Modern gadgets made in 1977

varanese.jpg Alex Varanese's sunset-hued walnut burl wonderland is a place I'd be happy to spend my evenings. From a blog post announcing his latest trip to the old-school:
This project is undoubtedly my most conceptually ambitious work to date. It comprises 14 full-sized, 18x24" prints that explore the awesomely absurd idea of time travelers who return to the late 1970's to release the technology of 2010 and dominate the world of consumer electronics. I re-imagined four modern products as if they existed over 30 years ago and tried to bring them to life through fake print ads, abstract glamour shots, and even a characteristically pretentious type treatment or two.
It also shows how modern 'retro' gadget designs are often quite half-baked compared to the real (fake) thing. If you're going to go retro, you should either be so good at understanding the timeless that few even notice what you're up to (consider how Apple often channels Braun) or basically do what Alex did here, which is make everything out of wood and spidery LEDs. Gallery [Behance via Waxy]


  1. This is ironic; I’ve been having plenty of dreams of late about 60’s and 70’s design aesthetic, mainly the minimalism, in modern life; desktop computers with wood and chrome trim, user interfaces that look more like updated Xerox Alto than Mac or Windows, nice sleek design in brutally simple shades. I prefer that reality to the clutter I currently find myself.
    Long live Dieter Rams…

  2. basement-bong-punk?
    We need to have a name for this!

  3. This is depunk.

    I think this might be the one thing that cannot become thingpunk, because punk was in part a reaction against this to begin with. It’s not even antipunkpunk, because bloated 1970s technocratic culture was a passive subject of punk’s wrath rather than a self-aware conscious response to it.

  4. That “Pocket Hi-Fi” is killing me softly. I need it. I burn, I pine, and I perish.

    I wonder if my entire Blue Oyster Cult collection would fit on it…

  5. Oh, the fake woodgrain. Why did it have to be on everything? It’s still amazingly ugly.

  6. rebdav, gpeare, no. Stop adding punk to stuff.
    Meanwhile, why were molded plastics so inelegant back then?

  7. This stuff is awesome. I think he and Plaid Stallions should slip a few of these into the catalog ads. Just for funsies.

  8. As a lover of vintage water-cooled Volkswagens, this really appeals to me in every sense. Ok, maybe not the woodgrain stickers, but it’s very well done. Good show. It’s fun to think about how the world would be different if something like this actually occurred. If you think about it, if time travel were a reality, we wouldn’t be waiting for it. We’d already be feeling the effects of it because people would obviously travel back in time to change things. And THAT would have already happened. Right? Unless, it’s an extremely strictly controlled ordeal. What if the future doesn’t exist? Whoa. I need some black licorice.

  9. These are okay, but the general “schtick” seems to be to use woodgrain and add a brown-ish tint to the pictures.

    If you look at real electronics from the era, there’s a richer world of “faux” than this. For example, AM pocket radios often came in fake plastic leather-is cases with holes die cut in them to access controls. A lot of the tuners or faces on said radios has thin brushed metal faces which always had a thin plastic coating from the factory that some peeled away and some left on to protect the metal.

  10. The only thing that would make that Pocket Hi-Fi more realistic would be a gearshift lever protruding from the front instead of the control knob. Craig made cassette players that way, and it was an excellent design motif.

  11. Alex’s beautiful anachronisms from a fictional 1977 are lovely and delicious. Thank you, Rob, for sending them into my data stream. Personally, I dig fake woodgrain stickers. In fact, I’d gladly cover my ugly cellphone with one. Just sayin.

  12. I think real ads for some things should contain disclaimers about the time travel implied by the device. Something about all that text tickled me :)

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