[-empyre-] "Chindogu" and re-design
kusahara at waseda.jp
Tue Nov 24 11:03:35 EST 2009
As Renate introduced me in her email, I am currently in LA.
During the weekend as we cycled around in our neighborhood, my partner
found a book "99 More un-useless Japanese Inventions", a sequel of
"Chindogu" at a yard sale and bought it for 50 cents. What a bargain
It is funny, because we have been recently talking about the strange
"Japanese" inventions by this author, in relation to questions I
almost always get when I give a presentation on Device Art, the
project I have been working with my colleague artists and engineers.
The strange thing is that although the term "chindogu" is not part of
our language (while we understand what it means by seeing the Chinese
characters) it seems to be now widely accepted as a Japanese concept.
These inventions were originally introduced in English. So, until
recently (until the author started showing up on variety shows on
Japanese TV) almost no one in Japan knew about it.
A typical reaction of Japanese when asked about the concept from
"foreigners" is: "What is that? I hope you don't think we are really
using such crazy things! This is a joke!)
Recently I heard that in UK this book is widely used in design
education, as a key concept to "re-design" things, i.e. to design
Playfulness is a very important part of Japanese culture, but I still
feel rather uncomfortable when I hear people praise "chindogu" as a
representation of Japanese creativity.
Each time when asked I need to explain what are the differences
between "chindogu" and our Device Art.
Yes, we design things that are not "practical" from coorporate point
of view, but we are not joking.
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