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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ON DESIGN

Conof, One Percent and Panasonic's new mini-speakers


Shredding mystery

When I first laid eyes on the Conof by n.o.l., I had no idea what it was but immediately developed a unprovoked yearning for it. So when I eventually figured out that it was a paper shredder, there was a moment of disappointment -- secrecy and sensitive documents play no part in my life.

But then I started breaking down the features. A micro-diamond cut guarantees confetti-size bits. Low noise means it goes unnoticed, preventing unwarranted remarks from your spouse about yet another unnecessary purchase. That it can easily handle eight sheets of paper at a time means that you'll be able to fill those bags with confetti in a jiffy.

The clincher? It shreds CDs and DVDs, slicing them up in four, which I'm sure would enhance many a craft project. As I said, I don't really need a shredder, but I'm willing to bet that I could find a reason to purchase one now.

The Conof Shredder by n.o.l., in green or white, is available for 18,900 yen; info@nol-design.com; www.nol-design.com/conof/

Upstart excitement

100%

More often than not, it's not big ticket items from the heavy hitters that get me all hot and bothered when it comes to new products. Rather it's the ones from the smaller houses, and most likely from the upstarts. Sure, they can't lay claim to the big-name draw of those who will remain nameless (they already get enough publicity), but instead, find recognition through their imaginative and often whimsical product offerings -- the kind that remind you just what innovative, fun, and most importantly, original design is all about.

One Percent Products may be under the creative direction of Nendo -- no upstart for sure -- but the independent line offers up a product range that is a joy to behold, from their String-Candle to the lovely, bare Heel chair (magazine addicts, myself included, will love their Open magazine case/rack). Their Web site offers a somewhat incomplete online store, but hopefully this will change, with an English side also being promised for later this year.

info@onepercentproducts.com; onepercentproducts.com

Standing in the rain

From One Percent we go all the way up to 100% -- another favored designer -- to celebrate the introduction of the Stand Umbrella 100%. As with most of the company's products (their Magnet Tack got featured in my 100% Design Tokyo roundup last year), the imaginative and slightly humorous nature of their designs are what draw me in. Hironao Tsuboi's Stand Umbrella fits right in with the rest of their line.

Who needs an umbrella stand when the umbrella itself serves as one, creatively giving function to form? But beware, even though the nature of this umbrella means it can be put at rest anywhere, I would not recommended leaving it at any old conbini (convenience store) entrance . . . it may not be standing there when you return.

The Stand Umbrella 100% -- one of the red dot museum's 2007 red dot design award winners -- is available in white and black for 4200 yen; press@100per.com; www.100per.com

PANASONIC

Office boomers

With personal work spaces at home often turning into the office of choice for the growing legions of Web workers, the idea of having a decent pair of speakers to power much-appreciated -- and hopefully soothing -- background music is a prime concern. Enter Panasonic's newly launched RP-SPF01 pair of mini-speakers. Sporting a sleek aluminum casing that perfectly matches a MacBook Pro or Mac Pro -- by far the PCs of choice, if those work space photo spreads so prevalent in design and culture magazines these days are anything to go by -- it packs a respectable punch, enough to power any desktop area, or even a modest-size room, which is what you're likely to be dealing with if you're living in a Japanese city.

http://panasonic.jp

Touch and call

Media Skin

Even though I covered a mobile phone last month (Softbank's "Pantone" 812SH), it would be remiss not to mention the newly released Media Skin, the latest wonder from KDDI's AU Design Project. This Tokujin Yoshioka design has been on the verge of release for quite a while now -- it first made media appearances back in 2005 -- and now that it's finally out, it's attracted the expected acclaim and been an immediate sellout. The features are almost endless, but let's keep it short: 1.3 megapixel camera, voice-activated GPS, music playback and TV viewing with One-seg. But what's really worth mentioning -- besides the sexy ergonomics -- is the texture. You can't tell from photos, but the soft-rubber coating makes it feel like nothing else out there.

The Media Skin, if you manage to find one in stores, is available in three colors (orange, black and white). Pricing varies depending on your contract; www.au.kddi.com/au--design--project/seihin/mediaskin/


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