An enormous "pneumatic pillow," (U.S. patent no. 796,108), a combo pillow-and-coverlet shaped like a pill (U.S. patent no. 1,871,003), a marine life emergency pillow (U.S. patent no. 1,470,598), an "infinite pillow" intended to help a mortician maintain "limp body elements" in a "desired attitude" (U.S. patent no. 3,234,623), a "beauty pillow" molded to keep coiffures in place (U.S. patent no. 3,319,272), and a combo pillow-crash helmet (U.S. patent no. 3,538,508) — these are just some of the designs patented for pillows over the decades, and which have inspired an ongoing project and recent exhibition, Pillow Culture.
Founded and curated by architect Natalie Fizer and curator Emily Stevenson, Pillow Culture brings together 17 artists and 9 filmmakers to explore the pillow as designed object and technological artifact. In each case responding to or referencing a pillow design patented by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the artists and filmmakers collaborated to create new works.
Here are images from some of the projects; more images and videos are viewable on the Pillow Culture blog.