a gallery should be open and big space, yet in this case the space is designed to be narrow and low-volume space, the wood wall has been slanted and ceiling designed as 2.4 meters only. And nature materials are using in the space, like stone and wood. As people walking in the space, the space is able to speak and lead people through the journey, and the lights on the illustrations on the wall. Come out to the fine dining area with the double volume space where is able to view the bar and exhibition space at level one.  Furthermore, a staircase direction people to the end of the space which is a wine history gallery, it is the only space has nature sunlight in the space and the sunlight will nicely cost on the concrete wall where the historical documents or images are placed. Consumers are free to explore the space, and the open space enhance people to have more interaction and communication, compare to the wine process gallery. The space will be changing in term of volume, proportion, scale, lighting and different materials, therefore, the same place gives different kind of experience, people's reactions are various as well, so are  the memories.

Through designing the space to bring people's attention and draw people into the place to purchase and enjoy, it is a way of consumerism. Indeed, consumers come to the place not only to dine, but to also engage with new things, to experience the space, to add on value to them, to spend time with friends in the atmosphere of wine knowledge.  Leave a wonderful memory to the consumers.

3.0 Conclusion

To sum up, it can be seen as that almost everyone is a consumer in the world, because we all consume, for goods, for the things that we desire, the food, drinking, clothes, shoes, cars and houses, etc. are the products too attractive or people addicted in shopping? Consumerism has become a part of people's life; it is a life style for Singaporeans. It does have advantages and disadvantages; nobody could justice whether consumerism is good or bad! It is a question that is unanswerable and people cannot live without it. But we need to recognize the value of consumerism around us. Facing thousand of products, people have too many choices and all attract them. The fact is that people have to consume. Only good design is able to help people and decide which one is the one that they want, to choose the one add value to them. Consumerism is becoming design driven. Good design in space involves human's sensation, to touch different kinds of materials, smell of space, listen to the surrounding, people chat design elements, and view the changes in one space. The feel about the atmosphere and environment; and leave a memory on people's mind.

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