A staircase that narrowly ascends to near oblivion, a watering can whose spout faces backward, a cement umbrella, open-toed rainboots, a fur-covered plate, a spiky wine glass, and a bowl with a perfectly round hole in the bottom. These are just some of the imaginary redesigns of formerly useful everyday objects in Athens-based architect Katerina Kamprani’s Uncomfortable series.
“KK decided to create and design for all the wrong reasons,” reads a brief intro to the project. “Vindictive and nasty? Or a helpful study of everyday objects? The goal is to re-design useful objects making them uncomfortable but usable and maintain the semiotics of the original item.”
On her Facebook page, Kamprani calls Uncomfortable “a collection of deliberately inconvenient everyday objects,” adding that it “started as a twisted sadistic design project. It messed up its creator’s head (and the heads of people she knows). It exists in sketches and 3-D visualizations and has no meaningful purpose. It’s a parasite in the world of materialism and design.”
I asked Kamprani to elaborate on her mind-bending conceit. “I first started the project for no apparent reason other than I wanted to design something, and making things uncomfortable was challenging and amusing to me,” she told me in an email. “While the project evolved steadily I found out other people have thought in a similar way (Jacques Carelman, Jeremy Hutchison, even Dominic Wilcox). … Lately my ideas have evolved into more surreal than uncomfortable, like the watering can, a bit more symbolic, it has no use at all.”
Doesn’t the world already have enough badly designed objects, either because of thoughtlessness or earnest design failures?
“Yes,” she said. “Especially devices and complex technology systems can be very frustrating even to power users. I guess a designer needs time and feedback to evolve systems that will feel as natural to the user as eating with a fork. My project is very carefully designed to annoy, it feeds from the design of each original object and makes a little joke. I am hoping it is not in the list of ‘another badly designed object’ but in the list of ‘extraordinary deliberately badly designed object(s).’”