Do novelty products reveal the future of design?

Sam Jacob, from the December 2014 issue

By Sam Jacob

Eviatar Bach, A picture of a Big Mouth Billy Bass at Rest, 2010. Licensed under Creative Commons

Remember Big Mouth Billy Bass? Sure you do, that animatronic plastic fish mounted like a taxidermied trophy that would wiggle around and sing Bobby McFerrin’s novelty hit Don’t Worry, Be Happy (1988) or Al Green’s Take Me to the River (1974) when you triggered its motion detector. It was an idiotic product, but it shifted millions of units between 2000 and 2001. Its ubiquity even saw it appearing among a collection of ornaments owned by one of the sinister characters…

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