Posted by: nastypen | April 24, 2007

Industrial Design and the Progress of Mankind

You know you are old when you have memories of channel surfing the television by turning the knob. When I was young, I love the feel of that knob as I search for Inday Badiday and her gossip show with the future Vice President of the Philippines Noli de Castro voicing over an interesting segment about funeral parlors’ make-up artists.Those were the days.

Then came the advent of the remote control. It was the 80s and the remote control was beginning to latch on the Philippine market. I remember thinking you are rich if your TV had remote control. It was progress, baby. And the remote control looked like a coffin for your pet gerbil at that time.

I remember at the fourth grade, my science teacher Ms. Ybanez, who had a penchance for white nail polish and hot pink lipstick (like I said, it was the 80s) discussing with disdain in her tone about the remote control. She diverted her discussion about wind vanes to the remote control.

Her eyebrows dove into that valley of her crumpled nose as she was forecasting that everyone will be lazy because of the remote control. “I won’t have it,” I remember her saying, “It’ll make me not move from the sofa to the tv and I will be lazy.”

I want to find that teacher of mine and search her house. I bet she has that irritating magic sing karaoke contraption aside from the numerous remote controls for the TV, DVD, aircon, etc. Flip the switch, bitch?

The remote control has changed across the years, becoming more elaborate and ergonomic. If you lose it, it is like losing your car keys and panic that you won’t be able to live and scream at the household help to look for it.

To me, progress is reflective of these tools that suppose to make your life easier. Or if ms. Ybanez is to be believed…to make you lazy. Industrial design is one of the most-ignored art form but it is truly the catalyst for modern creature comforts.

The computer you are now facing. The cellphone on your pocket. The chair you are sitting on. These are products of industrial design. You do not discount these things because these are the tiny details that define our place in time.

Be that as it may, I am astounded at the cache of things that supposedly make our lives easier. Recently, I was with a friend buying her curtain rods. We went into this hardware store, the first time I set foot inside the world of manly practicalities and perceived utilitarianess in years. I saw some drills. I saw some big industrial fans being picked by this family. I heard the mother retort that it was too hot and if the kids still complain of the heat with this fan plastered in their room, she wouldn’t know what to do next. So, people enter this hardware store for those things that make one’s life easier.

I was looking for stuff that make me feel that make my life easier. I couldn’t find it until these things just stopped me dead in my tracks. It could classify as stupid inventions but anthropologists and archeologists in the future will imagine our society as they sift through the dust and find these things.

What will the future say about us in light of these gadgets?

In this day and age of multi-tasking, a parent with his/her toddler child in the mall has to go through the goods but wants to be assured that the child is safe:

Wrist buddy

Nothing says “I love you” to a child like being leashed like an animal.

My little sister was a victim of this leash….or “wrist buddy.” It is like calling an axe the “wedge contraption.” Poor kid. My elder sister and I were laughing at her as she is being dragged by mom with this child leash. I think my mom got that to fit in the American sense of child-rearing when went there. At least that leash was raspberry in color. It was only used once. I don’t know if my little sister was emotionally scarred by this humiliation.

This one I wanted to buy for the sheer absurdity:

bag cutter-clip?!?!?!

I almost always had a hard time opening potato chip bags. With me, the bags would end up looking like it was opened by a hungry grizzly bear or it could explode all over the place. This will be great for those small parties with the guests exalting “How neat the potatp chip bags have been opened! Wow! Such cleanliness of lines!”

And it’s a clip/ refrigerator magnet, too! Maybe a message about eating healthy could be posted there, too.

This one baffled me:

what the?!?!?!?!

Why are the dog and cat smiling at the packaging with all those hearts, too? As if the pets give a shit whether their bags have a “smart cap.” Wow. Itmakes the pet food bag look like one of those classy orange juice boxes from the states which I can barely afford. Well, some dogs out there lead more beautiful lives than I do. This gadget is just a tip of the iceberg of industries catering to pets. I interviewed a Japanese pet owner who insists that her pooch wear Giorgio Armani shirts (I SWEAR TO GOD!) because she is cold. Ok…….

I wish I had this when growing up:


I can’t count how many times my hands, limbs, feet were banged by a closing door. It’s amazing I still have my appendages intact. However, growing up with “dead” fingernails and toenails are character-building. Furthermore, this will obliterate any chances of dramatic slamming of doors from an angry child screaming “I hate you!” at a parent for making him/her eat broccolli.

Ahhhh……and then there’s this one:

soxk holder

I hate it that I always lose pairs of socks. I once wore mismatched pairs of socks because I love the patterns, but each lost the other sock. So, now I wear black argyle sock on my left with the red argyle sock on the left. This product seems to be ok but I don’t have space in my sock drawer.

And then there is this cute thing:

Page Pal

Wow. this is great for encoders out there. Perhaps, this is great at the kitchen to hold those sheets of recipies. Perhaps, this is great for law students to have as they try to gobble down their breakfast as they read reams upon reams of laws.

But I can’t possibly think of purchasing this as part of my desk. I dread the day that I will find holding papers tiresome.

So what will they come up next? I saw fly swatters in the shape of tennis rackets sold in the mall. I once owned a lint remover.

Still, I wonder….is progress equated with more stuff invented/designed and marketed in a way that you FEEL that you NEED these in the first place?



  1. Innovation’s probably the best or worst thing that’s happened to us. It’s either we’ve gone forward in simplifying everyday life or that we have gone backward in the way we solve problems. A child leash? Please.

    I may just be taking a hammer to the lint brush I own. Masking tape works a helluva lot better anyway.

  2. uy meron ako nung page pal dati ha! very useful and space-saving pa! if you like quirky products… dami niyan dito sa japan! bisita ka uli!

  3. Take it from a former law student… that stand thing can only hold pieces of paper, not a thick law book.

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