Super-EggDesigned as a “useless necessity” in 1965, the brass super-egg is a classic piece of industrial art beloved by design connoisseurs.

Super-EggDesigned as a “useless necessity” in 1965, the brass super-egg is a classic piece of industrial art beloved by design connoisseurs.

“Hein readily copped to the impracticality of his beloved object”

In the early 1960s, the Danish mathematician–turned–poet Piet Hein invented the “super-ellipse,” a precise geometrical cross between an oval and a rectangle. He applied his new mathematical formula to everything from a Swedish traffic hub to designs for tables and chairs and, in 1965, to the 1.5-inch-tall brass nugget he called the “super-egg.”

The super-egg was a three-dimensional expression of the super-ellipse—an egg that could stand on its tip. At first, it was marketed as a thinking person’s drinking game. Tip the super-egg over; if it lands on its head, drink. If it lands on its side, drink.

A booklet accompanying the super-egg listed any number of other, equally dubious applications. As an oracle, it could answer yes or no questions by landing on one side or anoth...

ISSUE 52

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