Here's a great example of re-thinking an everyday object and using a little science to improve the user experience:
The shape of your basic cooking pot hasn't changed much since its invention, though nowadays we use metal drawing rather than hand-hammering. But an unnamed Japanese inventor has been prototyping pots with Bundt-pan-like fluting in the sides, angled in the manner of a helical gear. The reason? When heated up, convection causes the liquids within to move (hot water rises to the top), and the vortex shape channels that movement into a fixed direction. The result is a pot that essentially stirs itself!
A Japanese company called Watanabe Co. Ltd is currently seeking a manufacturer for the device, called the Kuru-Kuru Nabe ("Round and round pot.")
If you're going to make design predictions, you have to get used to being wrong. I'd have told you Quirky's Click n Cook system of cooking utensils wouldn't sell, and I'd have been incorrect.
Invented by Fred Ende, the Click n Cook consists of five commonly used utensils and just one handle, which snaps into each like a razor handle does with disposable blades.
My rationale for dismissal would have been that the footprint of the base isn't much smaller than a cylinder you could throw five full-sized utensils in, thus negating any countertop space savings, but consumers disagree: Since hitting production the Click n Cook has shipped more than 10,000 units, paying out nearly $16,000 to the developer(s). That might seem like a drop in the bucket to corporations targeting Target, but I think it's a handsome payday for Ende and his contributors, considering it took just one month to develop.
I love that Quirky enables these possibilities, and also dig that they put together a nice vid detailing the design and development process:
Before entering design school I worked as a prep chef. I learned to sharpen knives and observe some industrial-speed kitchen designs. One of my jobs was to transform neverending containers of vegetables into bite-sized pieces--quickly. (I can still hear head chef Rich yelling at me to pick up the pace.) The design system in place for this--designed both for speed and for right-handed people—was as follows:
I worked at a stainless steel table that had a rectangular cutout on the right side of the top surface. Into this cutout was dropped a rectangular plastic bin with a lip around its perimeter that prevented it from falling through; the top of the bin was roughly level with the worksurface. To the left of this, in the center of the table, was a two-inch-thick cutting board. Its thickness brought its top surface slightly higher than the bin, an important detail. To the left of the cutting board was the target container of vegetables.
A senior in the Industrial Design program at the Rhode Island School of Design, Brett Newman hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. Newman's passions for biking, skiing and making are evident throughout his work—whether it is designing a pair of sustainable skis with friend Patrick O'Sullivan, or creating the Tri Bike Rack.
Since the age of ten, Newman loved drawing and would spend the majority of his time designing numerous iterations on soccer shoes and athletic equipment. Drawing soccer shoes was his dream job long before he knew of Industrial Design as a viable career path. His focus has changed a lot since then, but the primary principles of Industrial Design (problem solving, getting your hands dirty, and designing for a real purpose) are still a huge motivation in his work.
Below are two of his projects, the Tri Bike Rack and Ready to Reassemble.
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Tri Bike Rack
Commercial and residential bike display systems have different and specific requirements, but the goal for the Tri Bike Rack was to create one system that could seamlessly function in both environments. For the bike shop setting, Tri offers a modular solution that can easily display the bike in any of the three most popular orientations; floor mounted, dropouts, or by the top tube. For those who desire a solution in the home, Tri is made from high quality materials and pays as much attention to style and detail as the bikes that it stores.
At this year's Home and Housewares show, we were impressed with the number of brands that had over a 100 years of manufacturing experience—Eva Solo, Lodge and SodaStream to name a few. Design leads the way for each of these companies as they continue to innovate into the next century. Two Japanese brands that caught our attention showcased a rich design heritage that looks towards the future: Marna (established in 1872) and OIGEN (since 1852). These two brands are household staples in Japan but look to expand into a globalized market in the 21st century.
Marna products are ubiquitous in Japan. Founded in 1872 with the manufacturing and distribution of the first Western-style brushes in Japan, in 1950 the company began expanding into products beyond household and industrial brushes. Today, this fourth-generation family-run company produces delightfully designed, award-winning products for kitchen, bath and home. We loved their display of silicone pig steamers and hanging collapsible cups.
Their product range featured a number of GOOD Design award winners for the kitchen: a Spoon Whisk, Standing Rice Scoop, Stacking Soy Sauce Pots, Combined Tongs, and Masher. Their fish-shaped dish sponges bring a bit of joy in mundane household tasks.
Like Core faves Kikkerland, Fred & Friends and Suck UK, housewares purveyor DCI offers a whole range of clever products, from humorous housewares to stylish stationery and plenty of 'things-that-look-like-other-things.' Founder Roni Kabessa wasn't sure what to expect when he first relocated from New York City to Providence, Rhode Island, but he's been pleasantly surprised by the local talent pool (thanks largely to perennial top school RISD). In fact, DCI was pleased to partner with student-run conference A Better World By Design on a design challenge, and we were pleased to see the inaugural results of the collaboration at IHHS2012. (This year's challenge is currently open for submissions.)
The three items in the ABWBD designer collection included René Woo-Ram Lee's "Plug Out," a wall-mounted cord organizer intended to facilitate energy conservation; McKenzie Powers' "I Am a To Go Box," a microwave- and dishwasher-safe silicone container; and the "Eco Tray" by Queenie Fan & Angie Lee, a conscientious take on a picnic plate.
We hope that a couple of augmented scissors transcend their novelty appeal: the "Straight Edge" laser-guided scissors feature a built-in laser pointer to ensure straight cuts, while the "Scissortape," designed by Lou Henry (A2), is a combination of exactly what it sounds like.
A brand-new collapsible water bottle design (by Wei Young of Mydesign Group) fit both the trend of silicone kitchenwares and portable drinking vessels. The bottle comes apart in the center, such that each half can be extended, as in seen in the bottles in the foreground and center above.
These Peleg-designed magnetic vases appear to stand on their own: the magnetic plate (as seen in the bottom right) can be concealed beneath the tablecloth for the gravity-defying effect. They come in a set of five.
The design team at Seoul-based design studio cloudandco, led by Founder/Creative Director Yeongkyu Yoo, is pleased to present their latest product design, the Bottle Humidifier. The designers note that the ubiquitous household object is often an inelegant or outright ugly device hiding in plain sight: "When the context of the humidifier as a product is considered—an object that sits on your desk or table for long periods of time—it is clear that design needs to be more considered."
Their solution, the Bottle Humidifier, is "at once a functional product and art object." The antibacterial plastic exterior shell comes in a matte white finish, while the thick glass reservoir at the bottom "allows the user to see the water level inside." The device is powered via a retractable USB power cable.
It's not always so bad to be part of the 1%. Tokyo-based nendo is showing his newest collection of 1% products this April in Milan. This second release follows his 2006 inaugural collection which included light bulbs, furniture, vases and tableware—my favorite piece was the "Fruit Template," a witty take on a fruitbowl.
Six years later, nendo's new collection continues with the project parameters of creating a limited run of 100, but this time around the collection is more focused with five sets of ceramic tablewares that reflect the designers considered and delightful aesthetic.
Only 100 of each object will be made.
100 is the perfect amount: they're neither one-off "works of art" nor mass-produced products made in the millions.
Whether its the skill of the artisans or new technologies,
we want to make things that are only possible.
because there are 100 of them. Not more, not less.
To give owners the chance to experience the joy of owing 1%.
Photography by Glen Jackson Taylor and Ray Hu for Core77
The winter edition of the New York International Gift Fair kicked the year off with some fresh new kitchenware, lot's of eco-friendly toys, vintage type, jewelry, and bird motifs—seriously, we weren't the only one's making Portlandia jokes.
Design collectives American Design Club (AmDC) and Join set up shop in the Javits Center foyer again presenting objects, jewelery, accessories, and stationary from a curated selection of independent young designers. R&L Goods caught our attention with their recycled leather wallets made from finely ground scraps of leather which would otherwise be discarded, the finished material is 90% post industrial waste combined with natural rubber. As far as finding original gift items with integrity, these booths were killing it!
Seeing as he cut his teeth with the likes of Max Lamb, Studio Gilthero, Martino Gamper and Julia Lohmann, it comes as no surprise that designer Phil Cuttance is well-versed in materials and processes. "FACETURE" is a series of household objects that take a vaguely crystalline appearance based on a unique fabrication process. Each vase, lamp and side table looks is made by casting a water-based resin in a handmade mold:
First the mould of the object is hand-made by scoring and cutting a sheet of 0.5mm plastic sheet. This sheet is then folded, cut and taped into the overall shape of the product that is to be cast. The mould's final shape, and strength, is dictated by which triangular facets I pop in and out. I do this each time I ready the mould for the next object, meaning that no two castings are the same. I then mix a water-based casting resin that is cast in the mould where it sets solid.
The resin is poured into the hollow mould and rolled around to coat and encase the sides, controlled by me on the casting jig on the machine. The material soon sets creating a hollow solid object. Then another, different coloured measure of resin is poured into the same mould, and swirled around inside, over the first. When it has set, the mould is removed to reveal the solid set cast piece.
The results look something like stalagmites from a virtual cave, though Cuttance notes that their origin is neither geological nor digital: "The casting appears with sharp accurate lines and a digital quality to its aesthetic, a visual 'surprise' considering the 'lo-fi,' hand-made process from which it came."
But the real gem is the bespoke machine with which Cuttance creates "FACETURE":
It's no secret that we're fans of London's Black+Blum: year in, year out, the design duo always seems to have something new up their collective sleeve. The recent NYIGF was no exception, as it was occasion for the official unveiling of three new designs.
First up, the "Eau Good" water bottle is a clever take on a water bottle with a natural filter.
The bottle uses a filter system with binchotan active charcoal, which has been used in Japan as a water purifier since the 17th century. It reduces chlorine, balances the pH and adds minerals to the water. Most importantly, it makes tap water taste clean and delicious.
The design of the eau good combines the vintage feel of the cork stopper with the unique clear, blow-molded bottle and the utilitarian aspect of the centuries-old filtering system.
The filter takes roughly 6–8 hours to work its magic and after its six-month lifetime, the charcoal can be used as an odor absorber for refrigerators.
The "Lunch Pot" (center) is a new offering in their line of tupperware containers: a pair of pots that neatly snap together, a handy solution for those of us who often bring multi-part meals for lunch. The watertight, BPA-free, microwave- and dishwasher-safe pots also feature an unique threadless enclosure for added convenience. Meanwhile, the strap remains secure even when the "Lunch Pot" is inverted or otherwise subject to the abuse of transit.
While the New York International Gift Fair plays host to all variety of tchotchke, knick-knack, doodad and gewgaw, the more refined work tends to stand out among the visual supersaturation. Case in point: the understated debut collection of newcomers Benwu Studio collectively bore the hallmarks of minimalist design, yet each piece had a fascinating backstory rooted in Chinese culture. Indeed, designers Hongchao Wang and Peng You, currently based in Cleveland, Ohio and London respectively, began collaborating in order to "focus on materials, traditional techniques and crafts. Designs are highly inspired by fashionable/architectural elements and Zen philosophy."
The "Sunmao" stool takes its name from the Chinese term for "tenons and joints," drawing on an ancient construction technique that is now familiar mostly as a wooden construction puzzle/toy. It is perhaps best explained by its fabrication video:
The "Hakkak" Lamp, designed to work as a pendant or a floor lamp, is also inspired by ancient building techniques, but it requires a bit more explanation:
A couple months ago, we had a look at HJC Designs' first foray into sleek-yet-playful kitchenware with the "Peel" coffeemaker. The Yorkshire, UK-based company is back with the second item with Tron-like LED details to accent the object's clean lines and signature 'peeling' surface: a "visually striking cordless kettle."
The eye-catching kettle features a matte black body with a zipper-like band that 'peels' at the spout, as well as a stainless steel ripple-effect lid, encircled with the glow of soft blue LED piping.
A man whose work speaks for itself: Photographer Carl Kleiner's product photography has an odd way of making collections of 3D objects striking in a 2D way. The Stockholm-based shooter's recent IKEA campaign turns their flatware into artwork.
Dutch designer Rogier Martens is pleased to present a new series of hand-blown glass fruit bowls that take their final form based on (what else?) bowls of fruit. He notes that Leerdam, "the Glass City of the Netherlands," is also a major producer of fruit:
The idea of the 'Fruit Bowls' arose during one of the many trips made through the blooming orchards between Utrecht and Leerdam. Mold-blowing has two major disadvantages. each product is identical what takes away the exclusivity and it is a costly affair. I developed many interesting shapes by experimenting with glass and using fruit as a stamp or mold. After several experiments with different types of fruit, it proved to work best with the 'normal' Jonagold apple. This apple grown less than 100 meters from the glass furnace.
Where Athansios Babalis & Christina Skouloudi's fruit bowls took the shape of abstracted fruit, Martens' version is at once more and less idealized: the concept of a bowl that is 'fitted' to its precious cargo speaks to the notion of design for a specific purpose, yet reality dictates that each and every instance of a fruit will vary from the archetype.
Thus, the fruit bowls capture a unique amalgam of the general and the specific, both the idea of a fruit and the infinite variation of its real-world manifestation—in other words, how natural objects are perfect for their imperfections.
The production video, set to the dulcet tones of Radiohead, is also pretty badass:
I never saw the movie Sideways in full so I'll spare you the bad pun, but it so happens that it's the one word to describe designer Martin Jakobsen's rEvolution wineglass. The Czech designer, currently working for Mojoo Aps in Denmark, launched his eponymous brand in 2010 in order to pursue independent design ventures such as the rEvolution glass.
As with the stemless wineglass, part of the vessel is flattened so it can rest on a surface; however, Jakobsen has retained the stem as a sort of vestigial handle. The key, of course, is that the opening is at a 45° angle from either orientation.
Japanese design heavyweight Nendo—renowned for their minimalist, distinctly lightweight approach to objects and interiors—is set to debut several new collections at Maison & Objet. Those of you who are lucky enough to be in Paris later this month are encouraged to see the new work at the "Static Bubbles" exhibition at Carpenters Workshop Gallery and the "Object Dependencies" collection for Specimen Editions at Pierre Alain Chalier Gallery.
The former show, "Static Bubbles," actually consists of three collections: "Innerblow," "Overflow" and "Farming-Net." The first is "inspired by the way professional glassblowers draw a lump of molten glass onto the tip of a metal pipe and create form by expanding the glass with their breath, blown down the metal."
After expanding the glass in a square metal form, we left the glass in place rather than removing it and flipped over the form to create a table. The metal form becomes the table's legs and the glass, flattened through pressure against the floor, its flat top. Each of the five tables is different. We raised one metal form during blowing to create an edge that swells over like a loaf of bread. Another table was created by several glassblowers blowing into one form simultaneously.
The "Overflow" collection consists of 12 tables that were created by melting sheets of plate glass in three-sided square frames, "progressively heating it so that the molten glass would run from the missing section. By hardening the glass again at just that moment, the edge responds to surface tension, creating a table like a pool of water."
Here are two different takes on knife storage by Supergrau, a furniture and housewares company with a Made in Germany product lineup. The Saddle (above) is a magnetic, leather-covered "roof" that provides a place to tuck a cutting board while keeping your knives stuck to the outside. The leather will get scratched up over time, but that's intended to add to the aesthetic.
The Wrench is a nice twist on the standard knife block, replacing those dull slots with perfect geometry. Concentric, hexagonal-cross-section pieces of wood, nested and fixed in place by compressing an O-ring between each section, can store up to 12 knives in a variety of widths (though the cleaver will probably need to ride the Saddle).
The "Schizo Vase" is now available in white Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) as well as the original dark cork. "The outside shape is based on a Greek Amphora vase. The inner shape is inspired by an brass Indian flower vase."
They've also adopted the ribbed, dual-shape form factor as a pendant lamp (below). "The inner shape is a classic lampshade. The outside is more neutral, and looks a bit like a beehive. When turned on, the inner shape of the Schizo Lamp will be emphasized due to the translucency of the material."
While I understand the appeal of using EPS—the same compacted styrofoam used for packing and shipping applications—for its light weight, I must say that I, for one, feel that the 470€ (650€ for the vase) pricetag warrants a more substantial material, though I'm not sure what that might be...
In any case, OOOMS also offers a couple other, more giftable housewares in natural materials: the "Puzzle Board" is a neat little beech cutting board, which is not only modular but can also be used to hold a wineglass, making it ideal for your hosting needs.
While Dane Whitehurst has a pretty decent dayjob as the Creative Director of Burgopak, a packaging design company, the London-based designer has also been known to dabble in "Products for the Modern Thinker" on the side.
The things that interest, bother, upset, delight and define my outlook on the world are what drive my personal work. Each project has a message, some obvious, some more subtle but all exist as a means to provoke thought and discussion.
He recently reached out to us about his most recent design, the "iPeace," which is easily Whitehurst's most utilitarian design: a pair of earplugs with a carrying case. "iPeace allows you to carry a set of earplugs wherever you go, and by significantly reducing background noise will help those hectic moments to be that much more... peaceful."
As someone who can't bear to be on the train or plane sans iPod+earbuds, I appreciate the sentiment, but I still feel that the iPeace doesn't quite fit the bill as a necessity for the "modern thinker." I personally carry a Bullet (bike valve adapter), and I can see how a flashlight would be handy, but I can't imagine there's a huge market—of modern thinkers or otherwise—for everyday-carry earplugs.
Nevertheless, Whitehurst's website invites at least a little bit of "what's-behind-door-#2" exploration for a curious visitor, and I was pleased to discover that his other concepts are truer to their target audience. The "Martyr," above, is a playful take on a nightlight:
The Martyr is an energy saving fundamentalist. He wrestles tirelessly with the uncomfortable notion that in order to fulfill his ultimate cause in life; to save as much energy as possible he must extinguish his own light by pulling himself out of his socket.
His other designs venture further afield from practical application towards clever conceptual designs: the "Cliffhanger" mug lies somewhere between quotidian houseware and speculative object. It's a "seat-of-the-pants workout for the domestic thrill-seeker," a set of mugs that are characterized by "climbing holds instead of handles to provide a more challenging way to enjoy a cup of tea."
The adage that "Power is taken, never given" adequately sums up most airport interiors, as bean counters from various airlines love removing once-prevalent power outlets to keep us customers from sucking up their precious juice. Hotels, on the other hand, have hospitality built into their raison d'etre, so the Comfort Suites has commissioned a line of power-delivering desktop objects designed by Brandstand Products.
American pottery manufacturer Heath Ceramics has had their kilns burning for more than half a century, employing craftsmen at their Sausalito, California factory to produce tableware and tile. In recent years, Heath has been creating focused, hand-crafted collaborations with a carefully curated list of designers and artists including Christina Kim (Dosa), Roy McMakin and chef Alice Waters. "Our collaborations are inspiring for those of us working on design at Heath, as well as the artists and designers with whom we collaborate," explains Creative Director Cathy Bailey. "They are true collaborations where we all are learning something new and opening our minds to different possibilities in our work. They are also inspiring on many different levels, from new techniques to new perspectives offered by the artists and designers we're working with to create and craft on an entirely new level."
The newest edition to their artist roster is the Los Angeles-based illustrator and graphic designer Geoff McFetridge. Best known for his abstract, hand wrought line illustrations that depict everything from land- and cityscapes, fantastical creatures to crowds of people, McFetridge's work has been featured on products from Nike, Pepsi, Stüsy, Burton, Patagonia and in Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are and Adaptation. The collaboration with Heath is McFetridge's first foray into the medium of clay, although not his first work for interiors—he creates graphics for his wallpaper and fabric company Pottok prints. This collaboration marks a first for Heath Ceramics as well, "the first type of collaboration that is very graphical and where the artist is doing the illustration himself."
A natural extension of a long friendship between McFetridge and Heath LA Studio Director and potter Adam Silverman, the resulting collection was a true conversation between brand and artist. Bailey shared that the process, "was a deeper level of collaboration... Adam worked with Geoff on the general concepts. We then all worked together to figure out what a good merger would be—how Geoff's work and shapes would translate to clay. We also had to take into account how a piece is made (slip cast or jiggered for example) and whether or not it was appropriate to paint on or carve into the surface and even if we needed to consider throwing a new shape of pot. What was so gratifying about this collaboration was the exploration of technique and process."
This exploration resulted in a complete custom-painted dinnerware set, hand-carved vases and hand-carved teapot and cup sets for the collection, My Head Disappears When My Hands Are Thinking.
We sat down with Geoff to learn more about his illustrations and carvings for Heath—read on for more info about coin-hunting, yoga-skateboarders in leotards and making art for the masses. If you're in Los Angeles, you can see the pieces for yourself—the show opens tomorrow.
My Head Disappears When My Hands Are Thinking
Heath Los Angeles
7525 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Through December 31st, 2011
Core77: Can you share a bit about your approach to this collaboration? Why did you choose the specific characters and drawings for Heath?
"Silversmith" sounds like a stodgy profession steeped in history and the old way of doing things, but UK-based Charlotte Tollyfield has made a career out of breathing new life into the craft. Tollyfield—whose official job title is "Designer Silversmith"—pushes silver to its limits, using traditional techniques of press-forming and spinning to create modern forms intended more for utility than decoration. As she writes:
My current work is designed for the interactive environment of the dining table where the silver is not just on display but also something to be actively used. The work has both a visual and tactile appeal, causing the viewer to look with their hands as well as their eyes. To me an object is not complete until it has fulfilled its role so a sugar bowl is not a sugar bowl until it has had sugar dispensed from it.
One of our favorite designers from this year's New York Design Week is Brooklyn-based Chen Chen. The recent Pratt grad shares with Sight Unseen a step-by-step guide on how to recreate his "Metamorphic Rock" bookends currently sold through Philips dePury. Check out the full profile on Chen Chen and detailed directions on Sight Unseen.
What do you get when a jewelry and flower designer come together? The answer: Proof of Guild. The Nagoya based duo Minoru & Keiko Takeuchi were at Design Tide Tokyo exhibiting their "Hands and Hand" vase for the first time.
Founded in 2002, Proof of Guild has been cranking out eclectic animal-inspired accessories and ceramics including a clever Giraffe sugar bowl and Penguin salt & pepper shakers. Proof of Guild believes in creating artisan products with a philosophy of traditional handmade craft over mass production.
Like many of the pieces showing at Design Tide Tokyo 2011, "Hands and Hand" is multifunctional, however rather than set that function in stone (yes stone!) themselves, Proof of Guild want you to exercise a little of your own creativity and put it to use as you see fit. Aside from the more typical vase or jewelry holder arrangement on show was a neat desktop option complete with a cute little lampshade—an easy winner!
"Hands & Hand" can work well as a cluster—it's slim profile lends itself well to be strewn along a bookshelf or countertop creating an interesting visual statement in itself or fill-as-you please with objects of your desire.
Germany-based designer Sarah Bottger keeps it modular with her nifty Juuri series of glassware. By taking one basic bottle shape, making dozens of them and making cuts at eight different locations, Bottger cleverly yields a myriad of containers, from jars to glasses to decanters and everything in between.