It's raining, it's pouring, what the heck does an old-man snoring have to do with this. Rain...it's one of the few things money can't buy, where there's no bribing Mother Nature. If there was, LA's drought would have ended year's ago.
While certain coordinates of the planet are dying of thirst, others are bloated. Where no mater how refreshing a thunderstorm may be, human's inherently want to protect themselves from the elements. Just imagine if everyone showed up the office soaking wet during April showers, get ready for that must-not-see wet T-shirt contest. Yuck! Well in order to combat this wetness a plethora of products have invaded the market, but none are as complacent as the umbrella. One might think the umbrella is some all-and-mighty devise, given its' popularity and prevalence in modern society. But in fact humans go through million of umbrella's every year. And as a result of their relatively easy manufacture-ability, umbrella's are easily broken and tossed in the trash. Even the fanciest of umbrella's life is very short, sometime a one-time use, kind of like a bandaid for the rain, where often times a bandaid last longer. However if it's raining "cats & dogs" this umbrella can be more valuable than gold.
The "re"-design of the umbrella seems like a good place to start... you have safer umbrella's that won't poke your eye out, windproof umbrellas, sword shaped umbrellas, light saber and flashlight umbrellas, umbrellas for couples and umbrellas for dogs, hands-free umbrellas, and most importantly umbrellas for Bill Murray's head. You have golf umbrellas and baby umbrellas. Basically envision an type of umbrella and it's most likely been created. Rihanna has her own umbrellas to match her hit song Umbrella, while Prince has purple umbrellas to match his Purple Rain. There are umbrellas that display art, porn, and project blue skies, clear umbrellas and bubble umbrellas for maneuvering, umbrellas that filter water and an umbrella that recycles newspaper for it's covering. Innovative indeed, but do they work? Will they withstand wind-gusts, hail, and actual rain? Will they not break in your bag or go unnoticed under the table.
Sure other options exist, but are they just as lack luster? Ponchos work, but are ugly and hot. Rain boots are fine, yet still on the verge of fashion. Children's rain condoms are in style in Japan, but what else is there? Why isn't there a pill that desensitizes your skin from the feeling of rain, wetness, and coldness; would it then become less bothersome? Why can't we just all go naked and get dressed at our destination inside? I call for some design thinking when it comes to rain. I'm sick of it always raining on my parade.
100 Objects of Popular and Material Culture is an blog exploring the manifestations of human consumption and commodity-ization. The purpose of this experiment is to explore material and popular culture in contemporary society by using objects and concepts to prompt wider questions and reflections. So by emulating The British Museum's and Neil MacGregor's format of A History of the World in 100 Objects I plan to satirically analyze and reinterpreted 100 material culture objects over the course of 2014. Material Culture is the study of our culture's consumption of stuff; namely the manifestation of culture through material productions where people's perceptions of objects is socially and culturally dependent. With this, objects reflect conscious and unconscious beliefs on the the individuals who fabricated, purchased, or used them, and by extension the society where they live. So examining materiality, cultural truths and societal assumptions may be discovered. As anthropologist Arjun Appaduai states "in any society the individual is often caught between the cultural structure of commodity-ization and his own personal attempts to bring a value and order to the universe of things." Objects and commodities make up a much larger symbolic system consisting of want and need, socio-economic status, fashion, etc. Often times form follows function whether the commodity, market, and or consumer forever evolve around one-another. Philosopher Pierre Bourdieu's theories of capital flow full circle; where regardless if you are a minimalist or a hoarder the world is made up of things and everyone will leave their footprint on the earth. So by humorously analyzing marketed objects and concepts, hopefully this blog will provide further incite into ideas of over-consumption, a disposable society, consumerism vs. anti-consumers, planned obsolescence vs. sustainability, as well as the greater good of mankind and future generations.