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design writing

Designing Metal

It was a w00t moment. It was all the way up.

“You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?”

— Nigel Tufnel
Caricature of Derek Smalls as played by Harry Shearer
Not Nigel Tufnel

First, research and competitive analysis. I pressed the power button on my trusty MacBook Pro, the dulcet tone of the logic board yawning to life. With my client seated next to me slurping on a Pepsi, we surfed the Interwebz. He wanted to incorporate existing design concepts into a new guitar build. Being a fan of heavy metal, it had to have a particular look and feel. It had to be ‘metal.’1

To create a ‘metal’ guitar, you have to place yourself in a unique state of gracelessness. Metal is studded leather and motorcycles, feedback and booze, fractured rainbows and epileptic bunnies frolicking in the Power Tools section of the third aisle of Home Depot.2 Metal is a thunderstorm of angles, offset with sweeping, melodic curves. It’s everywhere filled to the brim with nowhere.

“Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? Eleven. Exactly. One louder.”

— Nigel Tufnel

My client went so far as to craft a wooden mock-up of the guitar to insure it cradled comfortably in his lap. The lower hook opposite the neck offered issue. We wanted to be certain it wouldn’t pierce his leg while playing.3 This guitar need to look the part but we didn’t want to be too clever with it.

“It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.”

— Nigel Tufnel
  1. ‘Metal’ in feel. For example, when looking at a photo of Britany Spears, she isn’t ‘metal’ – though in the past one could deduce she might be punk after shaving her melon.
  2. The Power Tools section of Home Depot is actually located in aisle 2 near electrical. If you can’t find it, ask for Phil.
  3. Ironically, this would be very ‘metal’.