Get Our Newsletter

Sign-up for your monthly fix of design news, reviews and stuff to make you smarter.

Follow Core77
Twitter Facebook RSS


Consumer Product

The Core77 Design Blog

send us your tips get the RSS feed
Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  23 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)


Garages protect our cars, serve as our workspaces—and often store an amazing amount of stuff. Making the most of garage space, for yourself or for an end-user, might mean using the ceiling, but it might also mean using the walls.

One way to use the walls is to install shelves. Monkey Bars has a clever design that involves layered storage, so you can fit more into any given wall space. And the shelves are built to take the load; every four feet of shelving holds 1,000 pounds. And with nine different types of hooks, there should be one to hold almost anything.


Elfa systems, long beloved for organizing closets and other interior spaces, can also be used in the garage. The ease of installation is a key factor in end-user satisfaction, as is the array of components: shelves, baskets, hooks and more. Like the Monkey Bars, they'll appeal to those who want everything out and visible.


Slatwall designs also work in garages; the one above is called storeWALL. While many slatwall systems are made from MDF, these panels are manufactured as a solid core, foamed PVC extrusion [PDF]. Again, the accessories are a big part of what make these systems work; the storage totes and brackets especially caught my eye. The panels are also compatible with conventional slatwall accessories, which gives end-users even more flexibility.


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  16 Oct 2014  |  Comments (3)


Maybe you're designing a garage for end users who wants to actually put their cars in their garages, along with all the other stuff they're storing there. Or maybe you'd like to create a shop, but you also need storage space for non-shop items. One way to solve that problem is to create some overhead ceiling storage.

One obvious way to do that is to install some racks. The racks from Monkey Bars, hold either 500 or 750 pounds, depending on the model. The height is adjustable, so there's a lot of flexibility regarding what gets stored, and where. There's a 2-inch lip around the edge to help ensure things stay in place, without making it too difficult to lift a bin into place.


And as you can see with these racks from NewAge Products, users can add hooks (if vertical space allows) to create even more storage.


Not everyone is going to want to climb up on a ladder to get things down from a ceiling rack. Some people will have issues with balance; others may have heavy items which can be tricky to handle on a ladder. In such situations, a lift system might be a better approach. This is a general-purpose lift from Racor. The pulley systems lowers the rack eight feet from the ceiling; it can hold 250 pounds.


Designers have also create lifts to deal with specific items often stored in garages. For example, here's a bicycle lift. This one can be installed on ceilings as high as 14 feet. While end-users generally agree it's a good design, many of them have complained about the quality of the rope. It's a good reminder to properly consider the cost-vs-quality tradeoff for a product's components.


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |   2 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)


Digital calendars are everywhere now—but many end-users still prefer to use paper. Calendars like the one above are attractive, but not really functional; there's nowhere to note what's happening on any given day. Fortunately, designers have created a range of calendars and planners that do help end-users keep track of their time commitments.


While many wall calendars have illustrations, REDSTAR Ink provides a wall calendar with just the essentials: good-sized blocks for writing in each day's activities. The calendar measures 11 inches by 17 inches, and is printed on heavy recycled stock with a recycled chipboard cover.


Letter C Design prints this calendar on individual sheets of recycled kraft text paper, which allows multiple pages to be displayed at once. Each page could be mounted to the wall using a clipboard, added to a 3-ring binder using a sheet protector, pinned to a bulletin board, added to the refrigerator door (with magnets to hold it in place), etc.


Sometimes end-users with lots of wall space like to see the whole year at a glance, and designers have created calendars to address this preference. This one, from Crispin Finn, has one row for each month. It measures 99.7cm × 70cm (39.2 inches by 27.6 inches). "Popular observances" such as East Sunday and Bonfire Night have been noted—which will be useful to the U.K. audience, but maybe not to those from other countries. Deciding which holidays to include will always be a design issue for those creating calendars and planners.


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  25 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)


Design students often need to carry lots of art supplies: pencils, markers, pastels, paints, brushes, sketch pads and more. ArtBin has been serving students for years, and now has quite a collection of products—so there's likely to be something to meet most needs.

Some of the products are designed to hold specific items, such as this brush box, which will hold up to 20 brushes. It has foam inserts to keep the brushes in place, and vent holes at each end to help the brushes dry.


The utensil box is perfect for pencils, with the foam padding to protect the points, although it can also be used for things such as pens, brushes and cutting tools. However, some users have complained that the box, which is 12.38 inches long, is much longer than their pencils. One user says the only drawback is that "Even with new, unsharpened pencils (Palomino Blackwings—which are very long) there is just too much room and it is unnecessary."


For those who want to carry a range of sketching tools, there's the Sketch Pak. As with the utensil box, the Sketch Pak has foam in the pencil wells. Those dividers aren't movable, though, and some find the four smallest sections to be rather useless.

But another user raves: "I have instant access to a sharpener, a few types of eraser, blending stumps, Conte crayons, a few pastels, vine and compressed charcoal sticks, graphite sticks, an ArtGraf carbon tablet and graphite tin, dip pen and nibs, bamboo pen, water brushes, brush pens, a fountain pen, a small vial of walnut drawing ink and around 20 pencils of various types! I did break the Conte crayons and pastels into half-size sticks to be able to fit more colors."


Adjustable dividers are always a nice feature, making a storage box more likely to fit each user's specific (and changing) needs. The Solutions 6-compartment box has movable dividers that allow those compartments to be subdivided; there are five evenly-spaced positions for the dividers. One user notes that each slot can hold "four medium Posca paint markers, 10 Hi-Tech-C Maica pens, or up to 14 Gelli pens."


Posted by erika rae  |  25 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)


If you were a fan of KK Studio's Uncomfortable Series—you know, the one where the took everyday products and made them impossible to use with irritating design bugs features—this will also be right up your alley. Weng Xinyu has devised "Good Medicine Tastes Bitter," a speculative series of four familiar household objects that quite literally have their own agenda.


This lamp's name says it all: "Angry Lamp - The Lamp That Turns Off If It's Not Needed." If it senses that another lamp is already on or if it's too bright in a room, it'll turn itself off by pulling down on its own chain with an arm-like extension. If you somehow manage to leave the room without remembering to turn it off yourself, it'll shut itself down.


The "Time Killer - The Clock That Tries to Kill Itself" is probably my favorite of the bunch. Morbid though it may sound, it comes off as almost cartoon-y in its function: When there's no one in the area, the clock's saw sinks into the wood and starts sawing. Once someone comes in to the room, it stops. Weng says that, "as the blade sinks deeper and deeper with time, the passage of time now becomes a vivid scenario which lead us to endless contemplation," but I'd liken it more to something that Wile E. Coyote would attempt.


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  18 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)


Design students face the same challenge as many other students and professionals: how to best carry the materials and tools needed on a day-to-day basis. Two students have created designs to meet that need.

Nitesh Baviskar decided to design a bag specifically for industrial designers.


While some of the bags Baviskar looked at during his research were backpacks, his design is a shoulder bag.



The bag is designed to hold the things designers need: a laptop, a sketchbook, drawing implements and a few tools.


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (3)


What do you do when your wardrobe consists largely of T-shirts, and you don't have enough room to store them? Not everyone has enough closet space to hang those T-shirts, so dresser drawers get used—and are often crammed to overflowing. Furthermore, the T-shirts at the bottom of the stack rarely get worn, because no one can see them. One solution: Fold the T-shirts and file them away, saving space and adding visibility.


Brittany Moser, on her Darkroom and Dearly blog, shows how much space she saved when she went with the folded approach. Brittany says the shirts do tend to get creases—but no more than when she folded them and laid them flat. She takes the one she wants to wear that day into the shower room with her, to steam out the creases.


Andrea Dekker has a video showing how she folds T-shirts, and Brittany has provided these step-by-step images. This all seems easy enough—but for those who want more help (or a cleaner look), there's Pliio.




Posted by Sam Dunne  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)


This past weekend, Reddit users have been delighting in pictures of prepackaged grape juice (alas, not wine) and bread (or is that gum?) communion reportedly handed out to one church-going user's 7,000-strong congregation. The Reddit faithful were quick to dub the curiosities 'Christables' after a certain packaged lunchtray product and offered up a number of other amusing puns and slogan suggestions—from mildly disrespectful to brazen copyright infringement—including gems such as "I Can't Believe It's Not Salvation" to "# Bad dap bap bap baaa...I'm loving Him #."

As comments on the thread point towards, the incongruity that we (even non-believers) feel at the sight of this object has to do with the design language: disposable plastic + aluminum-foiled symbols of the fast and packaged food industries that is unavoidably synonymous with cheapness, convenience and transience—a culmination that no amount of script typography, biblical quotes and cross symbols can outweigh.


Posted by Sam Dunne  |   8 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)


Only in Japan could the worlds of novelty plastic consumer goods, fast-food fanaticism and brand worship collide in such awe-inspiring, object-cultural absurdity.

The Japanese arm of fast food giant KFC recently released a suite of computing accessories in the likeness of their deep fried product. Whilst the Colonel hasn't yet taken to directly battering computing equipment (though that may not surprise some given recent accusations of some of their stores unsavoury contents), winners of a promotional giveaway could find themselves the lucky owners of a curious red and white keyboard, the keys of which replacing standard symbols with cryptic castings of miniature fried chicken pieces, giving users only the K, F and C to anchor to (presumedly touch-typing is second nature to Japanese technophile whiz kids). To make this branded computing experience complete, KFC also offers consumers the chance to wrap their hands around a disconcertingly realistic USB mouse and equally disturbing, as well as impractically large, USB flash drive—both novelties employing a rather questionable amount of plastic.


Collectors and fried chicken fanatics from Harajuku to Akihabara are surely to delight in these wild creations. Looking beyond the shimmering golden brown surface however, critics of the fast-food chain may well come to point out that such questionable objects only operate to abstract KFC's fried products further from the suspect reality of their production (current estimates for chickens put through the KFC machine at around 1 billion per year!).



Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  28 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)


We've talked about using the walls to keep papers close at hand, and to store knives—but walls can be used to store all sorts of odds and ends.

One way to use the walls is with a pegboard; Julia Child's kitchen pegboard, where she hung her copper pots, is a famous example. The pegboard above, from Human | Crafted, takes this old standard and makes it decorative as well as functional. The board is CNC machined from a solid block of walnut; the loops and hooks are 3D-printed nylon. It also comes with five feet of bungee cord, providing one more way to hold items in place.


Droog's Strap, designed by NL Architects, is another example of taking a familiar product—in this case, the straps used to hold luggage on the back of a bike—and doing something new with it. The straps are made from silicone rubber and can hold phones, keys, remotes, books, hand tools, etc. These would work great for end users who work best when everything is clearly visible. But for others, it will add visual clutter.


The naoLoop Loft, with its polyester latex bands, follows the same general approach as the Strap, but with the bands attached to a laser-cut stainless steel (or powder-coated steel) board. Besides transforming the look, the board protects the walls from anything that might get them dirty or cause other damage.

kontextur-hanging-line.jpgPhoto: Michael Wilson

The Hanging Line from Kontextür, designed by Josh Owen, is a single silicone band. Items are stored by tossing them over the line, or hanging them from a hook. Although this was designed for bathroom use, end-users could certainly use it other places, too. It's somewhat limited in what it can hold, much more so than the Strap or the Loft—but it certainly provides more storage options than the standard towel rack.


Posted by erika rae  |  26 Aug 2014  |  Comments (5)


I know, I know—another backpack. But not just another backpack. Unlike the brightly colored or patterned varieties that are all the rage these days, this one differentiates itself through its functionality, employing powerful magnets for its modular capabilities. This isn't one of those packs you'll find on the racks of big-box retailers around the nation, prepping for the boom of back-to-school sales. In fact, you can't even get your hands on the Anti-Gravity Pack just yet. Tessel Supply launched their Kickstarter campaign earlier this month, and while they've already surpassed their $20,000 goal, delivery dates are six months out.


As its name suggests, the Anti-Gravity pack was inspired by space travel, comprising several components that can be added and taken away for a personalized system set-up. Sound familiar? Sure, we've seen a few modular pack systems before, but it so happens that Tessel Supply's previous space-themed backpack, the Jet Pack was met with a similar enthusiasm that resulted in a haul of more than three times what they were asking for on Kickstarter.

Check out this video on the inspiration for Anti-Gravity—complete with slo-mo running scenes and mountain sunsets:

As you can see, it looks good. It's surprisingly sleek for a bag with so many compartment options. Here's another video highlighting the various components of the backpack:


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  14 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)


When I'm working with clients who have small kitchens, it's always a challenge to find places to store large utensils—so I appreciate it when designers create collapsible versions of these kitchen tools.

One such bulky item is the colander. The OXO silicone collapsible colander is less than 2 inches tall when collapsed, but still has the features end-users value, including plentiful drainage holes and raised feet. (Some end users say the feet are a bit too short, but that seems to be a design trade-off that goes along with the collapsibility; all collapsible colanders seem to have short feet, or none at all.) End users say it feels very study, but some say that collapsing it is a bit tricky; others say it folds fine as long as you "read the directions and practice a little." But since we all know many end users won't read the instructions, it would be better to have a design that doesn't count on that.


The collapsible colander from Rösle also collapses to less than 2 inches, and end-users say collapsing it is easy. Also worth noting: The colander, when collapsed, only takes the space of a dinner plate in a dishwasher—and it has a folding mechanism which "ensures that all parts that come in contact with food remain exposed for washing" even when it's collapsed. Given how much end users comment on how easy (or not) it is to clean their colanders, this is a feature that will have a lot of appeal. And the colander has an eyelet for hanging; an end user who does indeed hang her colander says it works well.


The Joseph Joseph folding colander, designed by DesignWright, is the thinnest one around; when unfolded, it's just 1 cm (0.4 inches) tall. It's made from a single sheet of polypropylene, and uses 12 living hinges to fold into shape; a clip at each corner locks the shape into place.


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |   7 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)


Professional organizers know that easy-to-use tools get used the most. Hooks beat hangers—and floor-standing coat racks have that "easy" factor, too.

Bonaldo's Tree, designed by Mario Mazzer, is made of polyethylene; the base has a steel disk to provide stability. (And stability is a big deal in homes with children and pets running around.) Bonaldo notes it can also be used outdoors, which might be nice especially for homes with large front porches.


The Merkled coat rack is made from powder-coated aluminum. It's shipped flat, but is designed to be easy to assemble and disassemble. (Some end users with memories of bad Ikea assembly may cringe at that.) The coat rack is specifically designed to accommodate tall umbrellas, either in the center or hanging off the top ledge. Also note those nice rounded edges along the top—easier on clothing than squared-off designs.


Coat trees can incorporate hooks or pegs in a number of ways. The Tree from Cascando, designed by Robert Bronwasser, is made of lacquered MDF; it has enough aluminum pegs to hold 20 coats. One concern: The pegs seem slippery and have no upward slant, so I wonder if some coats might slide off.


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  31 Jul 2014  |  Comments (2)


As a professional organizer, I've helped people organize their homes and offices—and their cars. One challenge drivers have is finding a good place to keep things like smart phones and sunglasses close at hand. (Hopefully, no one is texting while driving, but there are other reasons to keep a smart phone nearby; I need mine to hear my turn-by-turn driving instructions.)

Here's one solution to that challenge: The StickyPad from HandStands is one of several non-adhesive, non-magnetic pads that goes on a dashboard. There's an interesting balance here—the pad should be sticky enough to hold items even when the car is taking a sharp curve or coming to a sudden stop, but not so sticky that it's hard to remove items when the end-user wants to. And here's one drawback: Unless the end-user moves the pad around, the part of the dashboard covered by the pad won't fade uniformly with the rest.


An alternative dashboard design is the "grass mat" that came with the Renault Twingo II. It seems like a cool idea—but at least one reviewer, Ivo Kroone, said the grass mat was better in theory than in practice. Kroone found it "annoying trying to fish small objects out from amongst the stalks." And it seems that larger items didn't fit well, since Kroone left them just "sitting on top." The positioning behind the steering wheel was also problematic for Kroone.


Another way to keep things close at hand is to make use of the sun visor. We've praised the Cocoon Grid-It products before, but the sun visor organizer is worth some additional attention. The Grid-It can hold a wide range of items; the one complaint I've seen is that the Velcro straps are not long enough to go around a large sun visor.


Sun visors have other potential uses, too. The Visor Notes from Vertically Driven provides a white board for any information a user wants to see or note, when stopped. There's a holder for the dry erase pen, and the cap of the pen holds an eraser. This product uses clips to attach to the visor, rather than the straps that many visor-mounted products use—and unlike many other products, it flips up so the vanity mirror is still accessible.


Posted by Kat Bauman  |  22 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)


A backgrounder for those of you who don't live in Berkeley: Spirulina is a superfood. A superfood, for those who aren't obsessed with nutritional fads, is a food that is off-the-charts rich in vitamins, minerals and other stuff that is obviously yet mysteriously Good For You. Despite their grandiose title, it is a great idea to eat these uncommon comestibles; however, spirulina in particular can be a bit of work to get your hands on. It's traditionally grown in small ponds—historically in a lake system in Chad of all places—and it looks, to those without deep enthusiasm for biology, like pond scum. This is not a sexy or garden-variety foodstuff, but once harvested and dried it's easily added to other foods or taken as a supplement... at a pretty high cost. But what if it wasn't hard to harvest?


Tom Vered of Grow Spirulina has adapted (and sells) a method of home growing spirulina, and he's upped his own ante with a new standalone design, ostensibly to be sold online soon. This 10-liter machine would combine the precise biochemical and mechanical needs of a growing zone with the user-friendliness of an at-home yogurt maker. Besides the thrill of owning a unique appliance, you'd get the added benefits of taking your spirulina fresh and getting way more oomph per scoop. The literature varies on the specific difference, but even as a superfood, spirulina loses a lot of nutritional value when dried.


Posted by erika rae  |  21 Jul 2014  |  Comments (5)


As if we don't have enough meal sharing on social media as it is. It seems that you can't go more than five seconds on Instagram without scrolling upon some carefully composed food porn, whether it's a homemade dessert or a food truck delicacy. Now, the oPhone Duo promises to add another smelly layer to oversharing in the form of a scent-based system that allows people to send along a customized whiff with their snapshots. With over 300,000 different scents to mix and play with, it's a bit more labor-intensive than choosing between Mayfair and Valencia for that snapshot. (For the record, you can also attach your aromas to emails and mobile messages.) I don't think I'd be the only one who would spend a ridiculous amount of time obsessively wafting and whiffing the object at hand in order to send the perfect scent-agram.


You might remember Google's molecule-aligning prank from a couple of years ago—you know, the one that asked the important questions such as "What does the inside of an Egyptian tomb smell like?" (Their answer, in case you were wondering, is "dust, sand, bandages and gold atop mummified royalty.") The oPhone is a step toward this previously joked about tech, but from the looks of the Indiegogo video, Le Laboratoire is more about connecting people who live miles apart than helping the masses explore an olfactory encyclopedia of the world. Check out the video, which features cinematography and music worthy of Wes Anderson:


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  17 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)


In my work as a professional organizer, I find that almost all of my clients are concerned about recycling, and I applaud them for this. But this means we need more than a single receptacle for trash. While multiple waste baskets or trash cans will work, designers have created some more elegant answers.

The Ginebra bin from Made Design, designed by Pascual Salvador, would work well for an end user whose municipality uses single-stream recycling and who just wants to separate recyclables from non-recyclables. The lid on the bin is an optional feature; sometimes lids help, other times they just get in the way. There's a metal base to collect any spilled liquids.


The Trio recycling bin from Materia has three sections: one for paper, one for cans and bottles, and one for trash. While the paper slot is obvious, and the circle cues designers (and many end-users) into the proper slot for bottles and cans, the triangle shape for trash is befuddling—and may undermine the bin's usefulness.

Each section of the Trio has its own liner, so each can be emptied independently of the others, as needed. The clover shape means this is not a bin that tucks away nicely in a corner; rather, it would be good for larger spaces where the end users want to call attention to the recycling.


In the kitchen, end users may want to separate compostable material from other trash, and that's what the Bratatia twin bin is intended for. There's a larger bin for regular waste, and a smaller bin for compostables, with color coding to reinforce which bin is for each kind of waste. The bin is available in two sizes, since end users have different needs regarding space restrictions and the amount of trash they create.


Posted by Kat Bauman  |  15 Jul 2014  |  Comments (13)


I come not to praise the Paleos, but to understand them.

Our story starts with the premise (which we will not unpack here, for reasons of brevity and taste) that running barefoot, or as close as possible to barefoot, is a more healthy means of locomoting. Under this premise, being immediately in tune with one's physical terrain is beneficial to the body and mind, requiring greater intentionality and physical dexterity in order to cover rough ground without injury. For those who cringe at the idea of walking barefoot to the mailbox, this might be a lost point, but the "natural running" school of thought has seen major conversion over the last ten years. While the overall claims seem understandable, there are some basic logistical difficulties with barefoot running. Namely, that the bottoms of feet are pretty smooth. This means that wet/uneven/slick surfaces can be dangerously low traction, and hard textured surfaces like rocky paths and concrete can chew you up after a while.



Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  10 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)


Open wastebaskets are the easiest to drop things into, but sometimes end-users will want a lidded trash can—for appearances, for odor control, or for keeping children and pets out of the garbage. The Frisbee trash bin, designed by Frédéric Perigot, has a removable liner bin with a handle. That's a design that will appeal to some, but others will find it hard to manipulate. The lid, shaped like a Frisbee, is "ultra-flat"—pet owners will note that this provides yet another space for their cats to curl up.


Bendan Ravenhill's previously-seen Dustbin uses a detachable dust pan as the lid; a long-handled brush attaches to the side with rare earth magnets. This design would work well for end-users who never know where to store the dust pan.


Patent Ochsner has bins with two interesting options. The first is a dust pan which slides into place on the lid—another way to keep the dust pan close at hand. The second option is a wood seat, with a cushion as an additional option, making this a dual-purpose product especially good for those with limited space. But an end user whose trash can regularly holds smelly items might find this a poor choice.

The Eva Solo Waste Bin, designed by Claus Jensen and Henrik Holbæk of Tools Design, gets clever with the lid. The lid can be opened from any direction, and it can also be removed and used to carry waste to the bin. The bin was also designed to make it easy to replace a liner, and keep it firmly in place; it has a rubberized metal ring which the liner folds around.


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |   3 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)


Professional organizers are fans of wastebaskets—they help ensure trash actually leaves the space—so I'm always interested in new design twists on this basic product.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, where I work, many cities are banning plastic grocery bags—but before the bans, I saw many clients with huge stashes of those bags. But the bags don't need to go to waste; they can be used in wastebaskets, if those baskets are designed to make use of them. The Urbano Eco trash can, designed by Kevin McElroy, uses one bag for collecting trash and stores other below. The only drawback with this design is it's just a bit awkward to add new bags to the collection while one is in use. And sometimes any bit of awkwardness keeps people from putting things away.


The BagSavr+ from Products That Work does things a bit differently; extra bags (up to 10) are stored in a pocket, so it's easy to add bags at any time. The BagSavr+ has also been designed to allow it to live on the floor or mounted to walls, cabinet doors, etc. It has a flat back and keyholes to allow it to be wall-mounted with a couple screws; it also comes with a mounting bracket.


Other wastebaskets, such as this one from Polder, look more like conventional wastebaskets, but are still designed to hold plastic grocery bags. Some users of a slightly different version complained about it being hard to remove the bag without making a mess—a good reminder that ease of use needs to be paramount with products like this.


Posted by Ray  |   2 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)


By now, it seems like the conceit of a 'home of the future' has existed for as long as we've taken residence in permanent structures—while subsistence cultures certainly didn't fret over replacing HVAC filters, our domestic life perpetually bears the promise of being easier or more comfortable. But even as sci-fi films offer tantalizing glimpses into a swipeable, location-aware near-future, the app-enabled abode has proven to be an elusive dream as we once again crank up our noisy old air conditioners, much as we did with barely adequate space heaters just four months ago.

Well that's the case here in New York City, but for those of you who live outside the endemic constraints of shady landlords and co-op boards—and,to some extent, even for those of us who do—the fabled smart home may be appreciably closer to becoming a reality with the launch of a new collection of products on Monday, July 7, thanks to a new free app called Wink and your local Home Depot.

It's not a retail partnership in the traditional sense: Wink is a software ecosystem for other networked devices and appliances. It relies on a single piece of hardware, a pointedly nondescript white box that will likely gather dust alongside your modem and router—plugged in, of course, but scarcely touched after initial setup—since the entire interface is accessed via smartphone. Several Wink-enabled products will work without the hub, which facilitates networked communications for less deeply integrated products; compatibility is clearly indicated by labels on the packaging.


Nor is it a 'collection' so much as the launch of the app and 60 compatible products from 15 well-known brands, including literal household names such as GE—who have partnered with Wink's parent company Quirky to produce a series of networked products—and first mover Phillips to smart sprinkler startup Rachio and tech darlings Dropcam. So too does the selection run the gamut from entry-level light bulbs (GE & Quirky have developed one for $15) to more advanced products such as motorized curtains, deadbolts and garage doors. (Both the Wink Hub and the products will also be available via Amazon, though the displays at Home Depot will drive awareness and in-store sales.)


Posted by Kat Bauman  |  27 Jun 2014  |  Comments (9)


They say, not unfairly, that the only upper body workout cyclists get is having to pump up their tires. That's certainly one reason fixing flat tires is such a bummer. To give your feeble T-Rex arms a break, and to save you mysophobes from a day of despair, check out the skepticism-inducing-yet-promising tool from PatchNRide.

The PatchNRide system is a little oblique, modeled largely by CAD drawings and a distractingly good-looking actor. From what we can gather, it works like this: you locate the source of your flat, remove offending debris, push the pointed business end of this tool into the hole, depress a needle into that hole, inject a rubber sealant into the inner tube, remove the tool, and refill the tire with air. In less than 60 seconds your ride has gone from bummertown to back in action. No tire removal and minimal grumbling at the side of the road.

Don't look at the strap*


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  26 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)


We've talked about filing solutions for normal office papers—but what if the papers the end-users are dealing with are blueprints, maps or other large items?

Flat files are one obvious solution. They're incredibly easy to use—you just put your papers in the drawers (which can easily be labeled so you know what's where). The enclosed structure means the papers are protected from dust, spilled coffee, etc. To a limited degree they files are modular; the ones shown above can be stacked two high, if they're placed on a closed base rather than this open one. There's usually a locking option, if the end users need that level of protection. But they do take a lot of floorspace, and they're heavy; the Facil flat files from Safco weigh 118 pounds and up, and that excludes the base. So end users aren't going to casually move these around.


On the other end of the spectrum, there's the mobile trolley, such as the Hang-A-Plan from Arnos. Vertical storage like this takes less floor space, and the trolleys are easy to move around (as long as you don't need to go up or down some stairs). With this design, the binders that hang from the trolley hold up to 150 papers, with no need to add strips or holes.


The Offset Rack from Jalema is available as a two-tier unit—an interesting option for end-users with nine feet of clearance, and a collection of documents they don't need to access very often. Jalema uses staple strips—a reasonable option for archive-type storage, where the end user doesn't need to add or remove documents from the bundle. Color-coded index tabs are available to help end-users find the files they need.


For end-users with the available wall space, there are designs such as this Pivot Wall Rack from Brookside Design, with a maximum capacity of 1,200 sheets. The mounting holes are stud-spaced. If end-users are unable to locate wall studs, Brookside recommends using hollow wall screw anchors rather than the one-inch screws used when mounting to wall studs.


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  12 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)


I've got clients who love their breads—which is totally understandable, since bakers are now making some great loaves. But these clients face the question of how to store any bread that's not getting eaten right away. Long-term storage requires the freezer, but a good bread box will often keep crusty breads fresh for around three days. (This will vary depending on the type of bread and the climate.) The goal is to keep the humidity in the bread box just right; the vent holes in the box allow some of the moisture from the bread to escape. The Novo bread bin from Typhoon places those vent holes on the sides.


These bread boxes from My Kilos don't have vent holes; they just have a space where the wooden lid rests on the box. That lid can be used as a cutting board, too.


This bread drum has a cutting board that rests on the top. When the cutting board is removed, the bread drums can be stacked—a clever space-saving device. The rectangular shape of the prior bread bin vs. the circular shape of this one is a reminder that breads come in various shapes and sizes, and the end-users will need to select bread boxes that fit the breads they prefer.


This Joseph Joseph bread bin, designed by Morph, is another one with a cutting-board top. Two interesting design touches: It has an easy-to-grip handle on top, and it has grooves on the cutting side to help collect crumbs.


Posted by Kat Bauman  |  11 Jun 2014  |  Comments (2)


Innovation springs up in the gaps between the available and the unimagined, so it follows that applying a familiar technology towards a familiar goal can still feel unexpected. The Mink makeup printer debuted at TechCrunch Disrupt, and sits solidly in the penumbral zone between Wacky-Futuristic and Both-Obvious-&-Feasible. Simply put, Mink is a printer for make-up. Using the primary functions of inkjet printing with cosmetic grade inks and substrates, inventor Grace Choi wants to turn a mundane technology into one of the most practical applications of 3D printing that I've seen yet.

The Mink proposition is to take the good parts of boutique cosmetics retailers (quality materials and niche color options) and mass-market retailers (low cost, high accessibility), and ramp them both up. Prestige brands capitalize on on-trend colors that you can't find at a standard drugstore or Walmart, charging incredibly high prices for materials that are only marginally different from cheaper options. Meanwhile, mass market vendors keep costs down by streamlining color and material options, which drastically reduces the diversity of options... to the dismay of color-hungry and non-Caucasian makeup consumers.


Choi's solution would allow home users to use any imaging software (from MS Paint to Photoshop) to capture any digitally rendered color, save the hex code, and print it directly into the desired base material, using nothing but FDC certifiable dyes and bases. Pure, custom makeup, on demand. Choi raised eyebrows by live-printing eyeshadow at the TechCrunch event, and specifically mentioned the possibility of working with the different media needed for different types of makeup, from foundation to lipstick to powders.


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |   5 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)


While moving toward a paperless world is a great idea, the reality (as I see in my clients homes and offices) is that people still have lots of paper they're keeping—and that paper needs to get filed away. And my experience has also made me very aware of some issues related to file cabinet design.

One of the first decisions for an end-user is whether to use a lateral file (such as the one above, made by HON) or a vertical file. Space constraints matter here, since lateral files take more wall space, but don't extend as far into the room.

And while you can't see it, this file cabinet has a lot of other design features worth noting. There are four adjustable leveling glides—always nice for less-than-totally-even floors. To prevent tipping, there's an interlock system to keep the end-user from pulling out more than one drawer at a time; there are also counterweights, where needed, to prevent tipping when drawers are open. Since I've had clients' file cabinets tip over when one or more drawers were open, these features definitely catch my attention. My only caution: One of my own file cabinets (not a HON) had an interlock system that jammed and was somewhat of a pain to reset; these need to be well-designed to prevent such problems.


A lateral file can also be configured to hold files facing the front, rather than the side, as you can see with this Asisto cabinet from C+P.


These lateral files from Herman Miller are modular—always nice for meeting changing needs. And for certain shared workspaces, the ability to have some drawers open in one direction and some in another could be quite useful.