Stupid Things and Smart Things


Usually when I surf through the CGTalk forum I see plenty of creativity when it comes to character design, but when it comes to products/objects what I find are mostly attempts to model real world designs. There are plenty of Mercedes this and Ferrari that, but relatively speaking very few original product designs. Thus it’s difficult to not appreciate Kadeg Boucher’s “stupid object #1 : Lawn Mower schumacher” (shown above). What a great piece. For more images, check out the thread on CGTalk (Link).

Boucher’s fanciful effort once again makes me wonder why corporations – in this case MTD, Toro, Snapper, John Deere and the rest – don’t add a little more flair to their products. To my consumer eye, those riding lawnmowers all look so… plain vanilla. This reminds me of those urban vinyl ketchup and mustard bottle sculptures that made regular condiment bottles seem excruciatingly stale. Must corporate product design be so utterly boring?

Well, we might get a chance to find out if “makers” are any more creative. A post on Design Sojourn reminded me of Bug Labs‘ modular, hackable, open source hardware platform. I first caught wind of the latest news over on the MIT Technology Review site (Link), but it’s been popping up across the net quite a bit lately. I’ll be interested in what develops; especially anything that might contribute to the Open Hardware Licensing effort (which, last I read, had begun to stall).

{Image Copyright © Kadeg Boucher}

7 thoughts on “Stupid Things and Smart Things

  1. strange I did not get a track back but got a ping back instead from your link. anyways continued our discussion on open source hardware on my post.

  2. Hello your comment is amazing.
    I will definitely read your blog..
    thank you again

    {ed. – I just had to let this one through. Hamster cage spam. Who’d a thunk the world would come to this?}

  3. Pingback: ironic design « Ghostfooting

  4. CSven,
    Wow, that’s an ugly machine. I argue on my blog that it’s successful because it hurts to look at — makes us feel pathos. It’s not an aesthetic success and it’s not fun — it’s an anti-aesthetic and anti-fun object, and that’s its big win. That title “stupid object#1” is too heavy handed, but the thing works well — just for reasons different than you’ve written here, I think.
    All best,

  5. I think you misinterpreted my reasons for posting this.

    Just as I don’t consider those ketchup and mustard bottles to which I refer serious designs (because there are probably plenty of practical issues with those shapes), I don’t consider this “fanciful” CG lawnmower to be a serious product design either. However, because it’s an image of a recognizable product, it *does* paint in stark relief just how aesthetically unimaginative the real things are. That was my primary reason for posting it. Nothing more.

    From what I read on your trackback, however, I think you’re taking it way too seriously. If I’d wanted to get all political, I’d have gone off not about aesthetics, but about why such a product is even necessary. A gasoline-powered machine? To keep lawns looking pretty? Lawns that require water which is in increasingly short supply? When people could use human-powered devices instead?

    Even I know when to lighten up.

    If this had been a real product design, I’d have raised just those issues. But it’s not. It’s just some guy having fun. Flying spaghetti monster help us if we forget how to do that.

  6. Ah, so. And right you are: fun don’t hurt a thing.

    But this lawn mower… it seriously picks at a wound in popular culture, and that deserves serious attention. I find this really meaningful for some reason.

    Thanks for posting it.


  7. It’s cool. And I fully understand from where this is coming as I’ve been peeking in on your blog. I’m with you, but I decided in the beginning to not get into that stuff here. If you think I can rant on intellectual property, just get me started on *those other things which shall remain unspoken*.

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