The Design*Sponge Courier
February 24th, 2016 
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Our trailer transformations post this week got me thinking about a lot of things. I've been following the tiny house movement for a few years, but got mildly turned off by the trendy, TV show-esque approach that seemed slapped onto the mostly necessary downsizing that got the whole movement started. We don't often talk about or see the affordable housing crisis on design blogs, but it's real.

I actually bought a 31 foot Airstream (trendy, I know) three years ago. I haven't made it over or traveled with it. I was lucky enough to have purchased it from a late-retiring couple for way below market value with my tax refund. The price was so low that I continued to pay them an additional small sum each month because I wanted them to have some extra spending money to enjoy in their long overdue retirement. 

The reason I bought it only to have it sit in my driveway? Security. I have a retirement home and traveling home that I can move to a new location should my daughter decide she's moving far away to college or a job in ten years. I grew up on the lower social-economic side of the spectrum (call the waa-ambulance!), and having a permanent home has always been a serious source of anxiety to me.

Our trailer transformation post and a comment on the vase roundup post I wrote this week have me considering a big issue - affordability. Our audience here at D*S is a large one and that means what's affordable to some may not be for others. While we support and appreciate bespoke, handmade pieces, we realize they aren't attainable for the majority of our audience so we like to present others choices from mainstream outlets as well. It's a fine line, and one we get called out on by both sides of the fence so I wanted to be open about the issue here.

Affordability is in the eye of the beholder, but we will always offer up our favorites from many price points. I'm curious if you have any opinions on how I personally can do a better job providing all budgets options for their home. My main question is can high and low be presented together without creating negative feelings for the low to moderate income group?

I know there are ways to do "high & low" or "$$$ vs. $" type articles, but those don't feel right to me personally. Of course, I could be overthinking all of this, but I would love if you shared your thoughts on the subject with me here (a direct link to my email address.) Feel free to tell me if I am overthinking this!

I have included a few pieces from a collection below that's touted as "affordable" in its marketing language that I've been particularly focused on! These pieces aren't unattainable for me, but most of the larger pieces like furniture, are things I'd have to save for.

Thanks for considering this with me.


The shelter above was built by students at the University of Southern California's School of Architecture. They've designed a series of shelters for homeless people, using everything from a shopping cart converted into a tent structure to a tiny house made of scavenged material.

The course that posed the challenge to the students is called Homeless Studio and it tackles the architect's role in homelessness, and what solutions future architects can provide to help address the growing homeless population in Los Angeles and beyond.

I love this.

You can read the whole wonderful story on this project and how it's moving forward here on Dezeen.

Now onto my controversial, affordable products.
This bookshelf is part of the Dwell collection over at Target. I like it.

Here's how the collection is described: "The 122-piece collection includes high-quality modern design at affordable prices, ranging from $49.99-$399.99 for furniture and $16.99-$99.99 for décor, tabletop and accessories."

This particular piece is priced at $249.99. I could not run out an buy this today. Is it affordable? Affordable when compared to fill in the blank?

To me, affordable (when compared to) implies that the higher priced item is preferable.

Here are some more pieces:


I love these trays. Their price points range from $29.99 - 39.99 - definitely moving closer to an affordable range. I could search for higher priced, perhaps better made version and find it in the MOMA gift shop, but then wouldn't that push this dangerously close to the "knockoff" category.

Is "knockoff" wrong?

This metal and wood veneer table is lovely. The price point is $349.

It seats four, so 4 chairs from the collection would push the ensemble price point up to $845 ($119 x 4 chairs + $349 for the table).

Affordable? Or would you just repurpose existing chairs or add some thrift store chairs if you really loved the table and decided to buy it?

The chairs are shown below.

Chair $119

So curious to hear your thoughts!!

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