Design matters.

Okay, let me get one thing out of the way right off the bat: There is absolutely no way for me to write this post without feeling like a jerk. I’ve slotted it into the “greed” category, and that’s exactly where it belongs. I try to keep the I WANT THIS STUFF, DON’T YOU WANT IT TOO posts to a minimum around here (not because I don’t want stuff, but because I find it exhausting and depressing to focus more on what one wants than on what one already has), but I’m human. And sometimes I’m greedy, especially when it comes to beautiful, functional objects. So.

The last time I bought a camera was three years ago (cripes, I was a lot thinner then…), and I got a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5. I always say that I only take photos because I have to rather than as a form of artistic expression (everyone can take photos, but not everyone is a photographer!), and I have no patience for DSLRs and lenses and bodies and parts and math and numbers and thinking. I just want to take a picture and have it look alright and not have to schlep around a bunch of stuff. The Lumix has served me well, but I’ve been feeling like it might be time for an upgrade. I mean, I take a lot of photos of my dogs.

My first thought was that I should move to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. Everybody and their brother knows that the Lumix line is really just repackaged and rebranded Leica cameras sold at way lower prices (as well as with slightly different firmware and a shorter warranty period), right? If I can get a really nice new point & shoot for $399 (or less!), why in the world would I willingly pay DOUBLE that amount for what is essentially the same camera, the Leica D-Lux 5? Because it “LOOKS nicer”?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Well yeah, maybe. Or maybe not. Because maybe good design matters to me. Maybe it matters to me more than it should, but maybe good design also is the reason I have a job. So maybe it’s actually important what stuff looks like.

At some point during our never-ending downstairs bathroom renovation, we decided to buy a $289 trash can (woah, the comments on that post from Robbie are hilarious—where do these people come from?!). Actually, it was $249 then, but you get the point. The trash can for our bathroom cost more than the wall tile. And the sink. And the faucet. Combined. It was in irrational purchase, to be sure, but do we regret it? NO WAY. Look at that thing! I hate the phrase “it’s a work of art”, but believe me, I’m tempted to say that about the trash can. Wait, no, what I mean is: It’s a work of design. GOOD design. Good design and quality manufacturing. I appreciate that trash can every time I throw away a Kleenex (generic, of course—everyone knows Target tissues have the nicest boxes).

Consider the less expensive, more sane option, this Simple Human model. It looks okay. It’s totally fine. I have a Simple Human trash can in my kitchen, and I have no complaints. I’m sure this smaller model works quite well for its intended purpose, and at $26, probably already costs more than the average person would spend on a bathroom trash can. But do I love the design? Nope. And I’d be lying if I said Evan and I don’t have a teensy bit of regret for not buying a Vipp trash can for the kitchen, too. (Remember what I said about this post making me feel like a greedy jerk? Yeah.)

So it comes down to this: Leicas are the Vipp trash cans of cameras. And I want the D-Lux 5. Because not only will it take nice pictures, but it will look awesome hanging around my neck. I will feel happy every time I hold it and admire its neat, straight lines and its perfectly placed red dot. That’s all worth something to me.

(Now I just need to convince myself that it’s okay to even buy a new camera, period. That’s the hard part!)

198 comments
  1. BekkaAug 3, 20115:46 pm

    Leica makes the best lenses in the world hands down. You won’t regret it, and it will look really amazing hanging from your neck.

    [Reply]

  2. tallinAug 3, 20115:50 pm

    The Leica is admittedly gorgeous, but I’m partial to the $26 trash can. :)

    I keep telling myself that if I finally get off my butt and put up a site and sell some photos, I’ll let myself buy a new camera.

    [Reply]

  3. christinaAug 3, 20115:51 pm

    this makes me laugh
    i feel the same way about a lot of things
    i bought a specific perfume because the bottle was beautiful
    i’ll spend $10 extra on a book because i like the cover design better
    and for me, it comes down to the idea that it’s alright to want (and have) pretty things
    personally, as long as these “pretty things” don’t overwhelm my life and send me into a pit of debt and sadness, then it’s alright to spend a little extra bit to pamper your design-hungry eyeballs
    don’t feel too bad. the camera is beautiful. if you’re going to buy one anyway, why not be the maximum amount of happy with it?

    [Reply]

  4. tameraAug 3, 20115:58 pm

    I just actually started laughing at work when I scrolled down to the trash can.

    But yes, that Leica is gorgeous, and it looks sturdier, and better made.

    Here’s a story about “the same product” myth – my father, who hates Walmart with a passion, was stuck and needed a part for some project, and had to go to Walmart. So he bought this part, in the same package, with the same model #, for cheap, at Walmart. He got home and noticed that unlike the other parts he’d bought at other places from this same brand with the same model #, it was made in China, and as an ex-machinist, noticed that it hadn’t been machined properly, and the part would break at certain weak points in the metal because of this.

    Anyway. Sometimes you’re paying for design, and sometimes you’re paying for construction.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I was hoping you’d appreciate the inclusion of the trash can!!

    And yes, you’re totally right (and I learned that about stuff at Walmart from my stepfather, who had the exact same thing happen to him). Of course the Simple Human trash can is machine-made in China, whereas the Vipp trash can is handmade in Denmark by skilled craftsmen at the rate of 6 per hour. Not to mention that the only materials used are rubber and steel. (See, I read the brochure!)

    It’s harder to make the case for the Leica over the Panasonic on those grounds, though, since both cameras are literally made in the same Japanese factory, presumably by the same workers.

    Christian /

    Walmart is evil. I hate that corporation and refuse to shop there. For many reasons.

    Also, any camera or trash can you wish to buy is your choice. I agree with you, as I am attending school for design, I do feel that it matters as well.

    Sometimes you have to shop around online (which I also have a problem with in a sense – but it’s inevitable), you’re smart, I’m sure you could find a tiny bit better deal on it!

  5. leacaAug 3, 20116:02 pm

    It is the EXACT same lens but I understand the want to buy the prettier one. Sometimes it comes down to rewarding yourself if it fits in your budget.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    See now, if I were you, I’d want to buy the Leica just so I could squint at the logo and pretend it was my name. :)

    leaca /

    I get that a lot. And I have thought about going all Leica just because of the name thing and I even tried explaining that to my husband and he was totally unamused. =]

  6. LizAug 3, 20116:31 pm

    I have an older Leica D-Lux and I love it. I toyed with getting the equivalent Panasonic but am so glad I didn’t. There are a few differences between the Leica and Panasonic models and, although there are a stack of reviews that say the differences aren’t worth the money, for me the differences were and are significant.

    I love taking photographs (although I make no claims to be a photographer) and have a DSLRs and a few other cameras but my Leica is my favourite. I take it everywhere with me. It feels lovely in my hands and it takes great photos. There is something about the design quality and the build quality that ooze pleasure. I know I’m gushing but really, why wouldn’t you buy one (apart from the obvious reason!).

    A good exchange rate helped me take the leap and buy; I hope you buy. Having nice things matters. If you love something you’ll use it. You’ll keep it for longer and it will give your more pleasure. This has to be a better use of the world’s resources than lots of disposable things. And most importantly (and I say this as a non-designer) it helps keep great designers in work. Sure, some will say you’re profligate but who cares.

    [Reply]

  7. maribethAug 3, 20116:32 pm

    I had this same disucssion in my mind 3 years ago and I gave in and bought the D-Lux 4 and I haven’t regretted since. I took it on a European vacation and saw fellow foreign Leica D-Lux users which further solidified that I made the right choice =)

    Go for the 5!

    [Reply]

  8. victoriaAug 3, 20116:35 pm

    she’s a beauty. i think she’s look pretty good on you.

    [Reply]

  9. PaulAug 3, 20116:46 pm

    It’s that little bit o’ ugly “crocodile skin” that’s the real turn off, isn’t it? They seem to be running pretty close on everything else, I mean, close enough to warrant saving a Franklin Quartet… or getting His and Hers Lumixes… or is that Lumii? But trust me, this is coming from one half of a couple who, when going shopping, always prepare for what we like to call “The Hitachi Syndrome”!! Feel free to refer to it as The Vipp Complex or some other suitable name :o)
    Below is a pic of the $1,100 Hitachi we came home with, once upon a time, after heading out to buy a $400 – $600 camcorder. This is the only pic I could find, but again, trust me, gazing upon this in the showcase, then holding it in our hands… it was like seeing the Ferrari in a lot of Ford Focuses (or is that Focii?) and taking it out for a test drive!:
    http://www.biocomp.net/hitachi_vm_h710a.jpg

    Whichever you choose, enjoy!

    [Reply]

  10. MildlyCraftyAug 3, 20116:55 pm

    Hi Anna, I just listened to this TED talk recently which you might like. It’s about how we take pleasure in looking at and owning well designed objects and why fakes don’t do it for us even if they look exactly the same. Here’s the <link.

    Love your blog!

    Amy

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I wouldn’t really classify the Lumix as a “fake” since they’re actually made by the same company (Panasonic) as the Leica, but I’ll check out the video in a bit—I agree completely without even seeing it. :)

    I also think there’s truth to the thought that the perception of a camera (or computer, or tube of paint, or whatever) as being of higher quality and therefore more “special” can lead to more thoughtful creative work. A little sad to think about, but probably true…

    MildlyCrafty /

    Oh I didn’t mean the Lumix was a fake. The TED talk talks about fakes though and it’s a similar (though not exactly the same) situation as you’re talking about with the Leica and the VIPP bin. What I mean is that often you can buy something that looks very similar (or in the case of a fake, almost exactly the same) and it’ll do the job almost as good as the real thing but still we want the real thing, the well designed object that has a history. It’s a funny feeling and I can’t quite understand why it matters to me whether I buy an original Eames chair (for example) or a fake. So I found the talk kinda interesting.

  11. MaxwellAug 3, 20116:59 pm

    I’ve always thought that this Olympus point and shoot was pretty sexy:

    http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/product.asp?product=1573

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    It is!! This Fujifilm FinePix is pretty sweet, too.

    Maxwell /

    Ohmygod. I want.

    Anna @ D16 /

    I’m sorry. I know.

    Martha /

    I was going to mention the FinePix… I’ve heard it’s not available in the US yet. Not that you’re looking for other options, but if other people are reading this who also go for small cameras over big ones, there was a piece on the same in the NYTimes today.

    I also really like my Canon S90, now called S95. I think it takes better photos than the (a few years old) digital Leica my dad has.

    Anna @ D16 /

    Thanks for that link, I’m off to check it out!!

  12. MeganAug 3, 20117:16 pm

    Design is everything! You work hard so you *deserve* a new camera. If it inspires you to photograph more and it makes you happy then do it. No regrets. Also, I don’t think this post makes you sound like a greedy jerk! You just have good taste ;-)

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Y’all are a bunch of enablers! ;)

  13. Dan @ Manhattan NestAug 3, 20117:40 pm

    GET IT. Then get me one :-).

    After all, you’re a designer! And even if you weren’t, there’s nothing wrong with supporting good design for the sake of good design. Plus, you’ll be more inclined to use it and probably want to keep it longer.

    Now stop gabbing about your dumpster dive taste!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I figure as long as the camera has a good white balance setting, I can save money on renovation costs. ZING!

  14. ClareAug 3, 20117:47 pm

    oh… I kind of like the cheaper bin, actually! But I’m with you on the pricey camera.

    We just bought a super-top-expensive dishwasher because I really wanted the one with the well-designed interior. Every day it’s a joy.

    [Reply]

  15. T. J.Aug 3, 20117:51 pm

    About a year ago I was trying to choose between these exact two same cameras and grappling with the fact that the Leica is far superior in terms of design and also that it has that awesome little red dot. 100% of the time I will always go with paying more, often much much more for good design. I came super close to pulling the trigger on the Leica several times but after speaking with a lot of photography nuts I came to understand that this particular Leica is often referred to as a dentists camera as in if you buy it you will look like some schmuck with too much money to burn. I know you shouldn’t care what people think about you but the fact is if you wear this particular Leica around your neck anyone who is truly into photography will think you are a giant douche. So in this case it’s not so much of a decision between design and frugality as it is between looking like a tool and having an awesome camera. Do you really want to be the Wall Street jerkoff wearing a $50k Rolex Daytona? Please go with the Lumix. If you don’t and I ever see you in public taking pictures with the Leica I will pretend I don’t know who you are and I will make fun of you. BTW I think you have sick style. Love your blog, lover your house, love your music taste, love it!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    “I know you shouldn’t care what people think about you but the fact is if you wear this particular Leica around your neck anyone who is truly into photography will think you are a giant douche.”

    You know, this actually makes me want the Leica MORE.

    Choosing bad design over good design for the sake of saving face among people you’re describing as being judgmental jerks isn’t much of a deterrent for me, sorry. My appreciation of the Leica’s design is way more important than the split-second opinion of a stranger walking past me on the street. That’s just not something I would ever be concerned about. I could not possibly care less.

    And no, I don’t want to wear a Rolex. They’re hideous.

  16. LienAug 3, 20118:25 pm

    We’ve been buying stuff for our new house and one of our considerations is spending more on something we will keep longer. However, one of the things I haven’t been able to get my head around is whether I can accept “reproductions”. Not that the Lumix is a repro. There is this Eames chair I want. There are a zillion places in Sydney that sell the reproduction and it looks like everyone has one. The real thing is 6x the cost of the repro. Only I will know that I bought the real thing apparently.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    New “real” Eames chairs (assuming you’re talking about the shell chairs) are kind of weird thing, though, because the licensed ones don’t look anything like the vintage originals. I just can’t deal with the polypropylene. There is a company in the US that makes knockoffs out of fiberglass, but I don’t want to support them. As far as I’m concerned, the only way to go with Eames shell chairs is vintage.

    Granted, that could be tricky in Australia! In the US every school and public institution used (and discarded) them during the ’50s-’80s, so they’re everywhere here…

    Belle /

    I know I’m late to the party here, but I’m also in Australia and I just wanted to say thanks for clearing that up! I love your blog and Dan’s at Manhattan Nest, and I’ve always wondered how you both manage to ‘stumble’ across so many (it seems) of these fantastic chairs!

    (I’m also interested in which you ended up getting, although you seemed pretty set on the Leica :) )

    Cheers,
    Belle

  17. KatherineAug 3, 20118:28 pm

    I used to own a Leica CM Zoom and it was a better camera then my Canon SLR and it was lovely; it even had an Lecia everyready case, to this day I regret selling it. I currently own the Leica D-lux 5 and it is the best digital point and shoot by far. It is great in low light. Even though the Leica and the Panasonic are supposed to be the same quality camera, they really are not. I bought the Panasonic first and returned it the next day. It just wasn’t good enough in low light. And the D-Lux 5 is awesome, I have even shot in candle light (it’s grainy, but cool)….and yes it makes me happy to use it….and yes there is a Vipp trash can in my bathroom too. Join us on the Leica side Anna, it’s nice here.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    That’s really good to hear, Katherine, thank you. My biggest complaint about my Lumix is its performance in low light, and everything I’ve read supports the Leica being better in that regard.

    Jill /

    While the *lenses* on those two cameras are very, very similar (if not the same), what Katherine is saying is 100% true. The firmware that runs on the Leica camera is indeed better for low-light applications and has more control/refinement over white balance settings, among other things. I might recommend lurking around in this Flickr group to see what other people have to say about the firmware differences between the two: http://www.flickr.com/groups/dlux5/ Hope this helps maybe a little!

    Anna @ D16 /

    I love the additional justification, Jill!!! Thanks. ;)

    Ross /

    Just for the sake of clarification, you’ve got it a little bit backwards, Anna. Panasonic actually makes both cameras, with guidance on lens design and firmware from Leica (so the glass in these cameras isn’t actually made in Germany like an M-mount lens would be). Then, Leica has, as you said, their own specs for design and firmware.

    That being said, I have a D-Lux 4 and love it. For me, part of the creative process is being comfortable with the tools you use, and I think even the detractors of Leica would be hard pressed to keep from admitting that the design of their products inspires creativity–in a way that, for me anyways, I don’t think the Panasonic ever could.

  18. JennAug 3, 20118:29 pm

    I can totally relate! After a lengthy internal debate, I ended up spending $250 on Stelton Cylinda salt and pepper mills instead of buying the waaay more affordable Peugeot mills, because, yes: design matters!

    Lesson? Buy yourself a nice camera!

    [Reply]

  19. QuerenciaAug 3, 20118:44 pm

    You look to buy Design not A Label
    You spend a significant amount of your time and earn your living being involved with design.Not even joking, investing in an environment that supports this is investing in your career.
    You’re also not purging your savings account into a mishmash of design trends or every appealing design you cross paths with.
    You appear to curate everything in your home. The pieces are carefully chosen, remembered and appreciated as part of your daily life.
    Sorry for the presumptuous comment but I don’t see any point in ripping on someone or criticising them for thoughtfully surrounding themselves by the things they care about and I read your blog and you wanted to make sure husband had a room of his own to pursue what he loves.. I have to crack up laughing at some of the purchases you make, I can’t imagine them but it makes no sense to me to be negative about them. You obviously care passionately about design. You not only work your full time job you take on free lance design work. You are passionate about what you do, you take on more work in the field, you want what you care about expressed in your home and your choices support design.

    I read your blog because you’re an odd duck but a seemingly aware, and purposeful odd duck with a hell of a sense of design.

    And where else would I get a take away of someone dumpster diving in a gigantic Vipp dumpster.

    At the end of the day none of us commenters live in your home, even if we might want to after seeing your tile choices, garbage can, and those dogs and we don’t balance your budget, and we can guess but probably never know exactly what makes you tick and is going to thrill you day after day as you use the objects in your life Cheers to happy decisions :) I love your blog for the views you allow your readers into your life- greed, 4 legs and all, thank you.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    This might be the most fabulous comment I’ve ever received, Querencia—thank you. :)

    Jules /

    I was going to leave a comment, but Querencia pretty much summed it up. If it’s in your budget, get the camera.

    Mo /

    Wow, Querencia, totally nailed it.

    Querencia /

    It’s only 9 am but you’ve made my day so far and the round of thanks comes back full circle. ;) And thanks for commenters kind comments on my comment, that was a mouthful to read back to myself. I was embarrassed by how long it was but I have been reading Door Sixteen for years without commenting so I guess I had a few bits to say. ;)
    For what it’s worth I have a similar lumix and for awhile it was my only camera after I was robbed and I loved, and still love her to pieces. Using a leica simply feels different though. I use my lumix nearly daily still and have no regrets and in part that’s because I take her EVERYWHERE. She’s gotten down sandy and low on beaches, meandered across glaciers and gotten licked by my neighbor’s bulldogs. If she was more precious to me I personally would be less inclined to use her as hard and happiy as I do. I’m not paying as much attention to how she feels in my hands though or the experience of the camer, if that makes sense. When I finally picked my DSLR to replace film gear I knew I would be more protective of her and I picked a slightly higher end body. Again, aesthetic design didn’t play into it but functional design did, she is sturdier and simply feels better in my hands. I will be keeping the body or a very long time and I knew I would care for it and the regular use would make cost well worth it. most of my criteria for choosing are different from yours, Anna, but eh, fwiw, and I AM a wordy chatterer once I get going.
    Lumix= great camera as far as I am concerned
    Leica=better camera in some areas, low light being mentioned and an experience to hold ;)
    the feel in the hand matters. Great photographers are out there taking great pictures with their iphones (and killing me with jealousy) but just as a human being the feel of something matters, it can just make you more inclined to carry the camera more frequently, when you get the one you click with, and as for function.. using it is what it’s all about. My partner has wacky criteria as far as I’m concerned but I want him to have the camera/vid that’s going to end up in his hands and used most frequently. If that means the body needs to be neon orange more power to the man. There are many correct tools.. once you narrow it down picking the one that fits you best is what’s important, to me.
    Scouts honour, no more novellas from me for a few more years.

    Anna @ D16 /

    You should comment more often, Querencia!! I sense that you’re the kind of person I could gab with for hours on end. I’m the chattiest, wordiest person I know!!

  20. ReginaAug 3, 20118:55 pm

    Go for the design! I work at a camera store that sells both the Panasonic and the Leica. There is a difference, and I would never own the Panasonic! The Leica has a better feel and asthetic. There is something that could be said for buying what you love instead of something you half hate but can afford.
    On the flip side I drive a 1972 VW Bug. There is a little known fact that as you pass other vintage VW drivers, you wave (even if you don’t know them). I imagine Leica owners to be the same small tribe of folks that wave at eachother as they pass.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    It’s nice to hear from someone who’s seen/used both and can confirm that there is indeed a difference! As if I needed more validation, hahah. :D

    I totally hear you on the vintage VWs—they are the best-looking cars ever. I don’t drive, but if I did, I’d want a Karmann Ghia. My mother drove a ’70s VW microbus (orange with a white top!) into the early ’90s, and I think something must’ve gotten into my blood…

  21. steven wadeAug 3, 20118:56 pm

    i bought the leica for the exact same reasons you wrote about. i was smitten with it, wanted it, and bought it. it was exactly the camera that i wanted and the lumix was something less than what i wanted. had i bought the lumix i would have felt a tinge of regret in not getting exactly what i wanted. if the leica is what you want and you can afford it, then buy what you like.

    [Reply]

  22. AudrieAug 3, 20119:07 pm

    I’d go with the Leica… every time I have a dilemma like this and I go with the cheaper option, I almost always regret my decision. And in this case, design and function are on the Leica’s side so it’s win / win.

    [Reply]

  23. another AnnaAug 3, 20119:58 pm

    I’m not going to weigh in on which one you buy, only to suggest that you go to B&H or somewhere and play with each of them in person. I was going to buy the Lumix and after seeing them in person ended up with the Canon S95, which I hadn’t liked as much online. In person, I liked the menus and controls much better than the Lumix. I think it’s easy for us to get caught up in online pictures and reviews. It’s one thing for things that we don’t have the option to see in person, but it’s too easy to just buy everything based on that.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Oh, I’ve seen (& held) them both in person, actually! And I will most likely buy from B&H if/when the time comes—it’s very close to my office.

    The Canon S95 is a very cute little camera. I pick it up every time I see it in a store!

    another Anna /

    It’s, of course, worth buying things at B&H just for the chance to watch all the conveyer belts and ramps.

  24. AnnieAug 3, 201110:05 pm

    imho, it’s cost per use, my friend. and if you use that camera all the time and you love it – then soon it’ll be paying you.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Paying me…with happiness? Alas, taking photos has nothing to do with how I earn money, but that’s still OK. :)

  25. taraAug 3, 201110:07 pm

    Think of it this way, someday the Leica may be a collector’s item, while the Lumix (most likely) will not. I say go for it. I may be an enabler, but my heart’s in the right place.

    [Reply]

  26. suzanneAug 3, 201110:08 pm

    I’ve been having this exact debate with myself and yeah I totally feel like a jerk too! I actually have a Vipp trashcan also, it was much easier to justify because trashcan technology isn’t exactly changing at the same rate as point-and-shoot camera technology.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Yeah, I wasn’t going to mention that. ;)

  27. jsAug 3, 201110:30 pm

    It’s your money. It is not irresponsible to buy what pleases you as long as you can afford it, truly afford it.

    [Reply]

  28. JennyAug 3, 201111:11 pm

    F-it, get the one you like.

    Must say, I rather love my Panasonic Lumix – am sure itcan do more than I ever ask it to. And it’s silver. It’s the TZ something – TZ 2 or 1 or I dunno…

    But also give an equivalent amount (ie the diff between the Lumix and the Leica) to charity. Preferably an animal charity.

    Whatever you do, enjoy it!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I don’t really like to make my charitable giving contingent upon the simultaneous purchase of material goods. I know what you mean, but I personally try to keep the two things separate in reasoning and consideration, otherwise it’s charity for the sake of justification for overspending.

  29. novaAug 3, 201111:31 pm

    I WANT A LEICA SO EFFING BAD. Thanks for fanning the flame of desire.

    [Reply]

  30. MoAug 3, 201111:40 pm

    Once upon a time I worked in a shop that sold high end binoculars to wonderfully wacky bird watchers and we all coveted the Leica for the quality of the prisms and lenses.

    [Reply]

  31. kimAug 3, 201111:52 pm

    The battery door on my Lumix really bugs me. I was trying to be frugal and I really wish I had just waited.

    I would probably have been fine with the cheaper trashcan, but once you put them next to each other, there is no comparison.

    I get overwhelmed by making these decisions, researching reviews, etc. Then I just go with the cheaper one and end up being disappointed. If I could do it again, I’d get the Leica.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    This is exactly how I am with clothes (but not shoes). I buy the cheapest, crappiest clothes because I don’t want to pay for the stuff I really want, and then I’m disappointed and I just feel wasteful. (Not that the Lumix is “crappy”, but you know what I mean!!)

  32. CindyEAug 4, 201112:52 am

    Hi, You know, it really is not about money – I know lots of people with lots of money and absolutely no taste. They just do not have the sensibility to understand good design…you can’t buy that. Being original and going with your own instincts – that is the big thing, too. Yes, to my eye, the more expensive camera is so cool – it has a retro look I love. This is what I call the “curse of good taste” – once you see what you love…it does seem to always be more expensive. I drive a Honda – I’d love to drive an older Jaguar, however unreliable (as my husband tells me) – I just like the way it looks. Oh well…

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I thought about doing another side-by-side with a beautiful $400 IKEA sofa next to a hideous $15k upholstered monstrosity to make the point that it really IS about good design, but I didn’t want to offend anyone who might like (or own!) the ugly sofa. Hah!

  33. kay*Aug 4, 20111:44 am

    love this post and totally agree with you – it’s totally okay to buy the more expensive option simply because you like the design more (and of course there will be other minor differences but you get me…..)

    i own the lumix 5. in term of point and shoots, which essentially it is though slightly more “advanced” than others – i think it’s a great camera (lots of pics on my blog from it). i like the design too. BUT if i could afford the leica option i TOTALLY would have gotten that ;) as it stands my lumix 5 was a generous birthday/going away gift :)

    [Reply]

  34. CindyEAug 4, 20111:49 am

    Me, again – I too, do not like to spend a ton of money on clothes – by accident, I discovered the Norma Kamali line for Wal-mart (yes, ugh, Wally World) – very good design (for the most part) – surprisingly well constructed, looks expensive and the prices…13.00 for a black batwing sweater, 6.00 for a very cool white shirt, 12.00 for a outstanding long grey cardigan with cool sleeve detail – all on sale. So, good taste does not have to cost a fortune…sometimes. I cannot believe Norma Kamali did a line for Wal-mart – is this good or bad??? I have mixed feelings about it because generally I cannot stand Wal-mart and their overtaking all the small towns and ruining the shops on Main Street – not to mention how poorly they treat employees. Yet, I shopped there…it is not a perfect world. Sorry, kind of off subject, I guess.

    [Reply]

  35. lucylikesitAug 4, 20112:14 am

    I can’t believe I’m saying this as it’s totally nerdy and I love beautiful stuff….but aesthetics ain’t the same thing as design!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    lucylikesit, I’m a little confused by your comment. Was there something in my post that prompted it? I’m pretty clear on the usage and meaning of both words. Are you suggesting that I’m misusing the word “design”?

    Just not sure what you meant by this statement, that’s all—I hope you’ll clarify!

    Lucy /

    gah. I wrote a response to this but closed my browser to ‘get some work done’. Will elaborate ASAP!

    lucylikesit /

    So here goes – I do not doubt for a second that you properly understand the meaning of the words ‘design’ and ‘aesthetics’. If I did I wouldn’t be reading or commenting here! 

    The part/jist of your post that prompted my comment was that you said the leica was essentially the same camera as the lumix, just ‘repackaged to look prettier’. And regarding the trash can, you mainly focussed on how great you think it looks. Also a lot of the comments at the time when I commented seemed to be along the lines of ‘yes, the camera is so pretty, much better design, buy it!’. And one distinguishing quality construction and design as separate entities.

    What I meant is that aesthetics are not where design begins and ends. I’m sure you are quite aware of this fact, but lots of folks seem to think making something look good = design. I simply felt obliged to stand up for what good design is about. Design is nearly always about  the fulfilment of a brief or criteria, right? I don’t deny that great aesthetics can be a part of that brief. But when talking good design, I feel like we shouldn’t limit ourselves to whether it looks great. How much does it cost? Is it good quality? Are the materials sustainable? Will it last a long time? What happens at the end of its lifespan, whenever that may be (hopefully later rather than sooner)? Is it durable? Is it easy to use? Does it perform its task brilliantly? Are the people who are involved in making it (not) being exploited? And the more boxes that are ticked (including the ‘aesthetics’ box), the more we can justify paying, within reason. These are all criteria in good design. I reckon your trash can is probably pretty spot on in terms of most of these criteria.  Major kudos to you for your respect and investment in good design! (It wasn’t just a love affair with its looks, surely…?)

    Of course there’s also ‘fashion design’. Which can often be more overwhelmingly about aesthetics, style and trends. I would argue that the fujifilm and the olympus are not about design but about fashion, i.e the current trend for retrospective, vintage style. Unfortunately something has been lost in translation here. The look has become fashionable because of old film cameras becoming popular, due to their amazing mechanics, construction and the beautiful photos they are able to produce. But it filters down, and now we’re getting wolves in sheep’s clothing, or something. But it seems the leica is the genuine article, from a brand that is all about quality construction and engineering, so there you go.

    This comment is not directed at you personally, but as a general discussion. I have an enormous amount of respect and am constantly inspired by the mindful approach you take to consumerism in general. I am working on being more mindful, in knowing where I stand on things and living by those values..putting my money where my mouth is, as it were!

    But yeah, I can totally get on board with having a good looking camera to hang around one’s neck in order to facilitate more frequent snapping! Perhaps it was obvious that all the other criteria had been ticked off the list and gorgeousness was just the icing on the cake! I look forward to seeing your photos – you take lovely ones.  

    It has also become apparent that I must plagiarise your ‘Anna @’ moniker unless I want to be addressed as ‘lucylikesit’….dang.

    Anna @ D16 /

    Wait, how should I be addressing you? Are you the Lucy in “lucylikesit”? Assuming you are, hello Lucy!

    I think I’ve completely exhausted myself as far as writing goes for the next day or two (my brain and fingers like to spend a little time apart from each other on the weekends), so I’ll just say, “UH-HUH. Yeah, totally. Definitely. I completely agree.”

    Thanks for the rad comment, lucylikesit Lucy. ;)

    p.s. If it makes you feel any better, I’m almost always addressed as “Door Sixteen” when I’m spotted by readers out and about. I always think it’s hilarious!

  36. MonicaAug 4, 20112:54 am

    Get the camera or you will forever be wishing that you had. I have been debating with myself for weeks about buying the Vipp soap dispenser. This post may have just pushed me over the edge. I just know that it would make me smile every time I used it.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Make sure you keep the receipt—this review stopped me from buying that dispenser! Maybe they got a defect, though, you never know.

    Monica /

    Your link didn’t work for me but I think I did find the review you mean. :( That is exactly the problem I have with the no-name soap dispenser I have now and I definitely don’t want to pay $120 to have the same problem. Will have to do some research. May I ask what you went with instead? The only other ones I have found to my liking are:
    [LINK] and the [LINK]
    Can’t even begin to tell you how many hours I have spent on this. It is a little nuts.

    Anna @ D16 /

    I never actually bought one!! I just keep buying Mrs Meyers as a “stopgap”. The Alessi looks good, but I feel like maybe the top would get gross and filled with water. Could you buy the Vipp and return it if it sucks?

    I do kind of like the GÅSGRUND from IKEA. Kind of.

    Monica /

    I have thought of the GÅSRUND, but I have had nothing but bad luck with all of the soap dispensers that I have bought from IKEA. I have found a store near me that sells all of the aforementioned ones and will go to compare. Will now be ending this fascinating topic. :) Thanks Anna.

    Heather /

    I just read that Amazon review, and I totally get your concern cos that happens with my Umbra soap dispenser in my kitchen. Thankfully that did not happen to me with the VIPP dispenser in my bathroom! I have been using it for about a year. I also have the toilet brush, which is equally awesome.

    My experience with reputable/quality companies like VIPP is that they will replace things with problems. That Amazon reviewer may not have followed up with VIPP…? Buying stuff like this from a small hands-on boutique retailer, rather than a giant like Amazon, is usually better for after-purchase service too — not to mention the local economy!

  37. NinaAug 4, 20113:26 am

    I don’t know anything about cameras other than the absolute basics, but I do have an eye for pretty objects. I bought my iMac intel core cuo in 2006 and it was an insanely expensive purchase (luckily the money was gifted to me but anyway). I still love turning it on every day and enjoy using it; it syncs, it integrates ui between software (even other than those developed by Apple) and so on. It simply is good function combined with gorgeous looks and this is the basis for my decision to buy or not buy “design”. In fact, I don’t even consider badly functioning “design” as real design.

    The Vipp is a perfect example of real design. Why? Because it stands solidly put when you maneuvre it, which was what it was intended for when they first designed it for a doctor’s office. It was supposed to stay in place when no hands were touching the bin itself. Through its different sizes it still does this and so I find myself dreaming of one of the middle sizes for the day when there is a kid in the house, for their washable diapers of course. You will want to store the dirty ones somewhere until you wash a larger load, but you don’t want the smell to get out. You also definitely want the trash can to stay put when you open it with one foot – and you do want to trust it to not glide away while you keep your little one secure with your other hand. Juggling like that takes the best and Vipp would give me a design hard-on if I was a guy :)

    Sorry for the long comment but I think bad design is pathetic and an abomination to the health of the planet.

    [Reply]

    Nina /

    *duo, not cuo. sigh.

  38. SophiaAug 4, 20115:34 am

    From the photographer’ s point of view. I own the Eos 5D MarkII and the Eos 40D as a back-up model. Same company, same series, same ovelall design but…different prizes. Why, it all comes to the quality of the sensor inside. So even if I use the same lenses on them (which I do) the results are so different in terms of the quality of the picture taken. As logic detects, I guess the same applies for these two cameras. Maybe the come from the same construction grounds but I bet ‘ya it’s not only the design standards that qualify for a higher price. It’s the little thingy called sensor that is also of a higher standard, and that little thing does all the hard work.

    [Reply]

  39. FionaAug 4, 20116:11 am

    Totally agree with you. I’ve one pair of heels. They’re Yves Saint Laurent, cost €450 in the January sales 11 years ago and are still perfect even though they’ve been worn loads. And they’re really high but I can dance all night in them. My mother-in-law was teasing me about the price of my one and only handbag, a €400 Mulberry from five years ago. I appreciate it every day and we worked out that she’s spent much more on handbags in that time than me. Great post. Enjoy the Leica, you’ll love it forever.

    [Reply]

  40. KelleeAug 4, 20118:04 am

    Anna, I LOVE this post.

    I agree: good design is so important. I think sometimes there can be shame/guilt attached to paying what most would see as ‘over the odds’ for an item because it is beautifully designed, but I think there’s so much more to it than that. Yes, we may pay a little extra for quality, but what we surround ourselves with in our homes, our sanctuaries, informs the way we feel and think. I say that as someone who has been on a comparitively limited budget for years. My flat is a mishmash of streetfinds that I’ve repainted/refurbed – things that have cost me zero pennies, or maybe a can of paint – and a few quality items that I’ve chosen because, for those particular items, it’s important to me to have something of great quality that functions well and is beautiful to look at.

    There is a huge difference between people who are ostentatious and showy and buy luxury brands with no real thought except the status they feel it might infer on them, or because it’s their default reflex; and someone who carefully chooses objects for their design qualities and the subsequent pleasure they get from handling that object/having that object in their lives.

    There is a whole branch of philosophy, dating back thousands of years, dedicated to the beauty of art and how it makes us feel. Who am I to argue?

    For what it’s worth, the Leica is really beautiful. I swooned a bit ;)

    [Reply]

  41. KathleenAug 4, 20118:18 am

    Dear Anna,
    I love this post on so many levels – from the value of good design to dealing with issues of greed. I cannot eloquently articulate my response at 7:14AM but it was emotional (in a good way). Maybe I’ll just go get a tattoo on my forehead that says “Design Matters” instead.

    xoxo,
    Kathleen

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    A forehead tattoo is a TOTALLY rational response Kathleen, but please—make sure it’s kerned properly.

    Heather /

    Anna, I wish you had a “like” button on these comments so I could have “liked” this response. A “hehe” will have to suffice :)

    Anna @ D16 /

    Now I kind of want to implement a “hehe” button.

  42. JuliaAug 4, 20118:44 am

    Timely post if there ever was one… I’ve had a Lumix for 2 1/2 years and I’m thinking of replacing it.

    The Lumix has proved to be a good soldier and I’m so grateful that I’m going to sell it to a friend or family member. The reason it doesn’t cut it anymore is that I use it to shot video and the sound is really, really bad. Like a static storm, and I don’t think it can get repaired.

    I have a 11 mo. old daughter and I make videos for my tech-savvy, home-bound elderly relatives, who’ve become addicted to my YouTube channel. I need the camera to be pocket sized, light and somewhat sturdy because I shot 3 or 4 times a week around the house or outside. I really use it to document our everyday life – getting up, getting dressed, going to daycare, people we meet, etc. I do share my private life in those videos, and that’s why my channel doesn’t have any public videos. We also have a Pentax, which we use for the serious pictures and videos, but I don’t want to haul it around or give it the treatment Lumix gets.

    So I’m in the conundrum… should I get a new Lumix? Or should I go back to Canon? Canon Powershot cameras really let me down a few years back, but maybe I should forgive them? Anyone knows which point and shot under $ 150 has a decent microphone and sound recording? Or maybe I’m asking too much?

    [Reply]

    Querencia /

    We got a flip for video and have been extremely happy with the decision. It’s even smaller than the point and shoot so we are very likely to take it places and put it to use.

    Anna @ D16 /

    I was going to suggest the Flip, but I think they’ve been discontinued.

    Querencia /

    CIsco’s wounded me. Discontinued in April. thanks for the heads up.

    stephanie /

    Flips are still for sale at a pretty good discount. The website will be supported until 2013.

    Julia /

    Oh, thank you!

  43. AnneAug 4, 20118:51 am

    I have the Lumix camera you’re considering. I have to say, it’s really pretty in person. Maybe not as “clean” as its Leica counterpart, but definitely way far away from being ugly. Also, I have a gorgeous retro leather case for it, which makes it even nicer.

    I got the Lumix because it’s really small and doesn’t turn me into lady Cobrasnake at social events. It’s a point-and-shoot that behaves like a DSLR.

    [Reply]

  44. Pour PorterAug 4, 20119:03 am

    I agree agree. Nothing wrong with going with quality when you can. Whatever you do, don’t look at the Fujifilm FinePix X100. Talk about beautiful. We were SOOOO tempted by it when we were looking for a new camera in the spring, but needed something with exchangeable lenses so we went with a Canon, but holy cow: http://www.finepix-x100.com/

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Haha, too late! I actually linked to it yesterday in my reply to Maxwell. ;)

    Pour Porter /

    Haha! Awesome. Deciding on what camera to buy is sooo difficult. We have a ton of really nice old 35mm film cameras we’re thinking of busting out again so we aren’t further tempted by the Fujifilm. Good luck!

  45. AllisenAug 4, 20119:05 am

    I’ve forgotten where, but I once read an article by a designer bemoaning the fact that his excellent design sense was a real burden, because he was required to buy Macs and Mini Coopers even though his designer salary couldn’t really afford it.

    My husband and I laughed about it, and now, every time we do the EXACT same thing, we make fun of ourselves. “It’s SOOO HARD to have SUCH good taste.” I feel for you :)

    p.s. Get the Leica. It will make you happy.

    [Reply]

    Julia /

    Ha, that’s so true. Design does matter, but you have to wonder if design does add value the way it does. In the trash bins case it was obvious (any product handmade in Scandinavia has a base cost that’s astronomical) but if it was produced in a factory with fairly the same materials uglier products are… it really gets you wondering.

    Maybe because some added value to good design is the notion of exclusivity, something the masses can’t afford. I think that’s the trick with Apple products, and I hate them for that so much that I’ve NEVER owned ANYTHING remotely MacIntosh though I can afford them. (Yes, I relish in using the name the company used in the 80′s – it makes my specs grow and cover my cheekbones).

    Just that… but I do go for design that has passed the test of time. I’m talking about the Bialetti espresso coffee maker, an unexpected wedding gift so pretty that also made me start drinking coffee.

    Anna @ D16 /

    Julia, did you read my earlier comment about Apple products? They were MUCH MUCH MUCH more expensive years ago before there was a significant different in the appearance of a Mac and a PC. It wasn’t until the exterior design caught up with their already superior (for design-related applications—that’s fact, not perception) operating system that the prices started to drop and their products became more widely used by a broader range of people. You can hate Apple all you want, but they revolutionized the way that we view industrial design in the 21st century. I don’t think that’s about exclusivity, either—look at IKEA for that counterpoint, as they’ve achieved something very similar but at the other end of the cost spectrum. It’s more about there being attention paid to the importance of design in what surrounds us in our everyday lives.

    I highly recommend Gary Hustwit’s incredible film Objectified if this is a subject you’re interested in: http://www.objectifiedfilm.com/objectified-trailer/

  46. SherryAug 4, 20119:10 am

    I totally agree with you there. Though I have to admit I probably wouldn’t have splurged on the trashcan, I sure have my fair share of things I will buy.

    We were just talking (somewhat) about this very thing a couple of nights ago. We need a new computer, and we are going with a Mac ofcoarse, but we starting commenting on how cheap some of the other brands of electronic are now and how much are we paying for better quality/specs verses aesthetics. We had to agree that while Macs are great computers, at least some of that price is based upon the fact they just look better, but that just happens to be very important to us.

    I am also a firm believer that you’ll use something more if you like the way it looks whether it be an ipod, a kitchen aide mixer, All-Clad pans, a Tivoli radio or a camera. It’s just plain better when an item serves two purposes well; it’s intended function and the fact it’s something nice to look at.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    My husband and I were talking about the “Apple thing” last night, actually (I have never owned anything but Apple computers, and it’s extremely rare that I will choose another brand if a comparable Apple product exists), and he pointed out that over the years they really have done a lot toward closing the affordability gap.

    My first Apple computer (I think it was a PowerMac 7600) cost $7000 all in. SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. That was in 1996, my junior year of art school. I had to take out a loan to buy it. And Macs didn’t even LOOK especially nice then! But if you were a designer (or on your way to becoming one), that was what you bought because it was the gold standard for running graphics software. That was a choice based solely on function, but within a few years, Apple released the first iBooks and iMacs, and everything suddenly changed on the outside, too. That change in appearance is what helped to bring the Mac to a broader market—it’s what offset it from PCs. It wasn’t like Apple did that to appeal more to designers (who were already buying their products)!

    Steve Jobs is a smart guy (hello, understatement), and he recognizes that good design matters—even when the consumer might not even realize that s/he is reacting to it.

    I could easily write several thesis papers here about Apple’s influence on design marketing (and I’m already all over the place in this comment!), so I’ll just shut myself up now. ;)

    Anna @ D16 /

    p.s. Full disclosure: The Tivoli PAL radio we bought for our bathroom is a huge disappointment. After a year of use, it lost its ability to hold a charge and can do longer be used without being plugged in, which defeats the main reason we bought it in the first place. Yes, it’s cute and the reception (even in the mountains!) is excellent, but it didn’t live up to our expectations. Bummer.

    Sherry /

    Sorry to hear about your Tivoli. We have model one radio, so no batteries, but we use it all the time, and it’s (fingers crossed) held up like a champ while effectively drowning out the neighbors all soft rock music tastes. It also makes listening to NPR a much more enjoyable experience. Is it possible to get a replacement battery?

  47. LAug 4, 20119:24 am

    Anna, you are amazing in that you can take what seems like a purely financial decision and blog it into a thoughtful discussion of value. Thank you for that — another reason to follow your posts.

    [Reply]

  48. Grumble GirlAug 4, 20119:47 am

    I feel you completely, lady. But there’s no getting around the point that design and aesthetics DO matter – art for art’s sake, right? I believe in getting good deals on anything without true edge is the better, more economical option (like white subway tiles, or whatever) but on the details that really sing, and the ones you KNOW you’ll be completely in love with each and every time you cast your gaze upon it… well, those just become the musts. No matter how much they cost (kinda) because I think a person knows which items fall into the “squee about it forever” category, and which ones don’t. So. If you can swing it, you might as well do it – you won’t be happy with the alternative anyway.

    And I mean this in a totally non-jerky kind of way. Some times, “you just gotta.”

    I hope it’s awesome…

    [Reply]

  49. PhillyLassAug 4, 201110:27 am

    I completely relate to your dilemma, Anna. I have an unhealthy obsession with Black & Blum’s heavyweight tape dispenser. I’m madly in love with it, but so far I’ve managed to resist the impulse to spend more than $60 when I can get a reasonably functional tape dispenser for less than $10. I’m actually considering asking for it for my birthday, even though my family will be completely baffled by my request.

    [Reply]

  50. EllenAug 4, 201111:13 am

    Can’t you take it as a tax deduction because you are a designer and do freelance work? I’m a freelance graphic designer and I use my camera for work sometimes (as I’m sure you do-right!!!) so I would think you could write it off.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    No, I don’t use a camera for anything related to the freelance work I do. I really just use it to take pictures of my house, my dogs, and cool signs. Hah! You know, stuff for this blog mostly.

    I sometimes use a camera at my full-time job, but we have an office camera (it’s very nice) and I can’t deduct personal expenses for salaried work.

  51. NicoleAug 4, 201111:41 am

    I would like to start off by saying that I am by the standards of the readers of home blogs very poor. I live in a cheap apartment in a cheap neighborhood in a cheap state and still live paycheck to paycheck, hand to mouth; I spent 17 dollars on a dress a few weeks ago and actually cried from guilt when I got home and spent two hours holding the receipt thinking about taking it back.

    That said, I actually do understand where you come from, completely. Were I in better financial straits I too would opt for the better-designed option: the sexier hand soap bottle, the sleeker lipstick tube, the beautiful pen that feels good in my hand. I still frown disapprovingly at times at my soap dispenser, my Rimmels, my BIC ballpoints. They are completely functional, of course–none of these things work poorly and in fact the Rimmel is maybe the best lipstick I have ever used–but I think there is a type of person that takes a profound joy in using something that was developed with care and creativity. It feels GOOD to use something better (not necessarily more expensive, as your tissue observation points out, but better), and maybe that’s a petty joy in some people’s eyes, but it’s a joy, nonetheless.

    I don’t feel deprived to use what I have to use now, but I would feel better if I didn’t have to.

    I also feel like people spend entirely too much time worrying how other people spend their money when it is frankly none of their business. I have a friend who receives constant criticism because she has very expensive and beautiful tattoos but drives a run-down piece of crap car (much like I do! But minus the tattoos, haha). Why? Clearly in her mind she prioritizes the tattoos more than having a good-looking car (that you just have to worry about denting, anyway). It’s not anyone else’s job to decide how someone spends the money they work hard to earn.

    That said… I honestly prefer the 26.00 trash can!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Thank you for this comment, Nicole, and for being so honest and forthright. Just for the record, while I suspect that you might be surprised by our actual cost of living versus our household income (we live in one of the most economically depressed cities in the state—the per capita income in Newburgh is about $13k, and 25% of the population lives below the poverty line), I do appreciate very much that I don’t have to struggle financially and that I can afford to even consider buying any sort of camera in the first place. Being in this position is fairly new to me, and it’s not something that I’m altogether comfortable with—if only because I spent a lot of years making do with comparatively very little. The days when a $17 dress would mean that I couldn’t afford a subway token to get to work the next day are not that far behind me.

    That said, I think because I grew up in a household where, despite money always being tight (my parents are artists, and there are a lot of us kids!), I never felt like I was settling for something that was “ugly” or poorly-made. As an adult, I look back with such admiration for the ways in which both of my parents (in separate homes) managed to incorporate beauty and good design into our everyday lives in ways that didn’t cost much—or cost anything at all. I remember my dad doing things like covering an ugly display on an alarm clock or radio with matte black cardboard cut to fit so that it would look less visually distracting, and my mother sewing flat-panel curtains to hang in front of old bookshelves repurposed to hold bathroom items the hallway. It’s little things like that, I think, that make everyday living with very little money a bit more bearable. I think there’s a tendency to hold on to a lot of stuff when you don’t have money, too, for fear that you might need it someday—but having all of that excess around can really be a drag. In all honesty, I think it’s the years I spent living extremely frugally that made me a modernist.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful, though, if Bic designed their ballpoint pens to look a little nicer? I think that’s an area where IKEA (and Target too, at times) has really excelled, and I also think it’s possible for other large companies to do what IKEA has done without resorting environmentally destructive (and sometimes ethically questionable) production methods so often associated with low-cost goods. For as many awesome pieces of furniture I’ve found curbside for free, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people at the low end of the economic spectrum to want to have some well-designed, long-lasting, newly-purchased items in their lives. That’s not a petty joy at all. :)

  52. SamAug 4, 201111:59 am

    My dad and I just had this conversation last week. I want the leica and he would buy the panasonic. He’s so practical and completely right, but I know I just wouldn’t be happy buying the less beautiful camera. I think if you’re the type of person who buys less, but buys things to keep for the long term, it’s completely reasonable to buy the things you love. My two cents :)

    [Reply]

  53. Chris @ Foible and FollyAug 4, 201112:04 pm

    I’ve had that Lumix for about a year and have no complaints other than its lack of zoom. The thing is way smarter than me, I’ll tell you that much. Would I buy the Leica if I had the cash – of course. That’s not in the cards currently. I do have my eye on a retro leather case for the Lumix like someone else mentioned – you can get them in Japan (I am lucky enough to know a flight attendant) or off Ebay – which will up its cool factor a bit.

    Either way, enjoy! Life is short!

    [Reply]

  54. HeidiAug 4, 201112:35 pm

    Distantly related topic…. Have you come across any well designed dog paraphernalia? Bowls, beds, leashes, toys or any other indispensable items for dog ownership?

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    We don’t really buy much dog stuff, actually. They sleep in bed with us (or on the sofa during the day) and eat/drink out of regular human bowls (we have some cute ones we bought at CB2). Toy-wise we stick with things the dogs LOVE that aren’t particularly attractive, like those long, squeaky squirrels that don’t have any stuffing in them and string bones.

    We did spend a decent amount getting them really good leashes and harnesses a couple of years ago, though—we went with Buddy Belts from Canada. They look good, yes, but more importantly they’re the only harnesses we’ve tried that don’t irritate their shoulders or throats at all. We bought name tags from this Etsy shop.

    Heather /

    Have you tried looking at http://dog-milk.com/ ? It’s a cool blog from the Design Milk People. There’s also http://www.moderncat.net/ for the cat people out there.

  55. ValerieAug 4, 201112:37 pm

    My own experiences have led me to the conclusion that a more expensive item is only worth buying if I absolutely, truly know that I will use that item to the point of wearing it out and if the extra expense is based more on quality of use than design. If the design is also much nicer, that makes it an even better investment. I think that if I had a larger income it wouldn’t be as much of an issue, and I’d be more inclined to buy the more expensive items. (And I think that if you have the money for it and want it badly enough, then you should go for it.) But because my income is very limited I can’t afford the “I deserve to have this” or “it’s worth paying more because I like looking at it/how it feels” mentality. This obviously isn’t an issue for everyone, but after growing up with parents that spent way above their means just because they thought they deserved more, it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth to think about doing it myself. It taught me the true meaning of want vs. need.

    You obviously have the same sort of dilemma I have buying more expensive items (maybe not as extremely or for the same reasons), so I sympathize. I love well designed items. I think they’re a luxury, and luxury is always nice. It’s funny, the pressure to buy things. I never know if I truly want them because I need them or if I want them because someone *convinced* me that I need them.

    [Reply]

  56. katrinaAug 4, 201112:58 pm

    Thank you for your honesty in this post! As a visual person myself (art historian), I am right there with you on this. These are objects that you will see EVERY DAY – do you want to live with thoughts of “ugh, this is slowly draining the life out of my designer soul” or “holy crap the aesthetics of my house are amazing!”

    I tend to encounter the opposite spectrum: people who automatically brush off anything that’s NOT expensive – especially Ikea. Thinking that a higher price tag automatically equals quality is foolish.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    No matter where I’m acquiring something (clothes aside—I seem to be incapable of buying good clothes), I ask myself the same three questions before even considering the price: (1) With this either fulfill a need or bring beauty into my life? (2) If it’s a functional object, is it well-designed? and (3) Is it well-made? I don’t care if it’s coming from the Goodwill, IKEA, an antique store, or DWR. Good design is good design. Once those three questions are answered, THEN I consider price and whether I can actually afford it. A huge mistake I’ve made in the past is buying things I don’t really love because they’re reduce in price from being really expensive or whatever. That’s so stupid! I mean, of course a sale price for something pricey is great, but only if it’s something you love even at the unaffordable price. (Am I making sense?)

  57. LeahAug 4, 20112:16 pm

    That was part of my reasoning with going with the Olympus Pen Digital system when choosing a Micro Four-Thirds camera. I have even recently spent more money buying a custom tan leather half-case and neck strap from a leather crafter based in Korea. There are definitely cases (especially in the camera world) where form without function is just pretentious (Fuji X100, I’m looking at you – http://mashable.com/2011/04/22/fuji-x100/)…which makes sense, because where cameras are concerned, design has gotten pretty lazy. So it makes me happy to have an elegant portable camera that can go with my outfits when I’m travelling!.

    [Reply]

  58. Mary-EllenAug 4, 20112:20 pm

    I am totally the same way, except, I buy the cheaper one and then still not satisfied, buy the one that I really want. I keep telling myself just buy the one you want in the first place.

    [Reply]

  59. ChristineAug 4, 20113:09 pm

    While I’ve read your blog religiously for some time now, I believe this is my first comment. I’m curious… did that Robbie commenter ever send you the “article” he was working on? I use quotation marks because of my skepticism that he, indeed, has anything to do with the journalistic profession.

    I love your blog for the creativity, the hard work and the beauty you share with all of us here, there and everywhere. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Of course he didn’t! I can’t even imagine what kind of article that could even be. I have to assume by “I’m writing an article” he meant “I’m trolling the internet”. I admit I was a little tempted to email him yesterday and ask him if he ever got his article about “bloggers like me” published, but I thought better of it and just snickered to myself instead. ;)

    I’m honestly fascinated by the thought process that must lead up to leaving comments like that on someone’s blog. I just can’t imagine harboring that much contempt for someone I don’t even know!

  60. Jaime from Design MilkAug 4, 20113:36 pm

    I buy more expensive stuff all the time because it looks better. A lot of times it functions better too. It lasts longer. You’re happier with it. The worst decisions I have made when it comes to purchases is to settle for the cheaper similar model. Often times, I become disappointed and regretful over time and just wish I’d spent a little more money for the one I *really* wanted. When we moved into our new house, we made a deal that we’d no longer settle for things we didn’t want because they were cheaper. We’d save and wait and get the original desired purchase. It takes some patience, but it’s been working out great. Not a single regret yet!

    All that being said, get the Leica. It’s just cool to tell people you own a Leica. And being cool is really all that matters anyway, isn’t it? ;)

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Well, just as long as YOU think I’m cool, Jaime. ;)

  61. JillAug 4, 20113:40 pm

    Just for kicks, one of my very favorite photographers has the Leica D-LUX 4. And she has made some amazing images with it if you need more convincing. :)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/23061481@N06/tags/leicadlux4/

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Gorgeous stuff!! I’m under no illusions that the Leica will make me a better photographer, but it’s nice to pretend!!

    Jill /

    Better photographer, schmetter pfftographer. :D You have such an eye for composition!

    If you are motivated to use your camera more often, you can’t help but improve – even against your own will! I’ve been using a rangefinder Leica from 1946 for the past couple of years and I would say that every roll of film I’ve put through it has improved my skills. Doesn’t matter if the negatives come out atrocious, it’s all a learning process! ESPECIALLY for people like me who have been stricken with the gear sickness, haha.

    Anna @ D16 /

    Thanks, Jill. It really is a huge struggle for me, the photography thing. I’ve always WANTED to be a better at it (and actually, I think was a little better when I used to shoot on film years ago), but it’s impossible for me to match the image in my mind with the resulting shot. I guess that’s just part of it, though! I keep trying to get better, and I figure anything that makes me want to pick up a camera (even my iPhone!) is good for me.

  62. OliverAug 4, 20113:49 pm

    Not to add fuel to your greed fire, but are you aware that you can customize your Leica camera body with colors? Check it out:

    http://www.colorware.com/p-281-leica-d-lux-5.aspx

    http://boingboing.net/2011/08/01/leica-gets-a-splash-of-color.html

    Yeah. Wow. I need more disposable income, STAT!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Fortunately for my wallet, I think that looks terrible!! I’m fine with basic black. :D

    Oliver /

    I guess that makes sense. Did you get your table lamp? Realized we didn’t send a thank you card. So, thank you! :)

    Anna @ D16 /

    I did! I emailed…someone there, maybe it was just the customer service address?

    I was SHOCKED (and a little embarrassed—it was totally unnecessary!) and kind of confused when it turned up at my mother’s house. ;)

    Totally unexpected, but very much appreciated and enjoyed. :)

    Oliver /

    Great! We appreciate the Door 16 love. Wait till you see what we got coming in a couple months! ;)

    Anna @ D16 /

    See, now I’m really on the edge of my seat. You just keep outdoing yourselves over there!! I need more houses to put more lamps in, I guess. ;)

  63. JTAug 4, 20114:23 pm

    Get the Leica. I’ve owned 3 Panasonic Lumix cameras over the past 8 years and the quality of the camera (minus the lens) has gotten progressively worse and, to top it off, their “customer service” is absolutely the pits. Earlier this year, I sent in my Lumix for repairs (the screen was not working), well under warranty. It took 3 weeks for any feedback (which I had to seek out); when they finally spoke to me they voided my warranty and were going to charge me $330 to fix a $400 camera; I asked for them to ship my camera back to me and I finally received it 2 weeks later. Ironically, I still get emails from them asking if I’d like to renew my warranty (the same one they voided to get out of repairing my camera in the first place). Ugh. So, go with the real deal and get the Leica.

    [Reply]

  64. MaartjeAug 4, 20114:23 pm

    You can also get the Vipp wastebin for you computer. It’s awesome! http://www.vipp.com/ (and free… ;)

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    You know, I tried that a few months ago and I couldn’t get it to work for me!

    Jaime from Design Milk /

    I have that and it’s so cute! :)

  65. Ro1Aug 4, 20114:49 pm

    Anna,

    If you buy the Panasonic – you will always be thinking about the Leica…. don’t give yourself a “what if” moment, go with your heart and get the Leica!

    …..or better yet, the Fuji x100 that you previously mentioned – heaven!

    [Reply]

  66. nil blurAug 4, 20115:10 pm

    Maybe I’m jealous; maybe I’m reading the wrong blog today. This post and comments kind of bum me out. I’ve done the same “weighing” before over different items and come down one one side or the other at different times. Not sure you can win. Not sure there’s a right answer. Not sure this is what we should be thinking about even if we can afford to. Maybe it’s that those images of the cameras are so sharp and aggressive.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Nil, take a look at the comment you left on this post. What you wrote there? THAT is the reason why design matters.

    This really isn’t a discussion about money or affordability so much as it is about why the design of what surrounds and what we interact with on a daily basis matters. That’s true on many different levels, not just when it comes to fancy cameras—it’s not even necessarily limited to consumer goods, even.

    It’s OK to think about lots of stuff, right? Even things that are luxuries to be able to consider—like art, beauty, shelter, the internet, friendship, and happiness. (And if there were a winning, right answer, we wouldn’t need to ever talk about anything. So.)

  67. QuerenciaAug 4, 20117:34 pm

    I’m getting chatty today. I wouldn’t feel alone about being in the lower economic bracket of readers. My rent’s not paid for the month, I have NO idea how it will be paid in anything like the time frame it needs to be paid in we have precious little lined up and what’s slated to come in is simply too far out to suffice. I commented earlier about my dslr and hey a flip, and a lumix. It was in large part purchased when over a decade of gear got stolen, and most of it had been acquired as a student and was required. And now it gets used for work. the DSLR and her friends might still get sold to cover this months rent. Though it’s bit of shooting myself in the foot, more than a bit. Anyway, not looking for sympathy or saying that I know your situation. It could be far more dire than mine. But it’s pretty bad over here at this moment ;) That’s said not just to get my whine on but that from one person currently in a financially bleak situation to another I don’t think there’s anything petty about it. There’s nothing to be dismissive about.. not about your love for good and beautiful design. Reading your post I wanted to give you a hug, anyone that stressed … If it’s anything like the crushing sense of doom i’ve felt in similar situations it’s horrible. Maybe I just needed to write more than “I wanted to give you a hug” so I wouldn’t sound like some hug psycho.

    [Reply]

  68. QuerenciaAug 4, 20117:39 pm

    sigh. that was meant to Nicole.

    [Reply]

  69. HelenaAug 5, 201112:09 am

    Hi, I had a similar dilemma over a purchase recently but a friend helped me make up my mind by saying if I buy the “probably equally good for what I need it for but I am just not in love with it” option I’ll always look at it and think of the “but I just like this one more” option every time, long after the impact on my budget has been forgotten. I think I may be similar to you in that I spent a long time living on little, and the ability to buy things because I like them is a relatively recent phase. It has taken some getting used to, because frugality and thriftiness was a way of life for a long time. I still consider myself frugal, just because I don’t like waste or excess, but I think I have also given myself permission to indulge once in a while. It seems most commenters are encouraging you to buy the one you like, so I can only add to that and say, go on, do it, its ok!

    [Reply]

  70. TammyAug 5, 201112:19 am

    I think you should go for it. When you use the camera and feel happy looking at that dot, it will be worth it.

    I imagine you get a lot of joy from that little trashcan – anything that brings a smile and joy to an otherwise mundane act (throwing out a Kleenex) is worth it. That trashcan has already paid for itself!

    Love your blog, thanks for the inspiration, as always! :)

    [Reply]

  71. MomoAug 5, 20116:02 am

    I think buy less, buy what you truly love, and you will never regret it. I have this simple philosophy with everything these days, but have long held it against fast fashion (ick). Get the Leica, Anna! :)

    [Reply]

  72. MarkAug 5, 20117:33 am

    Let me just start by saying, do what makes you feel good. It is much more irrational to spend $400 on something you do not like then $800 on an item that you will enjoy.

    That being said, I think the general argument made in the post is false. Your $250 garbage can is functionally better then the cheap one. Whether it’s over $200 better is up to the user, but that fact is still undeniable.

    Is the Leica actually better? No, it is the same camera with roughly the same parts. The shutter release and the lcd are the same (these are the parts you notice when using a great vs lesser camera ). Panasonics are not rebranded Leicas for cheap, Leicas are rebranded Panasonics with a huge surcharge. When you buy the Leica you are buying Panasonic R&D. Panasonic is making arguably the best p&s camera on the market and some really great mich 4/3 cameras. Leica is using 100 years of Bressonian nostalgia to overcharge people for their red dot.

    Design is also about value. Did it costs them $400 to remove the grip (which is arguably more usable) and some branding? Personally, I cannot reward a company that seems lazy about design and so apt to profit off their past successes. They could used panasonic’s technology and parts to create an original Leica camera, but instead they went the easy route.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    “Leica is using 100 years of Bressonian nostalgia to overcharge people for their red dot.”

    And that, Mark, is exactly where I’m coming from. It looks nicer—that’s the crux of this post. At least I’m aware that I’m a fool.

    (How is my Vipp garbage can functionally better than the Simple Human one, by the way? The garbage goes inside, the lid closes on top. Function completed. I think it’s safe to say that Vipp is capitalizing on nostalgia in a very similar way to Leica, actually.)

    Mark /

    The Vipp can isn’t a rebadged version of the Simple Human can and I guess that is the point I am stuck on. It’s always fun to get what you want, so enjoy!

    Personally, I would get the Fuji x100. The Leica is still a p&s with a p&s sensor. The Fuji has a dslr sized sensor and a really sharp prime lens. Prime lenses are all I use on my dlsr and the limitation actually aids creativity. I know it’s more expensive, but what’s another $400, right?

    Anna @ D16 /

    “That being said, I think the general argument made in the post is false. Your $250 garbage can is functionally better then the cheap one.”

    “The Vipp can isn’t a rebadged version of the Simple Human can and I guess that is the point I am stuck on.”

    “I cannot reward a company that seems lazy about design and so apt to profit off their past successes.”

    “Personally, I would get the Fuji x100.”

    I’m not trying to give you a hard time here, but these are some pretty major contradictions to make in the space of 10 hours. ;)

    I suspect you have the same inclinations toward being attracted to nice-looking stuff as I do. And I think that’s totally OK. Don’t fight it!

  73. KatyAug 5, 20119:40 am

    I really like you for this post :)

    [Reply]

  74. erin lang norrisAug 5, 201110:12 am

    i understand completely, and although i’m not in a position where i can yet support my lust for good design, i do hold out for a very long time before i just buy something. point in case: the last time i got a camera was 5 years ago…back when 5 mega pixels was AWESOME. i hate the thing, but everything else i look at in my budget is cheap and chintzy looking, so i keep holding out.

    sigh, if only my husband understood how much good design really means [to me].

    [Reply]

  75. EvYAug 5, 201111:01 am

    I want so badly to judge you for buying a $200 trash can when I realized I bought that stupid modkat litter box that costs over $100. And by stupid I mean totally worth it since it’s so harmless looking no one ever realizes what it is until the cat jumps into it.

    Good looks wins.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Hahaha, feel free to judge!!! Believe me, I judge myself every time I think about it. I totally concede it was a ridiculous purchase! But…I love it so…

  76. mommyAug 5, 201111:13 am

    What if your mother said to go ahead and buy it?

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Darn, I thought this was going to say, “what if your mother bought it FOR you”. :D Hee hee.

  77. bekahAug 5, 201111:20 am

    Dang.

    Theres a ‘ceiling’ for me, I’ll spend maybe double, up to $50 for pretty/shiny/desinged stuff.

    I couldn’t justify half a weeks pay/half a months rent on a garbage can, if it emptied itself, maybe…

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Believe me, I totally get it. At least the rest of the bathroom was done with a super-duper tight budget. I try to think of it as being part of the overall renovation project instead of just an accessory—we did budget for it, after all, just like the tile and fixtures we chose. That makes me feel a LITTLE better about it. (I guess.)

  78. Melissa JadeAug 5, 20115:18 pm

    The reason American’s looks like a bunch of tasteless slobs is because we stopped caring about how things look or how long they last, and only focused on how cheap we could get it. IMO it is very important to revolt against this new norm (really only since the 70′s have things gotten so sad). If that means never (EVER) shopping at a Walmart or buying my cardigans from J.Crew instead of Old Navy- then I’m more than happy to admit to it.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Why is it better to shop at J Crew instead of Old Navy? Don’t they both engage in the same cheap, third-world labor practices? Just curious what your rationale is. I don’t really see any distinction between the two stores other than that one more expensive than the other. I personally tend to think Old Navy has nicer-looking/better-fitting clothes (and well-made; my ON clothes have lasted for years)—but that’s just my personal taste, I guess; I’ve never bought anything other than a t-shirt at J Crew (the label informs me it was made in China), but maybe there’s something I don’t know.

    Wouldn’t a better analogy to make be one that makes the case for buying clothing made using ecologically and ethically-sound practices, and for supporting independent designers, small, local companies and design collectives?

    I’m not criticizing you for liking J Crew, I’m just not sure I understand the reasoning behind the point you’re making.

  79. DariaAug 5, 20115:32 pm

    This post is so funny and so true! I have the Panasonic and I love it so much that I will probably sell my (entry-level) DSLR which I’ve never used since buying the Lumix. And I HAVE seriously considered buying the Leica instead for the sake of the red dot. I didn’t have the money though. Buy what makes you happy if you can afford it. Life is short.

    [Reply]

  80. HeatherAug 6, 20112:56 pm

    My main thought in the good design vs. saving money part of this topic is this: The one that is designed “better” is…. well, better. But it’s perfectly up to you if it’s “$300 better”.

    I work for a company that sells high-end stuff, and customers are sometimes taken aback when after they ask “Which one is the best one?”, they are pointed to the most expensive model. In a lot of cases, what they really mean is “Which one is the best one I can get for the least amount of money?” or “Which one is the right one for my lifestyle?”

    In the case of the trash cans above, I’d say that’s probably the best darned $26 trash can on the market. But it just can’t compare to VIPP.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I momentarily considered comparing the Vipp can to a brown paper shopping bag (free!) or a plastic dollar-store wastebasket ($1!), but I thought better of it and decided to go with what I actually would have bought if I’d decided against the Vipp.

    I don’t know anything about Simple Human’s manufacturing processes or the conditions in the factory they use in China, but I can at least vouch for the the relative quality of their products. I have a couple of dish drainers and a kitchen trash can, and they’re good quality for the money.

    And again (because I still feel kind of gross even having this discussion), I know I am incredibly privileged to even be able to consider either trash can.

  81. jjaAug 6, 20114:49 pm

    I love, no adore good design but with a trash can i love the simple human design more. I have vipp and that surrounding at the botton always gets dusty! No i don’t like this trash can.
    But I do adore vipp laundry bin.No surrouding edge :-)
    http://resources.shopstyle.com/sim/df/1f/df1f301b3f9d50b808944ccef9b520a8/vipp-design-within-reach-bath-laundry-bin.jpg

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Hmm, I don’t have that problem with the bottom! Maybe it’s because it’s in a bathroom rather than a kitchen? I know when things get dusty in my kitchen it’s much harder to clean them, I guess because of the heat and oils in the air (ick!).

    And yeah, the Vipp laundry bin is gorrrrrrrgeous. WAY out of my budget, but I’d do it if I could. ;)

  82. BrightAug 6, 20118:38 pm

    I love you, I love everything you do, I love this blog, but I hate that trashcan. I hate that it’s more than my monthly car payment and it doesn’t at least shoot off fireworks.

    I can move past that though. The camera is pretty. Why by something you’d look at and be bummed about? It’s like when my boss offered to sell me her old Macbook. I needed another computer, but did I want someone else’s old computer? The model was boxy, the pretty glossy white had become dingy, etc. Could not handle. Would have been bummed every time I looked at it.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I guarantee I’ll have that trash can for longer than you’ll have your car. ;)

    Bright /

    For-ev-er.

    I did go to the website just to make sure I wasn’t being Judgey McJudgerson, and I have to say that the action shot of the pedal bin 30L in the green room is lovely. Also, I like the really shiny version of the soap dispenser. I could see my shining maintaining its beautiful shine in my pocket-sized kitchen.

    I am still in college though, so the idea of spending more than a car payment on anything that isn’t my rent is still quite foreign to me. I didn’t bond with my laptop for weeks; it didn’t feel like it was mine. Totally my issue.

    I hope you can forgive me for giving your trash can the side eye.

    Anna @ D16 /

    Considering I have a hard time spending more than $20 on an article of clothing (I really need to get over that), it’s safe to say I’m constantly giving the side-eye to all kinds of stuff! Even things I’ve bought for my own home. My only real consolation and justification is that I don’t replace all of this stuff or get tired of it, so it’s not like I’m continuously buying bathroom trash cans or anything. ;)

    We bought a $250 toaster 7 years ago (using a gift card from our wedding). Outrageous, yes, but it’s built to last and impeccably designed—and I don’t foresee us ever having to buy another toaster. Before buying that toaster, I probably owned 4 cheap toasters—all of which eventually broke and are now in landfills. I can’t criticize myself for buying cheap toasters when I was younger because that’s all I could realistically afford, but now that I’m able to make a choice based entirely on quality & design & longevity, I feel good about doing so when I can.

    Bright /

    Wow, sentence structure fail. I’m still working on the first cup of coffee for the day.

    bekah /

    The car may not last forever, but it will take her to the places where she will make money, visit friends, and buy food. The trashcan will just sit and eat kleenex…

    Anna @ D16 /

    I wasn’t trying to do a literal cost value analysis between a car and a trash can! It was just a joke.

  83. CharlieAug 6, 201110:14 pm

    Hi Anna. Longtime reader, first time commenter here.

    I’d say you double down and get the Leica X1. It costs twice, sure, but it has much better image quality, thanks to its DSLR sensor in a compact body. It’s sleeker than the D-Lux 5 and is practically a baby M9. Best of both worlds.

    [Reply]

  84. AngelinaAug 7, 201112:07 am

    I adore this blog and please buy the camera that makes you happy! I upgraded my camera in March; I love taking snaps, but I’m no Gordon Parks. I didn’t get a super fancy camera, just a old timey looking GE that had out of this world specs and shoots brilliant snaps. It feels like a real camera in my hands and I would say 75% of the joy is the design. My nana always tells buy what I love and I’ll only have to buy it once. Having wasted a lot of time and cash on also-rans I definitely think it’s better to spend a little more on something you love. I am a pen and lamp freak. While I don’t spend a lot of money of either, I do only purchase what I love. Nobody should sweat you for spending your hard earned cashmoney on something that looks gorgeous and does exactly what you want it to do. In an economy with so much gloom and doom, I want to know there are people out there thriving so feel free to floss your big baller camera and your swaggy trashcan.

    [Reply]

  85. YvetteAug 7, 20117:35 pm

    I just purchased the D-Lux 5 and could not be happier with the decision. It does cost a lot more, but it’s one fantastic tool that I feel like I can have for a very long time. It takes incredible photos – just took it on my trip to San Francisco and shot in tandem with my DSLR and am telling you the quality difference is right up there. I say go for it!!

    [Reply]

    Yvette /

    P.S. the Leica comes with Adobe Lightroom – if you don’t already have this software, that’s worth the extra $$ as it’s $300 value! Lightroom greatly improved my ability to catalog and edit photos.

  86. DebraAug 9, 20112:52 pm

    The Leica is really gorgeous. I makes me want to pick it up and hold it, in a way that the Panasonic just doesn’t.

    I’ve been having a similar dilemma in car shopping after my car (a perfectly functional VW Golf) was totalled in an accident (all people are OK). I could get a new, equally functional Golf or for a few thousand more I could get a Mini. I LOVE the Mini in a way that would make me smile every time that I walked up to it. Even my dad, who is a super-practical money guy is encouraging me to buy for love, not practicality. Sometimes you just have to.

    [Reply]

  87. AnaAug 9, 20114:25 pm

    Thanks for the helpful hint Anna! I showed my fiancee this post (he does photography as a hobby) and he was so stoked on your suggestion that we went online and bought the Panasonic right away! He thought it’d be super user-friendly for an amateur like me while helping me get great shots for my new blog. I’m just starting out and I want to be able to document my adventures/finds/favorites with something better than a cheapo point and shoot or my iPhone : ) So thanks for helping me along in my new blogging experience ! If you have any other helpful hints about this camera or pictures for my blog that’d be awesome. I really enjoy your blog and it has been a true source of inspiration for me as I start this journey <3

    ana

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    That’s awesome, Ana! Like I said, I’ve had an older model Panasonic Lumix for a few years now, and it’s been great. I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it—take it everywhere with you and just keep shooting. I think the greatest hindrance to creativity is a fear of falling short. You’ve got nothing to lose by getting out there and shooting, though. :)

  88. maloAug 9, 20116:05 pm

    If I can’t afford the trash can I want I don’t buy any. I would throw the tissues in the kitchen bin. I don’t buy posters I don’t like to fill my walls. I wait until I find something I like and can afford. Until then my walls are empty. Isn’t it a rather healthy and conscious way of consuming? Of course I am talking here about people who are lucky enough to have a choice. I am sure that trash can will last a lifetime and that you will be as happy with in 40 years as you are now. And I think that if more people lucky enough to be able to choose had this perspective fewer things would be bought and more things would last longer.

    [Reply]

  89. meganAug 9, 20118:01 pm

    I’m in love with the $26 trash can.

    Also, I laughed out loud at the generic Target tissue bit. My husband buys generic everything, except for Kleenex and toilet paper. I’ve wanted a Target box on the back of my toilet forever but it’s a battle I won’t fight anymore. Why can’t Kleenex get it together? Their boxes are absolutely hideous.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I don’t know what Kleenex’s problem is, seriously. Every now and then they have a “limited edition” box that’s tolerable, and then it disappears! Thank goodness Target sells those non-patterned, solid-colored boxes.

  90. coralAug 10, 201112:12 pm

    nothing to add to all that’s been said, but just wanted to say I really enjoyed both this post and the conversation in the comments.

    [Reply]

  91. deeAug 10, 201112:24 pm

    This just epitomizes everything that is wrong with American consumerism.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    How do you mean, Dee? Is it the fact that I’m considering getting a new camera at all, or that I’d choose design over price? If anything, that approach seems like the opposite of “typical American consumerism”, which tends to veer toward buying the cheapest possible goods and then disposing of them when something new comes along.

    Do you want to elaborate?

  92. LouizeAug 11, 20115:33 pm

    I succumbed to design temptation a couple of years ago and bought the D-lux 3, it is beautiful… And it takes systematically disappointing photos :( I have gone back to dslr and a bunch of lenses and the leica just looks pretty!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    That’s a bummer, Louize! The D-Lux 5 gets nearly unanimous rave reviews, so hopefully there have been improvements since the model you bought. I’ve been very happy with my little Panasonic!

    I don’t want to carry around a DSLR or change out lenses, so while I’m sure that’s a great option for someone who knows what they’re doing with a “real” camera, I need to have an easy point and shoot. ;)

  93. deeAug 12, 201112:08 pm

    When we derive our happiness from things we never feel satisfied with what we have. There will be a constant craving for more or better and so the consuming continues. The more stuff we gain the more we lose our ability to learn what makes us truly happy.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Are you implying that I derive happiness from “things” (as if it’s that black and white!) based on this post? Or on this existence of this entire blog? Or…?

    I don’t know if either of your comments on this post are directed at me, but if they are, let me assure you that I have not lost my ability to learn what makes me happy. Passing that kind of judgment on someone you don’t know is pretty dicey—this blog represents a tiny fraction of my life, and this post is an even tinier element still. If indeed your comment is directed at me, I assure you that it’s quite hurtful.

    Do I derive happiness from beauty? Yes. Do I derive happiness from creating beautiful things? Yes. Do I derive happiness from consumerism? No, not directly, but sometimes acquiring a beautiful tool or object or piece of art can bring happiness in very real and deep ways.

    Should I never buy a painting?
    Should I never buy tickets to take a vacation?
    Should I never buy a record to listen to?
    Should I never buy new pencils?
    Should I never buy a ticket to see a movie?
    Should I never buy embroidery floss and spent the afternoon making a bracelet?
    Should I never have bought a house?
    Should I never buy a camera?

    Maybe not, since I’m American. Right? And it will only lead to me living a hollow, unsatisfied life of mindless consumerism. Thanks.

  94. deeAug 12, 20114:28 pm

    Whoa. I used the term “we” because I include myself in these observations. I just find our whole capitalist system encourages and tempts us waay too much to consume. I constantly need to be mindful of what and why I’m buying.
    Sorry if I hurt you, it was not intended.

    [Reply]

  95. DebbieAug 23, 201111:26 am

    I love this post. I love that other people appreciate design details in everyday things. I love that you consider them worth paying extra. I can’t imagine you would ever regret buying the more expensive camera, just like you don’t regret your trash can purchase. And by the way, we blew our budget on a kitchen trash can too. I use it a lot so I try to think about things like that in a cost per use kind of way. Eases my guilt. :)

    [Reply]

  96. matickiSep 3, 20117:33 pm

    I just soent 690,- euro on a lens only. I am still paying off for a body bouht 2 years ago! but I have no regerets….

    go for leica!!!!!

    [Reply]

  97. jillSep 8, 20115:04 pm

    hey anna. you referred me to this post on twitter re: the camera. holy wow, it was so much more than i bargained for. but i love it! all the comments are great and this is something i think A LOT about. a few years ago i wrote this article on the “design of everyday things”. i collaborated with IDEO and one of the guys actually talks about his leather case for his Leica – funny coincidence… it is here if you are curious… http://ow.ly/6pe8s

    starting out studying fine art, becoming and working as a therapist and then returning to study and now work in design has been somewhat of a struggle for me. i think i had that mixed feeling about my “creative work”, while it fulfilled me immensely, i had some guilt that perhaps it was superficial and i should be “saving the world”. a friend who works in fashion design knew my struggle and early on sent me a beautiful quote about how design can positively impact our lives… and i do agree.

    i think design, the aesthetic aspects of it especially, often get a bad rap of “superficiality”, but when you stop to think about it, your home is where you probably spend most of your time and i would argue that there is no other possession that we are more intimate with than our clothing – i could wax poetic about that relationship. so, creating the design and style of our lives with consideration makes sense. i feel only irked perhaps when people do this thoughtlessly and carelessly. i believe in conscience and focused consumption and with that i have unapologetic confidence in my purchases, from the second hand tunic top bought on eBay for $15 to the Prada boots I splurged on.

    everyone has to come up with their own formula on how to meet their needs, standards, ideals and financial situation… and, as previously mentioned in the comments, it is really nobody else’s business and can be achieved on a budget… love this recent ny times article… http://ow.ly/6pg3s

    you so clearly have shown on your site this type of thoughtful consideration for not only everything in your house, but your house itself – which is AMAZINGLY renovated with a real reverence for the original architecture. i appreciate that and i appreciate the human moments you show, like “look at my ‘junk’ room” or “here is the unfinished baseboard we just painted over” and your husband’s really great thoughts on letting go of most of his comic book collection.

    all of this long winded comment just to say, i really enjoyed this post and i hope you are enjoying your leica!

    [Reply]

  98. KendallSep 23, 20118:35 am

    Hi Anna,
    Ok so I have to be honest. I had to swallow hard after first reading this post and keep myself from reacting. I am such a thrifty lady that it is really hard for me to buy things based on aesthetics. But this post really forced me to take a look at why I felt conflicted. I am relatively young (just turned 27) and as I grow and make a space of my own I find I am becoming more and more opinionated about what I want in my home. I think my discomfort after reading this posted was coming from the fact that I too struggle with feeling with a “jerk” for wanting the pretty camera…or trash can….or tissue paper. As many have said above it is about much more than consumerism, these are the things we are choosing to surround ourselves with day in and day out. Thank you for being honest when posting. Without your honesty I would have missed out on an opportunity to explore and examine my own beliefs.

    OK enough about that! I have desperately wanted to start taking photos but do not have a camera. I researched the Lumix above and everything I have read was great. I do not have the budget for the Lecia but I think that the Lumix is a great place to start. I have done my research and I have you to thank for the recommendation. I hope you enjoy the new camera you choose to buy!

    Best,
    Kendall

    [Reply]

  99. ScottJul 19, 20141:37 am

    What do you think of the trash can? I drove 3500km across the country this summer and one of the first things I did was hit a design store in Toronto that carried Vipp cans, because they aren’t available in my city (Edmonton, Alberta). They only had a handful of each color and style and they pulled the one that I liked off of the shelf but the lid kept sticking so you had to thump it a little to close it. For several hundred dollars, even though I’d so hyped myself up for it, it really soured me on them. Still, they really are cute. Having had it for a little bit, have you had any issues and would you buy it again? Thank you!
    Scott.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Hi Scott, I have two Vipp trash cans now (the second is in my kitchen), and I’ve never had that issue with either of them. I have a feeling the one you tested was defective!

    I would (and did!) absolutely buy another Vipp. The quality is unmatched—I have no doubt these trash cans will be with me until I’m in the ground. ;)

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