I've spent my career cooking in some of the best restaurants in Chicago. I've always valued my knives, but it wasn't until I started learning how to sharpen them that I truly began to understand the nuances and beauty of high quality kitchen knives.
As a chef instructor, I taught all kinds of culinary techniques to anyone from casual home cooks to professional chefs. The most basic and rewarding lesson is knife skills. Through knife skills, I learned to articulate why a knife is so important to any type of cook, from why it's critical to select the type of steel to the importance of edge geometry. Knives come in endless combinations of materials and aesthetics, but in the end they are basically a piece of steel with a handle on it. That's why the details of a knife are so essential.
A knife can affect every aspect of your work in a kitchen, so it's importance can't be overstated. A sharp knife can take the drudgery out of prep work, affect how your food tastes, and how long it lasts.
I value knife performance over everything. However, one lesson I've always imparted to my students is: no matter what job your knife is doing, it must look cool while doing it!