October 1, 2023

Solid State Lighting Design

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My Mac Studio is a blank canvas for self-expression

I’m not all about Marie Kondo, but my Mac studio sparks joy in me every single day, and not because it’s the fastest computer I’ve ever owned. It’s also not about the front ports that Apple gave it, nor is it the port village that lives in the back.

Look, I found this mustache sticker in the back of the drawer at my house. I don’t know where it came from, just that it was there, and the moment I found it, I immediately knew where to put it: smack-dab in the middle of my Mac Studio. I’ve been thinking for a while that the studio has this goofy face up front, and slapping curly on it drives that home. It makes me happy, and lately I’ve been thinking why this addition to my computer makes me so happy.

When my partner and I sold our old home to move to another state a few years ago, we wanted to sell it as-is. We’d painted it pink, and inside, we’d covered some of the walls with murals—a desert landscape I’d painted in the dining room and a geometric pattern my partner had painstakingly covered our bedroom wall, for example. When a fellow realtor ran around to give us recommendations, he told us we should paint everything with something neutral, like gray or white.

He said that people want to imagine themselves in space, and are not always imaginative enough to see beyond an already colored wall.

We’re told a potential buyer might be in love with the house, walks into the bedroom, sees the intricate lines on the wall, says, “Oh no,” and decides not to buy just because. He said that people want to imagine themselves in space, and are not always imaginative enough to see beyond an already colored wall. They need a blank canvas.

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It has since occurred to me that this same idea runs, at least for some people (myself included), in the design of Apple products, and by extension the design of many other tech products from companies that hit the same notes.

Many Apple devices—laptops, desktops, phones, and so on—feature these areas of flat nothingness. Their featureless planes are often broken only when they have to; With a keyboard or a USB-C port, for example. These days, the company no longer even prints “MacBook” under the screen. It’s easy to call that boring, but I don’t agree.

I’d argue that the simplicity gives it a lot more personality than some single-note semblance of, say, basically every gaming router, which often confuses you. something, whatever.

Some people like that kind of thing – and that’s okay! I do that too. But as the saying goes, it takes all sorts to create a world, and design, in my layman’s view, isn’t always about what is, but sometimes what isn’t. Where one person sees a large, uncreative flat area on the back of the MacBook Air screen, another person might see a canvas they can fill in to truly reflect who they are, with stickers, a Sharpie, or even paint.

Or, you know, a mustache.