All of our projects generally focus around one main business objective or problem we’re trying to solve (e.g. for Pennzoil, make teenage driving safer; for Dell, promote their products through gamified experiences), which is why I have become so fascinated by Chindogu: the art of designing unuseless objects.
What is Chindogu?
Chindogu. Literally translated: unusual (chin) tool (dogu). There are 10 tenets that make up the ethos behind the creation of unuseless objects. A few of my favorites are Number 2: A chindogu must exist, and Number 7: Chindogu is not propaganda. Basically, they are products that can’t be sold, patented, offensive, or useful enough to use in everyday life.
According to our process, step one is discovery and ideation. We decided to try and come up with some ideas for weird tools of our own. Here are just a few of the ideas we came up with:
- Eye glasses with an awning/gutter
- Landline phone case
- Retractable keychain phone case
- Phone case salt and pepper shakers
- Cheeto Straw
- Portable/washable finger guards (for messy foods/kids)
- Portable drink holder/chiller
After initially brainstorming and getting suggestions from coworkers, I started sketching out some rough ideas.
After designing by hand, I decided to model out a few in Fusion 360, a 3D modeling program we frequently use . Fusion 360 is great for doing anything from small 3D printed parts to large scale experiential sets and builds.
Ultimately, I ran with the standing phone stand (bottom left in the sketches above for those keeping track at home). This device was the perfect chindogu, enabling users to access their full range of mobility while taking a conference call or Facetime. Plus, it’s ergonomic by design!
First I designed an attachment that would be compatible for a tripod we had lying around the office. I was sure to create 2 pieces that connected, ensuring that the end connected to the phone could tilt for maximum ergonomic support.
From there I 3D printed the head and attached two magnets.
After placing the complementary magnets on an iPhone case, the standing phone stand was born!
I even joined a conference call using my new device. Needless to say, my sitting coworkers were jealous. They didn’t say it. But they didn’t need to.
Thinking about problem solving through the lens of chindogu was an interesting challenge. Allowing yourself to come up with ideas that don’t really solve a problem is a good exercise and can help when it comes to solving real problems with real deadlines.
Generally speaking, brands are beginning to market more products outside of their core offerings and explore alternative lines of revenue (see: KFC’s merch and Netflix Socks). Whether it’s a gag product (like the ones listed here) or a real, practical product, companies of all industries should consider inventing over more traditional means of promoting.