Buying Design

Is water really water?

Time for the real deal. The form vs. function argument. Evil versus good. Irrational versus rational.

It’s a tale about a thing in life that we usually take for granted and consume without thinking. We don’t usually care what it is, as long as it is. It’s a tale about water. More specifically, bottled water.


Bottled waterd design detailist (12)


Something caught my eye in a grocery shop. There was a shelf, filled with different types of bottled water. From well-known international brands, to some names that I could not even read, yet alone pronounce. But it wasn’t the assortment that I noticed. It was the sleek, completely transparent glass bottle with a minimalistically re-designed label that screamed ‘pick me’. My first thought was, wow, this brand really took things to the next level. That was until I saw the exact same water from the same brand in the plastic bottle placed right next to it.

You would expect a price difference, of course, you know, glass is more expensive to work with. But what a difference it was!


* 0.5 litres of bottled water (Plastic) – 55 euro cents

Bottled waterd design detailist (4)


* 0.3 litres of bottled water (Glass) – 79 euro cents


That means, that a 0.5 litre of water in a glass container would cost 1 euro 31 cents (ignoring the glass itself). Which is more than double the price of the water wrapped in plastic.

And then it hit me.


I’m paying for design. I’m paying for the ‘user experience’.


Let’s break it down:


* Cold feeling on the lips
* Beautifully designed label
* A very pretty bottle
* Heavy
* Expensive
* Fragile


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* Cheap
* Light
* Cheap
* Cheap
* Squishy
* Makes a horrible crackling sound
* Not as nice on the lips
* Horrible label



Let’s make a conclusion straight away.
You are either paying for form or you’re paying for function. Meaning, if you just need water, you would probably go for the plastic. If you intend to carry it around, drink it in public or near people that are important to you in some way, you might spend the extra buck just to get the nicer bottle and an overall better experience.


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Now people in cargo trousers and CAT phones in their pockets would call this ridiculous. And I fully understand them. However, the upper upper class are probably grossed out by the plastic bottles and only buy their water in glass bottles. And I fully understand them


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Design-wise, the plastic bottle looks cheap and feels cheap. They probably tried to fit as many vector graphic objects as possible on that label. Both brands also went an extra mile with the swirly, bloby, illegible embossing on the bottles themselves. That just feels and looks odd.


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Now for the glass bottle, it’s an entirely different story. It’s modern, clean, sleek and beautiful. It’s truly nice to look at and carry it in hand. I’d even say that it’s how ‘a bottle of water’ should look like. It feels… it feels like it’s been designed.


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Yes, it all boils down to…




Compare Samsungs to Apples, compare BMWs to ‘Mercs’, Football to Basketball, etc. etc. There is no right or wrong. Just different.


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October 8, 2017 by