Chindogu: Un-Useless Design

When we were introduced to speculative design and the readings from the past week or so, we observed and thought about how design can be used to better the future and prevent or solve problems of the possible future(or present). For some reason though, this made me think of something that was the complete opposite of what speculative design might be. Chindogu, which was created by Japanese artist Kenji Kawakami, is the art of designing inventions that solved non-existent problems, but wasn’t completely useless either. It has since grew in popularity, with people such as entrepreneur Matty Benedetto being one of the leading figures in creating “un-useless inventions.” Such inventions would attempt to solve “problems” that didn’t really exist or could be solved in a much better way, and were mainly created for entertainment rather than functionality. Some would even appear reasonable at first, but upon closer inspection would be seen as quite useless or unnecessary. Several of these “un-useless inventions” include a solar-powered flashlight, a shoe-brella (mini umbrellas for your shoes), a toilet paper hat, and a pair of Croc-gloves.

Although the art of Chindogu isn’t necessarily about designing to eliminate or solve critical problems of the future, through this art we can see how design can be used even in the smallest and common aspects of life, as well as how imagination can be used to fuel art and design in everyday items and also for the future.

Check out Kawakami’s useless inventions and the history of Chindogu here, as well as Matty Benedetto’s unnecessary inventions here.

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