PETER YORK ON ADS: No 228: MICROSOFT WINDOWS

We can be modern, just for one day
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The Independent Culture
ROLF FEHLBAUM is the German proprietor of Vitra, the furniture company which manufactures all the classic modern chairs. He and his company are ideal for lending a bit of intellectual gloss and heroics to a company whose reputation has moved from that of campus supernerd to aggressive monopolist over the last few years.

And so too is David Bowie: not the crazily normal, art-collecting, silly-earring-wearing, Wall Street securitised, big-teeth 1998 Bowie, but the pretentious, out-of-it-to-some-purpose, 1977 Berlin one. The new Bowie has sold his old persona - the Bowie of Heroes - to Microsoft Windows as well. The idea is, of course, that hundreds of millions of "journeys" ("Where do you want to go today?") are just a democratisation of the journeys of the Old Masters. It's all part of the inalienable right to personal growth.

Thus it is that Microsoft appears to be building both Fehlbaum and Bowie into their software and on to their screens, smart with flat planes of colour. In the opening shot, Vitra chairs dance around in angled shots, resolving into a computer mosaic. Then we move to Mr Vitra, seen in a Modernist room which could've been designed in 1920s Germany. And there's yet more fun with chairs, with a white sculptural affair in a park and the Eames recliner in a corridor.

Mr Vitra is got up in the traditional uniform of the chic graphique - shaven grey political-prisoner head, collarless white shirt (probably Comme); black linen suit and all-Perspex specs. He says modern things like "To be modern means to believe in the potential of your age, to use the potential of your times." (Cue Bowie's "Heroes"). More modern yet: "We want to be a learning organisation; to be involved with the new technology makes you learn every day." How very true.

After a dose of that, it's no surprise that the final Microsoft pokerwork question comes expressed on a background of burnt orange.

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