Is your Atari console a bespoke-made cabinet?
In some alternate universe, Don Draper shuts the blinds of his corner office, lifts an attaché case made of an attractively grained walnut onto his lap, snaps open the clasps, and raises the lid. A warm glow illuminates his face. He unbuttons his jacket, grasps the joystick in front of him, and starts playing Street Fighter II.
The work of Swedish designer Love Hultén tends to give you peculiar thoughts. “I like to rock the boat a little and present strange alternatives,” says the 33-year-old Gothenburg native. He does this by taking the injection-moulded plastic arcade-game consoles of the 1980s and 1990s and lovingly alchemizing them into things of minimalist beauty. The blocky graphics and finger-numbing game play remain blissfully the same, but everything else around them has been upgraded.
“These are devices I grew up with, so there’s definitely nostalgia involved,” says Hultén. Indeed, just hearing the click of one of his joysticks can send you down a Proustian wormhole of misspent quarters. “But it’s no fun putting something on repeat—a blend of past and present is much more interesting.”
Hultén typically crafts his consoles in editions of 50. He has drawn customers from around the world, and it’s not hard to see why. “The gaming industry is pretty monotonous,” he says. Among the legions of featureless Xboxes and PlayStations, his creations look not only handsome but also unquestionably adult.
Martin Amis, in his much-overlooked early-’80s guide to gaming, Invasion of the Space Invaders, declared amusement arcades to be sites of addiction akin to crack dens, populated by “zonked glueys,” “queasy greasers,” and “textbook child-molesters” all “tensed over that hot black screen.” Love Hultén is cooking up high-quality gack for the discerning gentleman. (lovehulten.com)