Element of Surprise

bachelor thesis

14 weeks​


petter alfredsson


lund university​


spring 2015

It was quickly agreed that the Bachelor’s Project required an ample theme that we both found interesting. It also needed to include as many different design aspects as possible to create a comprehensive demonstration of our skills. One demarcation from the beginning was that we wanted to make several products which had to be tied together: design and build a pair of visually coherent functional products, which all contain a positive element of surprise that enhances the usability.

video  |  product showcase

A short video that aims to show the main features of the finished products and spike further curiosity.

the brief

Design and build a visually coherent pair of funtional products, which contain a positive element of surprise that enhances the usability.

research  |  defining the why and how

Why surprise?

  • It causes interest

  • Makes for a memorable and interesting experience

  • Causes learning and awereness

  • Makes emotions more intense (up to 400%)

  • Is often part of the best memories

  • Causes attraction toward the source of the surprise

to create surprise

One has to violate the subject's expectations. To achieve that, one firstly needs to specify what those are.

Target surprise attributes





  • Use surroundings

  • Fool the eye

  • Create false expectations

  • Change ordinary solutions

  • Fool the mind

    Around 400 answers

user survey

sketching process

At first the aim was to make three products: a backpack, headphones and a watch, but this was changed because of the time limit.

These are just some of the sketches generated during the 3-4 week ideation period.

prototyping  |  Testing & building

what we were after

A pair of easily foldable over-ear headphones.

what we were after

A backpack that becomes flat when empty.

development  |  details & features

hard & flat

Lots of trying and testing went into making the backpack ergonomic and comfortable despite its unusual design.

Making the headband fold into the headphones was a challenge, taking 4 weeks to solve.

folding mechanism

90 mm

Surprise - Headband Small.png
Surprise - Headband.png

Step 3

Step 1

Step 2

The inside of the headphones could only accomodate 90 mm, meaning the headband needed to extend by a factor of four.


Working through everything, both big and small, like the exact angle of the headpones or the shape of the metal lock on the backpack's strap.


final products  |  surprise & usability

Flat and light when empty, just as big as your things when full. Easy to store, easy to use.

the backpack


Pull apart to turn ON


Twist away from you


Put on head and pull

the headphones

Small and durable when closed, full-sized and comfortable when in use. Pull apart for ON, close for OFF.

Usability powered by surprise
When the novelty of the surprise wears off, you're left with products that are light, durable and made for mobility.