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Apple’s first music award is perfectly Apple

This polished silicon wafer is a gold record for the 21st century.

Apple’s first music award is perfectly Apple
[Photos: Apple]

This week, Apple announced its first ever Apple Music Awards in an unceremonious press release that listed all of the winners—including Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, and Finneas—chosen “through a process that reflects the service’s editorial perspective, combined with what customers around the world are loving most,” the company explained. The more interesting twist was the debut of the physical award itself: an aluminum plaque that it designed in-house and apparently takes months to produce.

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At first glance, the award looks lazy—an aluminum rectangle? Is Apple capable of designing anything but another freakin’ iPhone? But at second glance, it’s a perfectly self-aware sculpture that articulates its origins from Apple. Here’s the description from Apple’s site:

Apple has designed a series of awards to celebrate the extraordinary craftsmanship integral to creating music. Each award features Apple’s custom silicon wafer suspended between a polished sheet of glass and a machined and anodized aluminum body. The wafers start as a perfect 12-inch disc of silicon with nanometer level flatness. Copper layers are deposited and patterned by ultraviolet lithography to create connections between billions of transistors. The result of this multi-month process, before it is sliced into hundreds of individual chips, is stunning and distinctive. In a symbolic gesture, the same chips which power the devices that put the world’s music at your fingertips sit at the very heart of the Apple Music Awards.

Furthermore, its design will make a lot of sense when displayed in its ultimate context—hung on the walls of a musician’s recording studio or home among other awards.

[Photo: Apple]

Its basic form of a circle inside a rectangle may evoke an iPod, but it actually seems more distinctly inspired by a gold or platinum record; its silicon disc is even 12 inches in diameter, just like a vinyl record. Apple successfully made that record its own, though, by swapping out pressed vinyl with a gleaming circuit board—the very hardware that makes the world of iTunes, iPhones, and all digital music go round.

Yes, this circuit does sit on yet another anodized aluminum block, which has become something of a cliché of Apple’s once-radical industrial design. But if it’s an award from Apple, shouldn’t it match a Macbook, Mac mini, or even an Apple Card? Heck, as far as I’m concerned, Apple could have stuck a trio of lenses on the front.

So I’m here to state, on the record, that the Apple Music Award, which I will never, ever win or even touch, is good. All of that said, if this plaque isn’t capable of holding at least a week’s worth of music, somebody missed a real opportunity.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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