Showing off power tends to symbolize both a lack of humbleness and social skills. That’s why wrapping it in design strategies works so perfectly. It’s by no means obvious for the rest of the world, it becomes invisible branding. Let’s look at a scenario: your store’s located in Manhattan, New York City. It’s not a cheap address for your store but your company’s economy’s going well. That’s an understatement. Space is money, especially in New York, and empty spaces (that you could’ve used for 1) exposure of goods, 2) offices and 3) the list goes on) meaning you could’ve earned more money by taking full advantage of it is certainly a symbol of power. To show that you can afford empty space in a city where everyone’s renting because the space is so ridiculously expensive. Let me introduce you to power in the 21st century: Apple.

At the same time Apple as a brand represents simplicity (which is why I raise questions to iPhone X’s facial recognition when my thumb’s still alive) and the construction is without a single doubt well related to the brand. Especially as the architecture’s futuristic and doesn’t have an expiration date. The empty space strategy’s also used in high-end retail. Pricy items aren’t necessarily the reason to why there’s two pieces of each jacket. Or one for that matter. However, it’s not only to show power, but to show a uniqueness and to represent the very opposite of fast fashion.

Without sounding as a mental conspiracy theory fan, several businesses use a lamp (I shit you not) to show off power. The PH Artichoke suspension lamp is always used with consciousness. It isn’t solely a design symbol, but a symbol of power. It might have something to do with the price tag. The Danish design of a lamp costs approximately $9 420 (diameter: 60cm) and $7 660 (diameter: 48cm). Public spaces where the suspension lamp’s used frequently are more luxurious cinemas, hotels, financial firms and banks. Especially in Scandinavia. Still they tell you how you should save and invest your money right, wink.

PH Artichoke Steel
PH Artichoke, Louis Poulsen. Designed by Poul Henningsen.


Another more obvious field regarding power, the trying to hide power, is when a very known and economically strong company intentionally is trying to downgrade themselves through advertisement and design. Downgrading might be the wrong word, but in some way trying to play more local and down to Earth to please (read: trick) the consumers. When in reality it’s a little bit more talk and a little less action, and a strategy to get to your emotions. As McDonald’s. That’s another subject however: greenwashing.


Photo credit header image: Pablo Delcan; Jonathan Ernst/Reuters