Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things
It is legendary in my family that my mother-in-law once received a vacuum cleaner as a gift from her husband. She was not amused. The brand name was Regina, and she forever called it the Ra-GYN-a (rhymes with vagina).
So it was with a sense of evil wit that my husband gave me a Dirtdevil Kone, designed by Karim Rashid, for my recent birthday. (I also got an iPhone and three silk scarves, so all is forgiven.) The size and shape of a witch’s hat, the Kone is a hand-held cordless vacuum cleaner that you can, according to the product literature, “proudly display in any room.” (Try keeping it next to your bed.) The vacuum unit rests in a charging station, where it softly glows as it continuously absorbs power. (Plug it into a switched outlet to save energy.)
Although the Kone is pretty fun to use, its pure sculptural form pays scant tribute to the human hand. No grips, curves, or indentations offer purchase to your palms or fingers, so the weight of it threatens to pull away from you during use. In order to recharge the unit, you must perfectly align the vacuum cleaner and the base, but the Kone’s abstract volume offers no guidance. (I’ve learned to line up a tiny logo printed on the back of the vacuum with the connector slot hidden in the base.)
The Kone, it turns out, is has a feminine counterpart, the Kurve, with a sexy hourglass figure. While the Kone more or less succeeds as a piece of functional sculpture, the Kurve veers more towards kitsch.
Meanwhile, JC Penney is running an internet ad about a hapless husband who gives his wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. Start making your list and checking it twice…— Ellen Lupton · 2008-12-14