The designer and former Icon contributor will be speaking at Icon's House of Culture at Clerkenwell Design Week today (21 May). Above are some drawings from his recent book, Variations on Normal, and below is a short film about his work. We interviewed him earlier this year about his design for a stained-glass driverless car, which you can read about here
It is no criticism to say that Dominic Wilcox is childlike in his practice: children are comfortable in manipulating the environment to their own ends, something often lost with age, and it is their modus operandi – play – that Wilcox recasts as a powerful form of design thinking: one that mixes wonderment with directness.
A former Icon contributor, Wilcox leads you from the logical to the fantastical with proposals such as his recent design for a stained-glass driverless car, which challenged preconceptions about the way we will use vehicles in the future. This is a designer who doesn't want you to take his work seriously. Seriousness, in his view, is the scourge of creativity; in its place, he champions anti-slickness and the cracking of a wry smile.
Design for a stained glass driverless car
His projects are often formatted as speculations rather than commercial products, running the gamut from working prototypes, such as his Binaudio sound binoculars or his oft-quoted GPS shoes, to books illustrated in his signature toonish drawing style. Unlike much speculative design, which tends to be of the utopian bent, Wilcox attacks the unreconciled challenges of the everyday, turning the banal into the beatific with a shift in perspective.
His referents also feel like they operate beyond the standard disciplinary boundaries – his 2014 book Variations on Normal, for instance, shares as much lineage with author Norman Hunter's madcap Professor Branestawm as with any contemporary design manifesto, while its suggestions for family ponchos and reverse telephones would sit happily in an Ogden Nash poem.