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Consuming is one of human nature that can’t be changed. Why and how we consume is the control of this human behaviour. There are two kinds of thought about this behaviour. One is does consumer shapes our lifestyle and the other one is the other way around. Consuming has a close relationship with lifestyle. The way people consume reflects their lifestyle. Does this lifestyle is a pure desire or is it encourage by other aspect like design? Through visual and mental, tangible and intangible, design gives an impact to both the environment and the consumer. These experience makes people addicted to something they consume. Does consumerism is something bad or good? There are some good and bad points to be looked. Through the design, consumerism is being passed unconsciously. Design has a role and an impact on consumerism. That is why the existence of design is important to shape or to be shaped.
Table of Contents
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Consumerism in Societyâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦..â€¦â€¦2
Consumerism in Bar and Restaurantâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦4
Design in Consumerismâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.â€¦â€¦.4
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Today commercial space becomes a territory of consumerism. Brands as a generator become a magnet for the consumer. Consumerism is derived from the words consume. In the end of this word there is a suffix -ism that is known as a belief, system or philosophy. How far consumerism plays a role in human life? Trading and exchanging are own nature. Why do we need to trade or exchange? The reason is to get what we get so that we are able to consume it.
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As the time goes by, consuming and technology have been developed. People could be easily fulfilling their need. And then what after that? Do we as human beings are just satisfied? Human will never be satisfied. It is their desire to keep wanting more and more. Imbalance between needs and desire causes consumerism. Does consumerism as a way of life creates our lifestyle or we want to creates our own lifestyle?
Thinking about consumerism must not forget about consumption. Both consumerism and consumption has a closed relationship between each other. Consumerism happens because of consumption. It is not a mistake that we consume almost all the things in our life such as goods and experience. Furthermore, human has been exercising to consume since civilization had not been developed yet. Exchange becomes human’s nature. As the time goes by, human keep developing to have a better life. If we, human, has fulfilled our primary needs, we want something more other just than that. Imbalance between needs and desires give a result as consumerism. Consumerism happened just before Industrial Revolution period but it could be seen obviously during this period. Lawson (2009, p.60) said by the 1950’s, for the first time in our history, we were producing enough to allow choice for masses. It means that consumer society was born.
2.1 Consumerism in Society
There is a myth: “The more we have, the happier we become.” This myth is suitable with the state of consumerism. People believe that the more things they have, they would be happier but in fact it is not. Our happiness now is determined by other people unhappiness and so our need is. We want something because we saw it somewhere and someone own it. The desire of owning makes us addicted to have almost all the things we saw. Moreover, the desire becomes greater if the things we want is being consume by most of the people. Due to a tremendous consumption, it makes the things become as if it is our primary needs. For example is mobile phone. Back to the time when technology had not been as high as today, mobile phone was something that is common. The price was expensive at that time but as the technology was being developed, mobile phone became mass-produced. Since that time, almost all the people own it. It becomes ubiquitous and now becomes our needs. We can not live without it.
We consume not only because of the desire but also the seducer of experience as well as our own monster, which is our fear. Today, by consuming we show our identity. It is a visual sign that determines which society are you from. The sign could be seen from the things we bought and consumed. The most noticeable evident is brand. For example, Louis Vuitton. We acknowledge that it is an expensive brand whereby not all the people are able to afford it. By using the product of that brand, one tells the society where one belongs to indirectly. The monster creates a fear of other people judgments. Consumerism becomes sustainable by having this kind of mindset.
The society in this situation creates a way of life where consuming is addictive so that people want to keep buying more and more. We know that consumerism needs to be control. Nevertheless, majority or the society choose to continue the way of life they live in.
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Singapore is one of attractive destination for travelers. Hence, they promote themselves through Singapore Tourism Board that has a big impact on tourism. They promote the entertainments and luxury shopping centers. In this condition, media is the powerful medium to send the message to all the people in the world. Hence, inside this entertaining city, consumerism could be seen easily in public. Walking in the city area like Orchard, names of the brands are located all over the place. By taking a glimpse, consumer society could be satisfied in this area. Well-known brands are able to be found easily. This is not only applied to goods such as bags and clothes but also restaurants. Popular and expensive restaurant will show their identity and pride.
Consumerism in Singapore has been developed and designed by the government either consciously or unconsciously, a very popular way of life. Life for Singaporeans is not complete without shopping. This state was declared by the Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong in National Day Rally Speech (Straits Times, 18 August 2996). Shopping is their happiness and needs. This could be seen by many new shopping centre which was built in the last few year. Therefore, the plan of building another commercial buildings are still going on. The government wants either their citizen or the visitor to spend their money in this country. The government directly dictates the citizen since they are young to consume so that consumerism assemble unconsciously. Other than Singapore Tourism Board, they seduce consumer through media like magazine. Magazine is not only a seducer but also a reflection of the lifestyle they live on. The latest information about fashion or dining place could get just by flipping a bundle of paper.
2.2 Consumerism in Bar and Restaurant
Do you have a desire to go to a certain place to eat? Is it only to consume the food or to consume the experience? Definitely, human wants to try something new. Human is a creature with high curiosity. In this situation, where do we get the information that caused us to have an intention to try something? We live in the hi-technology era whereby people around the world are connected eventhough they are not in the same place. They are able to communicate and exchange information to the other. Internet is a big innovation, which was invented in our world. The consumer could get the information easily by this invention. Other than that, they could get the information from the magazine. In Singapore, there are a several magazine that will help you to tell what is the latest information of dining for example is Wine and Dine. The magazine is about stack information about well-known food and beverage. It could seduce the consumer easily through the explanation and the pictures they show. It is one of the way how does consumerism reach consumer society.
Business travelers, according to Singapore Tourism Board Data Statistics, have a demand as a target market in Singapore. The number of business travelers is keep going up even though there is a recession happens in the world. They, obviously, has an adequate income more than just to survive. For businessmen, business partner are an important aspect in the business life. The way they associate is not only in a formal way but also in an informal way like having fun.
The current trend, in the last few years, bars and restaurants are increasingly spread. The demand of this aspect is growing due to the interest of consumer. Bar and restaurant offer alcoholic beverage that is popular in the society. Alcoholic beverage has a side effect of addiction. It reduces the function of brain and makes the feeling of good. Due to dysfunctional of brain, people will keep consuming, as they wanted the feeling to be there. This situation causes an addiction. Hence, addiction will end up by consumerism, subconsciously consume.
2.3. Design in Consumerism
Previously, we talked about consumerism in bar and restaurant by the edible. Despite of edible, is there any other thing that makes people keep consuming? As it is mentioned before, nowadays consumer is seduced not only by the edible or things they offer but also by the experience. Experience makes it different from one to the other place. It is a unique offered. Design makes it come true. Design is like a creation of God, which was nearly to perfect, human. Eventhough it is similar from the look, the experience will not be the same in one place to the other. Ron Swidler () on Wine and Dine Magazine said that one of the big trends in hotel and restaurant design right now is creating experience. It shows that what people are looking for is not just something tangible but also intangible. Intangible things could be buy with money. Tangible things like edible could be consumed only at that time, but the impression of intangible things last forever in consumer’s mind. The desire of consuming is more on emotional feeling. On the editor’s note area on Wine and Dine magazine, Leena Ng, the editor, states that one of the biggest experiences consumers desire is for access to the lifestyle they see reflected in the media and in their travels. In this circumstance, media has a big role to support consumerism. Pretty pictures on the magazine attract consumer society to visit and consume what they offer on the media.
How to create experience is by looking at the design. The designer creates the composition between each element to create a certain ambience that would make a tremendous impression to the consumer. Is creating ambience just by decorate the space? Creating ambience is supported by the building and the elements such as light, sound and smell. It is true that visual presentation has quite a big impact for the consumer such as the concept and the theme. Nevertheless, intangible thing must not be forgot. The use of lighting usually enhances the design more.
The concept of the bar and restaurant must have interconnection with the demand and the aim of the project. In this situation, urban nomad has been chosen as the suitable concept. Urban nomad is someone who is always on the go. Derived from the urban nomad; journey, connectivity and energy are the keywords as the expression or urban nomad. The concept is evident on the journey that is created. A long journey to the lobby with a teaser of how would the consumer experience in the space. Unconventional lobby is being introduced. Stairs are being used as a bridge that connect one space to the other space. Each space on this restaurant and bar are spread in the whole big space. It is the design intention that force people to move around the space and consume the journey. On the journey, consumer are being seduced by the existence of indoor garden that is relaxing and offer a new experience inside the space. Overall, the space is created in order to create impression on consumer’s mind so that they are willing to experience and consume the space again on the other time.
Consumerism is not just a concept. It is now believe as a way of life where people consuming a great of amount of goods in quantities. Consuming could be separated from human. It is the nature of human being that has been developed since long time ago. Today, people consume to show their identity. The main reason of consuming is no longer exist. Consuming has become part of Singaporeans life whereby people in this country are encouraged to shop by their prime minister. Therefore, consumerism becomes a habit and culture. The government is supporting the consumerism. It is true that consuming could give back benefit to the country; on the other hand what is the impact of it? If we look at the long-term side effect, this situation will destroy their own citizen because they will not be satisfied if they are not consuming.
On the other perspective, consumerism is being boosted by design. A successful design is addictive to the consumer. They will keep coming back to experience it over and over again. In this situation, consumerism could be seen as a sign as a successful design. Design has an impact on consumerism. Something that is being designed has an their own attraction to draw people’s attention.
In conclusion, there is no right or wrong about consumerism. It depends where are we going to put our perspective. Generally, consumerism needs to be stopped due to an unbalance between human’s mind and their desire. Nevertheless, if we look from the design perspective, there is nothing wrong with consumerism. In fact, because of design, consumerism is being boost. It is our decision to control how far the consumerism need to be control and use from other point of view so that it would not cause self-destructing for human being. It is now our decision to be shaped by the consumerism or we shaped our own lifestyle.
List of references
Cross, Gary, , All – Consuming Century – Why Commercialism Won In Modern America, Columbia University Press, New York.
Lawson, Neal, 2009, All Consuming, Penguin Group, England.
Miller, Geoffrey, 2009, Spent – Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior, Penguin Group, England.
Miles,Stevens, 1998, Consumerism – as a Way of Life, SAGE Publication Ltd., London.
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