Why I love certain objects & services

Just before the holidays, a friend asked me:

You are always recommending and choosing the best products to buy and use, from clothes, electronic devices to travel bags and beyond. I’d like to know how you do it. How do you figure out what’s the best?

Well, to be honest I didn’t really know how to answer that question. I guess, a lot of it has to do with intuition. But when I started thinking, I realized that I do indeed have an internal process.  So, I put on my thinking hat and started to breakdown my own process of object evaluation and why I like certain things and why I hate others. What do I think about when looking at a product or an object?

BodumyoyoThe answer came this morning when I was making tea in my Bodum personal tea-maker. The company calls it the Yo Yo Personal Tea Set and it comprises of a cup and a stainless steel mesh strainer. It is not cheap – about $60 from Amazon (cheaper elsewhere.) Apart from its beautiful shape, why do I like it? Here are some my reasons.

  • The double glass construction is clever in keeping the outside of the cup cold but the tea itself hot. Most importantly, The cup is extremely lightweight and most importantly, I can quickly decide with a naked eye how strong the tea needs to be and time-to-brew.
  • The strainer is no-nonsense and easy to clean and seems to be sturdy.
  • I don’t need to think about how much water to add or worry about making too much or too little tea. Fill it to the brim, remove the filter and get a civilized amount of tea.

In other words, it is simple and very efficient at what it is supposed to do – make a great cup of tea, quickly, every morning and leave very little mess for me to clean when I am in a rush to leave my apartment.

The pinnacle of design for me comes with ruthless simplicity. It is that point when you can reduce a product to its very essence. Bodum Yo Yo Personal Tea Set is just that. Same goes for jeans for example – my favorite are dark blue, have invisible stitching, fit comfortably and have no frills designs and are sans embroidery.

For me a pair of Chelsea boots (preferably black) is a shoe reduce to its very essence: comfortable, casual, formal, elegant, simple and long lasting. A boot that is just that – utilitarian and attractive just by being discrete. I have a watch which doesn’t have too many complications or design, and it is essentially is the essence of time. A bag that is so simple that you don’t need pockets, the stitching and the logo too is near invisible. Or a Macbook.

This philosophy also extends to web and mobile services as well. Google was the essence of search in the beginning and it was why I wrote about them early and became an addict. Twitter worked because it was minimal and yet provided an intimate way to interact with my friends. Instagram clicked with me (no pun intended) because it was the essence of what was social visual communication. Lately, I have become addicted to Snapguide and Instapaper for those specific reasons. The newest Apple text editor falls in that category and so does the Reeder RSS reader.

In short, this life long quest to find that “essence” in whatever I want to own or use, defines how I choose products. Hopefully my friend has found his answer.



  1. Stefanos Kofopoulos (@titanas) says:

    January 14th, 2013 at 10:20 am Reply

    Om, i’m reading Moonwalking with Einstein which tries to explain this whole “intuition” feeling.

  2. Gautam Godse (@gautamgodse) says:

    January 13th, 2013 at 4:34 pm Reply

    23 bags later I am still searching for the perfect bag…

  3. Stefanos Kofopoulos (@titanas) says:

    January 13th, 2013 at 3:40 pm Reply

    It’s more than intuition, it’s your memories making decisions for you. Do you remember when you first start doing that, choosing the best? I’m betting you’ll go back at least 10.000 hours :)

    1. Om Malik says:

      January 13th, 2013 at 4:11 pm Reply


      I think it was pretty early on in my life. I remember as a kid opting for derbies instead of wingtips or oxfords – not knowing why. I think I always wore a white shirt and blue pants. But I am pretty sure with age it has become more natural to think the way I do.

  4. FlopTech Engineering (@FlopTech) says:

    January 12th, 2013 at 1:26 pm Reply

    re: “In other words, it is simple and very efficient at what it is supposed to do…”

    But it’s also very elegant. If it were ugly but still simple and efficient, you wouldn’t like it so much. The trick is to incorporate elegance in that simple and efficient design, to meld art and engineering. Not easy at all. Well worth paying a little extra for.

    1. Om Malik says:

      January 12th, 2013 at 4:16 pm Reply

      Goes without saying and it was stated up front in second paragraph. :-) @FlopTech

  5. Stewart Hart says:

    January 11th, 2013 at 7:52 pm Reply

    What? Which bag?

  6. Arnold Waldstein says:

    January 11th, 2013 at 1:47 pm Reply

    The La Pavoni expresso machine is that to me.

    As basic as simple as traditional as it can be. I have been using the same machine in many different kitchens for 20 years to start my day.



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