The Enchantment of Infinity Toilets: Entrepreneurial Lessons From An Instagram Fragment

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Two apparently unconnected events recently engendered a unique synergy in the life of our Creative Director & CSO. The first was his reading of Monocle magazine’s 2015/16 Entrepreneur’s Guide, the latest edition of the increasingly-essential annual survey published in the pages of the London-headquartered über-magazine; the second was an Instagram picture of an infinity toilet taken by no less an entity than Florence Arnold (‘Florrie’), arguably the United Kingdom’s sole recognisably traditional pop-dance artist under the age of thirty.

While the first occurrence needs little explaining – Monocle’s Entrepreneur’s Guide should really occupy a bigger space in the business literature pantheon than it presently does – the second may remain mysterious even to many of those who read this entire article, who will doubtless wonder what a piece of sanitation technology has to do with the art of commerce. But the answer to this lies in the really salient question: what inspired a national pop icon to pose in the same photograph as a type of object which is associated with pure, unremarkable functionality?

After some reflection, we at Mediolana have no other answer than the simple reality of enchantment. The German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) perceived that modernity is characterised by a lack of enchantment: in an overwhelmingly ‘rational’ world which prioritises implementing solutions to technical problems, the ‘irrational’ modalities of aesthetics, love and spirituality risk being consigned to the history books as ‘barbarous’ progress smothers all before it. The University of Maryland’s George Ritzer has extended this theory – wrapped in the wax paper of McDonaldisation – to the context of postmodernity.

One way out of disenchantment is a humanising post-industrialism that emphasises customisation, individuality and even a return to beauty. It is these possibilities that explain perhaps more than anything else Florrie’s perfectly human response to being confronted with something beyond the ordinary. But the same dynamic applies to much more than fashionable receptacles.

In this light of this, entrepreneurs everywhere must ask themselves hard questions: are your products and services moving and meaningful enough to provoke attachment and self-identification? If not, what can be done to make them so? And when will that new journey begin? In an era of grassroots manufacturing and extreme connectivity, it is only be a matter of time before your competitors answer these queries decisively.

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