Third Contest: Viridian Teakettle
The winner of the Viridian Teakettle Contest is Ocean Quigley,
whose work was found to be "previously unimaginable." Ocean Quigley's
contest prize is a big hefty copy of Art Nouveau
by Gabriele Fahr-Becker.
Entries in the Viridian Teakettle Design Contest:
Original "Teakettle" Announcement
And now, for the details of our third Viridian design contest, which
is our most ambitious yet.
As we all know, the Viridian Design Movement does not in fact exist.
The long torrent of rhetoric consuming your attention to date is a mere
*beta pre-release* of a *possible* 21st century design movement.
Real design movements ship. They create actual designed products. A
real-world Viridian product design company would be a very fine thing.
I even understand how one goes about founding and running such an enterprise.
It has a lot to do with tedious minutiae such as "prototyping," "licensing,"
"sourcing," "pricing," "distribution," and "advertising," not to mention
employee relations, taxes, incorporation, trademarks, patents, and return-on-investment.
Running a commercial manufacturing firm is an attention-vampire of the
first order. Becoming the CEO of a design firm is just not within the
Pope-Emperor's realm of possible activity.
However. Real designers also throw public exhibits where they gallantly
show off their wares. Here we perceive some interesting Viridian potential.
While we can't manufacture and sell commercial products, creating fake
*mockups* of *imaginary Virid ian products* might well be within our grasp.
Sometime in the year 02000 (assuming we make our ideological deliverables
on January 3), we might conceivably create and throw a public Viridian
exhibit, a futurist conceptual-art parody of a real design show.
This "Viridian Imaginary Products Exhibit" would be open to the public.
It might be rather similar in spirit to the "Art of Star Wars" show, where
everyone knows that the rayguns and blast-shields aren't real or functional,
but they all go anyway, jus t because everything looks so cool.
Finding a friendly gallerist and a suitable display space is not beyond
our ability. This effort would be time-consuming; it would require funding,
budgeting, coordination and a lot of organizational overhead; but not
crushing amounts. Best of all, the project would be swiftly over with.
The central challenge here is finding Viridian product designers, and,
especially, some hands-on Viridian model- makers. People, in other words,
who can dream this stuff up, and successfully fake it for us, so that
physical Viridian objets d'conceptua l art can be shipped to some central
locale for public display.
To manage this proposed event, we would have to assemble a core "Star
Chamber" of inner-circle Viridian volunteers. This means investing large
amounts of creative effort and attention. We would endeavour to supply
some glory and prestige to voluntee rs. Your name would prominently pasted
on the vitrine, you'd receive some groovy citation in the accompanying
glossy catalog.... And, who knows, there might be weird and the designer/builder
team could sell the model afterwards for a hefty sum to some cr azed sci-fi
There might be some modest sums of expense money involved in throwing
this event, but I can almost guarantee you that the money would not make
it worth your while.
Is such an event in fact possible for us? Well, we'll never find out
without experimenting. The third Viridian Contest is meant to winkle out
public-spirited people who might have what it takes to put such an effort
Hence, the Viridian Teakettle Contest.
Teakettles are, of course, highly cliched designer objects. Everybody
in the world has done the teakettle, the chair, and the CD-rack. I've
heard it said by designers I respect that anyone who does another teakettle
should be immediately shot. But ! Teakettles have the advantage of being
well understood and something of a
This contest is not about designing a real teakettle. We don't need
a teakettle that works. *None* of the Imaginary Viridian Products are
going to work.
What we want at this point in time is a website *picture* of a teakettle,
a schematic diagram of sorts, a graphic guide for a teakettle model-maker.
In this contest, we want you to *set-design* a fake teakettle.
This 21st-century Viridian teakettle has to look *like no teakettle
has ever looked before.* We don't want clip-art, a pastiche, or a cut-and-paste
postmodern object. No. Our noble purpose here to publicly exhibit a *previously
unimaginable Viridian design aesthetic.*
Here is the design philosophy behind the teakettle; your character motivation,
as it were.
To quote our Viridian principles (see Note
00003): "Seek the Biomorphic and the Transorganic." "Datamine Nature."
"The Biological Isn't Logical."
Like the century-old designs of Art Nouveau, the Viridian Teakettle
seeks aesthetic novelty through the exploitation and adaption of forms
found in nature. We then must ask: what forms of nature have never before
been used as design elements? And where in nature is there anything remotely
like a teakettle?
The answer to both questions is: abyssal vents. I refer to hot volcanic
crevices at the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by previously unknown,
chemosynthetic life forms. These unique and extremely weird biomes were
not even discovered by the human race until 1979. I can absolutely guarantee
you that Belle Epoque designers had never heard of these particular forms
in nature. These are artistically unexploited natural forms.
The unique creatures in abyssal vents exist in crushing pressure, in
total darkness (except for the sinister glow of hot lava), and sure enough,
just like teakettles, the vents sit there piping out boiling water through
long stone spouts, in a cheer ful, complex chemical stew. Life thrives
there, devouring microbial sulfur, and bathing round-the-clock in clean
Here are a pair of websites where you can acquaint yourself with such
inspirational abyssal anomalies as: clams full of hemoglobin, giant tubeworms
that have no mouths or guts, dandelion jellyfish, "black smoker" volvanic
vents, and big blind prawns.
One might further note that arcane sulfur-gobbling chemosynthesis is
quite the inspiration for a high-tech 21st century "teakettle." In the
future, crude, vegetal, semi-toxic tea leaves will be forced to undergo
unheard-of osmotic, catalytic and filtration processes inside our chemically
sophisticated, fully-monitored, 21st-century, teakettle brewing-chambers.
Please don't worry about stark Modernist efficiency here. "The Biological
Isn't Logical." Go wild. We want a show-stopper with this teakettle, an
item of stunning astonishment. Push the technonatural envelope. Your only
design constraint is that your design can't be a mere cyberspatial fantasy.
We require a product design that can plausibly exist in 3 dimensions and
fit inside a glass case.
If this contest works out, we will follow it with a new and unprecedented
Viridian Construction Contest, where we try to persuade people to *build
a physical model* of your design.
Now for the valuable winner's prize. It is: ART
NOUVEAU by Gabriele Fahr-Becker. This Teutonically thorough and richly
illustrated 425-page tome is the best single book I've ever seen on the
Art Nouveau movement.
It covers the whole Belle Epoque crowd and their fellow travellers: Charles
Rennie Macintosh, Hector Guimard, Rene Lalique, Alfonse Mucha, Emile Galle',
Louis Majorelle, Victor Horta, the rather little-known but seriously incredible
Carlo Bugatti, A ntoni Gaudi, Peter Behrens, Henry van de Velde, Akseli
Gallen-Kallela, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Otto Wagner, etc etc... Plus a
bibliography,a glossary, and set of brief artist's bios that pretty much
beats the band.
We're getting into deep hot water now, so this is our finest contest
prize to date. Why, I can scarcely lift this great, whopping, expensive,
glossy book, and better yet, it's out of print. Put your teakettle design
up on the web where we can all se e it and marvel. The creator of the
most biomorphic, transorganic, visually unprecedented, geothermal-abyssal
teakettle will take this book away.
All other contest contributors will, as usual, receive a handsome star
>*< for their log-in name.
If you have no idea what these Art Nouveau guys were up to, or just
how odd and refreshing artifacts can look when they take organic forms
seriously, then I suggest running those above artists' names through a
search engine. (Especially Gaudi and Gui mard.) Or you can start here:
This contest embraces decay on March 6, 01999. I look forward to seeing
your effort. Good luck!