Meaningful Interactions: Desktop Counter

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itpnyu designing meaningful interactions ux user experience design

Design a physical object that can sit on a desk that allows a user to count up and down…

Desktop Counter

My desktop counter design consists of a vertical dowel attached to a weighted base. Flat beads slot onto the dowel and stack on top each other. Counting is achieved by simply adding and removing beads.

The total height is about 250mm.

While the design ended up looking like a common toy for toddlers, my original inspiration came from thinking about prayer beads and abacuses.


The beads have varied designs. They can vary in shape, size, and material. The only requirement is that they have a hole matching the dowel diameter.

The simple physical design allows the user to decide how information will be encoded in the beads. The base and beads can be mix and matched to express the users aesthetic preferences.

  • Repetition and variation be used to signify specific amounts. eg every fifth bead can be a special color, while all other beads are identical
  • Bead selection can be purely ornamental while only the total count holds information. eg using only orange and black beads during Halloween.