Vending machines are one of those themes that keep us going. The machines form an interesting typology of retail spaces in urban environments that are very private and very public at the same time, they are an opportunity to bring elementary services to spots without shop windows and, last but not least, they are stylish and shout for interesting tweaks and creative use.
We share our passion for vending machines with at least one other person on this globe: New York-based graphic designer Christopher D. Salyers. Back in 2010 he wrote a book about extraordinary vending machines around the world. Vending Machines: Coined Consumerism showcases a wide range of vending machines that offer crazy products, vending machines on the most idiot locations and vending machines that dispense their products in very strange ways.
A well-known example of the last category is Coca-Cola’s vending machine robot — a walking vending machine with feet and hands that strolls the streets of Tokyo. Talking vending machines in strange locations, what about one at a height of 3,776 meters? You would normally expect them in metro stations and crowded shopping malls, but the Japanese installed one on top of Mount Fuji. This rather lonely vending machine offers cold drinks to people that have climbed all the way up. It’s clear that not all vending machines offer chocolate bars, soft drinks and gum balls. In the Netherlands there’s a huge tradition of walk-up fast food restaurants where you can buy all sorts of snacks from automats. However, vending machines that both prepare and sell snacks are new to me. They exist! Also umbrellas, lipstick and strawberries are apparently sold from vending machines in cities around the world.
The author has done a great job of digging up the craziest machines from all corners of the world. Vending Machines: Coined Consumerism features some extreme examples, such as a crane machine expending roaches in Akihabara, Japan and a chewing gum machine that was converted into a heroin and cocaine machine. (Relax, it was an art project.) Real insane is a vending machine that dispenses used panties. You can imagine that the clientele for this kind of second-hand fashion is not poor women looking for cheap panties. The machines were taken off the streets pretty soon after they popped up in the Japanese city of Kumamoto.
Vending Machines: Coined Consumerism provides a great overview of creative entrepreneurship in the public domain. And although it consists predominantly of pictures, it also contains some in-depth interviews with people from the vending machine scene.
Vending Machines: Coined Consumerism
Christopher D. Salyers
Mark Batty Publisher, 2010
7 x 9 inches, 128 pages