This fantastic piece by Laura Kolbe for n + 1 magazine takes on current building aesthetics and expands to a cogent and comical critique of contemporary throwaway culture.
It occurs to us, strolling past a pair of broken BuzzFeed Shopping–approved AirPods, that the new ugliness has beset us from both above and below. Many of the aesthetic qualities pioneered by low-interest-rate-era construction — genericism, non-ornamentation, shoddy reproducibility — have trickled down into other realms, even as other principles, unleashed concurrently by Apple’s slick industrial-design hegemon, have trickled up. In the middle, all that is solid melts into sameness, such that smart home devices resemble the buildings they surveil, which in turn look like the computers on which they were algorithmically engineered, which resemble the desks on which they sit, which, like the sofas at the coworking space around the corner, put the mid in fake midcentury modern. And all of it is bound by the commandment of planned obsolescence, which decays buildings even as it turns phones into bricks.
I have to say that rarely do I enjoy an article this much. By the end, you can’t tell the difference between surreal inventions by the author and the authentic fake goods in real life that she is merely describing. Her vivid portrait of The Josh, a quintessential modern apartment complex built above retail space, had me simultaneously cracking up and wincing from experience.