In this age of chrome and aluminium clad gadgets it may be hard to believe that at one time the height of electronic elegance involved wood.
Well, more accurately, fake wood, but still, it looked like wood.
The other day while having a conversation in the company chat room, the subject turned to memories we had of television sets covered in wood. We had some laughs as we thought back to the huge televisions that dominated our family rooms back in the day, but as with most things, it made me think about this column series.
I started thinking back to my first record player, a hand me down from my father, that was also covered in a faux wood grain look. That led me to think of a pair of speakers I won in some raffle that had a fake wood look to them … and the rack my first “serious” stereo came with … the list of items I’ve owned with this appearance was endless the more I thought about it. What was the obsession during the 1960s, 70s and 80s that electronics manufacturers had with doing this to various home appliances? Home décor in that time period was very different than it is today, and this was considered more “modern” looking somehow. Prior to freaky wood grain that appeared everywhere, most items had somewhat of a “fabric” look to them though it was more like a hard plastic that was made to look like threading.
The last item I can remember owning with a wood look to it was the behemoth television we bought in 1980 and lasted us until 1990 or so. I asked my mother what the obsession was with all that fake wood, but she quickly corrected me that by 1980 the trend had changed to real wood and that particular television’s cabinet was not indeed fake. Well … that just makes all the difference now doesn’t it?
I am sure that someone writing this column in 2042 will look back and wonder why we – the present day folks – obsessed with glass backs and kevlar on our phones when it was obvious that coating everything in jelly is a far more sensible, and delicious, way to make gadgetry.