Nonobject: designporn-satire

In my literature review, I came across Nonobject.  It seemed like a good book, by the title it appeared to be like Abstracting Craft, or a discussion of de-materialization of products.  It’s not.  It’s a book of designporn-satire.  The stuff inside is actually valuable from the point of poking a little fun at design, but there are a few really good product ideas lurking inside.

It’s got a foreword by Bill Moggridge, who is a great functional designer and human interface expert, and he reflects on the magic of Naoto Fukasawa’s design, self-described as “tension,” and contrasted with Dieter Rams’ philosophy of “less, but better” (which I think is good design’s essence).

And then it goes into designporn satire.  It’s 90% satire, and 5% good ideas.  The remaining 5% is something indeterminate—good ideas gone wrong, or bad ideas gone good, like Double Time (111) [bad design gone good] or Inner Time (156-157) [good design gone bad].

As for really good ideas worth pulling out, Climatology (70-72) really does depict the future of interfaces.  Interfaces now are for the most part discrete, and digital (in the sense of being this or that, 16C instead of slightly on the cool side).  In their vision of “User interface tomorrow”, it’s ubiquitous, integrated into the environment, and a bit more open to interpretation—good sailing weather instead of 12mi/hr winds.

Most of the design is fanciful—flatware more insane than the comically unusable (yet completely serious) Curveware; Kisha Unbrella (68-69), an inverted umbrella which collects and discharges rainwater through the handle, and bicycles which can’t be ridden.  But there are some cool things here: the enLighten Switch (100-101), which is rather like Ingrid Zwefel’s Stress Press; the Optimum flashlight (122-123), where the form follows the innards (the batteries define the shape of the flashlight); and the Rawphisticated Cell phone, which pays homage to Naoto Fukasawa’s potato inspired cell phone and iconic Infobar cell phone.

If you have the 20 minutes to spare, leaf through this for some inspiration.