My latest column for Dezeen explores the urban implications of Tesla's Powerwall battery storage product. Here's the original edit:
The product launch of the early 21st century is a well-honed little drama. It’s become as streamlined and archetypal as the automobile launches of the mid-1950s, half-dressed girls running their fingers down the fins of a Cadillac; at least before Don Draper et al put that to bed in favour of the television age’s saccharine-soaked short films.
Now it’s the staged simulcast. It’s in California. A wide, deep stage, generally comprising black nothingness in order to foreground a giant video display and a single figure, a charismatic yet casually-dressed CEO. The CEO stands before a crowd of lanyarded acolytes, most of whom know exactly what they’re here for, yet feign surprise with a volley of whoops and cheers exactly on cue, as if press embargoes are hardwired into their tonsils. A few in-jokes, a few geek jokes, before portentous music heralds a well-crafted product video, loitering with intent over the sleek facets of a beautifully engineered object.
But last Thursday night’s launch was different. It wasn’t for an iPhone or a Hololens or a Chromebook. It was for a battery.