It got the designer thinking about how our media consumption has changed in recent years. “Fifteen years ago I could just grab a record and play it almost instantly,” he says. “Now I have to launch apps, plug in cables and scroll through lists to play a single song.” It wasn’t just the fussy complexity that bothered him. It was how soulless the whole ritual had become. In trading our record collections for so many files and folders, we’d lost the simple, almost soothing joy that comes with handling physical stuff.
Salhi’s answer to this modern predicament is Qleek, in essence a bid to give digital media a new, material form. The system, designed by Salhi’s co-founder, Johanna Hartzheim, is based around hexagonal wooden discs called Tapps. You can link Tapps up to music, photos or videos, and play the associated files simply by placing the them in a cradle connected to your TVs or speakers. The NFC-embedded wooden cards don’t actually hold the files, they just point the player to them, so you could have Tapps for dynamic content like Spotify playlists, podcasts, and Instagram feeds, too. Think of them not as storage so much as bookmarks.