Seattle, Apple Computers, Craft Brew, and John Keats
In this essay for ARCADE Magazine, which covers all aspects of design culture, especially as practiced in the Pacific Northwest, I argue that the trajectory we're on in terms of product design and kraftwerk, whose apogee is the iPhone, and whose most recent incarnation in the NW is the distillery boom, can be traced usefully to John Keats, himself born above a tavern, and obsessed both with intoxicants and with perfecting finish: with end-user experience in mind, as it were, at least as it might apply to poetic theory.
Indeed, trying to tell my students what the world was like in the 1980s is an exercise in exotica. You couldn’t get coffee anywhere. There was literally no place where you could go and sit to study, chat with friends, do a bit of journaling. There was your house, and there was the bar. And bars weren’t quiet and cool like (many here) are now. They were loud, smoky and dominated by the jukebox and the pool table. You couldn’t go and write in one like Hemingway did in the Parisian ‘30s. And beer? Forget trying to get a beer. People drank Miller by the gallon. Budweiser was the “King of Beers.” You drank the soda pop that the TV told you to, wore the jeans and sneakers that were ordered by your caste and ate non-organic, factory-farmed food. It wasn’t that nothing mattered; it was just that things didn’t matter.