Portland is a solidly 2D town. We do great graphics, our branding is beautiful, and the interactive design coming out of here is innovative and interesting. Which is really lovely... but leaves us a little lacking in the physical department. Traditional crafts are on the rise, but where are the really interesting product design projects? Apparently, they're still in school.
Of all the events and all the open houses attended last week, the University of Oregon Product Design show was easily my favorite. Possibly because I was the only one there and thus didn't have to contend with two dozen graphic designers drawling about their current shows while pretending that they were there for something other than free wine. Also possibly because 97% of the work in the small show was clean, slightly surprising, and whimsical without pretense.
The show features work produced in Asst. Professor Wonhee Arndt's studio, the theme was "Home Away From Home," and selected pieces made an early debut at Milan's Design Week. Here are my favorites.
It's easy to imagine this rolling storage bin by Chris Lau being used as a fun organizer for kiddos or slightly absurd adults. Nice lines, easy to move, easy to clean inside and out.
Ceramic oddities by Trygve Faste and Jessica Swanson titled "Intertidal Deployment Objects" show a fun blend of nautical and traditional pottery influences with disconcertingly neon glazes, and could ostensibly be producible. I'd own one—in this climate you never know when you need to deploy some intertidal objects. The structured but cozy "Construction Quilt" by Wonhee Arndt makes fort building more interesting and wrapping up an architectural affair. Less compelling when wall mounted, but it looks like it would be plenty of fun.
The "Rocker" by Sean Leyder is a fun, comfortable mix of attractive lines and pragmatic balance. The exposed structure is interesting but doesn't interfere with its use. In background you can see the following elegant Teapot and Aerating Wine Decanter (not fancy tempered glass bongware), by Bart Carrade.
Lastly, the Shell Desk, also by Wonhee Arndt. A wide standable desk with a lifting surface that hinges on a wooden dowel of a shape and size similar to the simple legs. The plastic shell-shaped hood adds nice material difference without getting too Swedish-Big-Box, and fits well with the gentle curves of the top. Nicely done, everybody.