London-based artist Dominic Wilcox sees potential for improvement in all aspects of life, whether it’s a GPS for remembering names in social situations or a work desk that could be a future coffin for “those who work hard all their lives and then die.” The whimsical, but clever, invention ideas are illustrated in his new book Variations on Normal published last month in the UK by Square Peg.
A self-published version of the book was released by Wilcox back in 2012, and this new hardback has 28 more “absurd and odd yet strangely logical invention drawings,” as he puts it. For example, there are companion rings you could wear with your engagement ring that hold up miniature billboards to draw attention to the diamond, genetically modified square peas that don’t roll all over your plate, a table that handily screws into a shoe, and a whirling ride meant to strengthen the grip of people with weak handshakes as they hold on for dear life.
Wilcox doesn’t just draw these inventions, he actively brings makes them into the physical world. His 2014 “Binaudios : The sounds of a city” installed at Sage Gateshead in England has two massive listening cones built like tourist binoculars that you can point at different parts of the city to hear their local noise. He also made a teacup with a cooling fan that modified a Wedgwood cup and saucer, GPS shoes that guide you home with LED lights embedded in the leather, gold-leafed luxury skimming stones, and a Tree Branch Work Desk so his studio could be anywhere (at least anywhere with trees). This month at the London Design Festival, he’s unveiling his stained glass car as part of an exhibition curated by Dezeen and MINI Frontiers. Like the other inventions, the fragile car might seem outrageously impractical at first, but reflects a grounded interest, here in how a future of safer automated cars could bring more experimental design to transit.
You can see more of Wilcox’s humorous, but slyly smart, inventions animated in the video below.