There’s something about all things retro that I simply cannot resist! I love product designs that evoke a deep sense of nostalgia within us and take us right back to the 80s. As innovative and futuristic products are today, sometimes you just feel like escaping from all the modernism and immersing yourself in the simplicity of the past. To help you experience this, we’ve curated a collection of retro-inspired products that promise to take you on a trip down memory lane. Though these products are wonderfully retro-esque, they have been imbibed with modern functionality. Their aesthetics may be from their past, but their utility is embedded in the future. Enjoy!
Riding on the retro-wave is Retio, an all-in-one retro radio, Bluetooth speaker, and clock that comes with a simple, sophisticated, steampunk-inspired design. Handcrafted in California, the Retio comes with a Walnut wood body surrounded by a brass accent, a fabric frontal clad, beautifully knurled brass knobs, and the Retio’s pièce de résistance, a display crafted from four genuine vintage Nixie tubes! A portmanteau of the words Retro and Radio, Retio focuses on the sheer beauty of artifacts from the decades gone by. It harks back to a simpler time but showcases the incredibly complex 70-year old nixie-tube technology that remains equally captivating even today. The tubes are genuine vintages, having been built more than 30 years ago but preserved in mint condition.
Rafael Rubio’s wood-e is a gaming console created from, well, wood! It’s an emulation system based on Raspberry (though other electronics and systems can be fitted in), which basically means its software has been programmed to operate and behave like the hardware of an older video game system. Inspired by the Nintendo tabletop arcade machines of the ’80s, Rubio wanted to bring back the style of some of the older video games. However, he wanted to create a design that would withstand the passage of time and could be easily maintained and repaired. Machine CNC-milled wood was his choice of material. Boasting a strong wooden structure, the console features bright red arcade-style buttons and a traditional joystick that evokes nostalgia! However, the red buttons are neutralized by the matte black and warm wood elements, creating a design that could double up as a decorative piece in your home.
Designed specifically for racing, the Helvezzia Tipo-6 seats just one person with a pretty advanced-looking dashboard featuring a steering wheel with gauges and switches, and a secondary set of gauges behind the steering. The car comes with a nice, tubular body, an open cockpit, and wheels that pop out of the bodywork, with hubcaps covering the rims entirely. There’s even a step knee located to the left of the driver, headlamps with their own covers too, and by far my favorite detail, that ridiculously beautiful chrome grille on the front, added purely for vanity purposes because an EV wouldn’t really need a radiator. Finally, the Helvezzia Tipo-6 caps off with a chrome rear, giving the entire car quite a unique retro-meets-modern vibe from front to back!
Nixon’s Dork Too Smart Ass Watch is as its name suggests a dorky watch with an eccentric smart ass personality! Inspired by the 1980’s answering machine, the watch yells out the time, as your answering machine once recited out your messages to you. The 34mm perforated stainless steel case comes with a center button, press it and have the time yelled out to you! Retro and modernity meet in this geek-chic watch, with a custom digital LCD that displays the time, date, and any alarm you may have set. An EL backlight helps light your way whenever you’re fumbling in the dark. Simply plug the Dork Too into a USB to charge it efficiently, whenever its battery runs low.
There is this thing about vinyl, only someone who owns a collection – big or small – would know. Yes, the glorious sound is one of them and you would agree to that, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. It is actually the overall experience with these fragile records that you just cannot have enough of. If you know what we mean, you would be anything but lured by the fine lines and details of this luxurious gramophone. You’d be yearning for one to play your collection! Designed by Moiless, a studio that believes designing is like writing a novel – it’s about telling a story and expressing feelings. The atelier thrives on designing and manufacturing emotional items and their record player does just that for fanatics who cherish the conventional way to replay the sound of music. Featuring a seamless design it comes integrated into a wooden rack, which houses a speaker system right under the player, and has an opening to stack your vinyl collection below.
The Mutrics GB-30 is a pretty great combination of fashion and function… and that’s always what you want with consumer electronics. Take the AirPods for instance. They’re a style statement, and people who use them would argue they’re some of the best wireless earbuds on the market. Following that design mantra is the Mutrics GB-30, a pair of retro-chic glasses with bone-conduction earphones built into them, inspired heavily (and even named after) the GameBoy – a design theme chosen specifically for the GB-30’s core demographic. Gamers. Outwardly, the Mutrics GB-30 is a pair of really cool, chunky, vintage-gaming-inspired glasses. On the inside, however, the sleek glasses are fitted with open-ear audio drivers or bone-conducting earphones that provide a private audio-listening experience, especially for gamers, without the need for a cumbersome pair of gaming headphones.
The Baseus Personal Refridgerator concept by Jiujiu Hu certainly falls in the aesthetic category but that doesn’t stop us from loving it any lesser! With a form factor that merges an almost android design with that of a retro TV, this portable personal refrigerator is here to serve us, literally. The heat of summer is upon us, anything that is cold or chilled is in demand. This cute robot-like design with its shiny reflective surface (truly it only needs big eyes to make us fall in love even more) and its leather strap is a way cooler alternative to the old-school icebox or coolers we lug around everywhere (can you imagine how much cooler Netflix and chill would be with this by your side?).
The Split Drum washing machine has three separate sections, so you can wash all your supposedly “un-mixable” clothes in one load. The boards are also removable for additional flexibility. After all, not everyone has an equal ratio of dark, light, and white clothing in their closet. In addition to solving an issue that has inconvenienced young adults for years, the Split Drum is very pleasing to look at. The white color and the gold accents give the machine a bright yet retro-inspired feel that I think fits the personality of many young professionals. The Split Drum is not an appliance that will be hidden away in a basement – because what young 20-something can afford a two-floor apartment?
At a glance, the Instax Mini 40 doesn’t look like the kind of camera you’d see in 2021. Although, given how we’re in an era of retro throwbacks, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 might have just nailed the retro-wave trend! With its black, boxy avatar, metallic accents, and that faux-leather texture that’s practically emblematic of vintage cameras, the Instax Mini 40 really takes us back to simpler times. At its heart, the Instax Mini 40 is a pretty simple gadget. Unlike most cameras that come inundated with features, controls, and abilities to post stuff on social media, the Instax Mini 40 focuses more on having a very simplified UX… so all you need to really do is compose your shot, hit the button, and watch as your photo develops. The camera takes care of the rest, triggering the flash, auto-exposing the shot, and printing out your image with slightly soft details and high contrast – just as you would expect with any Polaroid shot.
In an era of modern innovations and upgrades, BrandNewNoise has come up with a wooden voice recorder that looks like it’s straight out of the 70s! Loopy Lou is a retro voice recorder that has been handcrafted from sustainable wood in Brooklyn, New York. The eccentric recorder can record only 30 seconds of audio, owing to its built-in microphone. With two little turntables for eyes, a round silver knob for pitch control, a loop switch, and a 1/8th output, it’s a completely analog experience of recording and warping audio. The red record button on the left allows you to record audio, whereas toggling the switch lets you play back and continuously play your recording. The pitch control knob allows you to play around and warp the audio, creating quirky noises you would only expect aliens to make! The black button lets you stop and hear your recording.