The thing about authenticity…
Why I prefer small, unknown brands rather than the most popular names on the market
I have a love affair with Persian rugs. I did buy one a couple of years ago and my husband thinks there is something wrong with me because I treat the rug like some kind of pet. I roll around on it, I lie on it, I don’t let anyone treat it badly. They are not even allowed to walk on it with their shoes.
I’m not materialistic. I don’t buy things because they are collectors’ items. I don’t care much for brand names. I don’t even care what car we drive. But, every time I walk into a Persian carpet gallery, something in me just goes crazy in love and I have no qualms about spending years of my hard earned cash in one shopping trip, on something like a carpet.
To me, authentic means everything, and by authentic I don’t mean not fake. I think people leave their essence in the little things they do and that rubs off on others, changing them, hopefully for the better. Originally, Persian rugs were made by common villagers with simple designs. Today they can be intricately woven tapestries of meaning and pattern that cost thousands. Each carpet carries with it a link to its heritage of thousands of years of carpet-weaving and embedded in each design, is a rich history telling something of its region and tribe.
Handmade Persian rugs could take a weaver a year or more to complete, and it takes great effort, concentration and most of all, passion. You cannot spend everyday putting all your love and effort into making something with your bare hands and not leave something of yourself in it, and to me, that is something that is priceless. Sure, I can get a look-alike, fake, mass-produced replica for a tenth of the price, but for all I may have gained in savings, I have lost in meaning.
I work in technology. I am surrounded by new developments, innovation, artificial intelligence, robots and software. There is always something, bigger, better, faster and more… than what you have. It is very fast paced and always evolving. Everyone is always looking for the next best thing. New and shiny is what everyone loves.
The competition is incessant. You always have to be the first to market or the best to market. You always have to get the most hits or the most clicks. It’s often all about statistics and analytics. It’s always about how we are doing, how many people have liked us how many have shared our content. It’s hardly ever about real people, and if it is, they are usually called ‘users’ or ‘customers’.
It used to be about sales, and actually, it still is about sales. Nowadays, we are a little bit smarter because we use “user-centred design” as a catalyst for sales. Ultimately, its still about selling and pushing product, its just that we now have pretty packages that make people feel nice about clicking here and paying there. So if you think it’s about anything more than sales, you are still delusional. Creating the ‘ultimate experience’ for your users still only interests companies if it leads to greater ROI.
At the end of the day when I am not on my computer (those rare moments), I want to leave all the techno-fuzz behind me. I want real things. In a world full of metaphorical objects and insincerity, I want to feel more connected without a connection. I want to connect with real people, not fake buttons, brands, humanoids or fake sales-people who feign interest in my life and only call me up to sell me stuff.
You would be amazed at how hard it is to find authentic, wholesome brands that are there for the sheer pleasure of serving humanity or leaving their mark on the world in some small way while somebody tries to earn an honest living. Somewhere along the line our lives got very complicated. From the small family businesses that were once the epitome of wholesomeness, where everyone put their sweat and tears into creating objects of beauty and usefulness, we became greedy, ill-intentioned and wasteful.
We moved from purpose to price. We started cutting corners, diluting our authenticity and adding cheaper, easier, faster substitutes just tomake a buck. We moved from adding meaning to adding commodities and from measuring worth to measuring our bank balances. We did everything to stretch the profit margin to the maximum.
Now, it is a never-ending disappointment. It’s like when you go to a new restaurant, everything tastes perfect for the first few times you go there, then after a while they start to cut corners to keep the profits up and you can taste it in every morsel you put in your mouth. You give them the benefit of the doubt, but after chewing your steak like a piece of cud that wont go down you lose hope and trust in them and never visit them again.
I want things that are real, made by real people and have real meaning. I want to have things in my life that have the essence of their place of origin, something with a bit of history, something with a bit of integrity still left in them. I want things that are made by people with good intentions instead of big corporations with ill-intentions.
When I go on holiday, I prefer to live like one of the locals, experiencing their real everyday lives, buying their everyday things and hopefully taking some of their essence home with me. My home is full of knick-knacks and interesting things. I even have a piece of the Berlin wall, which I watched coming down on the news when I was a little child. Things that matter most to me are not the biggest names in the industry, it’s the small things with the biggest meaning and maybe no name at all.