Design TED Talks

Design, explained: John Hodgman at TED2012

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Design, says session host Chee Pearlman, can be confusing, the words often jargony and opaque. Fortunately, John Hodgman is here.

John Hodgman is a expert. That’s it, expert. There is nothing that follows the word, expert. And at TED2012 he takes a moment (well, three) to explain the design of three objects. He is qualified to do so because he, “Has a BA in literature, and is a minor television personality.”

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

First up, he shows a slide of the Theme Building in Los Angeles, and asks “What is this?” We learn that it is an example of ancient alien architecture. It was thought to be a spaceport, and was an improvement of an older spaceport at Stonehenge.

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Second is the Juicy Salif, by Philippe Starck. Despite its look, it is not a three-pronged fork nor “a device designed to attach to your brain and suck out your thoughts.” It’s a juicer, and it’s a monument to design’s utility because you can take it home, and use it — unlike a building. It also, apparently, comes alive at night. “It walks through your house, goes through your mail and watches you as you sleep.

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Finally is the iPhone. It is something that Hodgman loves to use to read books, to measure the weight of an ox, or to find out which fire-hydrants have been dug out of the show, and replace the snow on them. And “Unlike the Juicy Salif, it does not threaten to attach itself to your brain. It just attaches itself to your brain.”