Wedged-shaped full metal keyboard is inspired by the Flatiron NYC landmark

Computer keyboards are designed for utility primarily, with aesthetics often coming in second place if at all. Considering its purpose, that’s not exactly puzzling, but there are thankfully fresh new designs that are giving keyboards more refreshing visuals without changing the standard formula in any way. There are, however, also bolder attempts at carving a completely different character for the humble keyboard, without losing any of its functionality, of course, creating a product that is as much a work of art as it is a piece of engineering. One such piece is this all-metal “Icebreaker” keyboard, presenting a rather radical approach that aims for maximum impact by distilling the design down to its bare essentials, resulting in an almost brutalist form that takes its cues from that iconic steel-framed building in New York City.

Designer: Denis Agarkov (Serene.Industries)

The earliest computer keyboards came with a chunky wedge shape, not for the sake of appearances but almost out of necessity. It offered a naturally inclined plane that was more ergonomic than typing on a flat surface, although the designers of that period may have not been completely cognizant of that. It’s a design convention that today’s keyboards implement using foldable stands in order to accommodate varying user preferences as well as sleeker styles and thinner profiles.

The Icebreaker, in contrast, is unapologetic in embracing that wedge shape and does so in an almost extreme way. It’s actually more of a triangle than a wedge, with the angle facing the user presenting an edge that looks sharp enough to chop wood or even break ice, hence the name. The inclined plane naturally forces your hands to type at a fixed angle, but unlike the first keyboards of old, the design comes with built-in wrist support. When viewed from certain angles, like when the keyboard stands upright on one of its sides, it resembles the Fuller “Flatiron” Building in New York, a piece of architecture that is famed for its unusual shape that represents a cast-iron clothes iron.

Just like that building, or perhaps even more so, the entire keyboard is machined from aluminum, including the keycaps. Unlike your typical keycaps, these are completely concave circles. Even more interesting, the marks on the keys aren’t in the middle but are off to the corners, created using 300-micron micro-perforations. There are no other markings on the keyboard, no color or even backlighting, giving it an industrial aesthetic that borders on brutalism because of its raw, full metal appearance.

Of course, The Icebreaker isn’t just for show and it actually has one feature not found on most keyboards. There’s a programmable dial off the left of the keyboard, a useful tool for creators who constantly scroll through menus and options. It’s definitely an interesting piece of computer equipment, at least visually. Its actual usability and ergonomics, however, are still to be judged when the product actually becomes available for purchase.