Warning: this post is about furniture. Fast Company has an article on the decline of the furniture company Design Within Reach. The article focuses on how in an effort to cut costs DWR "copied" designs it had earlier sold as a distributor. A look at the before and after, however, shows that the real problem is that the copies are nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing as the originals.
Take a look at these credenzas. In the DWR version where is your eye first drawn?
Is the eye not drawn first to the stodgy feet? The thick and heavy feet of the DWR version combined with the shorter width give it a weighted down, stolid feel. The original in contrast is light and airy, it almost floats above the floor, an effect which is aided by the shading with its subtle look of fluffy clouds.
Now take a look at the bookshelfs.
The DWR version has a clean look but it's boring–you see it once and you are done. Now look at the original. Does it not draw your attention? In the original the middle shelves do not align vertically with the side shelves and the top and bottom middle shelves are open, not closed. I think the result is a much more interesting and entertaining piece of furniture.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled dose of economics.