Chindōgu originated in Japan and is characterized by the invention of ingenious everyday gadgets that seem to be ideal solutions to particular problems, but which, in fact, cause more problems than they solve.
Literally translated, chindōgu means unusual (珍, chin) tool (道具, dōgu). The term was coined by Kenji Kawakami, a former editor and contributor to the Japanese home-shopping magazine “Mail Order Life.” In the magazine, Kenji used his spare pages to showcase several bizarre prototypes for products. He named these gadgets “chindōgu”; Kawakami himself said that a more appropriate translation than “unusual tool” is “weird tool”. This special category of inventions subsequently became familiar to the Japanese people.
The International Chindogu Society was organized to popularize Chindogu worldwide. The society’s president Dan Papia is also a Chindogu expert. People who invent a Chindogu can post their success on the society’s website, which features frequently asked questions and a contact page, so anyone can get involved. At the moment, the society is small, but they are always looking for new members. The society’s “Ten Tenets of Chindogu” are also listed on their website.
The Chindōgu Society developed ten tenets of Chindōgu. The tenets function explain the principles (spirits) on which chindogu products should be based, which inspires designers and users to think about the deep core of design in general. The ten tenets require that a Chindōgu
— Cannot be for real use
— Must exist
— Must be a spirit of anarchy
— Is a tool for everyday life
— Is not a tradeable commodities
— Must have resulted only from an exercise of humor
— Is not propaganda
— Is not taboo
— Cannot be patente
— Is without prejudice