Innovation 101: Going forward into the past

One of the most striking examples I’ve seen of retrofuturist design is the present version Volkswagen Beetle. It simply ‘brings the emotional ‘iconic user connect’ back into our evolving cultural and aesthetic sensiblities using current state of technology’. 

Many argue that the comeback version of the VW Beetle is ‘quasi plagiarism and that it insults the intelligence of the consumer’ or that it is merely a fad. And that one should not dilute the idea of ‘serious innovation’ by resorting to gimmicks like these.

1961 Beetle (approx) in Seattle with sunroof i...
Image via Wikipedia

There’s no argument. But I couldn’t agree less with such a contention. In progressive increments, driven by the need for “more” and “more quickly”, see what we’ve done to our architecture. There’s no statement, either to leave behind as a mark of our times or as an expression of the state-of-the-art. And we hide behind concepts like functionalism and minimalism to justify our pedestrianism. Nobody seems to be noticing that we are fast losing ‘character’ [all puns intended here] as well as letting mediocrity get the better of us.

So what’s the fuss all about? Since the time I was a kid, I have loved reading. As the world has progressed, more and more information has been published. Now you have e-Books, online publications, news feeds and whatnot. I have started missing, not only the touch and feel of a book but a lot of the peripheral experiences of reading. I must not forget the emotional bonding I had with a book that I cannot even begin to have with digital text on a computer screen. The connection is lost and it has nothing to do with my having grown older.

A not so happy side effect is that since I do not openly exhibit my passionate love affair with books, my children are quite happy with reading things on their screens – if they are reading this, they won’t have a way to empathise with me – and will probably never ‘feel’ reading the way we old-timers did.

So I’m building a case for retrofuturistic design of books and other such ‘sense’ible products. Innovation that forces us to turn around and bring back the flavours of the past.

Any takers?

  1. Retrofuturism –  Wikipedia
  2. Square Traffic lights
  3. Retro to Go
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2 Replies to “Innovation 101: Going forward into the past”

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