Dominic Wilcox is like a deranged Thomas Edison, known for creating wild and whimsical inventions, ranging from giant binoculars for your ears, to wingtips that point you home, to toothbrush maracas. And then there are the things he doesn’t actually build, but will sketch out anyway.
Just in time for the back to school season, Kellogg’s hired Wilcox to make breakfast a bit more fun. And so he created six fantastic inventions that channel Rube Goldberg’s contraptions or Pee Wee’s Great Adventure.
This includes a robotic spoon that slowly wakes up as you eat, an amplification bowl which makes sure those snap, crackles, and pops boom throughout a room, a “breakfast is ready alarm” detonates a message to wake up from a speaker in a child’s pillow, and a “Soggy-o-Meter” that counts down the time your cereal’s crunch is lost to the milk. But my favorite devices is a crane that fits on your head, scoops the cereal out of the box, and drops it into your bowl. (It’ll also squirt out milk if that wasn’t enough for you.)
“All of my work is about looking at the ordinary and banal and attempting to transform it into something surprising or extra-ordinary. I love the challenge of looking at particular everyday situations in life and seeing if I can find a way to make it more interesting,” Wilcox writes via email. “Designers need problems, so one approach I take is to see everything as a problem that needs a solution.”
Wilcox pieces together these inventions from a combination of repurposed and custom-made parts. For instance, the tummy amplifier, which pumps up the rumbling of your stomach through a tuba, is actually a cereal bowl that sticks to your stomach. It’s been fit with a type of microphone used for public speaking. But his crane cereal hat–what you’d suspect was a repurposed kid’s toy–was entirely engineered by Wilcox. He made a working model out of cardboard, then laser cut the pieces out of plastic.
“I wanted to make everything by hand, using everyday objects,” Wilcox says, “but for the first time I decided to use 3-D printing for three of the objects: the spoon, the watch [not seen here], and the snap crackle amplifier bowl.”
Though it was technically sponsored by Kellogg’s, Wilcox’s creations still have a feel that is entirely his own. Whether or not a cereal company had been involved, you could imagine a Wilcox-created tummy amplifier or soggy meter. And so I asked him, how did he keep the integrity of his work even though it was technically for a big brand.
“I’m very clear at the beginning of any project that the company involved is simply setting me a challenge and sponsoring the project. If I am going to put my name on something then it has to be work I am proud of, with no interference,” he writes. “That’s the deal, and it seems the people I work with have seen enough of my previous work to know that they can trust me. Artists have been funded by others since the beginning of art. You just have to keep true to yourself and not let anyone affect your creative approach.”