A Chair’s worth {a social experiment around value – Amsterdam 2013}

IF YOU WERE ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO BARTERED WITH ME, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT!

I was invited to participate in the Cherry Pear Marathon, at the Mediamatic Fabriek in Amsterdam. The CPM was a one-day event of creation, where a group of designers were asked to give a new life to old and broken chairs. Designing chairs is not my cup-of tea, so I decided to conduct a ‘social experiment’, to try to find what is a chair’s worth.

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I decided, then, to take the chair in best conditions and just polish it a bit. Then, I went around the neighborhood where the workshop was taking place to barter the chair through.

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With the first people I spoke to (a couple of young guys), I had a very favorable exchange: I got a mountain bike in exchange of the chair. The owner was quite happy with the chair, saying that he was actually missing one.

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The bike was not difficult to exchange, off course: a young guy entering his building gave me some wights for working out in exchange for for the bike.

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After, I had some failed attempts of bartering the weights, until I met this two girls, who gave me tire-chains for cars in the snow in exchange.

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At last, having several failed attempts to barter the chain, I met this girl, who was keen on exchanging the chain for this (new?) paper shredder.

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Certainly this is not to be taken as a scientific experiment (we cannot give an objective economic value to the chair), but it does says something about how people assign certain value to things. In this case, it is quite special, being a ‘chair’ the object of exchange, for it is still the main object of affection of most product designers.

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