Back in October of 2015 I returned to my home town of Sunderland and asked 450 primary school children in the city to think up and draw their invention ideas. Then I asked skilled local makers to make the best into real things. We rented an empty shop and turned it into a gallery. The project went viral and we had tv cameras from around the world visiting the show. 5 objects were taken into the V&A museums’s permanent collection which is amazing.
I started to get emails from people in other countries asking me if they could do the same thing so we decided to start Little Inventors as an ongoing project. We now have expanded to Little Inventors China and in Canada and many other countries. One project we are working on now is in Canada with the government’s NSERC organisation. We are working with the Canadian Space Agency to ask children there to think up ideas for life in space. The best idea may even be shown on the International Space station!
Here is a nice short film about the very first project.
I see the project as a fun way to inspire children to gain a lifelong passion for creative thinking, problem solving and innovation as well as coming up with some brilliant ideas and objects. The ideas can be fantastical or function, there are no limits placed on the children’s imagination. I add my drawings to to create a playful feeling to the whole thing.
I was asked by Goodyear Tyres to think up 30 inventions that could be used all year round, in different seasons. I was a bit of challenge to think of that many ideas on one theme. I just have to think and think and draw and think until I find them all. 3 of the ideas were made real…
It’s difficult skateboarding in the snow unless you attach a flame thrower.
An idea for a sledge that can also be used as a sun lounger.
No more slipping in the snow and enjoy ice in your drinks all year round. (3D Printing is useful)
With thanks to James Plant and Niki Wrigg for their help turning the ideas into reality.
By the way there is a 12 page article about my work in the Feb/Mar 2018 issue of Creative Review magazine.
It’s been 3 years since I last posted here. I think I stopped after the short film The Reinvention of Normal about me came out. I got inundated with requests for interviews and to do interesting projects and to give talks about my thoughts on creativity. That was all great but it meant that I no longer had the time and space to write things here. One of those requests was an invite to be a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Here’s a video of the last part but I was on for about 7 minutes and showed 7 other things. I should write a post about it one day.
Since last I posted I’ve started a worldwide children’s project called Little Inventors, spoke at the UN, and been made an Honorary Doctorate in Art and Design at my home town University of Sunderland.
When I’m busy it keeps my mind in the normal day to day, but I need to get my thoughts outside of that place to find interesting ideas. So I’m going to return to this blog to use it as a sort of diary for me and place to share new ideas, big or small.
I began this blog in 2009 while living in Berlin for a few months and it changed my life. At the time, I was searching for some direction, not sure what I was doing or what I should be doing.
I’d gone through the best creative education I could have hoped for including an intense 2 years at the Royal College of Art in 2002. I learned a lot at the RCA but I lost myself a little when surrounded by famous designer tutors all giving advice and me testing myself to see if I could apply my imagination to the various design briefs we were set. Then I had a few years working with a friend I’d met on the course, we were called Mosley meets Wilcox. We did some interesting work including collaborating with a famous photographer Mick Rock designing some objects inspired by his photos of Bowie, Blondie and Lou Reed. Then from 2006 I went solo and drifted along, not sure as to what I should do.
I was interested in things that didn’t fit neatly in the design or art world at that time so I couldn’t rely on the support of the art gallery system, but I also wasn’t interested in designing things for mass production. I just didn’t know where my work fitted in the world or how to show it, and so I sat about not doing much.
I lived in London but decided to visit Berlin for a few months for a change of perspective and to try to sort my head out. I visited Gorlitzer park and sat watching some old punk rockers playing golf and frisbee each day. I had some sketchbooks of ideas that I’d always talked about putting together as a book but never quite got around to it. Boredom is a great motivator and I had the idea, while sitting in the park, to start a blog called Variations on Normal. I uploaded 7 invention idea drawings and it got picked up by a big website called digg.com. Suddenly I had people commenting on my work. I’d found a way to show my work and it motivated me to keep adding more ideas and things took off from there.
I think the thing I’ve learned is that if you want to find a direction in life then it is best to just get on with doing it, not thinking about doing it. The process of doing things gets the train moving and it can take you to unexpected places.
I’ve been featured in a short film by Liam Saint-Pierre who followed me around while I tried to think of new ideas. He even travelled up north with me to talk to my parents. You can view the film here….
“Go straight off the wall” said his dad and Dominic does just that. This film follows Dominic Wilcox, an artist / inventor / designer, on his quest for new ideas….Transforming the mundane and ordinary into something surprising, wondrous and strangely thought provoking.
The sight of red wine spilling on a cream carpet has traumatised many before. Panic kicks in and various desperate methods are used to remove the stain. However my idea is quite the opposite of this approach. Let’s make the most of this bordeaux blunder. With careful attention the red blemish can be enlarged to create a beautiful replica of an ornate rug…
Dominic Wilcox in his Stained Glass Driverless Sleeper Car. (all photos by Sylvain Deleu)
In September 2014 I was asked by MINI the car people and Dezeen.com the design blog to create my ‘vision for the future of mobility’. I thought about driverless, automated vehicles and how they are an inevitable part of our future world. I needed to focus my mind on a year so I chose 2059, 100 years after the launch of the original Mini car. I proposed the idea that in 2059, driverless cars will be common place, in fact there will be motorways on which only driverless cars are allowed. This will mean that they are extremely safe and will have zero collisions. It will become far safer to ride in a computer controlled car than a human driven car. This means that car designers will be free to concentrate on creating a ‘living space on wheels’. No longer bound by modern day bumpers, airbags and other safety requirements etc.
I decided to demonstrate this vision of a safe future by making a stained glass car with only a bed inside. Glass being extremely fragile and sleeping being the most vulnerable time we have. I was inspired by a trip to Durham Cathedral in the North East of England where I am from. In my car, the passenger will be transported to their chosen destination while they rest or sleep. Once they arrive they will wake up covered in coloured glass reflections.
To make the car I needed to design and build the chassis frame/base. Here I worked closely with Middlesex University Product Design Department lead by Wyn Griffiths, technical tutor Neil Melton and recent star graduates Chris Brennan and Harry Bradshaw. They were a huge help working out the wood structure that would support the glass and making it. Once this frame was made I took it to ‘Lead and Light’ a stained glass workshop in Camden, London. I took a 5 day course in stained glass making and started work cutting and soldering the glass onto the car. I was advised by stained glass expert Lynette Wrigley and assisted by Massimo Cappella.
The making of the base and frame took about 5 weeks and the glass also about 5 weeks. It was very much a case of working it out as we went along. The car was revealed during the London Design Festival at an exhibition called Design Junction. It has received a huge amount of interest from press and media and is currently travelling from exhibition to exhibition in the UK.
I also made a fictional website where you could order your driverless taxi to pick you up and take you where you wish. www.taxirobot.co.uk
Suzy O’Hara from Thinking Digital Arts teamed me up with a technologist called James Rutherford to create an artwork currently on show at the Sage Gateshead music performance centre. I came up with the idea of making some ‘Binaudios’ that are like tourist binoculars except you can ‘hear’ across great distances. For example, point the Binaudios towards the football stadium and you will hear the crowd chanting, turn it again to the river and hear a boat moving on the water.
I set about recording over 50 sounds around Newcastle including things like street performers, the train station and the local Grainger Market. I also used some historical sounds like the sound of the long since vanished shipbuilding in the 1970’s and King George V’s opening speech of the Tyne Bridge in 1928.
Then I sketched out how the Binaudios would look. James worked out, using electronics, how to make each sound be heard when the binaudios pointed towards the location of the original sound in the distance. This gives a real feeling that the Binaudios can listen across a whole city. We worked with a local company Raskl to fabricate the Binaudio object and James hid the electronics inside the structure. I wanted the Binaudios to appear to really listen to sounds far away without the technology behind it being visible.
Visit my projects website for more pictures and information here.
Imagine looking through a technologically revolutionary pair of binoculars and viewing the past or future. Simply input the date you wish to view into the keypad and select enter. Hold the binoculars as I demonstrate above and view the world around as it was, or as it will be. I spent a few days looking around East London viewing life on my street in 1922 and visited central London to see what will be happening there in the year 2045. The future looked similar to now, busy people, road works, some more high rise buildings, video advertising was everywhere, quite a lot of bicycles, it looked like the 80’s was back in fashion, again. I did notice some young people had baseball caps where the brim appeared to be an interactive screen of some sort. Unfortunately these binoculars are only useful for viewing so I couldn’t ask any questions.
Me looking at East London in the past demonstration.
Check back on my blog lots more of the things I made over the next few days. I’ve got a book (sign up to be notified) coming out this year also full of my invention drawings, oh and I’m also on twitter here, say hello.
Trafic in London gets more and more congested every day. The mayor tries his scheme and that but more and more people want to get across the City fast. Here is one of my solutions, a flying Hackney taxi cab. Ok, landing may be challenging the drivers but it will be no problem to London’s great taxi drivers.
Music and plaque removal are rarely connected. So I connected them. Add a little percussion to your dental hygiene with these toothbrush maracas.
Toothbrush Maracas were designed and made by me, Dominic Wilcox for my Selfridges window during the Festival of Imagination starting Jan 7, 2014 onwards. Above photograph of Dominic Wilcox’s object taken by Pec studio. Check back on my blog lots more of the things I made over the next few days. I’ve got a book coming out this year with lots of inventions, oh and I’m also on twitter here, say hello.
I’m tired of having to haul around my heavy suitcase. This is the year 2014 so it’s time things changed. For my Selfridges window I made this suitcase with robotic legs. When the owner wears a special tracking device the suitcase will follow wherever they go. For the window I made a model with motorised legs.
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Walking Sutcase was designed and made by me, Dominic Wilcox for my Selfridges window during the Festival of Imagination starting Jan 7, 2014 onwards. Above photograph of Dominic Wilcox’s object taken by Pec studio. Check back on my blog lots more of the things I made over the next few days. I’ve got a book coming out this year with lots of inventions, oh and I’m also on twitter here, say hello.
Here I am modeling my handmade crystal beard. There are over 2000 crystals on this beard and moustache. The photograph was taken by my friends atPec studio.
Imagine the admiring glances I will receive as I dazzle down the High St to buy my Sunday newspaper.
A detail of the above photograph.
Crystal Beard was designed and made by me, Dominic Wilcox for my Selfridges window during the Festival of Imagination starting Jan 7, 2014 onwards. Check back on my blog lots more of the things I made over the next few days. I’ve got a book coming out this year also with lots of inventions, oh and I’m also on twitter here, say hello.
I’m posting the objects I made to hang in my window at Selfridges department store during their Festival of Imagination. This spike idea came about when I saw a photo of a pile of metal studs/spikes and thought that they looked visually interesting. I tried to imagine objects covered in spikes and thought about what would be the most unexpected juxtaposition between spike and object. After a few hours of thought going through possible objects, which usually means me just sitting still staring into thin air while my mind wanders, I gave up and put the idea to one side. Then later in the bathroom I looked at the tap and thought about the idea of chrome on chrome. I thought it would be interesting to combine chromed spikes with chrome objects, giving the appearance that the object is one piece, in one material. I also enjoyed the idea of making safe, functional objects appear dangerous.
Taps are usually smooth and clinical objects so it was interesting to mess with that by breaking up the aesthetic with the sharp shapes of the spikes. I played with various types of tap designs and location of the spikes but eventually settled on this Mohican style.
Looking around at what other polished stainless steel objects are common in our world I decided on using a teapot. I liked the simple curve of the pot and its contrast with the spikes.
Finally I made this spiked, hip flask. Care for a drink?
(All photographs above were taken by my friends at Pec studio. )
Hanging in my Selfridges ‘Variations on Normal’ window.
These spiked objects were designed and made by me, Dominic Wilcox for my Selfridges window during the Festival of Imagination starting Jan 7, 2014 onwards. Check back on my blog lots more of the things I made over the next few days. I’ve got a book coming out this year also, oh and I’m also on twitter here, say hello.
If you a sleeping through your alarm bell perhaps this Bugle Alarm Clock I’ve made may interest you. This prototype alarm clock is fitted with mini air compressor and thin vibrating rubber membrane to mimic lip vibrations. (photo by my friends Pec studio.)
Wake up alarm person inspiration.
Bugle Alarm Clock was designed and made by me, Dominic Wilcox for my Selfridges window during the Festival of Imagination starting Jan 7, 2014 onwards. Check back on my blog lots more of the things I made over the next few days. I’ve got a book coming out this year also, oh and I’m also on twitter here, say hello.
The plant pots are attached to the umbrella fabric with perfect holes cut around the pot rim.
After attaching the plant pots, the tray is added to catch any excess water.
The Plant Pot Umbrella hanging in my Selfridges window, Oxford st.
Umbrella with inbuilt plant pots was designed and made by me, Dominic Wilcox for my Selfridges window during the Festival of Imagination starting Jan 7, 2014. Check back on my blog lots more of the things I made over the next few days. I’ve got a book coming out this year also,oh and I’m also on twitter here
Here’s my second object for my Selfridges window at the Festival of Imagination. I thought to myself ‘what would it sound like if I could hear the things that happened on my left side through my right ear?’ So I decided to make this Reverse Listening Device, and it actually works. It sounds very strange and I will now wear it at all times.
For larger images visit my portfolio website here Reverse Listening Device was designed and made by me, Dominic Wilcox for my Selfridges window during the Festival of Imagination starting Jan 7, 2014 onwards. Above photographs of Dominic Wilcox’s objects taken by Pec studio.
Check back on my blog lots more of the things I made over the next few days. I’ve got a book (sign up to be notified) coming out this year also full of my invention drawings, oh and I’m also on twitter here, say hello.
I do like a nice cup of tea, but sometimes I’m too eager to drink it and burn my tongue. I designed this tea cup with inbuilt cooling fan so I can cool down my tea with a flick of a switch and drink it in safety with a nice biscuit.
I added an on/off switch onto the saucer.
I quite enjoy the idea of taking something traditional, from a bygone age and combining it with modern technology. You may know about my GPS shoes I made last year as another example. The traditional blue artwork of the Wedgwood porcelain is mirrored in the cooling blades to create a seamless combination of the old and the new.
Before hanging I sat the cup on a tray.
The original sketch.
For larger images visit my portfolio website here.
Tea cooling fan was designed and made by me, Dominic Wilcox for my Selfridges window during the Festival of Imagination starting Jan 7, 2014. Above photographs of Dominic Wilcox’s objects taken by Pec studio. Check back for lots more of the things I made over the next few days.
I was asked by London’s famous Selfridges department store to fill a window with my ideas and inventions for their Festival of Imagination. Over the course of two months I set about thinking up and making fourteen different objects with a plan to create something that reflected my sketchbook pages. Instead of drawing the ideas, I have made them real, but kept the handwritten descriptions and arrows all hanging from wire. The window is open for 6 weeks so have a look if you are passing, I titled it ‘Variations on Normal’. There are so many photos and ideas to show and talk about that I will reveal the new objects each day over the next week or so rather than in one big lump.
I hung the window over four nights, we were all allowed in the shop from 9.30pm till 6am so it was very tiring.
Keep checking back each day to see the objects I came up with and pictures of me using them around town.
Me in the window at the beginning thinking ‘why didn’t I come up with something simpler’ (which is a common thought for nearly every project I do).
As part of the Making Together exhibition in Milan I had invited the public to donate sticks of all types and sizes which I planned to tape to a chair and build a network of sticks during six days of Milan design week. It was to be an improvised creation where I would decide how it would grow while I was making it. It’s quite exciting to start from nothing and not be sure what is going to happen, particularly when in front of an expectant on looking audience.
The chair and some sticks were waiting for me when I arrived with my tape.
I started attaching the sticks to the chair.
I placed a spotlight I found at the exhibition and pointed it onto the white wall to create shadows.
Half way through week.
The idea I came to Milan with was to build a bridge of sticks between two chairs but I changed my mind and wanted to build on one chair with only the legs of the chair touching the ground. I wanted to see how far I could push the strength of the tape and balance of the chair.
I decided to draw the shadow onto the wall with the same tape.
Me in the sticks.
On the third day I was told that the chair had toppled over in the night and so I strengthened with more tape. I added a chair on one side to try to balance out the weight.
Sometimes I would come into the room and some members of the public were attaching stick to the ‘tree’. This wasn’t part of my plan but I was tempted to see what they did. Collaboration with the public can be interesting but it is important that they understand the rules and restrictions of what needs to be done. I ended up having to remove the 5 or 6 additions as they weren’t strongly taped or in the best positions for a good structure. I decided to continue with just me adding things but the public bringing the sticks throughout the day.
The shadow moved continuously due to the weight of new sticks being added, but I just drew over the new shadows.
At the end the stick structure was moved to a new room leaving the shadow drawing as a permanent piece.
You can see my pre-plan post here
See the other project I did in Milan, a competition against a 3D printer to make a cathedral, man vs machine here.
I am happy to say my gloves cast from my own hands are in the excellent exhibition ‘The Power of Making’ at London’s V&A museum.
“Power of Making celebrates the role of making in our lives by presenting an eclectic selection of over 100 exquisitely crafted objects. The exhibition is a cabinet of curiosities showing works by both amateurs and leading makers from around the world, presenting a range of skills with imaginative and spectacular results.” Curated by Daniel Charny
KKoutlet recently approached me to take part in their exhibition ‘Object Abuse’. The challenge was to ‘take an everyday object, remould, rebuild and repurpose it to create an entirely new item, using as little additional materials as possible.’
One day I was walking through an art shop and looked at the brushes. They seemed pleasant objects so I decided to come up with something using one of them. I remembered how I used to forget to wash paint brushes after using them and then would find them hard and unusable the next day. After quite a few trials and mistakes I managed to make something useful, a coat hook. Handily there is a hole at the top of the handle for the screw.
OBJECT ABUSE, PRIVATE VIEW THURSDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 7 – 9PM. EXHIBITION RUNS 2 – 25 SEPTEMBER
KK OUTLET, 42 HOXTON SQUARE, LONDON, N1 6PB
Exhibition PDF info
For hi res images email
My idea this week is an accessory to transform the whizzbang iPad into a simple practical object that may be useful around the home, in this case a bookend.
I will probably buy an iPad at some point. It is a beautiful object and is apparently wonderful to use. I don’t think I’ll read books on it as a paper book has higher resolution text, is about four times lighter and doesn’t need a battery. The iPad will definitely be a success as an entertainment device, looking at photos, reading an e-magazine, watching a movie and visiting websites, but whether it will become a ‘useful’ thing is a bit of an unknown. Hopefully the people who make the software apps will come up with something that turns the iPad from a delightful luxury item into an essential piece of equipment. Maybe one day we will look back and think ‘what exactly did we do before the iPad?’ or maybe we’ll think ‘Well, it made a stylish bookend’. Your comments are very welcome…
You can see my other Apple related work I did for Esquire magazine’s 75th anniversary edition a while back here. If you’re new to my site check out the other fifty ideas I’ve had by going to the home page and scrolling down. Follow future ideas via Twitter/Facebook/RSS/Email
My idea this week is a two way toothpaste, ideal for those who get angry with their partner for squeezing the toothpaste from the front. Simply open the other end and squeeze from the back as demonstrated below. Also quite useful for getting the last of the paste out of the bottom.