Don’t get caught in the sex trap. Desire can mean a whole lot more than just sex, just as pleasure can come in millions of different forms, see?
Sooo…. what do we really want?
Tony outlined FOUR general themes, namely Adulation – the admiration of others, and how being admired by others can be a bottomless drive for some more than others – the stronger the desire for it, the less possibility of eventual fulfillment; Sex – bringing with it issues around pleasure, lust, power, acceptance, intimacy and attraction; Completion – the ultimate feeling of satisfaction and wholeness (this can touch at spirituality); Food – the fuel of life and that which we use in times of celebration as well as in times of needing comfort (cigarettes, alcohol and drugs can fit in here as well, I think – fillers of the void).
The id, the ego, and the super ego, according to Sigmund Freud….
The id being our basic desires and fears with no sense of censorship… the ego being the connection to reality and trying to work between the id & reality (and later the super ego too)… a deal-maker…. and the super ego being the conscience… getting into the morality of desires and their fulfillments.
Designers play with these concepts all the time. If what the id wants isn’t possible in the moment, the ego (or the designer) will come up with an alternative. For a brief time it may satiate the desire, but it won’t last and the desire will come back. If the ego (or the designer) did a really good job, the desire will go directly to the replacement item…. another donut, or creamy yogurt… and the super ego supervising all along.
The sidewalk sign below, just outside the Mecca Cafe, is an example of the mind games that go on between the id, who wants the greasy breakfast and beer, and the ego, who is saying they need to be careful of their weight, and their cholesterol, etc,,, and of course the whole play on the devil and the reference to temptation, and notice the eggs and bacon look like a skull & crossbones…
Never give them something they want. Give them a portion of what they want so they’ll come back. (this totally makes sense to me, but I still don’t really understand where the over-serving of food at restaurants comes into this formula.)
As further outlined in class, “in design, we are “PROMISED”…
… to be like something via its acquisition or like the person using it. (as in this Japanese ad for Roots coffee with Brad Pitt)
…to gain sex and/or power through acquisition. (as in this ad for L Perfume by Gwen Stefani – don’t miss the end :))
… that the wanting itself is to be desired (contradicting the wanting to feel complete). (as in this ad for Vios, Toyota)
…that we will be free of desire via acquisition”… or we’ll get over it, or our super egos will come and tell us to simmer down, (as in this Coke Lite ad)
… and we are promised….a GOOD TIME!!!
So, given all these promises, can you buy Adulation and Sex, Completion and Satisfaction? It often appears that way.
You can be in paradise with the pretty hawaiian girls by doing karaoke at Hula Hula on First Street N in Queen Anne. You can buy happiness in many restaurants and bars from 3-6pm. This week in the Seattle Weekly, there is an entire booklet guide dedicated to Happy Hours around the city.
You can experience romance, just by wearing a particular perfume (Chanel Perfume ad -Nicole Kidman)
Magazine-ads.com has a whole slew of advertisements with all of the above issues highlighted… here are some examples… not too subtle…
With the Op ad, note the position, shape, color and direction of the bottle, and note her free and happy feeling. With the D&G add, well, you can imagine for yourself.
Anthropomorphic designs can play both ways – that bottles or machines acquire human shapes or emotions, or that humans acquire object-like characteristics. This works with the perfume bottles, as well as motorcycles, or cars. It has been commonly used in movies, such as “Finding Nemo” and the “Toy Story” series.
Then of course there is the Oedipus complex – referring to the story of poor old Oedipus Rex who is put out to the elements to die as a baby, due to his ill-fated destiny… his destiny being to sleep with his mother, and to kill his father. He runs away from his adoptive parents (he thinks they are his blood parents) to avoid that happening, but then makes his way unknowingly to his real parents….
As a baby, we learn about pleasure and aversion in non-sexual ways, and once we become sexual, it’s hard to separate back to those former times, thus confusing things, such as did Oedipus. Haven’t totally figured out how this fits into design strategy.
The last idea we talked about was that of Mastery…
…being the idea of trying to fix something that has already happened, and is therefore unchangeable. From this concept comes the repeating patterns of self-destruction and experiences that we wish we could have fixed when we were little (or beyond).
This touches on the darker side of the human struggle… that plays to all of the themes above… especially to adulation….
So in these design works, the goal is to give people the “PROMISE” (maybe not a real promise, but a darn convincing one) of completion, not the actual completion itself….. so that you catch people at the beginning of the feeling of desire, when they are most interested….