They’re called Great Ball Contraptions. All they do is move miniature balls from one place to another–in the most complicated manner mechanically possible. For the Lego Technic-loving designer/engineer, they’re an elite, Rube Golderberg-esque litmus test of skills.
But one epic build by ‘Akiyuky’ may have just put all others to shame. It’s 100 feet of a ball-moving assembly line, constructed over 600 hours, with each new turn representing another ingenious mechanism in moving and sorting. My personal favorite moment happens about 2:00 in, as a triad of catapults launch the balls at a basketball hoop, but only those that make it move on to the next stage.
Any of us who talk about design on a daily basis inevitably focus on an idea of core elegance, when simplicity, efficiency, and functionality combine in a fundamentally beautiful product. It’s a fun wake-up call to remember just how much delight one can find in the total opposite end of the spectrum, that inefficiency, overwroughtness, and sheer organizational absurdity has its place in the joy of design, too.
That said, I do appreciate the fact that my phone doesn’t take me through this contraption every time I check my email. Though every once in a while, it wouldn’t be the worst thing.