Whenever we show some interesting piece of transformer furniture, designs that serve a number of functions, the regular comment is "why is this so expensive?" But we often show the cutting edge stuff made in short runs by designers, before the ideas become mainstream. Now, with more people working out of their homes and apartments (whether they want to or not), the big guys are jumping in. As Deborah Fulsang notes in the Globe and Mail:
In the past, the suburban dad's den may have been the home-office ideal, but space is precious in many homes these days. As a result, both designers and retailers are responding in greater numbers to the need for smaller-scale, ultra-flexible office gear.
Like the Tre Table from Function Works: it sells for ninety-nine bucks.
Of course we have no idea where it is made, what kind of wood it is made from, or what kind of load testing that V-fold under the laptop has been subjected to. But it is cheap. More at Csnstores.
Chicago's West Elm is turning out small desks with pullouts, special storage and charging for phones and cameras, and wire management for two hundred and fifty bucks; ten years ago, when I was working with Toronto's Julia West Home, we had trouble doing these things for ten times that. Unfortunately, until a design gets IKEAed and offshored, even the simplest idea is expensive. The "system" just works that way.
Perhaps this is why I go on about downloadable designs and companies like Ponoko, that put the latest tools in the hands of designers, and can perhaps make short-run design and production work at reasonable prices. Because the current system fails us in the quality of design, the sustainability of the materials and the durability of the product, all in search of the lowest possible price.
A few years ago we looked at why design costs so much: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing