Tuesday, 20 July 2010


i appreciate design, it's my business afterall. but i found myself questioning its antics during a recent visit to the local nespresso shop, here in munich.

for mother's day back in may, i received a nespresso machine from my husband (his bid in making my early morning get-the-kids-to-school routine a tad more bearable). it is a lovely, sleek machine. a shiny new addition to the kitchen-countertop garage of design appliances. milk-foamer and espresso maker-all-in-one. easy. except when one runs out of those sexy coloured capsules. then the work begins.

unlike the majority of coffee makers, nespresso ties you into their unenvironmentally-friendly coffee capsules which are only available at nespresso shops or online. needless to say, it is now july and i finally managed to get myself to the shop to restock. somehow the online option got lost in my ongoing long list of daily online tasks.

i floated past the downstairs espresso bar and up the cool beige marble stairs to a minimal, controlled temple of caffeine. a row of beautiful schrager-hotel type of retail assistants stood poised behind the main counter. nespresso machines stood in spotlights, flanked by various odd capsule stands daring to show how to tastefully integrate these little devilish items into your kitchen.

i approached the counter and told a shimmering assistant that i needed coffee. a blank stare. shaking her head and waving to the immaculately presented cubes of coded coffees cubbies behind her, she reeled off a long list of romantic names which some naming experts certainly had fun with: arpeggio? livanto? volluto? cosi? vivalto? i replied: strong. another blank stare. now rolling her eyes, she technically referred me to the strength gauge on the sultry packaging. i went for 10, the strongest, but threw in a few others because the names merely amused me. i told her that i had had a sampler when i first received my machine but honestly could not taste the difference between them. yet another blank stare. she then told me it was as with wine – a matter of time before i acquired a taste for the individual "grand crus". i then stared blankly. she then smiled. she got my point.

all that said, i left the nespresso shrine 70 euro the poorer, albeit with a good-looking bag full of precious coffees and even an acrylic storage cube (as i admit, the designer in me too struggled with effective product presentation) and wondered to myself: isn't this all just a tad over the top? an awakening to the complicit role of design in our everyday lives.

george clooney was no where in sight.

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