The triumph of everyday design
Luxury goods used to be better. Better than the alternatives.
The best-made clothing, the best saddle, the most reliable luggage. The top of the market was the place people who cared needed to go to buy something that had the highest performance.
Today, though, a Toyota is a better car than a Bentley. More efficient, more reliable. The Vertus phone was a joke, and no one needs a $200 mouse when a $9 one is faster and easier to use.
I spent some time at a high-end hotel on a recent gig. The light switches were complicated and didn't work quite right. The door handle was awkward. The fancy faucets sprayed water on whoever was standing in front of the sink. All expensive, none of it very well-designed.
As materials have gotten cheaper and easier to find, it's design that matters. And the market is demanding better design–which is easy to copy and easy to improve.
Expensive is not the relevant metric, utility is.