Cocooning and Hiding at Home

In 1991, star trend tracker Faith Popcorn wrote The Popcorn Report. The book was a best seller that offered a catchy list of future trends she foresaw. Included in her list was a trend she named “cocooning” which reflected “…the need to protect oneself from the unpredictable, the stressful and often hostile, outside environment.” In the Glossary she added an extreme form of cocooning, “burrowing”.  Burrowing would be “..the ultimate expression of Cocooning in which consumers dig in, ever deeper, with a bunker mentality.”

While Faith was writing The Popcorn Report, I was burrowing at home in Sacramento, California, creating Public Therapy Buses, Information Specialty Bums, Solar Cook-A-Mats and Other Visions of the 21st Century. The book was published the same year as The Popcorn Report. I was essentially tracking the same trend.

I depicted a future product called the Television Life Support System:
Cautious Americans, sensing danger at every turn, may seek the passive, indrawn personal life of the television spectator, or “couch potato.” Superchairs are sold that can be customized to meet almost every need.

In the same chapter I showed the TV Sleeping Chambers, a cocoon-shaped piece of furniture specially suited to the needs of selfish teenage boys and juvenile males in general. I wrote:
Addiction to television, a disease, can lead individuals to buy bullet-proofed, sound-deadening television-watching cocoons.

In the 1990s I continued to think up home furnishings that incorporated aspects of cocooning. The Potato Couch Room Group allowed one to get comfortable inside a snuggly, split-open baked potato while at home watching TV.

This past week I created a new drawing on the subject because my earlier drawings appear dated. The Personal Cave would be a room that one might find inside a melted-fudge-looking home as depicted in the post If I Were an Architect. Inside such homes there would be cave-like rooms, perfect for cocooning and burrowing. This lady can curl up in her cave in a fetal position and forget the world. When the mood suits her, she can check the news on the Internet, look in on her son on the Child Care Cam, watch for garden pests on the Garden Cam, or check the temperature of her roast on the Oven Cam. She can Skype, iChat, or socialize on Facebook. Knowing all is well with her world, she can again curl up!

As Faith Popcorn noted in The Popcorn Report, Americans were becoming not only more interested in appreciating the warmth and privacy of their home, but were generally becoming more worried and fearful. An industry was growing up – perhaps in part because of Popcorn’s trend tips -- that offered personal pepper spray canisters, motel room door jamming and locking gadgets, and even an alarm that simulated the sound of a barking dog.

In August 1992, I drew a Fear Furniture showroom for The Sacramento Bee in which I showcased furniture that addressed as many kinds of fears as I could think of.

Around the same time, I drew a California-style Earthquake Canopy Bed. If the ceiling collapsed while you slept, your sleep would hardly be disturbed!

For this drawing, Furniture to Hide Inside, I noted:
Furniture designers create furniture a person can climb inside at night. Fearing forced home entry, people are willing to sit as if invisible inside oversized recliners to watch favorite television programs.  Beds are built hidden within larger, apparently empty beds or inside walls as pull-out bed drawers.

The feeling of being unsafe inside one’s own home was not entirely without basis. After all, especially in California, modern suburban dwelling styles had increasingly favored a relaxed, outdoor living style. The idea was promoted by magazines like Sunset, which had offices on the San Francisco peninsula. Sliding glass patio doors offered a way to melt the difference between enclosed home and inviting garden. Meandering paths, accessible to the public, were included within common green areas in a community in Davis, California, a development that featured lots lacking private fences. While this architectural trend toward trusting and openness was occurring, crimes of breaking and entering, home invasion and serial rape were on the rise.

Thus, in early 1990 – note the telescoping TV antenna and stack of VHS tapes which date the drawing – I was raising the alarm about the danger of getting too relaxed inside one’s home or apartment. I offered a line of Hide Inside furnishings

Yet even in my earlier book, What the World Needs Now (1984), I suggested that hide-inside furniture like the Bed-Room might add to one’s feeling of security at night. An obvious weakness in the concept would be if the lady or her spouse were snoring at the time a stranger snuck into the bedroom.

That there are still no commercial furniture products that one can hide inside does not necessarily prove that my idea is flawed. My prediction may simply require more decades before it is fulfilled.

Visit Steven M. Johnson at his website.

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Have you ever read Edogawa Rampo's short story THE HUMAN CHAIR? It's about a guy who hides himself away inside a chair he builds and has himself delivered into the home of the woman who commissioned his work.
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Jasmine: I understand your concern. My work is first and foremost intended as humor and satire, and some of my products and inventions are funny because of their implied flaws, or things-left-out.
I think, for example, that living in a compact cocoon at home would be a ridiculous, unhealthy form of escapism. But the cartoonist in me loves to create these things anyway.
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