I don’t want to be all Marie Kondo about it, but my Mac Studio makes me happy every day, and it’s not because it’s the fastest computer I’ve ever owned. It’s also not strictly about the front-facing ports Apple has given it, nor is it about the village of ports living in the back.
Look, I found this mustache sticker in the back of a drawer in my house. I don’t know where it came from, only that it was there, and the moment I found it, I immediately knew where to put it: smack in the middle of my Mac Studio. I had been thinking for a while that the Studio has such a crazy face on the front, and slapping a curly stache on it just made it clear. It delights me, and lately I’ve been thinking about why this silly two 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 on the inside, we’d covered some of the walls with murals — a desert scene I’d painted in the dining room, and a geometric pattern my partner had painstakingly covered our bedroom wall with, for instance. When one of our realtor colleagues did a walkthrough to give us recommendations, he told us to paint everything over with something neutral, like gray or white.
People want to imagine themselves in space, he said, and they aren’t always resourceful enough to see past an already colorful wall.
He told us that a potential buyer might otherwise be in love with the house, then walk into the bedroom, see the intricate linework on the wall and say, “Oh no,” and decide not to buy just because of that. People want to imagine themselves in space, he said, and they aren’t always resourceful enough to see past an already colorful wall. They need a blank canvas.
It’s since occurred to me that the same idea is at play, at least for some people (myself included), in Apple’s product design, and by extension, the design of so many other tech products from companies that hit the same notes.
So many of Apple’s devices – the laptops, desktops, phones, and so on – are characterized by this expanse of flat nothingness. Their characterless planes are often only destroyed when necessary; for example via a keyboard or a USB-C port. Today, the company doesn’t even print “MacBook” below the screen anymore. It’s easy to call that boring, but I disagree.
I’d say simplicity gives it a lot more personality than some of the one-note looks worn by, say, pretty much every gaming router, which often overwhelm you with their thing, whatever it may be.
Some people like that kind of thing – and that’s okay! Me, too. But as the saying goes, it takes all kinds to make a world, and design, from my layman’s perspective, isn’t always about what’s there, but sometimes about what’s not there. Where one person sees a large, uncreative, flat space in the back of a MacBook Air screen, another person may see a canvas that they can fill to truly represent who they are, using stickers, a Sharpie, or even paint.
Or, you know, a mustache.