5

One reason manufacturers like Ligne Roset or Vitra charge significantly more is the involvement of a top designer, Mr. Breitling said. “You’re investing time and money in playing Ping-Pong with the designer because they have a vision.”

I guess it does not mean the real Ping-Pong game.Then what does it mean? Does it have something to do with "they have a vision"?

More context:

Thinking of sofas as interchangeable is wrongheaded, apparently. Magnus Breitling, director of product management for the chair maker Emeco and formerly with Vitra, the Swiss furniture company, set me straight on the subject of luxury sofas.

“There’s a lot of intelligence that goes into the product, not just in construction but in sourcing,” Mr. Breitling said. “The effort and time is much higher than with a typical Macy’s or Ikea couch.”

But then again, so is the price. One reason manufacturers like Ligne Roset or Vitra charge significantly more is the involvement of a top designer, Mr. Breitling said. “You’re investing time and money in playing Ping-Pong with the designer because they have a vision.”

Do I really want to spend an extra $5,000 to underwrite someone’s creative process? I may fall victim to designer names with clothes, but not sofas.

7

Playing ping-pong with in this context would be roughly the same as going back-and-forth with.

The same could be said of any two parties who are disagreeing about something, and spend a lot of time debating the pros and cons. In this case, I think it means this1: because the designer's vision is different from the customer's, you spend more time ironing out the details (another idiom that could be applied), hence, the product will cost more to develop.

The idiom is an analogy, where the heart of the discussion is a ping-pong ball, and the two parties engaged in the debate are like the players. The presumption is that the metaphorical volley is an extended one, so the debate is lengthy, and it takes a long time for a consensus to be reached.


1 the interpretation I've provided is guess on my part, based on the single sentence provided in the excerpt. As a footnote, a longer extract of the original text might have been helpful, providing more context.

  • I think that helps quite a bit; also, I'm more confident my theory was on the right track. (I think I'll leave my footnote in my answer, though, because it might be instructive for other new users.) – J.R. Mar 13 '13 at 9:43

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