A matter of style

I was flicking through my wife’s latest copy of Living Etc this morning having had my interested aroused by the fact that there was a photo that included a computer on the front cover. If you aren’t aware of it, Living Etc portrays an idealised, minimalist, modernist world of European furniture and houses where there is no clutter. I can only imagine that these are homes where the under-fives are shrink-wrapped to prevent them causing minor chaos by moving a rug a couple of centimetres out of position.

It’s struck me before that computing devices rarely figure on the pages of Living Etc. Digging out my best Social Research Methods hat, I did a quick bit of content analysis…

In total, 6 computing devices over the couple of hundred pages of desirable home spaces; 3 MacBooks – the one on the cover (and the same photo in the article in which it came; 1 unidentified laptop in the background of a photo (although suspiciously like a black MacBook); 1 phone (iPhone) and 1 slate device (iPad).

The ubiquity of Apple devices wasn’t really much of a surprise. It’s almost become a bit of a “cheap” piece of iconography in commercial photography these days to denote “modern stylish living” in the same way that pieces of furniture designed in the 1920s are used. How few computing devices are present in the pages overall, though, was – very little in the way of consumer technology seems to get onto the pages of Living Etc.

Maybe that’s a reflection of the reader demographics (my wife gets Living Etc, she’s interested in furniture; I get Wired, I’m interested in technology). Maybe it’s a reflection of the fact that I work in the industry… but in a world where every man woman and child these days owns at least a dozen smart phones, slates, games consoles, ebook readers and laptops ((c) MadeUpStats (TM)), surely a few more of them should be littering the pages of magazines like Living Etc? Or is tech, actually, not that stylish after all…

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