Manuel Erhard

Transparent Technology

Wir sind umgeben von Produkten, deren Innenleben von einer aufwendig gestalteten Hülle um/verschlossen wird. Bedienung und Funktion werden selbsterklärend, doch der eigentliche Prozess/Ablauf im Inneren wird dem Nutzer stets vorenthalten.

Ich will dem herkömmlichen Schema im Design – elektronische Geräte auf das Äußere und die Funktion zu reduzieren – entgegenwirken. Dieses Gerät versucht die Schönheit der Komplexität mit einem unnötig komplizierten Gerät erfahrbar zu machen.

We are surrounded by devices, whose internals are concealed by an elaborate designed housing. Usability and function become self-evident/self-explanatory, but the user is deprived of the actual process inside. I want to counteract the common design approach of reducing electronic devices to their function/external and explore the beauty of complexity. By building a overly complicated object, I want to transforms a simple everyday task into an exciting experience.

Does technology make us smarter?
How do we comprehend/conceive technology?
How do we design electronic devices/products?

We are surrounded by technology that’s concealed by clean designed housing with a user friendly interface. Completely deprived of an insight how things actually work (and consist of), we lose fascination for the devices we use every day.

This speculative project opposes the oversimplification of electronic devices and explores the beauty of complexity. By designing a needlessly complicated object, I want to raise appreciation for everyday products.



kinetic objects/sculptures

Kinetic objects consist of moving parts or any sort of dynamic motion that can be perceived by the viewer and are optically stimulating. Mostly powered by a motor or the observer himself.

one of many examples

Derek Huger’s wooden hummingbird sculpture


rube goldberg machine

A complex contraption that fulfills a simple task in an elaborate chain reaction, with various objects interacting with each other. The result or function of the machine are irrelevant, while watching the sequence is the main attraction.

one of many examples

Christian Bechinie’s Lego Physics


Black Box (systems theory)

An approach that looks at systems only based on in- and output in relation to each other and consciously ignores the process in between (blackbox).




Living in a world that appears to get more complex every day, we rely on electronic devices and technology to make our lives more efficient and convenient. We only want to use products that are plug-and-play, easy to use, reduced and simplified. Therefore industrial design has been focusing on putting technology into sleek, minimalistic shells, hiding the more complex parts.
With that, our way of using/seeing things has started to adopt the black box approach, only focusing on effort and result.


effect I want to achieve

  • optically stimulating/interesting (kinetic rythm)
  • interactive (user can start/end it)


  • exaggerated, overly complicated process, thats interesting to watch
  • something in between a kinetic sculpture and a rube goldberg machine
  • fulfilling a simple task that could easily be solved a lot quicker and less complicated

1 Comment

  1. I feel like you reached a point where your concept is quite coherent and clear. I think you’ve built a solid fundament for your actual object.
    Just a little thought: there is one sentence I’m not so sure about: “By designing a needlessly complicated object, I want to raise appreciation for everyday products.”
    Is that really what your want to achieve? Raising the appreciation for everyday products? What I found way more interesting was the notion of criticizing the common design approach, which tries to build an extremely flat, rationalized, and simplified surface to create an object as functional and barren as possible.
    For me your idea of building an apparatus so stupidly complicated was about transforming a completely rationalized and banalized process such as switching on the light to become an exciting beautiful happening, that is also in a way making fun of the slick and smart and serious product design world.

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