I stumbled upon the great post of Adam Richardson where he is elaborating about the fact that Hardware earns more credit by the user than it should because the product and the experience you pay for is more than just this well made piece of mainly plastic.
The Hardware Gets All the Glory By Adam Richardson – February 3, 2010
I just come from the other side. Is the material that is responsible why this box has become physical also underrated? What is its value in the system as you have only the hardware as an island to build all these great interfaces and apps around.
It is true that the Ghost within the shell is a great mystery and more than just the sum of its parts but this is also the case for the software as for the hardware and sometime we underestimate the relevance of the old and common that has been their already before. Mr. Flusser was asking in one of his essays if the typewriter is disabling us or enabling us. On one hand it channels our thoughts into a typing mode which doesn’t leave u a lot of freedom of movement. On the other hand it enabled us to find a new kind an additional way of expression. But what was the relevance of material to the Typewriter if typewriting is a new way to express a new way to see the world.
Over time … in those days … materials were optimized and added new value of use (weight, sound, speed) to the product. And now? Can a product an its meaning also enhance the materials meaning? These great boxes made of plastic which carries a large spirit of use and interpretation. What is its reflection on the material. If you say „nothing“. What if i would take the material away? As we are still not far away from stone age and jumping down from the trees and learn to talk and use our fingers for something else than… you name it, I still think that physicality can’t be even rated high enough. And so is the relevance of the beautiful neutral materials, as you can nearly address all you want into it. Like sand on the beach in the hand of kids. And even designer always say stop talking make a prototype. Why that? Because a picture is more than thousand words and a prototype is more than thousand pictures.
How to measure the meaning of materials? „Just ask the purchase“ one could say. They tell you their idea of value. If you want to sell your car don’t ask the guy in the carshop for your idea of the real value. And price is not value.