Thursday, February 10, 2011
The Personal Catalogue
A new crop of social media platforms aimed at the arts and design cognoscenti have captured an expanding audience over the last few months. Polyvore, Svpply, FFFFound, TheFancy, Wanelo and Pinterest are all aimed at professional and amateur tastemakers who share products they love and organize inspiring images from all over the web. While the sites are all different from one another, it's clear that designers, buyers, editors and photographers are actively cataloguing images on all the sites. Each site has a different angle… some are more oriented toward fashion, graphic design, craft, etc. So far, my favorite of the bunch is Pinterest, for its large community and flexible interface.
Over the course of 72 hours in December, a curiosity for Pinterest snowballed into full-blown addiction. The site allows me to pull almost any image from the web using a bookmarklet and post them onto boards under any category of my choosing. For years, I've been clipping inspiring images from magazines and catalogues, so this is making my life a little easier and a lot neater. I have an enduring record of products I dream of owning or intend to purchase. It's also great fun to browse boards of my friends and design professionals – a big part of that fun is discovering images other users want to post to their own boards.
So how is this all useful? Well it remains to be seen… a lot of information is contained in an image (1,000 words) and it's still a little early to determine how retailers and brands can fully leverage these communities. There's the grandiose a dream that everyone with an internet connection will create their very own personal store filled with all their favorite things. More practically, retailers and brands might be able to identify emerging trends or better estimate preseason demand by measuring enthusiasm among forward-thinking creatives.
At the very least, I've found the sites to be a valuable tool for saving and sorting compelling images.