When implementing an aesthetic strategy, one of the initial consideration is deciding whether your are aiming for “instant presence” or “instant payoff”.  In my previous post,  I discussed the qualities of instant presence. Instant presence is an aesthetic experience that occurs as a result of extended payoff time, and a challenge of assumptions; the receiver is instantly very present, trying to grasp the complex product in front of his/ her eyes.
This post will concern the counterpoint of instant presence: instant payoff.

As a part of the design process, considering whether you are working with a product/ concept that requires instant payoff or an extended payoff time, is of importance. Does your product/ concept need to be easily decoded? Or would it add quality to the aesthetic experience to purposely prolong the payoff time?
Instant payoff is connected to instant decoding, instant understanding, instant connection. When working with instant payoff as a strategy you acknowledge and meet your receiver’s expectations and avoid initial confusion. Instant payoff concerns understanding (who you are talking to), acknowledging (who they are), and applying (their expectations and assumptions into your product).

The aesthetic experience connected to instant payoff is not characterized by being complex or by a “hard to grasp factor”; it is characterized by an immediate connection between the object and the receiving subject. Instant payoff is not a comfort zone breaking experience, but a comfort booster; you get what you expect. Your assumptions are nursed. The object is exactly what you initially thought it was, and touching it is exactly like your eyes expected.

As a designer of houseware objects, prolonging the payoff time might not be the correct strategy. Forcing your receiver to wonder how to use a potato peeler or to consider, for more a few seconds, how use a coffee maker is, in most cases, nothing but a source of frustrations. You can work with prolonging payoff a tiny bit (if your feel it will add value to the experience), but only just. The user of houseware wants to immediately understand how to use and decode the product; functionality and instant payoff are core words. The product has to tell how it’s used. It must be easily decoded.

Working with instant payoff as an aesthetic strategy can also make a lot of sense within clothes design. You don’t always need power wear. Some days you need comfort wear. You need to be covered in soft materials, you need contours to be blurred by over sized garments, and you need to be surrounded by comforting, soothing colours. You need to blend in. To not be loud. To not stand out. And in certain situations you need other people to instantly feel comfortable in your presence. One of my good friends is a very talented feature journalist. And when she conducts her interviews, she doesn’t wear “loud” garments that make the person, she is interviewing uncomfortable or distracted. She needs to be, in a way, neutralized.

Instant payoff within clothes design is about comfort wear, blending in, and neutralization. And as blending in may be the new black, instant payoff could be the new big trend.

Things to consider when working with instant payoff as an aesthetic strategy:

  • the product/ concept must be quickly decodable
  • acknowledgment of what is expected by your receiver/ target group (and meeting these expectations) is crucial
  • non-complex structures and harmonic expressions are often easier to decode and “take in”
  • familiar references create an instant connection to the receiver, and therefore a thorough knowledge of you target group’s habitus is of great importance

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