Chindogu: The Art of Bad Design

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


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