Q stands for Quality.

I always notice quality when I see it. When you enter a home or building, you notice immediately when the walls or floors are done well. You can see the difference. Holding a small object in your hands, makes you appreciate the time and precision it took to make a quality piece; whatever it is.

In today’s society, quality is such an overlooked property. Perhaps that’s why everyone in the press praises a manufacturer about the built quality of a product. I think good built quality should be a given. Unfortunately it seems that people would rather have something cheap instead of something of quality, because it won’t be long before the product will be thrown away, only to make room for another cheaply made product.

I regularly have this discussion with people I work with or friends. Why buy cheap products, instead of saving a bit more and buy the beautifully crafted item instead. Invariably I get the answer that you don’t really notice the difference, or that they will only use the product for a short time before throwing it away, or they want it right now and don’t want to wait for the time when they can afford the quality product.

This attitude makes me sad as it is based on cheapness, cheap materials and cheap labour. Cheap labour keeps people in a poverty trap and cheap materials break sooner only to end up on the ever growing heap of waste.

Q stands for Quality, which is better than quantity.
— Amada Lear in "Alphabet"

Of course the quality product is more expensive. Personally I always decide to postpone the purchase until I have enough money to buy the well made, quality product, because I know it will last longer and give me pleasure each time I use it or look at it. And if I can’t afford it, than that’s a shame. 

There are many times when I see something in a shop and admire how beautiful it is and how much I’d like to have it, next I imagine where I would put it in my small apartment and how beautiful it would look there, then I think of all the ways owning this item will change my life for the better. Only to come to the conclusion that it’s too expensive, I don’t have the space for it and that it won’t affect my life in any positive way whatsoever. I look at the item one more time and before I leave the store, and think to myself: it actually looks pretty good in the store, let’s just leave it there.

Of course I realise that I’m talking from a privileged position to even be able to make that choice, but I always try to encourage friends and people I talk to, to opt for better quality.

Another thing about this cheap consumerism is that it slowly (or perhaps not so slowly) kills off all the old traditional crafts, masonry, woodworking, sculpting, candlestick making, traditional cheese making, etc. These crafts and skills are disappearing at the rate the heap of cheaply mass produced products grows.

One country that has gone very far in making sure it’s traditional handicrafts are preserved is Bhutan, that small Kingdom at the foot the the Himalayas. Bhutan encourages tradition in every way possible. Just one example is the National Institute for Zorig Chusum, where students learn the 13 traditional handicrafts. Such as woodworking, weaving and sculpting. The photos in this article are taken at this institute. It was amazing, for instance, to see how those intricate Buddhist statues are made from scratch, by hand.

Luckily there’s a slow trend of revival of crafts happening. Read a story from The Guardian about the revival of mestlers in Sheffield, England, portraying cutler Michael May in his workshop