Black humour meets product design, in Taiwan

● “A rascal wanted to rob, but he carelessly treaded on banana skin. Finally, he was dead by killing himself.”

This ‘black humor’ joke features in Yun Tu’s 2006 Thesis for Master of Science at the Department of Industrial Design, of Tatung University, Taiwan. The subject under investigation was ‘Contrast Images on Products with Black Humor’. Yun examined how the concept of ‘black humor’ might be applied to industrial design projects.To set the scene, here are some more examples of ‘black humor’ jokes from the thesis :

● Someone’s feet are stinky, but he smells them before me and
says, “Not at all! Their smells are good. Do you want to smell?”

I am 70 km. My husband often says, “Honey, how much does
your leg sell?” or “Honey, you have already put on your life

After a thief was arrested, the police asked, “Do you steal something?” The thief answered, “No, I just take what I want and forget to pay out.”

Disrobe and run happily when there is snow.

With such jokes in mind, the author used computer assisted design (CAD) techniques to create virtual mock-ups of concept products which featured varying degrees of black humor. Examples included :
● the Nipple Power Source Switch, (pictured above)
● the Idiot Coffemaker,
● the ‘Stabbing You to Death’ desk lamp,
● Mr. Fuck’s Nut Cracker
● and the Elephant Urinal (pictured below).

A group sample of potential users then evaluated each of the black humor based designs – with mixed reactions. Leading to a batch of conclusions which are too complex to succinctly summarise here. But those interested in the possible links between black humor and product design have the chance to evaluate their pros and cons by reading the full thesis, which is available online. Contrast Images on Products with Black Humor (scroll to page 98 for the English version. Note : slow 4.8 MB download)

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