How important is presentation? I don’t mean for a job interview, or for improving quarterly sales, or whatnot. I mean on a day-to-day basis, is it important for your stuff to look good? Typically I think it doesn’t. We want nice stuff, don’t get me wrong. And certainly people buy things because they look shiny on the shelf. But it’s true that some things that look good on the shelf in the store don’t work out so well in real life. I’ve seen a lot of funny looking MP3 players that are very eye-catching in the store, shaped like cubes and trapezoids and all manner of odd geometric shapes, but in truth the iPod works as well or better than any other shape.
Yet lately I’ve been thinking that there are some times when presentation matters, and in the stupidest possible ways. For example, my fountain pens. I like writing with my fountain pens. I just do. It makes no sense. I own a digipad, a sort of electronic writing tablet that can record everything I write and later transfer it as an image to my computer so I can run handwriting recognition and get typed notes from handwritten copy. Pretty neat, eh? Well, it is pretty neat. But the thing is, I have to use their special pen (which writes like any normal ball point pen) to interface with the tablet. And even though I use my digipad because it’s so much more efficient, I sometimes feel bad because it means I’m not writing with my fountain pens.
Another example is the cups I use. I used to use my Clarion coffee mug almost exclusively. It reminds me of good times and friends I haven’t talked to in a while. The mug has good memories for me. Yet a couple of months ago I bought some nice tulip glasses, and I use them for everything except hot drinks like coffee (you really need something with a handle for those). So, I’m drinking all of my water and milk out of tulip glasses. I couldn’t even explain why, except that there’s something about a tulip glass that makes the drinks more appetizing.
I know, it makes no sense. Who thinks of milk and water as appetizing? Apparently I do, if it’s in the right glass. Truly, it is odd. But when I get a nice glass full of ice and fill it up with water, I think, “Yeah. That looks about right.” And then I drink it.