Anssi Orrenmaa 

Anssi goes through a lot of pantyhose.  Not the way you think.  You see, Anssi is a guy.  No, really, it’s not what you think.

Anssi is the creator of something called Niksi Pirkka, which is the ancient Finnish art (founded way back in the 1980s) of “tricking” cheap household implements to perform tasks that they were never designed to do.  For example, did you know that a plastic soda bottle can be transformed into a very effective sweeping broom?  Or that a carrot makes a great stylus for your smartphone when your finger gets tired?  Well, it turns out that pantyhose are so easily tricked into doing other jobs that they account for a disproportionately large part of Niksi Pirkka‘s hidden wisdom.  Pantyhose can be used effectively as hair ties, to store bread, as keyboard protectors, to keep skis and poles together in a single totable package, as makeshift potato planters, and in a great many other ways.

There was already an overlap between the worlds of chindogu and Niksi Pirkka.  Put simply: chindogu is about things that look like they’re going to help, but don’t; while Niksi Pirkka is about things that look that they aren’t going to help, yet do.  In the year 2000, however, Anssi bridged the two when he joined the International Chindogu Society and became an important force in the chindogu movement.

Anssi helped to put chindogu in context.  Human beings naturally like to build things.  Yes, there seems to be a much smaller proportion of humans hawking things on 4:00 am infomercials when compared to those humans at home on their sofas watching…so it’s easy to get the wrong idea.  But producing gadgets is a universal instinct.  It’s the hoes and the plows and the fences that our ancestors created that allowed our species to stop chasing their food and start growing it.  It’s the wheelbarrows and the hammers and the mortar that let us our populations.  And it’s the pencils and the telegraphs and the other tools of communication that enabled people who’d built too many things to try to unload them on us at four in the morning.

The desire to make things that promise to improve our lot is one of the hallmarks of our species.  When something is painstakingly put together doesn’t improve our lot, it’s sad and disappointing.  But sometimes it’s also funny.  Especially if it was painstakingly put together by someone else.  Chindogu celebrates the humor that comes from that unfulfilled promise.  After all, failure is often but a step on the path to success (a path that becomes a lot easier to walk when there are chuckles to be had).

If your idea is a wearable knife and fork, you don’t need to be a master craftsman to attempt a prototype.  You could throw something together with rubber gloves, wristbands, duct tape, or whatever you have lying around the house.  As Anssi has written and demonstrated, chindogu isn’t that difficult if you can just get past the mindset that only a certain chosen few (who look good at 4:00 am) are allowed to invent and create.  Even if your invention seems useless, thanks to chindogu it just might be also unuseless.

Or you can ignore the critical voice of society and march proudly toward the slopes with your skis fastened together by the cardboard insides of toilet paper rolls and the whole affair wrapped up in a single pantyhose leg and held by the other strapped over your shoulder.  That’s what Anssi does.