No more boring black boxes.

I/O is an aesthetic exploration formed around the idea of transparency in consumer electronic enclosures. Boring black boxes are widely considered to be the norm within the industry, and its often the default behaviour of new technology companies to pack a PCB in a plain black plastic box. This quick project explores the notion of exposing the technology to the user in a interesting manner through the design of a TV set-top box.

Exposing the technology.

This project stems from a single question: Can you create a consumer electronic product that highlights the technical components rather than hiding them? Similar to the old CRT iMac’s I wanted to focus on designing an object that uses the technology as a design element rather than something to mask through form.

Through the use of translucent material the intricacies of the printed circuit board can be showcased to create a unique technical aesthetic. PCB’s are traditionally hidden from the user creating a disconnect with the operation of the product and the technical mechanics. Could this thinking be applied to a mass produced piece of electronics and still fit into a contemporary living space?

Creating a strong gesture.

The design language of I/O emanates from the idea of a large window into the operations of the device. The proportions were developed based around the notion of maintaining a raw architectonic form while highlighting the input / output and interaction points of the product through colour. This offset input / output area was the primary starting point for the development of the design language

Highlighted interfacing area.

Although this product remains static I wanted to create an emphasis around the primary interaction area. The input / output ports are confined to the offset perforated area of the enclosure. This formal blocking allows for the port area to be highlighted through the use of the coloured anodized aluminum casing.

Functional Display

The micro perforations on the offset area allow for a detailed dot-matrix display. This display can be used to display the objects state and various interaction callouts. The use of these perforations enable the display to disappear into the objects form when not in use. The lighting feature also allows the product state to be readily visible in a darkened room.

Minimal Silhouette

The geometry of the device was intended to create a strong recognizable product silhouette from any viewpoint. The base of the device continues this theme through the transition of the soft circular foot to the strong rectilinear surface. The foot of the device was designed to incorporate a subtle ventilation feature as well as the product branding and registration labels.

Technology in context.

Despite the technical aesthetic of the design, the object itself still fits well into many contemporary living spaces. The design is reminiscent of a vintage record player and the corresponding frosted enclosure slightly distorting the enclosed record label. The translucent acrylic allows for the colour of the room to be projected throughout the negative space of the enclosure. This play in colouration creates an interesting formal relationship between the object and it’s surroundings.