Patina value by Jonas

Shoemaker Click to view larger image.

This morning I went to the cobbler to pick up a couple of pairs that finally had recieved some much needed love. When I stood there waiting I snapped a photo of the store. When looking at the photo, it reminded me of something that’s so often missing in many places. Patina. That feeling of something that has been used thousands of times, it might need a fix from time to time but works excellent and is a companion in everyday work.

Why is this such an interesting concept? Things with patina indicates credibility. Craftmanship. Would you rather have walked in to a cobbler that looked fresh and clean like your local H&M store? I think not. When it comes to making stuff machines and tools with patina indicates credibility and trust.

Israel Sack defines patina of antiques (quoted in wikipedia).

Patina is everything that happens to an object over the course of time. The nick in the leg of a table, a scratch on a table top, the loss of moisture in the paint, the crackling of a finish or a glaze in ceramics, the gentle wear patterns on the edge of a plate. All these things add up to create a softer look, subtle color changes, a character. Patina is built from all the effects, natural and man-made, that create a true antique

The pervieced value of patina is high since it takes time and consistency to actually create patina. Russell Davies, which also inspired this post, referrs to companies such as Disney that has tried really hard to create objects with fake patina. Making things look old and used.

It seems that today the value of patina is higher than ever. Objects with a history have an increased value, for example Re-shirt story store, which is selling vintage t-shirts with a story.

To turn the attention to web sites, Russell use Flickr as an example of a site that has patina.

Flickr’s full of people and they show you evidence of those people all the time. It feels worn into place by millions of clicks rather than imposed from above by a capricious design god. And it shows you your own usage, it moulds itself to you, so it gets as familiar as an old fountain pen.

I would argue that social transparency brings patina to web sites. Still I sense that there are subtle differences in the concept of what is and what is not patina. Has Amazon patina? It has been used by millions of people every day the last 10 years but still Amazon has signage of usage as an old Wal-Mart. It’s not a community tool such as Threadless, hence it has not the same patina value. Or?

What do you think? Which site would you say have patina?

Sound version of Patina value by jonasc

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January 17, 2009 / 2 Comments.


  1. popo replied:

    J’ai entendu parler d’une montre très compliquée (Grande Sonnerie) à un million
    chez la marque suisse Genta, avec un nouveau matériau qui amplifie le son, le
    magsonic. Voir Infos svp.

    March 21st, 2009 at 1:34 pm. Permalink.

  2. Peter Boersma replied:

    I guess patina is the Western-world version of Wabi Sabi ( For Design Engaged 2005 I created a poster comparing elements of wabi sabi with web2.0, suggesting it might be the basis for a user experience design approach.

    April 22nd, 2010 at 8:47 pm. Permalink.

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