A professional resource for the design curious

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

What do Australian Designers Think of Valentines Day?

indesignlive.com asked some of our favourite Australian designers to share their thoughts on commercial ventures such as gift giving on the 14th Feb.

What do Australian Designers Think of Valentines Day?


February 13th, 2008

On Valentines Day each year there is no doubt about the mass surge in romantic gift sales that sweeps through Australia at the last minute.
Is this surge because romance is genuinely in the air? Or is it because consumers have fallen victim to another manufactured occasion designed to induce spending on specific products?

Find out what these Australian designers had to say.



Alex Noble, Designer: Alex Noble Creations

“Immaculately conceived red letter days like Valentines Day used to annoy me when I was a know it all teenager. I would delight in pointing out to people that they had been led into the milking shed and they should resist……….These days I feel much different.

In this time poor era I think it is important that days are set aside to remind people to connect and show love no matter how these days are created. Newly formed “holidays” often come without the religious baggage that that may divide people in a multicultural society.



Most people multi task their exercise, hobby and relaxation into the single action of shopping anyway and it is a good thing if some sentimental or emotional tag can be assigned to a product. As designers I think it is a good stepping stone for the average person to see that sometimes inanimate objects can bring joy just by looking at them.”



Amy Tang, Designer: AMZ Designs

“Special occasions in our society today has become somewhat an excuse to
spend and materialise on unnecessary products.

Valentines, Easter and Christmas periods has engaged retailers to bombard the community with superficial ideals of gift giving (ie rose, chocolates and toys…).

As a designer, I see these “special occasions” as a means to be imaginative and
creative. Stir away from commercial products and reminisce on the true
tradition of giving by focusing on personalising your actions and words to
your close circle of love ones.”



Alexander Loterstien, Designer: Studio Derlot

“I don’t believe in those concepts. I think we have enough with the Christmas and Easter…once with a beautiful and meaningful event, bastardized by commercialism – the spirit is gone.



I believe we should celebrate special moments when we feel them, give a present when we truly want too, or see something that special someone might like.

Give flowers and bonbons every week of the year and maybe take Valentines day as a day off! I think if we as designers, design true meaningful products that connect with its user, we won’t require to manufacture commercial ventures.”



Sruli Recht, Designer: Sruli Recht Shoes

“Sometimes there just aren’t enough problems for there to be solutions designed.
In this case ’design’ takes in where the ’question/brief’ is emotion and intimate proximity in its direct relation to the material.

In their less cellophane forms these “manufactured occasions” pre-date cola, polaroid moments and well written convenience store cards. So which came first, the occasion or the branded foil covered cadbury egg?
The question is either asking about the meaning of gifts, or designed emotions, or pre-packaged experience. I wouldn’t be inclined to blame the occasion as a viral, intent on ’financial purging in the name of’.
On the other hand maybe we are all really just looking for a reason to gift someone without it being all creepy and bribey. For, if I were rolling on ice I’d be Capitan “here you go dear lady – and one for your friend”



Though Design is a Solution; First thing we were taught. So maybe to reverse engineer the question – In this form the solutions ’Problem’ is an abstract… A psychological condition of a greater whole. Or an obvious hole in our collective lives – Love and the general craft of post-tranquillity preservation. Tranquillity in this case referential to the time-before the mental-acquisition of concept-idea ’the material’. [Designers just can’t really claim Buddhism – for I can only roll my sleeves to anyone sporting such Zen and the art of image citation maintenance. Fold them past my elbows, for easy access.]

We has a problem. We are lonely lost islands left to dry out in the big oceans sun, slowly sinking below the rising sea levels of our lives’ accelerating complexity. The one thing keeping our heads above water is the patented hallmark human touch and Disney-come-Pixar buddy pictures.

This is a field expertly explored half a decade ago by Dick and Huxley with their Mood Organs and Soma. Yet I like it, these holidays… but what it is I like is that someone thought about me, and chose to express it in some way, to me. It is more the giving than the receiving. Perhaps a phone call is tantamount to rouge synth-plush stuffed-hearts repetition… Or even better, no waste.

In a world of schedules, antibiotics, motion graphics and trans-real experience, I likes an old school hug. From a human or a robot – even in the Modern Virtual Reality of MSN. I write this diatribe and more like it from the Yoyogi Stadium in Tokyo on my MacBook Pro. In three days I’m going to engrave a woodgrain pattern on it – an aluminium aegis with affected re-contextualised man-adjusted natural patterns. Here I don’t use the bathroom, I use the robot. All Hail techocracy.

So now I wonder if we are programming ourselves to remember such things as annual ’partner appreciation day,’ ’family collective communication day,’ and ’thus He rose day, so here is an egg for Thine trouble day.’

love expressed in the form of x
understanding understood in the y
stability shown as z
and happiness a result of xyz
all on a shelf

Manufactured Occasion – Pre-packaged experience – its no different to self medicating with MDMA … Love is a Product in as much as it is a product of combinational harmonics. Yes, Love is a chord structure… major, sometimes minor or just soft and diminished.

I say do it. take it beyond repair, and keep the invoice.

labour x value/hour + thought = < love = X

read as: labour multiplied by value over hour plus thought is equal to greater than love.
Or is it hours x [thought + looking for just the right gift] / that perfect giving moment = [mutually beneficial understanding] + [supportive dependency]2 = Y

read as: hours multiplied by thought plus looking for just the right gift over that perfect giving moment is equal to mutually beneficial understanding plus supportive dependency to the power of two.

I am Jewish, from the beginning to the skinning, but I really enjoy the Christmas gatherings and greater gift givings. It is a warm time, everyone together and taking that moment to remind themselves and each other of how they feel – wrapped up in small neatly designated parcels. I mean… what else are we going to spend our money on?

Gentlemen, go buy your woman something nice. Tell her its from me. I’ll probably even pay you back.”



Zoe Freeman, Designer: Totti

“Well designed products should have all year long appeal. At totti we released our green and red coolers in time for Christmas, but the designs are universal and don’t look out of date now it’s February.

There’s nothing sadder than the 50% off bin after a hallmark holiday.”



Kent Gration, Designer: Wambamboo

“Manufactured occassions” gee it’s a tough one. I could be thoroughly cynical of them and say that they encourage uneccessary emotional obligation, or should I say a form
of passive emotional blackmail. I guess there’s also the flipside, when they can be used for good, such as charities and furthering necessary causes, such as the environment, animal protection and human causes.

Regarding Valentines Day, I have previously told girlfriends that I would only give them flowers on every other day but Valentines, to avoid this prompted show of affection, which to me is kind of like weeing in a jar on command.



I think that certain occassions need to be celebrated, whether as a critical mass (a majority of the human populus) or in private, but there shouldn’t be an expectation of the giver or reciever. Funilly enough I saw a billboard for Interflora yesterday with the tagline “Get Some” and a bunch of roses. So it seems that basic human needs whether they’re based on sex, appreciation, admiration or appettite having become commodities which are at times, involuntarily traded to contribute to a companies bottom line.

Since the Wambamboo range is all about a reduction in supply and consumption, I even feel that when some companies say that their product is “green” in the endeavour to sell more of it, it works out that it isn’t.

This is because their marketing campaign is encouraging oversupply and over consumption, which is bad for the environment. I would like to make a living out of the
furniture and designs I create, but there has to be a rationlism to it, and a reason why a person feels my product is necessary in their lives.”



Neil Davidson, Designer: CMD Designs

“I don’t see that there is a need for consumer products for occasions such as Valentine’s Day. As we all know, a product that does not solve a need, tends to be kitsch an unnecessary.

The test holds true when you look on the internet and see for example injection moulded self illuminated plastic flowers and singing electronic teddy bears for sale.

The hard edged commercial reality of product development is that considerable expertise time and money has gone into developing the plastic glowing rose or the electronics voice module in the teddy bear.



If I had to design a fad product I would still force the client to be environmentally sensitive and limit the damage caused by something that is temporary in meaning and no doubt disposed.

But the challenge is for the consumers to change the culture surrounding these commercial events. So say no to glowing plastic roses this Valentine’s Day…give some one a hug instead.”



Hero Image: Heart shaped measuring spoons, available from fredflare.com

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed