Chindogu: The Art of Bad DesignPosted: January 11, 2014
What kind of lecture allows you invent, and present: Glow -in-the-Dark Camouflage, The Penis-splint, and The front door Human-Flap?
In our Constellation Lecture taught by TheoHumphries, We learnt about chindogu.
Chindogu is the Japanese art of inventing unuseless items. Esssentially, a Chindohu is an invention that must serve it’s purpose whilst being such an inconvenience in another way, becomes unusable. In 101 Unuseless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindōgu:Kawakami, Papia (1995), one of the examples given is a toilet role dispenser for hay-fever sufferers,which sits atop a person’s head, attached at the chin.
In our lecture, we discussed chindogu at length and set about trying to invent our own, which might seem easy enough. However, Chindogu has a kind of constitution or ten commandments. Here are the Ten Tenets of Chindogu :
“ Every Chindogu is an almost useless object, but not every almost useless object is a Chindogu. In order to transcend the realms of the merely almost useless, and join the ranks of the really almost useless, certain vital criteria must be met. It is these criteria, a set of ten vital tenets, that define the gentle art and philosophy of Chindogu.
Here they are:
1. A Chindogu cannot be for real use
It is fundamental to the spirit of Chindogu that inventions claiming Chindogu status must be, from a practical point of view, (almost) completely useless. If you invent something which turns out to be so handy that you use it all the time, then you have failed to make a Chindogu. Try the Patent Office.
2. A Chindogu must exist
You’re not allowed to use a Chindogu, but it must be made. You have to be able to hold it in your hand and think ‘I can actually imagine someone using this. Almost.’ In order to be useless, it must first be.
3. Inherent in every Chindogu is the spirit of anarchy
Chindogu are man-made objects that have broken free from the chains of usefulness. They represent freedom of thought and action: the freedom to challenge the suffocating historical dominance of conservative utility; the freedom to be (almost) useless.
4. Chindogu are tools for everyday life
Chindogu are a form of nonverbal communication understandable to everyone, everywhere. Specialised or technical inventions, like a three handled sprocket loosener for drainpipes centred between two under-the-sink cabinet doors (the uselessness of which will only be appreciated by plumbers), do not count.
5. Chindogu are not for sale
Chindogu are not tradable commodities. If you accept money for one you surrender your purity. They must not even be sold as a joke.
6. Humour must not be the sole reason for creating a Chindogu
The creation of Chindogu is fundamentally a problem-solving activity. Humour is simply the by-product of finding an elaborate or unconventional solution to a problem that may not have been that pressing to begin with.
7. Chindogu is not propaganda
Chindogu are innocent. They are made to be used, even though they cannot be used. They should not be created as a perverse or ironic comment on the sorry state of mankind.
8. Chindogu are never taboo
The International Chindogu Society has established certain standards of social decency. Cheap sexual innuendo, humour of a vulgar nature, and sick or cruel jokes that debase the sanctity of living things are not allowed.
9. Chindogu cannot be patented
Chindogu are offerings to the rest of the world – they are not therefore ideas to be copyrighted, patented, collected and owned. As they say in Spain, mi Chindogu es tu Chindogu.
10. Chindogu are without prejudice