Retro laptop concept takes the mechanical keyboard trend to the next level

The retro craze shows no sign of slowing down as more people discover the wonderful quirks of designs from the past. It has even reached a point where designs are being applied to things that are somewhat unrelated to the original. We’re seeing computers that look like gaming consoles from the 90s, for example, or media players that would make you think they could play cassette tapes. This laptop has the same feel, although it barely looks like the workstations of Eld. Instead, it takes its cue from the design trend that’s gripping the computer accessories industry, applying not just the aesthetics but even the materials of retro mechanical keyboards to envision a workstation that, while powerful, isn’t made for gamers but especially for developers.

Designer: Wonjae Kim

Mechanical keyboards have always had an old-school ring to them, literally and figuratively. Their chunky keycaps and metallic sounds feel like just a few steps away from typewriters, especially with the prevalence of “chiclet” keyboards with soft sounds and short travel. Some accessory makers have taken that association even further by embracing the designs of keyboards from decades ago, and that same gray and literally edgy aesthetic is being applied to a laptop aimed at people who code more than those who play games.

Inspired by Lofree’s line of PBT (Polybutylene terephthalate) retro mechanical keyboards, this workstation concept has the same shapes, colors, and even materials that would remind one of those old-school keyboards, particularly with the use of blocky forms and a limited number of shades of gray with a single orange accent to break the monotony. The design isn’t apologetic about being a little bit thicker than most laptops that are aiming to grab the “slimmest” title at the expense of performance or flexibility.

That said, the laptop only looks retro but the concept is actually quite forward-looking. The bezels around the screen, for example, are thin, something that would have been inconceivable in older laptops. The most notable feature, however, is the touch display on the right side of the keyboard that can be used for different purposes, depending on the situation. It can be a numeric keypad, a to-do list, or even a game to give your brain time to breathe after a long and intense coding marathon.

Despite trying to evoke retro aesthetics, this Lofree-inspired workstation is quite clean and minimalist so you won’t stand out from the crowd in a negative manner. Using the same PBT material for the keyboard would make the emulation more authentic, but it wouldn’t be practical for a laptop chassis that needs to be a bit more durable. It’s definitely an interesting design and one that will easily rise from a sea of black and white laptops that have flooded the market today.