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I liked brushed metal and I cannot lie

Christopher Phin | Aug. 5, 2015
Everyone's entitled to their opinion. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. À chacun son goût. However much I say things like that, though, you're probably never going to forgive me if I tell you--if I lean in close and divulge, in a confessional whisper--that really I quite liked brushed metal.

And yeah, here in a pre-OS X interface it looked particularly out of place. While OS X, with its pinstripes and glossy buttons and translucency, would bring a riot of textures to the Mac's operating system, versions of the OS that predated it were mostly flat. Today, the thing that looks most egregious about the QuickTime window above is the fact that it doesn't have a drop-shadow to help delineate it or show it's active.

It wasn't until Mac OS X 10.3 that brushed metal made its audacious leap for the mainstream. You couldn't escape it even if you wanted to; the Finder windows were decked out with brushed metal.

It's ironic--at least in the Alanis Morissette sense, since we're in the '90s--that the clunky chunkiness which seemed to be part and parcel of the brushed metal interface was so ill-suited to the small screens we were all working on back then--just look at the wasted space in the iTunes screenshot at the very top, at how little space it dedicated to content--and that today the computers most of us are using actually do have quasi-brushed metal exteriors. In other words, in an alternate universe, brushed metal makes much more sense today than it did last century.

Brushed metal, though, was gradually but inexorably to be phased out, even before skeuomorphism became a dirty word around Infinite Loop.

But I liked it. It struck me as novel and impressive, and a little bit fun. There again, I thought much the same about the old Podcasts app, the poster child for anti-skeuomorphic zealots, and I liked it too. Meesa not even sorry.


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