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Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010
Design for keeping everything warm and just so
By JEAN SNOW
Drastic desk changes
Hopefully you're still keeping your New Year's resolutions, and if one of them was to pay more attention to the little things in life, such as your desk space, then the latest from Japanese stationery brand Craft Design Technology can help fulfill those good intentions. Released as part of the brand's autumn/winter collection, "Drastic Change Series," this classy line of leather desk accessories includes a memo-pad case (¥7,800), business card case (¥8,500), and a pen sheath (¥6,800). Each item is available with contrasting exterior/ interior color combinations — hence the "drastic" naming — of white and black, black and white, and brown and green.
Don't kick the Bucket
Anyone who has suffered from and lamented the lack of adequate insulation in a typical Tokyo abode will know that standard space heaters are normally large, white and unattractive. Idea International's new mini heater, however, is quite different. The Bucket ceramic fan heater is ultra compact so that it can fit easily under any desk and features an attractively simple outer shell that won't ruin the aesthetics of a room, even if it's put on a bookshelf for storage. The "bucket" handle also doubles as a stand, which allows you to angle the heater just right so your feet stay nice and toasty. Priced at ¥6,825, the Bucket heater is available in red, orange and white.
Keeping a lid on it
Cup noodles might have made it into space, but when it comes to preparing them on Earth, they suffer one ridiculously low-tech problem: After you've poured boiling water into the container, the foil lid keeps flipping open during those crucial few minutes of waiting. Placing your chopsticks across the lid doesn't work either; they just keep rolling off. Akira Mabuchi found this so annoying that he's come up with an answer — Cupmen. These tiny men-shaped "men" — this is a pun, by the way, "men" means "noodles" in Japanese — cling to the edge of your cup-noodle container, firmly holding the lid closed, making sure your noodles fully absorb hot water and heat up properly. Not only this, but as the cup heats up, the Cupmen also gradually fade in color, turning from their original color to white. When he's white, you know your snack is ready to eat. Available in orange, pink and bluish-green, Cupmen are priced at ¥840.
Time to make a stand
Many of us now use portable devices, such as iPhones and iPod Touches to watch videos or to show off slide shows of favorite photos. Staring straight down toward your desk or holding up your device directly in front of you, though, does not exactly make easy viewing. You've also probably tried the balancing act of precariously leaning your device against something else, only to watch it slide back down a few minutes later. iStand solves this issue and is another one of those ever-so-simple yet incredibly practical objects, it's a wonder it hasn't been invented earlier. In the form of a silicon bulbous knob, the iStand is attached to the back of your device by a suction pad. The device leans against the stand, which doubles as an extra grip for your fingers when you're holding it. Designed by Masato Tokuno, who was behind another popular iPod accessory, the Mug Speaker, the iStand is available in seven colors (white, black, pink, orange, green, blue and purple) and sells for ¥630.
Swaying in the light
The latest pared-down — and, yes, white (as are most of this brand's products) — creation from Osaka-based Metaphys is the Good Design Award-winning Susuki floor lamp. Inspired by the swaying of susuki (pampas grass), the Susuki lamp has five pliable "stems," each tipped with an LED. Although sold individually, up to five units can also be connected side-by-side to create a wider version of the lamp. The soft-light LEDs create the romantic effect of long stems of pampas grass gently swaying along a moonlit riverbank. Each Susuki floor lamp unit is priced at ¥18,900.