I daily 4x12 ortholinear boards so I’m all in for the the 1u, corner switches (OMFG yes, even Jack seems to discount them but I LOVE them and hit them with the side of my palm) and lack of big caps except the 2u space. It’s mostly about having everything so close to the home row and as a function focus first but it makes for a less interesting keyboard.
I really see OP’s point about how boring and even insular it is. I was scared off of Let’s Splits for the longest time because it’s. just. 1u. They still look weird to me but it’s what I type on half the time. I’ve had conversations with guys that design other keyboards but still fall back to two 4x6 rectangles of 1u keys in daily use.
Back in the day, things started more interesting. Until recently OLKB PCBs used to support lots of different bottom row layouts. Maybe it changed for the same reasons my boards are mostly seas of 1u caps, it’s evolved into the lowest common denominator so to speak. The beta layouts for the Planck had more variety and even had cool names for different bottom rows. One early beta for the Subatomic had bigger keys too. The Atomic is a perfect working example for why this isn’t more common.It had a ton of layout options but just didn’t do that well or I imagine it would still be in production.
The above are downloaded copies of other people’s (mostly Jack Humbert’s) files that were at one time public so I’m hoping it’s fair use. I just forgot where I found them.
I’ve played around with stuff a bit before I went all in on the 4x12.
One mod I’ve done was with older OLKB PCBs. It’s simple to cut the plate to allow for 4 1.25u on one side instead of 1u. That really opens up keysets too.
I like to play around in KLE with ortholinear keyboards that use standard keycap sets.
There’s the obvious stuff like the ortho 1800, and ortho ISO 60% but I guess they wouldn’t fit in existing cases. That’s probably why there isn’t the obvious ortholinear 60% that uses bigger than 1u caps.
For my own designs, I’ll probably one day hand wire a replacement for my modded Preonic I call the “Lagniappe”. It just makes room for a 2.25u space bar but I think it would be killer to type on. A little more in line with OP’s original points is a 13u wide design that uses the totally awesome for ortholinear 2u vertical Enter. The “Terhune” could easily be a split and with a PCB and universal-ish plates allow for some nice options.
I guess I’ve thought a lot about this, so, thanks for asking the question OP!