On March 23rd, I attended a public talk in San Daniele del Friuli, a town that is famous worldwide for its delicious ham. The main guest was the writer Elena Commessatti. The event was organized by Leggermente, a cultural association which aims to promote reading. The organizer devised a compelling formula for such events. Basically, the talk is a chat between a moderator and the guest about the latter’s relationship with literature. However, during the talk, some close friends of the host are invited onto the stage to reveal some significant or funny episodes of the guest’s life, which generally are not known to the audience.
One of the Commessatti’s closest friends who was invited to join the talk was Patrizia Moroso. She is the creative director and owner of the furniture brand, Moroso.
Thanks to my good friend, the architect and designer, Davide, I found out after the event that Moroso is a very successful brand. It is known all over the world and its yearly revenues exceed 26 millionb Euros.
Even though Moroso’s company is located in the same region where I live, I have to confess that I had never heard of it before. When I came to know about the success of this company, I admit I felt envy. Being an engineer, it is hard for me to accept that somebody can create valuable products or services although they are not assessed by rationale, objective, and measurable parameters. To put it differently, I genuinely envy—and admire, at the same time—professions like designers and creative directors, who are richly paid for their gifts: the flair to communicate feelings and emotions through their creations. I’ll try to make myself clear with a blatant example.
From the functional standpoint, this small table by Moroso
is equivalent to this one by Ikea.
However, their prices differ enormously. Moreover, people who can afford the first one are more than happy to pay 600+ Euros for it. And do you know why? Because they just feel it is beautiful.
I didn’t choose the verb “to feel” at random because these items are not bought entirely for their function. They are bought primarily because they can arouse emotions in their future owners. And, as marketing science teaches us, when it comes to buying decisions, emotions and feelings are way more powerful than rationality. Furthermore, from a scientific standpoint, this ancestral mechanism is explained wonderfully by Simon Sinek in this clip. It is no coincidence that emotions and feelings—aka irrationality—live in the inner and older portion of our brain, is it?
If the quality of a product is almost completely established by parameters such as emotions and feelings, there will be no units of measurement to make comparisons with similar items or to determine its fair value. Unfortunately, we engineers don’t have this privilege. We have to work relentlessly to overcome our competitors in terms of performances, features, time-to-market, price/quality ratio, etc. That’s why we feel doomed to be constantly judged by the market which uses mercilessly such rationale, objective, and measurable parameters. This is our frustrating curse.