Digital Storage is now Physical!

Lena Xian

“Blank” USB by Saburo Sakata

The “blank” USB is a design by Saburo Sakata. Sakata is an award-winning Japanese designer who studied and graduated at Kyoto University of Arts and Design. Although seemingly mainly a graphics designer, this USB is out to be one of the most minimal yet striking product designs.

A book design by Sakata. Strangely different to his “Blank” USB design.

“Blank” is the USB that is literally a ‘message in a bottle’. With only a cork holding down the USB plug-in, it really finalises the design to simply nothing but a USB cork in a bottle. The USB itself can represent many things, opening the mind to various interpretations.

The designer seems to speak about the USB as the most important concept about the design, giving us a visual representation of digital storage. This allows the user to feel and experience having their information and content ‘stored’ in a physical place.

“With technology today, it can sometimes feel that you have ‘nothing’ because the digital world is unseen, even though it’s actually packed with contents and data.” (Japan Trend Shop, 2015)

Another interpretation is the designer trying to convey the message of how all our writings, messages, and comments are now digital and online. Can you imagine finding a message in a bottle washed up ashore, and seeing it is actually in digital form? It seems quite strange and funny at first, but then we are reminded of the technological world we live in today and suddenly it’s not that surprising anymore.

Lock USB design.

This USB design is also a simple yet open reminder about what a USB does: it gives us unseen storage space. The lock keeps the user from plugging in the USB and allowing access to its contents, just as a lock would do on an actual safe. It’s a constant reminder of the digital world we live in nowadays, where physical storage space, such as a safe, can be replaced with an USB in a lot of cases.

This Lock USB is generic, easily accessible to the public via online stores. By requiring a key to open the lock, it takes on the ritual or action of ‘unlocking’ a safe to access the insides. It makes the user feel like they are opening up something more important and kept very safe. Even without the actual metal safe in front of the owner of the USB, simply needing this extra step of ‘unlocking’ the USB is a very conceptual way to visualise and act out digital storage as if it were physical.