I do love Pinterest, I do. I love updating my boards and uploading new pictures of work I’ve done or places I’ve been. I love scrolling through all the images, its like a magazine of inspiration that I don’t have to recycle when I’m bored with it. Because images are constantly being uploaded, there is always something new to look at. I’ve had a Pinterest account since 2012, it was a New Years thing – must sign up for Pinterest – and in those days uploads took ages, sometimes they came in sideways and you never quite knew how much of the picture would be visible. Things are very different now and that is both good and bad.
To start with Pinterest was used by people who had an interest in design; it was first developed in 2009 as a closed community. It became a publicly accessible site in 2010. You had to ask for an invite to register and I think it still took a few weeks before mine was processed at the beginning of 2012. I remember being very excited when I could actually create a board for the first time! It was quite an arty site, with lots of vintage styling, lots of handcrafts, lots of DIY. That much hasn’t changed. Everyone was very proud of their posts and a bit shy to add information, its not like that anymore.
Now the deluge of stored images in just about every category is mind boggling. And the way Pinterest refers to itself has changed too; its a BOOKMARKING site, a way to remember where you’ve seen something and to store it with other common images personal to your taste, so if you’re looking for hair styles for a party, you can scroll through pages and pages of styles and pin them to a board you’ve created called ‘Party Hairdo’s.’ You can access it anytime you visit Pinterest and if the pinner has linked it to a site, you can watch tutorials about how to create the look. That’s all quite exciting and user friendly. But what if you use it as a tool to research other peoples design choices, their wish lists, the absolute must haves for their new home?
Let’s say for example, that you’ve created a board called ‘New House.’ You’ve pinned wonderful images of all the things you’d like to incorporate in your new home. They give a really good feel of the look you want to achieve and the style you’ve fallen in love with. What happens, though if you’ve pinned images for a kitchen that you want to refurbish and what happens when you try to find out where the items of the fit out that you love come from? Its almost impossible to trace them. Unless they’ve been pinned by the supplier the process of re-pinning generally has no information about the actual image – because when you upload you’re invited to ‘say something about this image.’ No-one ever says, cooker by Smeg, lights by Mr Light, they say ‘love this idea, great retro look.’ Thanks.
And that is why I hate Pinterest. My clients often have boards which they share with me. Its great to get the feel of what they want to achieve and the MOOD they’re trying to create. But then I have to find the items that they’ve seen; source the products that they’ve fallen in love with, there is no bigger haystack than the world wide web!
I’ve spent days sourcing black taps for a bathroom – and was very proud of the fact that I found some (all the metal-ware in fact, everything except the WC flush) – at an exorbitant price that I knew the client wouldn’t go for. And what about paint colours? ARGH. They never stay true, every computer has a slightly different colour screen, so sourcing the company that created that particular shade is especially daunting – when you don’t even know which country the image originated from. So how do I charge out for time spent tracking down a Pinterest wish list?
As my last three jobs have involved a Pinterest board, this is becoming more regularly a part of my job. It gives me a very good idea of what I’m looking for – but it doesn’t speed up the process. In fact I’d go so far as to say that it’s quicker for me to guess what the client might like and visit showrooms for actual product information! And here’s the thing I can’t control, the disappointment the client feels when I say that the look they want is staggeringly expensive to recreate – I had it happen so many times on one job that they became quite defensive when I suggested we look at a local supplier instead.
And this is my point, Pinterest is about the pictures but there’s less information with them than in a magazine. It isn’t a selling medium, there’s no shopping basket and although some images are linked to selling pages, for the most part the reason they look so enticing is because they still retain that sense of mystery. “Whose house is this, who took the pictures, what does the rest of the house look like?” They’re just that little bit out of reach, goading you into defining how you want your home to look, but like a fairy tale, the minute you try and get closer, you find it’s all smoke and mirrors.
By the way, I’ve since been told about a Google image search that tracks the image to its original upload – I have a feeling I’ll be using that quite a lot!