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Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
Designing with the grain
By JEAN SNOW
For kids branching out to art
Last year, Kana Nakanishi caught our attention with Koke-a, an unusual piece of furniture with a mosslike surface of tufted wool on which to relax — her graduate project for Finland's Alto University of Art and Design. Now she's a member of Oiseau, which has launched Mother, a new brand that focuses on long-lasting products. Nakanishi's contribution is the Atelier Book Chair, a fun art box for kids. The beautiful wooden set is a carrying case — to store art supplies — that conveniently opens up into a stool with hanging pockets to hold art brushes, paints and other young artist's needs. The Atelier Book Chair costs ¥50,000 and can be ordered directly from the Oiseau website.
Make sure you touch wood
It's been a while since On Design has covered a mobile phone — lay blame on the lack of decent competition from Japan in the face of the iPhone-led smart-phone onslaught. But the new Touch Wood handset from DoCoMo did catch our eye. Partnering up with the More Trees reforestation project, Touch Wood are decorated with wooden panels of hinoki timber. Using thinned wood — parts of the tree usually discarded after logging — each phone's unique wood grain gives it a warm look and feel. The manufacturing method also ensures that it is durable and water resistant, while it's bean shape is easy to grip and comfortable to hold. It has all the features you'd expect from a modern handset, including a touch screen. Touch Wood is set for release in March, its price depending on the retailer, and it will be available at all DoCoMo counters and shops.
Picture a piece of the forest
In keeping with the idea of sustainability, designer Kazutoyo Yamamoto recycles discarded wood for his series of picture frames called Piece Peace — a name that is a play on words, from the collection of "pieces" used to form each frame and the harmonized balance of the finished product. The handcrafted, and therefore unique, frames are available in multiple sizes, with prices running from ¥6,825 to ¥12,600 for a frame large enough for an A3-size image. Not only can you order the frames directly from Yamamoto's Piece Peace website (in either Japanese or English), but you can also see photos of the how each individual frame was created.
Women join the instant-noodle cup race
Akira Mabuchi's Cupmen was a hit when it came out a year ago — the perfect accessory for this instant-noodle mad nation. Since then, there have been two updates to the line. Cupmen 2 Relax has Cupman take a break from his original "hold on" pose by having him lean back and chill, and the latest addition now recognizes women as cup riders too. If you're new to this, these Cupmen and women are designed to hold your noodle-cup paper lid closed, while they change color to indicate when your noodles are done. Like the others in the series, the Cupwomen 3 Cheerful is available in three colors (blue, orange, or pink) and can be bought from the H Concept online store for ¥840 each.
Put it away and sit on it a while
Though we featured a stool in January, we couldn't help but add another this month — Iwatani Materials Corporation's I'mD design project, the Retto Bucket + Stool. It's a simple idea — a storage bucket that can be used as stool — which to be honest is not a particularly new concept. But here, real comfort was taken into consideration during the design process. So rest assured, there should be no sore behinds after using the Retto. Available with lids in five different colors (green, beige, pink, brown, or white), the Retto Bucket + Stool costs ¥3,990 and can be ordered from H Concept's Koncent online store (H Concept also serves as creative consultant on the I'mD line).