Democratic Design is new on the scene. To some its the shiny new toy (or pot, as the case may be), to others it needs a cultural reference point to fully appreciate. In the weeks since Red Clay’s Design Challenge threw open its studio doors to design submissions, I’ve explained the concept of democratic design to many family and friends. Inevitably someone says: “Oh, kind of like American Idol!” And to that multi-billion dollar, mega-star-creating comparison, I promptly say: “Yes. Yes it is.”
Okay, we’re not quite legendary Idol status yet. I certainly wouldn’t mind J. Lo’s legion of estheticians, hair and wardrobe stylists (seriously, the woman’s skin illuminates!). But for some, it’s a pop-cultural shorthand that makes them feel comfortable with the concept and eager to jump in and VOTE. The “America votes” concept is sincere, indiscriminate and all-together wholesome.
With that in mind, the A.I. process has flubbed it’s lines over the seasons. And just maybe America dropped the ball on a few occasions. And because I’m the biggest, geeked-out fan of ALL our designers for having the pluck to participate in our little social design experiment, I’m going to run with this American Idol metaphor for all it’s worth!
No, I’m not going to frantically make air typing hand signals…. But check out these A.I. cautionary tales of misguided votes and mistaken outcomes. Hopefully, their losses will be your gain, as you vote to decide Red Clay’s next home decor collection.
The Pia: ”Presumptive Winner Syndrome”
Shocking, right? This choral canary was a shoe-in. Everyone knew it. So rather than waste precious thumb energy texting in Pia votes, America diverted its voracious tap-tap-tapping to contestants in jeopardy. And where did that leave Pia? Down and out with only a ballroom dancer to console her.
It may seem obvious, but get in there and vote! If you see several Pias amongst the design submissions, by all means, spread the 5 star love. But don’t stop there. Campaign the valor of its vibrancy and sway friends to log in their ratings as well with Facebook and Twitter. (just copy the address of your favorite product page in the address bar and post it as a link on your facebook page, and just WATCH the votes come in!)
The Sanjaya: ”The So-So Siege”
Sanjaya seemed like a nice enough guy. But listening to him warble was pure torture. Nonetheless, week after week, the waifish wannabe squeaked by. Giddy with power, viewers propelled the pony-hawk sporting singer far beyond his deserved exit. The Urban Dictionary defines “The Sanjaya Effect” as: The ability of a mediocre or poor performer to rouse support from the masses. Ouch.
Now, the style of one’s home is a subjective thing. I won’t begrudge anyone their shag carpet and plastic covered couches, if it makes them happy. The Sanjaya Effect rears its tacky head when we only vote for our faves. We value your opinion on the best AND the better-nots. Did you know that rating a design a “1” has more effect on the voting outcomes than not rating it at all? It’s a powerful thing. So use it wisely and with intention. Remember, you can change the radio station or refuse to buy Sanjaya’s new single, but you can’t escape that serving bowl staring at you from the dining table!
The Claymate: “Great in concept, bad in execution”
Clay Aiken undoubtedly had/has a healthy, loyal following. But his post-Idol career has been a little…puzzling. Not quite right for radio, not so popular with the concert-going crowd….we like him, we just don’t know where to put him.
Use the same lens while judging design submissions. Will it enhance your table setting? Will it punch up your porch? Will it rock your roost? It’s one thing to appreciate a piece and another to covet it. You are the artist of your own home; survey each design within the context of your space and you can’t go wrong!
So slather on your body shimmer, don your pseudo-intellectual black frame glasses and grab your microphone scarves. You be the judge of our talented designers’ work. This IS American Ido-… I mean, Red Clay. You could be the deciding vote…Dog.
(all photos courtesy of FOX)