6. Design that has unexpected surprises.

unforeseen | astonishing | bewildering | easter eggs | scary sudden perplex | baffling | confusing | layers of details | hidden value | added value | story telling | user experience

Thoughts and examples in the comments.


I already made a post about ‘easter eggs’, I tink it’s a good example of a hidden design.

Pizza Planet truck appears in pretty much every Pixar movie

Here is a big article about all that: List of Pixar film references

Remy the rat is running around in Ratatouille, it’s Dug the dog from Up who scares him off.

Another interesting example: There’s a Hidden Movie in The Simpsons, and a Hidden Language in Futurama

Remember Rainier Wolfcastle, the Schwartzenegger-esque action star who’s been showing up in The Simpsons since Season 2? Early appearances feature clips of Wolfcastle playing his most famous character, a loose cannon detective named McBain. You see him for a few seconds at a time as characters watch his movies in the background:

It turns out that if you put together the various McBain clips aired between 1991 and 1993, they actually form a coherent plot with a beginning, middle and end. Someone took the trouble to edit them together.

But when it comes to unnecessarily complicated yet stealthy animated Easter eggs, you have to tip your hat to Futurama. In many episodes, you can see random icons appearing in the background — like some sort of alien language — such as the graffiti you see here:
Guess what? These are all fully translatable. There are actually two alien languages in the show: The first one is exactly like our alphabet only with different symbols, but the second one is a more complex code where the letters have numerical value and the “next letter is given by the summation of all previous letters plus the current letter.”
If you’re surprised that the writers of a comedy show would go through the effort of creating new language just to use it for some background jokes, that’s not even the nerdiest/most pointless thing they’ve done. Futurama writers also invented a new math theorem.
In a recent episode, all the characters switch bodies using a body-switching machine, but then it turns out the machine can’t switch the same two people more than once. In order to figure out a way to get all 10 or so characters back into their original bodies, one of the writers created a new math formula, and it actually works. They even showed the full formula in the episode, in case you don’t believe them:

Source and some more examples here.

And some more examples about logos

Here 1 There
(face & dogs)

Black Cat
(cat’s eyes)

(playing with the letter d)


(negative space between the arrows)

Helping Hands for Pets
(the animals)

Shit Talking
(the pic of the toilet)

Old Drunk

Kolner Zoo

Galant Shoes

(black moon, a shoe and G inside)

My Fonts

(the pic of a hand in the first letters)


Lion Bird



Oak Bros
(three small silhouettes)

Hidden Cork


Ant the rest here, a really interesting collection of logos

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8 Responses to 6. Design that has unexpected surprises.

  1. http://lovelypackage.com/pappeltalks/

    Check out this link.. i think its hidden design/ surprise summed up..

    • Avatar of Ann Brown says:

      This is a great example, I love it and agree sums up our point about unexpected surprises. Quite clever this one, I like it.

    • Avatar of Ann Brown says:

      Likewise this one, good example, I agree. Almost feels a bit retro this one, in a good way. I like the idea that each person would scratch it off differently and end up owning something slightly different to everyone else.

  2. Avatar of daniel daniel says:

    Hei Sophie, both these post were great :)
    The Design really surprised me, and the feed back you receive from interaction it’s really “H-idden” and Unexpected. Good work.

    I add this one too:

    It’s called “book of light” and it’s part of a serie designed and created by Takeshi Ishiguro for Artecnica. This is based upon the idea the a book isn’t just a simple book, but it can always surprise us. This one is at the same time a precious volume, a pop up book and a well designed led desk lamp

  3. wow, so does it actually work as a lamp? its a pretty good one. ‘H-eeeden’ surprise..

  4. Avatar of daniel daniel says:

    yes, it works as a lamp as well…H-eeeeden surprise

Leave a Reply to daniel Cancel reply