The difference is clear: Design matters to me


I will freely admit to being a sucker for graphic design. When I saw the redesigned bottle of Bausch + Lomb Renu (above, right) at Costco, I got excited about buying it. Never mind that two bottles of Renu cost the same as three bottles of the Kirkland brand: I could see through those two bottles! Surely that meant that the solution was much more refreshing (and sanitary! and moist!*) than the dreck still being served up in regular white plastic bottles. (“Why are they hiding their solution in opaque containers?”) Even though I’m pretty sure that’s not true, it makes some irrational part of my brain happy every morning while I’m putting in my contacts.

My nemesis.

True, such overt attendance to form has led to some disappointments: The Method brand of dish detergent that never actually removed oil from pots and pans, until finally to use it all up I dumped the entire container into a single sinkful of water. (And still no plethora of suds.) The impossible-to-rinse-and-dry without-water-spots Riedel wine carafe that I resented so much that, when the top finally broke into shards (in protest to being handled less than gingerly), I was secretly happy and relieved that I had a reason to throw it away and never have to deal with air-drying, dishtowels over long wooden spoons or blow dryers again. But mostly, the link between well-designed and well-manufactured tends to hold true for me and the things I’ve purchased.

The fact that B+L redesigned a $5 bottle of contact lens solution makes me wonder why the maker of the retinol gel I’ve just started using continues to put out a product that looks like this:


Now, I understand that it’s a prescription medicine** — and, as such, doesn’t have as much of as a need for the “ooh, I want!” packaging that helps push over-the-counter products into shopping carts. But still: The companion retrinal product my dermatologist also suggested isn’t sold in stores, either, and looks like the tube at right. The Atralin tube looks like it was designed by a third-grader who only had access to the system fonts and color palettes on a Macintosh Classic. If you pay full retail price for Atralin, the tube above costs more than $250. Shouldn’t a product that costs a quarter of a thousand dollars look a lot better, if only to reassure the customer that it’s lab-quality stuff, and not something whipped up in a back room like moonshine? Hell, the paper bag that the pharmacy put the gel medicine in was an improvement.

* I know a lot of people who hate that word. To you, I say: Moist-moist-moist-moist-moist. Moist towelette. Moisten before affixing.

* In fact, the instructions from the pharmacy refer to it exclusively as “this/the medicine,” a conceit that I find entertaining in its exhaustiveness. (Among the 30+ times on a single sheet of paper: “How to use this medicine: Follow the directions for using this medicine provided by your doctor. This medicine comes with a patient information leaflet. Before applying this medicine, wash the affected area. … Wait 20 to 30 minutes before applying the medicine. Apply a thin film of medicine to the affected area.”)

WHAT SAM WORE: 3-8-11
The shirt: Cotton button-down, from the Banana Republic outlet store at Anthem.
The tie: Joe by Joseph Abboud, from Marshall’s. (Same as yesterday.)
The pants: Wool trousers by Barneys Co-op,
from the Barneys outlet store near Palm Springs.
The shoes: Leather loafers by Prada, from Last Chance.
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