From 3D Artistry to Mechanical Mastery: 'The Knob' Keyboard by Ben Fryc.

From 3D Artistry to Mechanical Mastery: 'The Knob' Keyboard by Ben Fryc.

Client

Concept

Category

#Industrial Design

#Keyboard

#Commercial

Knob Keyboard Concept

About the project

The Knob / k•no•b•1 is a low-profile mechanical keyboard being designed and developed by 3D Artist and Motion Designer Ben Fryc. Evoking the look of both classic and modern technology, the k•no•b•1 is designed to be a beautiful and functional part of your every day workflow.

What sparked this project?

Knob started as a personal project to explore visualizing fantastical technology with small motion experiments. It gave birth to the k•no•b•1 keyboard concept. I've pushed into making the keyboard a reality and hope to ship the keyboard by the end of 2024.

What is your approach to working on a project like this? Do you follow a specific process or framework?

Gathering inspiration and moodboarding the Knob concept series was what led to the keyboard. I don't follow a rigid process for creating my personal artwork. I just vibe on ideas and create iterative improvements as I grow and learn.

Early Concept

Early Concept

Early Concept

Initial Moodboard

Initial Moodboard

What did the early versions of this project look like? What did you learn from this v1?

Early versions of the keyboard included keycaps that were larger than standard. I had to go back and refine my layout in Figma and then remodel the keyboard from scratch. Now the keycaps follow the standard sizing and placement. Following standards for things like a keyboard ensures it will have broader appeal.

"Following standards for things like a keyboard ensures it will have broader appeal."

What was the biggest challenge? Did any part of the project make you step out of your comfort zone?

Designing a physical product that you intend to build means you need to consider real-world constraints like available components, cost, complexity, and fit. I'm definitely not a technical person, but I've had to look at way more technical schematics than I ever have before.

Iterations

Iterations

How did you overcome this challenge?

Persistence and curiosity helped me get over the hurdles and resulted in a more viable design concept.

What and/or who inspired you during the creation of this project?

Work from companies like Apple, Braun, and Teenage Engineering. They care not only about the function of something, but the outward appearance as well.

Initial Moodboard

Initial Moodboard

Initial Moodboard

What was your biggest learning or take-away from creating this project?

The project isn't over yet! And likely never will be. Future versions of the keyboard will change from lessons I have learned so far. In the end though, making the keyboard means making compromises. It won't be for everybody, and that's okay.

Can you point out a detail in the project that might go unnoticed but you’re particularly proud of?

The keycap radius, the gaps, and the enclosure radius match with each other. They feel like extensions of the keycap shape. Cohesive.

"In the end though, making the keyboard means making compromises. It won't be for everybody, and that's okay."

Which part of this project consumed the most time or energy?

Researching existing parts for the screen and knobs was time consuming. Hours browsing suppliers on sites like Alibaba. Had help from a few folks who reached out on social media. Adjusting the design to match these parts is a struggle because you want to retain your original vision.

What was the result of this project?

I've seen my posts reach 100's of thousands of people in terms of views. Almost a thousand people have signed up to get updates on the project via my website. I'm working to make keyboard available next year sometime and it's going to be wild to see something I designed on my computer in real life.

Where was the project created? What do you enjoy about working there?

I had a feature of my workspace a while back here: https://www.workspaces.xyz/p/131-ben-fryc?utm_source=url I work from my basement and have a cozy corner to work in. It lets me focus and keeps me close to my family.

Workspace

Workspace

If this project had a soundtrack, which one would it be?

Which tools did you use to create this project?

Figma - layout and concepts

Plasticity - modeling and CAD files

Cinema4D & Redshift - rendering and animation

What are you currently working on, and what's next?

The Knob concept series will continue with my sound design collaborator Joseph Sims. I have some design decisions to make on the keyboard regarding the software and hardware internals. More to share there soon.

Who or what are you inspired by lately? Any current influences that you find are seeping into your work

I'm inspired by Daniel Lepik who has such a great eye for composition and lighting. Carl Hauser is also an influence. Love his work on the CS-500 watch concept. DNA from so many others. Hard to keep track of it all.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice about navigating the design world, what would it be?

Do more personal work. It opens more doors than your paid work might. It also helps you to push yourself and do things you want to do.

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