This simple sculpture is meant to be a reminder for those who have everything.

In our endless quest for the latest gadget or bike or shoes or whatever else we crave, it’s easy to forget the fact that many of us don’t really need anything new.

It's called Nothing, and it costs €29 or about $48.

Its creator, Pim De Graaff in the Netherlands, turned to sculpture as a way to get away from his work.

It took a year of refining the concept and experimenting with different sizes and materials before he was ready to sell it.

2014-02-13

Co.Exist

Buy This $50 Block Of Wood To Remind You To Stop Buying So Much Stuff

The "Nothing" is meant to be an expensive and somewhat ironic reminder of our obsession with overconsumption.

In our endless quest for the latest gadget or bike or shoes or whatever else we crave, it’s easy to forget the fact that many of us don’t really need anything new. This simple sculpture, a small black block of wood called Nothing, is meant to be a reminder for those who have everything.

“One night when I couldn’t sleep, I had the insight that for a long time now I haven’t really known what to ask for on my birthday, or what to give others for their birthdays,” says Pim de Graaff, who launched the product at the end of last year. “At the same time I feel, and maybe it’s a generational thing, that we’re looking for more meaning. So I loved the idea to make ‘nothing.’ To give someone nothing, to enjoy nothing.”

De Graaff, who works as a freelance copywriter in the Netherlands, turned to sculpture as a way to get away from his work. “I had the feeling I was sitting behind my computer 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I started thinking about doing something with my hands,” he says.

Not long after deciding to start working on some kind of sculpture, he had the inspiration for Nothing. It took a year of refining the concept and experimenting with different sizes and materials before he was ready to sell it.

How much does nothing cost? In this case, €29 or about $48. “I didn’t want it to be too cheap, because I wanted people to take it seriously,” de Graaff says. “On the other hand, I didn’t want it to be too expensive, because it’s...nothing.” He thought €30 sounded about right, and landed on €29 because 29 had been his basketball jersey number growing up.

The sculptures quickly sold. Since he makes each object by hand, the production runs aren’t huge; he made 50 sculptures before launching just before the holidays last year, and they immediately sold out within a week after he put them online. The same thing happened with the second run.

De Graaff hopes that Nothing will help inspire more people to think about consumption, and despite the irony of selling something to remind people not to buy more, it seems to be having an effect. For him, it's also been an antidote to his day job--not just getting him away from the computer, but letting him sell something that has a little more meaning.

"I work for companies that spend money on advertising to make more money. That’s fine, that’s how our world goes round, but sometimes it feels a bit shallow," he says. "It's good to work on something with a bit more depth."

[Image: Milan Vermeulen/Nothing]

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11 Comments

  • It's ironic that the intended function of "nothing" requires that you spend "something" to remind you to stop buying more stuff. I think this is one of the most illogical justifications for a product I have ever seen. A better metaphor for this intended purpose would have been an elaborate package, containing nothing -- as in completely healthy.

  • I really want to like this concept, but like Monirom here, I have to agree. This seems to be less of a mindful reminder for those who have everything to stop craving, and seems to be a subversive message for people to know that they are a haver of everything. Subtle, yet distinct.

    It seems to be a marker. Which, I guess, as a gift, can be a snide way of calling someone out. For oneself, well, it could be a trophy.

    As an introspective art piece for the creator himself, I think it's wonderful. As a consumer object to protest consumption, I think the idea cannibalizes itself when it asks to be bought.

  • Matthew Jenkins

    The good to come out of it will be to spark the conversation with those who see it. Perhaps it will inspire others to discover and show off their own "nothings."

    With only 100 in production, it won't become a recognized trophy, or subversive message. But I'm on your wavelength, if he were to sell 100,000 and start making them in china, I'd too let the cynicism fly.