Technological gadgets don’t have to look futuristic to be usable, and they can also look like an innocent pebble leaning against a wall or an artist’s canvas.
Nowadays homes are so full of technology that it’s impossible not to notice one or two in a room, be it the latest smart TV or a fabric-covered smart speaker. While many of these home-based devices are designed to look at your home at home, they often still come out and call attention, which is also a must-have marketing strategy. However, this doesn’t have to be the case, and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make your device look like everyday.
Designer: Hoyoung Joo / SFSO studio
Maybe it’s not with consumer technology that looks like it should be wrong in itself. Some may think that their smart speakers look like ships and show all the features that a TV remote control offers. It’s hard to argue, however, that these things sometimes add unnecessary visual stimulation to the back of our minds through designs and shapes that seem out of place. These, in turn, can cause unconscious stress in a stress-free living space.
One solution is to design a product in detail to blend it with everyday objects, but a simpler method might be to turn these technological products into everyday objects. SFSO Design Studio calls them “Hidden Objects,” a nod to a kind of casual game where you have to squint to see them hidden in a cluttered closet.
The kitchen scale, for example, is just the look of a bowl, which makes it easier to use not only for visual design but also for use. You can easily stack containers that look similar when measuring ingredients, although you may be tempted to place them directly on a container-like scale. The familiar shape of the kaiku looks seamless and uncomplicated, as the actual measurement is sent to a connected smartphone or smart speaker rather than to an LCD screen that shatters the excitement.
A larger weighing scale for humans, on the other hand, could be disguised as a tile or canvas leaning against your wall. There’s no visual display, no data sent directly to a paired smart device, and the scale looks like a wooden block. It makes it easier to approach and use the balance with confidence, unlike many smart scales that create a feeling of fragility on glass surfaces.
Japanese-inspired interior decorations have incorporated the use of smooth, oval rocks as room decorations. Why not turn these objects into containers at the same time by hitting two birds with one stone in a pun. Pebble Tray is an almost insidious way to hide important things almost out of sight, without adding visual clutter to the quiet rock garden or rocky beach theme.
It’s harder to get rid of the remote control stick just because you can’t find two round bars joined in most living rooms. Its flat top and bottom edges, however, make it easy to place the stick on its foot and hide the buttons from view. And unlike most remote controls, you can have it lying on your face and still look like a minimalist decor.
These are certainly interesting industrial design ideas that can have a calming effect on a technology-filled home. Most consumer technology companies, however, are unlikely to take an approach that will make their brand and design identity almost invisible. There are, of course, companies like IKEA and MUJI that specialize in such minimalist designs, and are gradually incorporating more intelligent features into their products, hopefully in a similar minimalist fashion.