The kipple effect. Photograph: Dan Tobin Smith
The kipple effect. Photograph: Dan Tobin Smith

Whether it be post-it notes, flyers for events that have been and gone, or the random stuff that accumulates in bags and pockets, we all have some experience of ‘kipple’.

Science-fiction author Philip K. Dick coined the word in his 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (later filmed as Blade Runner), defining it as the everyday detritus most people can’t help but surround themselves with.

Heedless of the author’s warning that “the entire universe is moving towards a final state of total, absolute kippleization”, photographer Dan Tobin Smith has decided to completely cover his Shoreditch studio with thousands of objects for an installation.

Public donations for The First Law of Kipple, which opens next month for the London Design Festival, have so far included a pink, plastic nodding poodle, roller blades, fake grapes, diving flippers and a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.

“I first read about ‘kipple’ when I was 14 and it always stuck with me,” says Tobin Smith. “It can mean clutter but it also has a psychological aspect because of the way waste or clutter affects you.”

Objects are to be arranged so that the floor becomes a sea of graduated colour. Visitors can then navigate through the artwork via pathways laid out amongst the objects.

“One of the quotes I really love from the book is that no one can win against kipple except temporarily and in one spot. I like the idea of temporarily trying to organise and categorise kipple using colour.”

Tobin Smith describes himself as a science buff with a particular interest in the second law of thermodynamics and the concept of entropy, commonly understood as a measure of disorder.

Kipple has been described as domestic entropy, the physical manifestation of misguided energy in human life. The installation aims to question the boundaries between beauty and usefulness and address the epic proportions of waste that humans create.

“It inspired me to start thinking about design and products – we make so much stuff but we’ve got limited resources.

“I read a quote from someone saying ‘why do we have to design new chairs when there are a lot of chairs that already exist.

“Often it’s bound up with taste – we think because it’s beautiful it’s okay. But if it’s useless, it’s useless.”

To donate kipple visit

The First Law of Kipple is at 52c Whitmore Road, N1 5QG from 13–21 September 2014

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