Auto designers and Milan-friendly furniture folks are the rockstars of industrial design, but designers who work on camping cookware deserve more credit than they get. To take cookware, a line of objects with clearly-defined form factors, and completely re-think them to make them compact, minimalist and lightweight is a challenge many of us would (and did) fail at in design school; but look at some of the leading camping goods companies and you'll see all manner of clever design solutions and a real understanding of materials.
Sometimes the innovations are small, as with GSI Outdoors' Halulite Pot. For example, a built-in strainer is something you've seen in conventional cookware, as with these:
But the moderate design flaw with those designs is that they require hand protection from the heat of the lid. GSI's designers got around this with two simple pieces of silicone to protect your mitts while you pour and hold the lid in place.
Pack space for campers is at a premium, of course, and GSI's designers have done more than prevent one from having to carry oven mitts. Their Pinnacle set, an "integrated cooking and eating solution," packs an absurd amount of dining items into a compact space:
The color-coded items are so you know whose cup/plate was whose, potentially cutting down on washing time. When it does come time to clean up, the watertight sack that holds everything can be used as a sink. And while the color-coding convention, the subdividing of cups into quadrants and the nesting are not design conventions unique to GSI, we point them out as examples of design thinking for camping cookware.
One of the more interesting cutlery designs we've seen in this category is Pro-Idee's Picnic Cutlery. To completely re-think the shape of these utensils and wedge them into that odd, stowable egg shape, and toss in a bottle opener to boot, is pretty neat.
We know from past comments that a fair amount of our readership are both industrial designers and camping enthusiasts. If you guys/gals have a particular brand that you think deserves mention, please let us know in the comments.