The Art of Life

One of the finest examples of the skeuomorphism, the 1976 Chevrolet Chevette Coupe.
The infamous 1976 Chevette Coupe

In 1953, American car manufacturers stopped using real wood panels on station wagons. In the mid 1960’s, car makers designed metal panels mimicking wood, a trend that continued through the end of the millennium.

The metal panels are examples of skeuomorophism – a derivative design incorporating design cues that were present in the original version.

Skeuomorphism is most prevalent in tech design. It was a mainstay at Apple under Steve Jobs. In 2013, two years after Job’s death, Apple’s released IOS 7 eschewing the concept and embracing “Flat Design.”

One argument against skeuomorphism is the number of end-users who grew up in a digital universe, where a visual reference like a legal pad is meaningless.

IOS 6 Notes app screen shot

That isn’t to say skeuomorphsim has completely disappeared. Take Apple Watch face options for example

A Mickey Mouse face for the Apple Watch

I recently helped my oldest daughter, Zoey move into her grad-school housing as she begins a new chapter in her journey. We flew west and spent a couple days hanging out, moving her in.

We got along well, for the most part. While it could have been better, it could have been worse. Much worse.

I had been looking forward to the trip since late July. As the trio grew closer, my challenge was not letting anxiety overwhelm me. I tried to focus on savoring the anticipation without obsessing on every aspect of the trip, like usual.

I was surprisingly successful. I didn’t even check the weather forecast until the night before, when I started packing.

That was a huge change.

Zoey’s going to school in the heart of Silicon Valley. Walking around, you can almost feel the buzz of innovation as venture capitalists sit in coffee shops in search of entrepreneurs.

The restaurant scene is hip, diverse. The architecture fascinating. I think every fifth car was a Tesla.

The trip wasn’t perfect. I didn’t love my Airbnb. Once, that would have ruined the trip for me. This time, however,  I accepted my disappointment, and moved on.

That’s progress for me. Maintaining balance where once I would have stumbled.

Zoey and I still have a ways to go. When  I got home late Saturday night, I was a bit melancholy.

Sunday morning, feeling better, sitting at Starbucks, I deleted the boarding pass from my iPhone.

When I hit the delete button, the 2013 skeuomorophic paper shredder didn’t appear.

Instead, the pass disappeared with a subtle effect mimicking an old-fashioned CRT picture tube being turned off.

Watching television growing up,  I saw the same effect. When my boarding pad disappeared, I found myself thinking about other things in my life that have disappeared since my split.

Perhaps not a fine art, but design is art. And good art evokes emotion. In my case, something as innocuous as a fading line.

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