The Pepsi aesthetic

RIP Steve Jobs. I believe that Jobs and I shared an aesthetic preference for simplicity: For clean lines and elegant design. The first piece of industrial design that I remember falling in love with specifically qua design was the Pepsi can. When I was a kid in England in the 1980s, in a world full of busy, noisy, garish, modern, and above all ugly design, the Pepsi can was clean, bold, simple, and classy—in a word, beautiful. It either reflected or helped foster everything that still defines my aesthetic preferences to this day.

Now, I’m not saying that I stopped drinking Pepsi because they changed the design of the packaging, although I wish they hadn’t. I was a kid back then, and subsequently I just didn’t really care that much between one cola and another!

Coincidentally, a meeting yesterday served refreshments and I beheld something I hadn’t seen in years: The real pepsi can, the old pepsi can!

Okay, so apparently everyone else knew about Pepsi Throwback, but it was news to me, and I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see those cans again. And, by the way, it turns out that it tastes much better, too. It’s not just nostalgia; you can’t believe how much difference the sugar makes. As long as they keep the throwback line, Pepsi will have a loyal customer in me, although I do wish that their marketing department would instead of seeking ever new ways to look “modern”—a dubious distinction if there ever was one—or a condescending “retro” might benefit from learning from their predecessors, who designed the 1980s can: Clean, classic, spare design wins every time. And you will find that liberated from attempts to be modern, which are always doomed to look dated, you will become timeless.