Although it might seem like it, controllers for different devices and gadgets are actually designed to help make users’ lives easier. The overwhelming number of buttons on a traditional TV or set-top box remote, for example, are there to give nearly instant access to functions without having to dig your way through menus. Needs and trends change over time, however, and devices need to adapt with them, just like how those TV remotes have become significantly minimal, some with no more than five buttons. There are controllers, however, that can’t really be distilled down to half a dozen switches and buttons. Complicating matters is how different people might have different ideas on how to best use those controls. Straddling the fine line between those two camps, this design concept puts users in complete control of one of the busiest controllers in the market.
Designer: Marko Filipic
When there are so many things happening quickly that need your attention, the last thing you need is to fiddle with menus to remain in control. Sometimes, you don’t even get a few seconds to think about your next move and just function on autopilot. This is often the case with complicated controllers like the decks that DJs use to mix, scratch, and direct the flow of music at any given moment. A deck controller would have dozens of buttons, sliders, switches, and dials, but not everyone uses those same controls in the same way all the time.
This modular controller concept brings one of the rising trends in product design to the world of DJing, allowing the user to decide exactly how to arrange those controls or which ones to actually have present in the first place. The idea is to have a platform where one can easily add, remove, or relocate those gizmos where they’re most convenient. There are parts that are permanently attached to the deck, like the two large dials on each side, but the rest is fair game for the DJ.
This design is made possible by a grid of Pogo connectors in the middle of the deck, similar to those gold dots you’d find in older smartwatches as well as tablet keyboard covers. Here you can make any arrangement of buttons, sliders, and dials, some of which take up more than one “block” on that grid. In a way, it becomes a fun puzzle activity for DJs to build their own personalized deck.
The base design for this modular DJ controller leans more towards minimalist trends with its white coating and lack of decorations. Admittedly, this might look a little out of place among a DJ’s other tools, so there’s also a variant that brings those familiar accent lighting on a predominantly black deck, a better representation of a DJ’s vibrant and unpredictable style.
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