If ever a year has made us yearn for simpler times, it's 2020. And it seems we're not alone – from retro games consoles to vintage iOS icon sets, all sorts of retro products and designs have arrived to take us back in time this year. But if a recent Twitter thread is anything to go by, there's one tech aesthetic users particularly want to see make a comeback.
Character artist Danny Sweeney shared four images (below) of early-noughties tech including a GameBoy Colour and Apple's iMac G3, all decked in colourful, translucent plastic. "Technology peaked at this aesthetic," he boldly claims. And it seems a great many users agree. (You might not be able to see the internals of our best laptops for graphic design, but trust us when we say they're spectacular).
Technology peaked at this aesthetic. pic.twitter.com/KCGxTJa8NMDecember 3, 2020
In a world of grey/silver slabs of metal (we're looking at you, Apple), it's easy to forget that there was once a craze for slightly see-through tech in an array of sugary shades. Because what was the point of having a GameBoy if you couldn't see its entire motherboard?
Whether Sweeney and co. genuinely want to see a return to translucent tech or have simply been swept up in a wave of nostalgia is hard to say – but the tweet has seen thousands of replies, with many sharing photos of their old, colourful wares:
I was literally saying to someone earlier I kinda want this transparent aesthetic to come back, it was kinda neat https://t.co/mz0nIJJ3aJDecember 6, 2020
I felt like a bad bitch walking around with this. https://t.co/5S9cYct03V pic.twitter.com/pwcfEbNWzmDecember 5, 2020
i would commit one (1) misdemeanor offense of @Apple CEO Tim Cook’s choice for the retro iMac to make a come back https://t.co/v4fOcoWNlsDecember 4, 2020
Yeah it did. https://t.co/CSdS867BSY pic.twitter.com/uyGlA9ItTeDecember 4, 2020
BRING THIS BACK I BEG PLEASE https://t.co/e8nqrZ8wfGDecember 3, 2020
Let's be honest, if Apple, Sony or Nintendo were to release a product in translucent lime green or deep purple tomorrow, it'd probably be the subject of many a mocking meme. Design trends move on for a reason, and what looked cutting edge in 2001 is unlikely to turn heads for the right reasons in 2021.
That said, Sweeney could be onto something when it comes to colour. Industrial design has perhaps become a little dull in recent years – our best camera phones in all look pretty much the same. We kind of miss the sense of fun present in Apple's old, rainbow aesthetic, for example. And it seems the company might be picking up on the feeling – both the new iPad Air and AirPods Max are available in an array of (admittedly restrained) hues.
There's no denying the power of nostalgia, especially in the fast-moving (and fast-ageing) world of tech. And as Lego's new Super Nintendo set and this Nokia 3310-inspired iOS 14 theme show, you never quite know when a retro design will make a comeback.