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15 uses in four minutes: This Japanese video celebrates the simple genius of binder clips

Creative Commons/ Wellness Corporate Solutions
Life hacker's staple.
  • Anne Quito
By Anne Quito

Design and architecture reporter

Published Last updated on This article is more than 2 years old.

It’s impossible not to fiddle with a binder clip, once it comes within range of idle hands. Simple and elegant, the little metal object invites curiosity and invention—which may be one reason this video demonstrating more than 15 unexpected uses in under four minutes is so engrossing:

Among other things, this video, created by Japanese lifehacker Venlee, demonstrates how the binder clip can be taken apart into new configurations, used as charging station for phones, and even weaponized. It’s a perfect tribute to the clip’s century-long evolution.

A modern icon of efficiency, the humble object was patented almost 100 years ago in Washington, DC. Today it ranks among the 999 greatest objects ever designed, according to Phaidon Design Classics

In the beginning, it was a DIY solution to that old-fashioned, unwieldy problem: paper. Inventor Louis E. Baltzley devised it in the early 1900s as an inexpensive alternative to punching holes or sewing pieces of paper together, to help his father organize his loose papers.

But as we’ve moved beyond paper, the binder clip’s uses have spread beyond taming manuscripts. The internet offers tutorials by everyone from office workers to Martha Stewart, demonstrating how to create impromptu “sculptures” with binder clips, repurpose them as toothpaste squeezing devices, hold down baking pan liners, secure loose skirt hems, act as emergency cufflinks, or cheaply organize banknotes as an instant money clip.

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