Nendo’s money saver is beautiful, but it can’t last forever.
On board for delivery this afternoon is a letter, and its contents will bring with it extreme delight or disappointment. Inside the letter is the result of a recent application you have made. Once it arrives, you eagerly pull it from the mailbox and run inside as the old hinge of the rusted metal flap squeaks behind you. You look down and are confronted with the most beautiful envelop you have ever seen. A clean, perfectly folded, matte coated stock with a light embossing and smooth grain. The edge is without any scuff, mark or dent, and even the smell is overwhelming. Impossibly sealed, the envelop is not folded, stitched or glued. To be gifted by the content of the letter is to destroy the envelope beyond repair.
Oki Sato of design house Nendo didn’t create Pyggy Bank with the intention of drawing the amount of attention they did, though it was well deserved. Created for the Isetan department store’s Piggy Bank Collection as part of the 2010 Tokyo Designers Week, Nendo’s Pyggy Bank is a playful and emotionally provocative take on both the classic and contemporary ‘piggy bank’. The money saver is essentially a beautifully crafted container shaped into two bottle sizes. Two slits at the top act as a passage for coins into the body of the bottle and resemble the snout of a pig, with a pink exterior completing the formal metaphor. What’s most interesting is its connection to the classic and contemporary. Coins in medieval Europe were stored in pygg clay jars known as pygg pots, and playing on the phonetic for a few hundred years had us arrive at the contemporary ‘piggy bank’, so the design, as Nendo explains quite simply, “exists somewhere between ‘pygg’ and the ‘pig’.”
Beyond Nendo’s challenge of the standard and typical piggy bank, the Tokyo-based studio’s work makes a statement about preservation. In an financial sense, this is obvious, but looking into the nature of owning such a delicate and well-crafted object brings to light the idea of preservation for the sake of not destroying something beautiful. As with the envelope, to preserve Pyggy Bank is to use it to ‘almost’ full capacity of its afforded potential. It is an almost disposable object. There is also this idea of the unavoidable, as the purpose of such saving is to inevitably spend, and to spend would be to destroy.
Continuing the use of ‘time’ as a frame for understanding Nendo’s deceptively basic design brings to mind The Book That Can’t Wait: a spark of genius from 2012. A book with ink that has a limited visibility lifespan of two months requires consideration and patience. This video of it in action makes the concept clear, but I have to add that opening the book in store is something I would not be so quick to do. To open the publication and expose it to the elements is to commit to reading, much like the responsibility of creating replicants. Once the deed is done, the book will die.
Once a coin is placed into the beautiful Pyggy Bank, it will have to come out. The previously mentioned video refers to books as “patient objects”. If such personality was provided to Pyggy Bank, I’d be inclined to call it anxious in thinking about the fate of its piggy bank siblings.
Nendo’s work here is a collection of subtle metaphors and a perfectly articulated, yet quiet reminder of our capabilities as designers, and our responsibilities as users.