‹ rotational


May 24, 2005 ・ Blog

I met up with a friend, Nik Roope, tonight to see and talk about a project he’s been working on for a while – the Hulger phone.

Hulger is a full production model of the Pokia phone. Pokia was a project in which he converted second-hand old-fashioned phone receivers so you could plug them into a mobile phone and sold them on eBay. Nik has designed and made (in China) 11,000 Hulgers (he had to change the name when Nokia took exception to “Pokia”), and they’ll be launched next week.

While it initially looks like a bit of a one-liner ironic joke, it’s got more soul than just that. It’s a nice gesture toward criticising current consumer technology’s constant drive toward the disposable and innovation for its own sake. Hulger is willfully illogical and largely impractical – it’s bulky and it makes you look a little silly, and it has an ugly name (it’s Nik’s grandfather’s). Nik says:

“It’s a name that isn’t too aesthetic. Consumer technology is usually made by marketing people and given sweet, shallow names that are great for the one-night-stand, but for a deeper relationship with that object you need something else. Hulger is difficult and it doesn’t make sense. It has the awkwardness that has a chance to develop a more relevant relationship with its owner.”

Despite all that difficulty, the Hulger is actually rather pleasant to use; more comfortable than a mobile, and it shields you from microwaves.

It all sounds rather overblown for a plastic object that looks like a joke, but Nik’s thoughts about disposability in consumer technology are important, and a lot of other designers are thinking the same way, like Dunne and Raby, Naoto Fukasawa, and all the people that love to hack and adapt their possessions to their own needs.