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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

ON DESIGN

Mobile Mouse, National lawn mower, Tsubomi's space packaging system, SUTTO Stool


Special to The Japan Times

With the weather about to get the better of us as we move into the hottest month of the year, why not try to find some solace in a few items to help us make the most of the great outdoors. For those on the go or hanging out in their backyard (that is, those of us lucky enough to actually have one) this month's picks will have you covered.

Mobile mouse

Mobile Mouse

Mobile computing has most definitely arrived, with compact portable devices such as the SmartCaddie (featured in last month's column) being a good indicator of where things are heading. For most of us, though, the laptop remains the portable computing tool of choice, which means having to deal with a trackpad. Some people, however, find these incredibly fiddly, which explains the multitude of mobile mouse offerings out there that give frustrated users an alternative. Tokyo-based electronics company Evergreen approaches the problem from a different angle with a finger-mounted USB optical mouse (DN-FMB001). Weighing barely 35 g, the mouse fastens to your finger by way of a Velcro strap and can be easily manipulated in confined spaces, a problem most mouse users probably encounter in public places. The mouse retails for 3,000 yen, and can be purchased online ( www.donya.jp ).

www.everg.co.jp/

Quiet neighborhood

National lawn mower

You may be wondering why a Tokyo-based writer is using up space to highlight a lawn mower? Just because my lawn-mowing days are long gone -- and thankfully so -- doesn't mean that I have to stop looking out for all those home owners in the sprawling suburbs who still need to deal with such things. Here, then, is the Garden Lawn Mower (EY2272) from National, with a pleasant green and white color scheme. Its five blades promise a swift cut -- 30 tsubo (100 sq. meters) in 30 minutes -- but the true selling point is in its relatively quiet output of only 63 decibels of noise, comparable to an office or restaurant. This should translate into a peaceful mow, with no need for dampeners of any kind, giving your neighbors one less reason to complain.

ctlg.national.jp/product/info.do?pg=04&hb=EY2272

Space exploration

Tsubomi's space packaging system

If you think the sheen of aluminum blends nicely with an outdoor environment -- and I'm just the sort of person who believes so -- then the Tsubomi, an "aluminum space packaging system," might be the thing for you. Think of it as the 21st century version of the backyard shed, but one that gives you a degree of openness through a glass casing that turns the 27 cu. meters of space into an extra room. Using it as a simple storage shed would be a waste of its attractive design, so why not put it to better use as an outdoor work studio or even relaxation space. As Prefab homes are all the rage these days, the Tsubomi gives you a chance to take a tentative step in that direction.

www.ecoms-tsubomi.com/

Stylish legs

SUTTO Stool

You may wonder why stools keep keep coming up in this column. Even though this basic mode of seating doesn't leave much room for improvement -- it's a flat surface with legs -- I keep running into irresistible new takes. This time, it's the SUTTO STOOL, designed by the Osaka-based Truck Furniture. What makes it stand out is its classic feel -- the piece doesn't reveal its age at first glance due to a form and choice of material that makes a nice counterpoint to the extreme modernism that most designers are showcasing in products these days. It also has an adjustable seat in a choice of leather or three types of wood, to better match with your existing decor. If you're in Osaka, you can experience all of Truck Furniture's offerings by visiting their retail spaces, TRUCK and AREA2.



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