Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Show homes designed for extreme stereotypes, not people.

I've recently had the opportunity to view a number of so-called show homes; where developers furnish new properties to give potential buyers an idea of how they might look when occupied.

Some of them are finished to such an extent there are even designer clothes hanging in the wardrobes, and food and wine in the fridges.

Given that most of us have limited imaginations, it's not a bad idea. Empty 'shell' homes are deeply uninteresting, and rarely have the emotional pull of an occupied house where you can see how living in it might work - even if you want to change it dramatically.

The most interesting thing about the homes I viewed, however, was the way in which they'd clearly been designed with a particular buyer in mind.

When I say "a particular buyer" what I actually mean, of course, is a particular race or nationality.

Whether it's palatial £15m sea view homes in Asia or one bedroom starter flats in Fulham, interior designers seem to see potential buyers as rather predictable stereotypes.

I wondered how this idea might be taken to its logical, if somewhat perverse, conclusion:

American buyers, for example, might appreciate it if you built in not just one gun cupboard but three - and labelled them for Handguns, Hunting Rifles and, of course, Assault Weapons? You should also, of course, install extra large beds to match the extra obese buyers.

Then there's the Eastern European buyer who might need, at any moment, a handy built-in cash counting machine, like those found in banks.

Or the Italian buyer (a man, of course) who might be swayed by finding a collection of V-neck cashmere jumpers in every available colour already folded neatly and ready to wear.

Sticking to the less sensitive racial/national targets, how about doing away with the interior kitchen for any Aussie buyers and simply installing a vast BBQ and accompanying ice machine in the garden. (What more could they want, to feel at home?)

The French are easy. Just ensure that nothing in the property is made in England, and that all instruction books are printed only in their language.

For Swedes, simply furnish with some half-assembled Ikea stuff....and scatter a few loose screws around the place. They'll appreciate the challenge.

The Greeks might like a specific built-in cupboard full of cheap white plates for smashing purposes.

For a German buyer, don't bother equipping the property with anything. They will undoubtedly know better than you what should go in it.

Finally, then, what about that rare beast the English buyer?

I suggest some ragged old sofas and a couple of mismatched lamps bought at a car boot sale; they'll think that's terribly posh.