Whatever those keychain-friendly USB drives lack in storage capacity they make up for in personality. You can find models disguised as packs of gum, drives hidden inside cute little action figures, and units that cover all manner of other shapes, sizes, and styles. That’s not the case for their sibling devices, the beefier, bulkier full-fledged external hard drives, which are generally designed to look functional, and little else. Over the last few years, Philippe Starck has designed some attractive units for the French company LaCie, working within the category’s typical mold of plain, monochrome, and rectangular. But with his newest edition, Starck’s done something different and exciting by thinking outside the standard hard-drive box. Or actually, by rethinking what’s going on inside it.
From certain angles, his Blade Runner hard drive looks like any other--a gray rectangle. But instead of a solid brick, the drive is actually composed of a series of thin aluminum slats, something like a radiator, encasing a jellybean-like blob of storage. It’s a dramatic tension--an enticing, organic form trapped inside a high-tech cage--especially when you compare it to the other options out there. Backing up one’s hard drive is the least glamorous of digital chores, but at least with this piece of futuristic gear you can pretend you’re doing it in year 3013.
The 4TB drive, which is being produced as a limited edition of 9,999, actually gets some functionality from its odd design. Starck sheds some light on the unit’s look in a press statement: "In the Blade Runner, the warm interior electronics are encased in a mystifying shell, and the blades are the radiator that cools it down. The suspension gives space for air to circulate around the hard drive, and the metal material increases the temperature conduction." Perhaps not form following function in its strictest sense, but an eye-catching, efficient design nonetheless.
The Blade Runner, which is USB 3.0 compatible and comes with 10GB of cloud-based storage, can be had for $299, directly from LaCie or through select specialty retailers.