So you’ve set up your home office for maximum back friendliness and focus, but it feels a little meh. We design everything else in our homes for looks and functionality, and your keyboard shouldn’t be any different. Standard keyboards are made for productivity, but in the age of remote work, our home office tools act as pieces of furniture that impact our home’s look. And while it may feel like you’re stuck with what you’ve got, don’t let your keyboard impose on your style—simply redesign it.
When the pandemic forced freelance creative and art director Eric Hu to spend more time in his home office, he became more obsessed with customizing his tools according to his preferred style and functionality—starting with his keyboard.
“We use tools that other people have designed for us, and for the most part we don’t question them,” said Eric. “I spend eight hours a day interacting with a keyboard. Why do I accept the default settings?” Eric had been thinking about entering the realm of custom keyboards, and once quarantine began, he finally committed to building one he’d been designing in his head. “I wanted it to feel straight out of a Ridley Scott movie from the ’70s and ’80s, but at the same time not be mistaken for a toy, and I pretty much did just that,” he said.
The result: a Planck ortholinear, blank key cap, 40% layout keyboard. For a non-custom keyboard enthusiast, this means his keyboard looks like a monochrome lego piece with the keys in a perfect, standard 4×12 grid. He now uses fewer than half the keys on a normal keyboard, eliminating unused keys (like the caps lock button) and modifying others (a CTRL button that is easier to reach), increasing his words per minute. Lastly, his key caps are matte black without symbols, achieving his goal of making it look like something out of Blade Runner.
When building a custom keyboard, there are infinite modifications to choose from. Keyboards drastically range in style and size, with cheaper DIY kits and high-end kits you can customize online. Designers can go for a vintage ’90s look or travel into the future and build a split two-piece tiny keyboard—all escaping the boundaries of traditional keyboards. For parts, keyboardists hang out on Drop, where you can find items like multicolored artisan key caps, different size sets, and custom metal plates to play with how your keyboard looks and feels.
“I just love how it feels and for a tool that I’m forced to use all day, to make it feel and sound like something I want to use more has been good,” Eric wrote in a Twitter thread explaining his calculated design decisions. “In a profession handcuffed by Apple and Adobe who try to force you into their rigid worlds, this has been my small act of defiance.”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest