In 2011, British tabloid The Daily Mail reported that "The last company left in the world that was still manufacturing typewriters...has shut down its production plant in Mumbai, India with just a few hundred machines left in stock." The tone of the article suggested that typewriters were no longer being made anywhere in the world, but this was an error; in fact Brother was manufacturing typewriters in the UK as late as 2012 before shutting it down.
Today a German company called Triumph-Adler is still making typewriters, but what's initially surprising—then not surprising after thinking about it—is who's buying them. An article last year from this Russian news website reported that after taking note of Wikileaks, Edward Snowden and allegations of even friendly governments spying on each other, the FSB (Russia's successor to the KGB) was placing an order for 486,000 Rubles (USD $12,500) for Triumph-Adler typewriters and ribbons. And the FSB isn't alone—the article claims multiple Russian agencies use typewriters.
The thinking here is twofold: Obviously you can't hack what's not on the internet, but the second benefit to using typewriters is that using forensics, documents can be traced back to specific machines, similar to how bullets can be matched to the guns that fired them.
What's fascinating is that, according to Germany's Der Spiegel, the wait time between placing an order and having the Chinese factory crank out the product is some five months. Kinda puts that iPhone 6 shipping delay in perspective.
This logic is not limited to Russia, of course. Germany's The Local reports that Diehl, a German defense manufacturer, has also switched over to keys and ribbons, and that the German market for typewriters is actually growing. Bandermann, the German company that distributes Triumph-Adler's machines, says they move 10,000 units a year, with business up one-third from the previous year; meanwhile competitor Olympia "expects to sell more typewriters this year than at any time in the last 20 years, with sales set to double in 2014."
The next trend that we're hoping for: People start limiting their naked selfies to Polaroids.
Tom Hanks is a noted vintage typewriter fanatic who often bangs out thank-you notes on one of the machines in his collection. When he released the Hanx Writer—an iPad app that simulates old-school typing with sound and visuals, includes one free "model" and allows the user to purchase additional virtual models and ribbon colors—last month, many probably scoffed... but in four days it had shot to the top of the App Store with effusive reviews.
"Hanx Writer is beautiful, aesthetically pleasing app that fulfills its mission of bringing a certain level of pleasure back to the writing experience," wrote one reviewer. "I've been sitting here typing in the new Hanx app wondering why I find this so delightful," wrote another. "I can't help it, I just do."
It may sound silly, until you see it in action and understand the allure:
I keep waiting for a modern-day piece of furniture to top David Roentgen's transforming gaming table, but it ain't gonna happen. The only man who can top Roentgen is Roentgen himself. As evidence, have a look at the Berlin Secretary Cabinet designed and built by Roentgen (possibly with his pops, Abraham) which goes even further than the gaming table. The automatic flip-out easel at the end is just mind-blowing:
Consider that this was all made by hand, prior to the Industrial Revolution.
The cabinet, which was owned by King Frederick William II, is described by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as "One of the finest achievements of European furniture making" and "the most important product from Abraham (1711–1793) and David Roentgen's (1743–1807) workshop."
While food trucks are all over NYC, and the cocktail trend continues to spread across the city, we've never seen anyone combine the two and create a Booze Truck. But a select amount of tipplers in the UK just may spot one. It isn't any regular booze truck, and as far as we can tell they ain't charging for the drinks. Which should remain affordable for the proprietors as it can only seat two folks at a time.
With Grey Goose for a client, London-based branding agency Ragged Edge created The World's Most Intimate Martini Bar, as they've nicknamed it, by restoring an old Citröen Type H. In addition to the exterior restoration, they've kitted it out with an interior of leather, marble, bronze, brushed metal, and etched glass to create a "fully functioning luxury bar."
If you're wondering why there are photos of bread on the side for a company hawking vodka, the project is officially called the Boulangerie Francois Camionnette ("French bakery van") as a nod to another branding event RE held last year: In London's Soho they launched a pop-up artisanal bakery, where guests could "sample fresh Grey Goose bread, made using the finest soft winter wheat from the Picardie region in France." (That's the same type of grain Grey Goose is made from.)
As the Nazis occupied France and commandeered production at the Citröen factory, Citröen's design team was still secretly working on their own projects. One of those was the iconic 2CV economy car. Another was an equally quirky-looking but very different sort of vehicle called the Type H. And interestingly enough, one of its key design elements was inspired by the aircraft used by the Germans occupying France.
Like the 2CV, the Type H was meant to do more with less. But whereas the 2CV was meant to haul people and their farm goods, The Type H would be its urban counterpart, a proper delivery van. It would be a direct successor to their TUB and TUC delivery vehicles, whose production had been killed for want of raw materials during the war. Here's what that pre-war TUB looked like, by the way:
As you can see, a van requires a lot more surface area than the 2CV. This raised the problem of how to stiffen the van's structure while using materials as economically as possible. The answer was flying above Citröen's heads and landing at airfields in occupied France: