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.
No one has snowball fights in the summer. It seems a shame, it would be nice and warm, running around in shorts and t-shirt hurling snowballs at each other. I guess it would sting more being hit on legs and arms. Anyway here is an idea I had to bring a bit of winter fun into August.
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
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).
This grand old building in central London is being demolished from today to make way for a new student union building at LSE. I was amazed to find this out and I am sure there will be many in that area that will get a bit of a shock when it starts.
I was contacted about making something in the building for a quickly organised exhibition that referenced it’s life and history in some way. The St Philips building started in 1903 as a workhouse Infirmary for the poor before going on to be a hospital for women and then bought by the London School of Economics.
I was shown around the building, all rooms were empty apart from one remaining locked office that was abandoned with all it’s contents intact. I thought that it was as if the room was waiting to die and I wanted to ease its transition from this world.
I double and triple checked that the contents of the room were no longer wanted and they were left to the fate of demolition.
My thought for the office was to leave it intact but to remove the colour from every aspect in the room (via white paint) thereby taking away a layer of reality and connection to our world as it moves closer to its imminent death.
In order to distance the room from our world further I decided to keep the door locked so people had to peer in through the small window.
Waiting Room by Dominic Wilcox
An installation at St Philips Building, Sheffield st, London, WC2A 2EX
Exhibition: Students, Patients, Paupers
You can see the planned new building including a video of the old building here
Larger images on my Project site dominicwilcox.com and flickr.
I’ve been amazed at the amount of press my latest post has received. I’ve just heard it will be on the popular UK programme Have I Got News For You on BBC 2 tonight (14/5/11) at 9pm. It’s one of my favourite shows and I am preparing myself to be humorously (hopefully) abused in front of the nation. UPDATE For those who missed me on Have I got News For You bbc2 its here.
I was interviewed by Paul Coyte yesterday on the UK’s national radio station Gold you can listen to it here…
America’s national public radio NPR did a nice little piece on it here…
It has been featured on The Discovery channel in Canada see here (after the ads)
It was also in the Metro newspaper in London.
And it’s been all over the web. It is interesting how things start spreading out across different media.
I sometimes use my touchphone in the bath. I know it’s stupid. One problem I encounter is that when put my left hand in the water without thinking, it gets wet and unusable for touchscreen navigation. It is too risky to try to hold and navigate with one hand. I found that I could use my nose to scroll but I couldn’t see where my nose was touching precisely. It was at that point that I came up with this idea of a nose extension ‘finger’ that would allow navigation while my phone is firmly held by one hand.
I did send a tweet from the bath last night which was typed as ‘Hello I am tweeting with my nose’ unfortunately due to the phone’s
auto-correct it sent it as…
I lost 2 followers.
It’s also very handy when out and about multi-tasking on a cold day while wearing gloves. I imagine it would be a great accessory for iPad users.
I bought a handheld stylus that I embedded in the plaster nose. The plaster comes mixed with fibres that make it look hairy.
Although this is handy for me in the bath and outdoors it touches on possible uses for people without use of a hand. Though the design could be made more ‘subtle’ for everday use maybe coming from around the neck.
UPDATE: see the amazing amount of press this received here
It was on BBC’s Have I got News for You here
If you like this you might find my other projects interesting listed on the left menu like my Speed creating project where I made something creative each day for 30 days. Follow me on twitter or facebook.
For the new website launch of sightunseen.com I was asked to do some sketches. I did about six pages on the shallow theme of celebrity (Kanye West grabbing, Gordon Ramsey swearing, Madonna dancing and Tom Cruise bouncing). To see them all and an article about me go here.
I have a regret that I didn’t say ‘I love you’ enough to someone before they passed on. I was shy and quiet as a child and I think those direct words just didn’t come out as often as they should have. Shyness can cause so many regrets about things that should have been said but weren’t.