The Design Edit: On Value

What does this word mean to you? It means a lot to me. So much that it is a pillar, along with Excellence and Simplicity, of everything I do here at The Design Edit.

bedding,  IKEA

bedding, IKEA

Inexpensive, not cheap

I’ve come from the world of magazine publishing, where, especially since the financial crisis of 2008, the buzzwords are Save/Splurge; High/Low; Cheap Chic; Fab Finds for Less Than $ [insert ridiculously low sum of money]; Get the Look for Less. 

Ugh, I’m so over all of that. Don’t get me wrong. I shop Joe Fresh and UniQlo and IKEA. I’m not a snob. Well, actually I am a snob only in that I have no time for snobs. But in the words of Rachel McAdams’s character’s Mom in Midnight in Paris, “Cheap is cheap”. 

I can find great stuff at any big box store. And the winners are always things with Value. That is, their quality, utility and longevity rate well relative to the price tag. While quality can be tougher to spot among the lower priced items, utility and longevity can be quite common. Find all three and you have value.

Smart Money

On the flip side, a high price tag dosen’t mean inherent superiority. One must approach luxury goods with just as much buyer beware. There are things in this world that aren’t worth buying at any price. And there are things that aren’t worth buying if it doesn’t hurt a little to spend so much. Like that old chestnut from Miles Redd

In five letters, value includes a caveat. An item of value is an item that is a fair price based on evaluations that extend beyond price alone.



One of the evaluations that transcends price is sentimentatlity. Things with sentimental value aren’t perceived to have much monentary value in the wider marketplace, but to one or a few people those things can be precious. Despite a couple of years of efforts and some successes at Marie Kondo-izing I am still surrounded by things of sentimental value. But, to cut myself some slack, they are still things that spark joy. I love seeing the floral shift I wore on my first date with my husband hanging in my closet. I smile when I look in the mirror most mornings and see the little silver hoop earrings in my ears that once belonged to my Mom. There are so many more treasures and so many more stories. Don’t worry, I won’t tell them all here — just a couple.  

Joseph Albers,  Never Before  series

Joseph Albers, Never Before series


In art, the term value also refers to how colour is perceived relative to the colours next to it. The perception of things based on how they relate to their neighbours is central to categories covered in The Design Edit.