We all have our own definitions of “good” design, but what do we call it when the designer is making products that are intentionally terribly difficult to use? Katerina Kamprani has designed a line of home products that, while technically still functional, are quite awkward.
The Uncomfortable Project is an ongoing experiment in proper design and how we view the objects that don’t quite live up to our standards. She asks if the designer of such difficult-to-use objects is malicious, or simply helping consumers to look at their belongings in different ways.
The goal of the project is to make products that can be used, but make the user incredibly uncomfortable to do so. A spoon with a guard at the scoop end that prevents anything from actually sliding off of it, a fork several inches thick that couldn’t be used to spear food, a pouring pot with the spout facing toward the handle and the user…the products do seem a little malicious in nature at times.
Some of our favorites are the rain galoshes with no toes and the concrete umbrella. Both are recognizable for their intended uses but humorous in their reimagined forms.
Like all good design, Kamprani’s creations make us stop and think for a moment about their form and function. They certainly represent a function, but their form is unexpected. Does that make them any more or less desirable? Or does it make us question the form and function of the normal objects they are modeled after?
Kamprani’s project serves to point out that the items we use daily are designed for our comfort and benefit. They could take on other forms, but to what end? Would we be less likely to use a chair if we had to balance gingerly on its arched seat? Probably so, and that would drive the invention of a more user-friendly, comfortable design. And this, of course, is part of the project’s message.