Monday, November 16, 2020

Typewriters and the Dark Academia aesthetic

I rely on my 20-year-old son for most of my slim connections to contemporary culture. He alerted me to the "Dark Academia aesthetic," which has been making the rounds of social media this year. It seems to be inspired by Harry Potter, Oxbridge, "Dead Poets Society," and a desire for a college experience at a time when it's hard to get.

So what do I find in a search for Dark Academia imagery?

According to a New York Times story:

In the halls of Dark Academia, nostalgia and a world free of modern technology reign .... Laura Piszczatowska, a history student in Norway, runs the Dark Academia Instagram account Geminnorum (over 28,000 followers), where she posts photos of old Spanish buildings by night, the flicker of a candle and typewriters. ... Evelyn Meyer, a 20-year-old who created the “Dark Academia check” sound in September 2019, often favors clothing from the men’s section of Goodwill in her videos, as well as the pages of books tacked up on her wall, a typewriter she owns, and paperback novels by beatniks and transcendentalists. 

I bet Dark Academia fans would be glad to sign up for my imagined Analog College.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Luigi Colani's typewriter stations

Luigi Colani (1928-2019), the German industrial designer with an Italian name, created some really eye-catching objects, including cars, trucks, furniture, and pianos.

Until recently, this was the only picture I'd seen of a typing station designed by Colani, on display at a 1960s show. The secretary is nestled in this unit that combines a typewriter, a chair, and headphones. 

On the headphones, maybe she's listening to some groovy music, but more likely, she's listening to a recording dictated by her boss. The chair looks like it's holding the headphones in its hands. Her head can't swivel easily—would this really be comfortable?

The angle of the typewriter can be adjusted, and it has a light to illuminate the copy. Note the ergonomic keyboard and the bulbous platen knobs. I believe this is a modified Selectric. If you look closely, you'll see wrist rests in front of the typewriter.

More recently, I found two more photos of Colani typing stations. The photo below shows pushbutton controls on the seat (maybe for controlling the tape recorded dictation?).  The typewriter has a curving keyboard, but it isn't split into two sectors like the one above. There are no wrist rests. I suspect this is an earlier prototype.

Then there's this photo, which seems to match the first photo above. Here we get a good view of the wrist rests, along with the two indentations for the secretary's legs (not present in the typing station in the second photo). Most of all, we get color. Am I the only one who sees a white duck with yellow legs? These wouldn't be my color choices.

What do you think? Would you enjoy settling into one of these and doing some writing?