It’s a famous anecdote among Beatles fans and rock historians that John Lennon’s "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" was written as a sendup to an NRA ad emblazoned with the slogan. Despite this, the song has been largely interpreted for the innuendo-laden ode to Yoko that it was. In any case, Lennon’s colorful lyrics are evocative on many levels.
For Francis North, a second-year graphic design student at Kingston University, the song inspired him to come up with a timely, and witty, idea. The "gun" was neither a smoking firearm nor the southerly regions of the male anatomy but rather something much more innocent—a hot water bottle.
North’s hot-water-bottle gun draws on a startling number of paranoid American gun owners who profess to sleep spooning their semiautomatics. "The overlying theme was that guns were a form of comfort, in a kind of twisted and ironic way, but I quite liked this," North tells Co.Design.
The designer, who admits to having long been fascinated with guns and gun culture, explains that the project was an ironic take on the phenomenon.
The bottle, or Comfort Gun, was made using one of the designer’s broken childhood BB pellet guns. North, a practiced prop-maker, made a vacuum-formed mold of the toy—itself modeled on a Colt M1911—and cast it with rubber. The result is a finely crafted (and functional!) object imbued with vivid detail and a tactile quality. "For it to work effectively as an object, I had to make sure it has all the visual and tactile characteristics of a real hot water bottle."
The design, North says, is a "visual statement on the recent status of firearms in America" that cast an ironic, if not unsympathetic, gaze on the relationship between Americans and their guns. So if you really can’t drift off without the warm glow of a handgun, make it the water bottle kind.