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Friday, August 19th, 2005

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Pierre, MetroDad

Posted by Pierre, MetroDad | View all posts by Pierre, MetroDad
8 Comments » | Published in Baby Blogapalooza 2005, General  |  8 Comments

Pierre writes MetroDad. In his words, “Ever since I found out my wife was pregnant with our daughter, I’ve spent countless nights contemplating how to raise a beautiful, kind, intelligent, well-adjusted child in New York City. And also trying to figure out how to do that while retaining our hedonistic lifestyle.”

One of the more fascinating developments in human behavior that has resulted since Al Gore invented the internet is the vast spread of websites allowing people to anonymously confess their deepest and darkest secrets. Maybe you’ve seen some of these. Two of the more popular sites where you can witness this interesting phenomenon are Post Secret and Group Hug.

Me? I’ve never been one to confess anything anonymously. I’ve always felt that, aside from opposable thumbs and the ability to masturbate, the one thing that truly separates people from animals is our ability to take great pride in our mistakes, indiscretions or failings. That’s why, on my site, I’ve confessed to doing everything from drinking my wife’s breast milk to getting high with the dog.

But there is one thing about me that I’ve never confessed on my site before. Here it is, Internet…I am a design whore. Yep, it’s true. I’m a whore. Huge whore. Big time, baby. Every night (except Sundays), you’ll find me near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, prostituting my body so I can afford the latest creations by Karim Rashid, Marc Newson, and Phillipe Starck.

OK, I’m kidding. But you get the idea. The point is that modern design has always been one of my many life passions. When it’s time for a dump, I like to settle onto the toilet with a copy of Metropolitan Home or Dwell Magazine. When my wife falls asleep at night and I’m all alone? I don’t surf porn. I surf E-Bay and trawl for mid-century furniture. And on the eve of ICFF, I’m like a nervous schoolgirl the night before the prom. Yeah, I’m a little nuts. It’s probably got something to do with my collection of Eames, Wright and Koolhaas trading cards.

Anyway, when it turned out that my wife was pregnant last year, I was extremely excited to start purchasing some well-designed and cool baby paraphernalia. I’d always hated those Shaker cribs built by the Amish. I abhorred the mass-produced synthetic rugs decorated with Looney Tunes characters. And don’t even get me started on those fugly nursing rockers swathed in naugahyde!

Dammit, it was 2004! Where was all the futuristic modern baby gear of the new millennium? Maybe Yogi Berra was right when he said, “the future ain’t what it used to be.” Because as my wife and I started looking around, we saw that there really wasn’t the prevalence of well-designed baby gear that we’d thought there would be. Sure, we got the Eames rocker, the Dwell bedding, the Bugaboo stroller and the Netto changing table. We even decorated the nursery with Wall Candy’s Blik-inspired surface designs.

But you know what? If there’s one solitary thing that I’ve learned in my brief time as a parent it’s that the great American architect Louis Sullivan was right; form must always follow function. In our apartment, we ended up getting rid of both the Eames rocker and the Netto table. Neither one really suited our needs. The form was there but the function was severely lacking.

So in the great tradition of the epochal battles between the formalists and modernists of the mid-century, I’m throwing down the gauntlet to today’s contemporary designers. You want to impress me? You want my hard-earned dollars? Then, listen up. Here’s where you can start…

Car Seats: I’m not sure whether you designers have noticed this but America’s car seats are uglier than sin. I’m actually embarrassed how ugly they are. Why are they all colored puke brown and made of cheap velour. Is it to hide a baby’s vomit? The European ones are a million times cooler. We can do better, people!

High Chairs: The coolest one available in the U.S. is the Nest. But it costs over $200 and is one of the lowest rated chairs in terms of safety. The highest rated one costs around $70. Unfortunately, it’s decorated with pictures of Cinderella! It’s completely functional but when I look at it, even I lose my appetite!

Baby Gates: Can’t we do better than creating safety devices seemingly inspired by preventive pet measures, county lock-ups and Gitmo? I don’t want my daughter to grow up with a prison complex. If she ends up in Cell Block H, I’m blaming it on the baby gate.

Diaper Bags for Men: One day, I’d love to have a diaper bag that doesn’t scream, “I am Woman. Hear me roar!” Unfortunately, today’s designers have come to the conclusion that they can take a pink diaper bag, spray paint it in camouflage, and then market it for men. I’m not looking for a Budweiser diaper bag or one that’s covered with Nascar photos. But how about something designed by men for men? That would be nice.

Don’t even get me started about the inability to find a changing table that can keep a baby restrained long enough for me to wipe the poop off my fingers. Or the mass-produced, petroleum-based plastic toys that wreak havoc on the environment. Nope, let’s start with the simpler things. I know you designers are busy reinventing the wheel. And things are a lot better now than they were a year ago. Back in my time, we only had a few guys like David Netto to take our dollars. Now, there’s duc duc, Miguel Rodriguez and many other fine designers emerging daily. But remember one thing. Subscribing to the modern aesthetic shouldn’t be so hard or so expensive! A crib shouldn’t cost more than MY bed. And no baby furniture should ever be more expensive than your first car. Keep those things in mind and let’s see what you come up with. Good luck!

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  1. claire says:

    August 19th, 2005 at 11:55 am (#)

    great post. by far, the funniest one on this blogapalooza. by the time we see any high quality, design conscious, yet affordable gear, our kids will be in college… cynicism prevails.

  2. Dutch says:

    August 19th, 2005 at 12:52 pm (#)

    hold your horses, Claire. my wife and I have been participants in some focus groups for DWR and they are preparing to release a line of well-designed stuff for kids and they *claim* it will be more affordable than the other stuff in the catalog, i.e. Herman Miller MSRPs. DWR is commissioning all of the pieces themselves, apparently.

  3. Andy says:

    August 19th, 2005 at 3:20 pm (#)

    They do have diaper bags for men. The backpack style ones just look like a backpack. They have them in neutral or manly colors like black (I’m not “metro” enough to like non-dark colors).

  4. thisislarry says:

    August 19th, 2005 at 4:56 pm (#)

    you young whippersnappers! back when I was a new dad (in the dark ages, year 2000), we didnt even HAVE diaper bags marketed towards men! We had to get macguyver with what we laying around! back packs with ziplocs inside, messenger bags with the roll-up my-hospital-gave-it-to-me diaper pads, you get the idea. and uphill both ways!

    did I mention everything was covered in bunnies?

    when my bro and his wife were expecting, I was amazed to find that there was actually stuff for dads at all! and designerly stuff? OMG! what luxury!

    churlishly yours, L

  5. Rachel says:

    August 22nd, 2005 at 3:26 pm (#)

    As far as the need for a non-feminine/non-gross diaperbag goes, I am in complete agreement, as is my husband, we solved the need by buying a Baby Bandolier, designed by a dad for dads.

    http://www.duds4dads.com

  6. MetroDad says:

    August 22nd, 2005 at 6:04 pm (#)

    The Babby Bandolier isn’t bad. I checked it out recently at BuyBuyBaby. The only problem is that it’s TOO functional. Look at all those damn pockets and zippers. It’s almost like a utility belt. I tried it on and I couldn’t decide if I felt like Batman or Ruben from “One Day at a Time.”

    Alas…the search continues.

  7. Drew says:

    August 22nd, 2005 at 9:12 pm (#)

    Can you attach a grappling hook to it? That would be wicked.

  8. MJCorder says:

    August 23rd, 2005 at 7:20 am (#)

    This is f*****g hilarious. Rock on Metro Dad!

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