Beige Rectangles

Latch and follow, is less than ideal

As you may have gathered, this is now call Casual Philosopher. This is not a place of high brow and rigorous philosophical debate. This is quite simply a delightful place to meander through; no need to be afraid.

When I was designing the new logo and header, the haphazard multi-layered paper and colours, seemed to be a nice reflection of my mind.

In essence it is me, musing & philosophising about our world, whilst trying to steer my metaphorical boat.

This week, we are surrounded by beige rectangles, which isn’t at all healthy.

I didn't use to have a phone. It took a good few years for me to get one. I just couldn't see why you would want to pro-actively talk to people. I have though, had a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) since the early 90s. I liked the separation of duties between the two. The PDA was about information. The phone was about communication.

This separation meant that each class of product was free to express itself in whatever design language it chose. Choosing a phone in the late 90s and early 00s, was a delightfully diverse experience. It wasn't just about the features that were present, it was also about the look and feel. It wasn't even down to the company that created them, since product lines themselves would be massively varied.

My preference seemed to have been Nokia, although I do admit to being diverted to the Motorola Razr V3i for a while Designed like a Star Trek communicator, the design was and is still, iconic.

Nokia too had their design delights. The Nokia 7280 being of particular note. It was designed to look like a flattened lipstick or perhaps a perfume dispenser. It had a small screen, which faded to a mirror when off, to allow you to check your makeup. It had a small camera, but had no keyboard at all. Instead just a tiny wheel was all you had. Listed by Fortune magazine as one of the best products, in 2004, and won design awards in 2005; this was and still is a highly desirable design marvel.

There was choice in the extreme.

Now look at the current mobile device market. Rectangles. 

Where we all get excited about an improved camera, on the rectangle. Or the screen, on a rectangle. Or the flashy colours, of the rectangle. We really have lost something.

There has been such a convergence of design, and indeed of feature-sets, that everything has turned into a vanilla-black beige landscape.

This tendency is everywhere. A race to be more like the perceived leader in the field.

Whilst there are outliers, such as Nintendo with its Switch, it just doesn't feel like there are enough.

I'm not saying that these products are bad, I mean it is great that I can instantly look up who was in a particular movie right from the palm of my hand. I guess I'm saying that the design-language has become a little stale.

So, why does this matter?

As I stated in Finishers & Completionists will kill us all, the lack of original and diverse ideas, will be the undoing of us.

I think we can see it in how people act, or re-act, to situations. I'm not sure what it is called, but it feels like a herd of animals, being directed or coerced from one side of the field to the other. I would say, who decided that we were in a field in the first place?

There is a tendency to locate the perceived ideal and to then latch onto it. Be it a philosophical ideal, or a physical ideal. This latch-and-follow approach, is worrying.

We certainly need that kind of behaviour, it can be a fantastically good thing, and is surely a requirement of a health society. But it shouldn't be the only thing.

Being different, is not a cool thing. Sure, being different is a cool fashion statement, but it feels like having a group of different people, is less acceptable that previously. Maybe I've got that entirely wrong. But as I wrote in on-off tribalism, the desire for categorisation is a bad thing.

There is a default position of suspicion to those who do not neatly fit into a box, rather than an acceptance.

I'm not saying that all forms of different-ness are good, rather that they are in general given a lower status than the herd.

This might be how society actually works, and I'm just seeing more of it because of the ease in which it can be exposed and displayed. 

Then again, this might be the undoing of us all.

Random Visual

There are doors. There are doors with history. Then there is this door. I took this in Florence, Italy. It was a small door to a jewellers; full of life.

Check out all the previous photos here

Music Requirement

The Beatles - Come Together. I’m actually not a big Beatles fan, but I can’t deny that they have certainly put out some fantastic tracks. Come Together was recorded at the end of July 1969, and included on the Abbey Road album. The video was created in 2000 by Melon Dezign, to promote the highly successful "1" compilation album. The slight surreal visuals, seem to match the tone of the song.

Check out all the previous music here


Wondering what all this is about? Find out here.

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