Invisible machines

The more perfect machines become, the more they are invisible behind their function. It seems that all man’s industrial effort, all his calculations and his nights spent poring over drawings, all these visible signs have as their sole end the achievement of simplicity. It is as if only the experimentation of several generations can define the curve of a column or a ship’s hull or an aeroplane fuselage, and give it the ultimate, elementary purity of the curve of a breast or a shoulder. On the surface it seems that the work of engineers, designers and research mathematicians consists only in polishing and refining, easing this joint and balancing that wing until there is no longer a wing joined visibly to a fuselage, but a perfectly developed form freed at last from its matrix, a spontaneous and mysterious whole with the unified quality of a poem. It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away. At the climax of its evolution, the machine conceals itself entirely.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars