I like to think of myself as a pragmatist. I believe I generally allot things their appropriate weight, and I tend to rank function over form. Sometimes even GRAV’s clean, scientific style is too elaborate for me. In short, it’s a good thing I’m not in Product Development.
And yet, there are objects in my home and across my life that should’ve been replaced by much more efficient technology a long time ago, and have, instead, survived. For a while, my partner and I tried to make Keurig a reality. Pod-based consumption seemed right up our alley. We gave up after a month. Meanwhile, the French Press, laying in the cut, has held its place on the counter for years. The Press requires multiple manual processes to operate. It takes considerably longer to produce one cup of coffee than the Keurig did. But it’s beautiful, and the ritual of using it is beautiful. It makes me feel good to use it, in addition to the pleasure I get from the coffee itself. Popping in pods and pressing buttons on the Keurig just doesn’t scratch the same itch.
The same can be said for my record player, my tea set, and, arguably, my glass collection. Each of these has a more advanced alternative out there, and still I love them. One of the early lessons of the 21st century so far seems to be that technological progress just creates demand for every consumption method out there. The rising tide floats all boats. Streaming music services didn’t put the final nail in vinyl’s coffin. Instead, they renewed interest in decades worth of music for a whole new generation of audiophiles.
Nostalgia is a factor. Pricing is a factor. But overall, it seems impossible to say with certainty that any vintage tech - be it pen and paper, radio broadcasts, or (fingers crossed) dirigibles - is truly dead. Even VCRs have seen a recent resurgence. Here in Austin, you see the effect in the abundance of farm-sourced cafes, craft breweries, and speakeasies that appear to materialize overnight - microwaves, fast food chains, and Favor be damned. People value a connection to the past, but they also seem to value products that ask a little more from them, things that require some finesse to get exactly right.
I think about this phenomenon a lot. I work at a company that specializes in making glass pipes at a time when electronic vaporizers are all the rage. We have a lot of conversations about how much and how quickly we should change our product offering, and of course, we’ll do whatever makes sense for our brand and our team. But the truth is, we love making glass and traditional pipes. We love designing them, selling them, and using them. We don’t even mind cleaning them. Most members of our team have a vape they use from time to time, but many of us find we prefer the experience of loading a bowl, hearing the click of the lighter, and smoking the whole plant. We value the ritual.
What rituals do you value? What low-tech solutions do you rely on to keep you grounded? Let us know in the comments below.
And if you’re here to shop and not to wax philosophical, we just released the new GRAV Dugout. It’s like a pocket ritual. Fill it up with ground plant, twist the taster into your stash, smoke, clean, rinse, repeat.