Uncomfortable by Design: A Series of Deliberately Inconvenient Everyday Objects

Designers are regularly called upon to develop innovative products for everyday problems. Thinking even further outside the box, one designer is working in reverse on innovative ways to problematize existing solutions with results that are “designed to annoy you.”

“This project started after I failed to finish my studies in industrial design around 2011,” explains Athens-based architect Katerina Kamprani, “and it has continued to grow ever since.” Forks, mugs, keys, watering cans, wine glasses, chairs, even staircases and doors — no household object is safe from her frustrating manipulations.

Sometimes, the twist is slight — rearranging the intersection of a broom and its handle, for instance, without changing either core element fundamentally. But this small change makes a big difference.

A redesign can also be dysfunctional while remaining aesthetically appealing, like a forked champagne flute or wrapped wine glass. It’s only when one thinks to drink that the problem becomes evident.

Kamprani’s goal is in part “to deconstruct the invisible design language of simple everyday objects and tweak their fundamental properties” in order to surprise and challenge observers.

But there is a method to the apparent madness, too — Kamprani also aims to evoke an appreciation of the “complexity and depth of interactions with the simplest of objects around us.”

Kamprani started out with 3D renderings of these irksome design objects, but is now also beginning to prototype some of them — so keep an eye out for new products at your local inconvenience store.

She has also exhibited her designs in cities around the world, including Athens, Berlin, Milan, Brussels and Lodz. For more of these confounding pieces, see her online gallery at The Uncomfortable.

  1. Sean

    Would this not be called “undesign”? Or “anti-design”? Excellent project. Gave me a laugh and an appreciation of what we take for granted.

  2. derek

    Given that this is the 99% Invisible urban infrastructure site, I was expecting an article about the city features designed to stop you resting too long, or at all: nooks in buildings retrofitted with pyramidal blocks to stop people settling in with a sleeping bag, or sloping seats you can kind of lean on, but can’t sit on properly, and certainly can’t lie down on.

  3. JamaicaJoe

    For anyone who has ever driven a sub compact car with basic features like no power windows or locks, you will appreciate how the designers place the mechanical controls like window winders in impossible positions. You are indeed punished for being frugal. Look at appliances and other products. Buy cheap and you will be punished.

  4. Karl

    If you like these, you’ll probably like the work of PUTPUT their work always raises a smile from me.

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