A Snob’s Guide To The Ice Bucket Challenge

You’ll give in eventually. Here’s how to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in style.

At this point, it’s a statistical certainty. Within 20 or so days, every human on the planet will have performed the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS–the neurodegenerative disease that essentially short circuits the wiring of your body.


But you’re not an “in the backyard, wearing underpants, wading in a kiddie pool type,” are you? You graduated from RISD! You set kerning for a living! You can do the challenge–you would never say “better” than everyone else–but maybe, “with more intent” than most.

Here is how a design snob, or really any snob, performs the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. And for ease of use, we built a borderline meaningless point system for you to follow. Let’s say any score over 50 points keeps your snob cred intact.

The Perfect “Bucket”
Bucket. Ha. Your fisherman’s maid uses a bucket (-15 points). In this case, the word “bucket” should only be used as a casual understatement, as some might refer to their mansion in the Hamptons as a “summer house.” Instead, consider a well-buffed All-Clad stockpot (0 points), or better still, a timeless Le Creuset dutch oven (+5 to +15 points depending on color). Its rustic appeal will show your Facebook friends that you’re really one of the people.


The Perfect Water
“Who looks at the water?” you ask? Everyone. The water is the unsung hero of the challenge. If ice is the ink, water is its paper. If possible, one should froth the water before dumping for full effervescent effect. You might try this copper foamer (+10 points) or a Yves Béhar-designed Sodastream (+2 points). A few bottles of Perrier will work in a pinch.

Whiskey Ball

The Perfect Ice
If you picked up your ice at a gas station (-2,000 points), consider saving it for next year, when dirty urinals everywhere challenge themselves across social networks to raise money and awareness for ALS. Until then, the choice almost goes unsaid: Cube or sphere. Both are perfect pieces of geometry. But cubes (+0 points) could scratch your head–or worse, your furniture–with their sharp edges, while spheres (+10 points) will cascade down your body like marbles.

Outlier/Emiliano Granado

The Perfect Attire
Yes, given enough freshly squeezed kale juice, the human form is work of art, an Adonis begging to be carved into marble. That doesn’t give you license to perform the challenge in a bikini (-5 points), tankini (-10 points), one-piece (-3 points) , Speedo (0 points), or “trunks” (-50 points). You will wear a wardrobe consisting of Outlier’s water repellent gear (+10 points), looking as if you either just summited a mountain on a spirit quest in Utah, or just finished typing up your term sheet at Sightglass. Nobody knows.


The Perfect Chair
What, you’re expected to stand (-5 points)? Why would you have spent half a year’s salary on vintage chairs if you were expected to stand? Do not use one of those fold-out nylon chairs with the built in Budweiser holders (-1,000 points). An Eames lounge chair will suffice if forced (0 points), but a Bertoia side chair (+20 points) is the real winner here, in terms of both style and its mesh/colander design that will make ice clean-up less tedious.

Chicago History Museum

The Perfect Backdrop
By now, it should be obvious that the perfect setting is not a suburban *shudder* backyard *shudder*, but a very spartan expanse of concrete, preferably backed by a stunning work of 20th-century architecture. Zaha Hadid is probably overdoing it (-20 points). A better choice: Mies Van Der Rohe (+5 points) slyly peeking over your shoulder, as if saying, “oh, this old piece of textbook architecture?–I didn’t even notice it was here.”


About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach


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