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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ON DESIGN

Some new old favorites


Ready for the summer buzz

There's one summer discomfort that has yet to kick in: the dreaded mosquito attacks. To help us win the battle over insects, household goods brand Vitantonio has teamed up with Kincho, an insect-repellent manufacturer, to create the Mosquito Buster.

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It's a small, stylish device that you can leave in the corner of a room, where it will gently emit a pleasant-smelling mosquito-killing vapor. It runs on electricity and comes with one bottle of insecticide that will last 60 days. Replacement bottles are available in different aromas, such as green tea.

Similar devices have been around for a while, but the Mosquito Buster is that little bit more attractive. Available in black, pink, white or blue, it costs ¥5,250, and you can order it online at partner webstores via the Vitantonio website.

Get in touch with KDDI's Infobar

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Perhaps the popularity of iPhones has intimidated mobile-phone designers, because there's been a sparsity of great new handsets recently. However, the followup to Naoto Fukasawa's popular Infobar, which was originally released eight years ago is worth a mention.

The Infobar became one of the most successful handsets to come out of KDDI's old AU Design Project label (now called IIDA) and this new one references the original design as well as acknowledging some of the most successful features of the iPhone.

Keeping a similar aesthetic that made the original version such a hit, the main change to Infobar A01 is that it has a touch screen. Though the screen interface is original, it runs on the latest version of the Android OS. The color schemes are similar to previous models — Nishikigoi (red), Kuro (black), Chocomint (pale blue) and Hacca (white), and it's open priced, so it's best to visit your closest AU shop or counter for more details.

The glass is always full

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It's time to revisit one of our favorite independent designers, Kyouei's Kouichi Okamoto, who always manages to include a healthy dose of whimsy in all of his creations.

His Glass Tank reimagines the decanter/glass as an object you're more likely to associate with instruments found in a science lab.

The idea is that you fill in the "tank," which then refills the attached "glass" as you drink from it. Cleverly designed to never overflow, the level of wine in the glass is maintained by a balance between air and wine pressure.

The Glass Tank is not brand new — it was designed back in 2009 — but it's only now becoming widely available in stores. It costs ¥29,800 and, as with every Kyouei product, you can also order it online from the designer's website.

Traditional beauty, modern style

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A lot of the green-tea TV ads in Japan portray people enjoying their cha in a serene and traditional setting, which is quite often slightly ruined by the fact that the tea is being drunk from a PET bottle. The Magewappa Alpha cup (magewappa is a traditional Japanese wood technique also known as bent-woodwork) brings back a little natural charm to an age-old custom.

Designed by Yukio Hashimoto for the YOnoBI brand — an initiative that aims to help repopularize Japan's traditional craftsmanship — the Magewappa Alpha is just one of a full range of stylish wooden, cast-iron, textile, ceramic and lacquerware products. Considering the effect that the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake has had on many Japanese traditional industries, YOnoBI's intent is more pertinent than ever.

The Magewappa Alpha cup uses the characteristics of bent-woodwork in an aesthetically attractive way. It's simple and classic. Available at various online stores, including Caina.jp, a cup and saucer set costs ¥15,750.

Handy entertainment, home or away

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Idea International's Yuen'to brand has come up with a sequel to its already popular compact speaker Music Mug.

The MuVIE — a name derived from "music" and "movie" — is another portable speaker, but this time it's designed to let you watch videos as well as listen to music. You can rest your iPhone or iPod horizontally across the top of the speaker to watch the screen or, like the Music Mug, tuck it inside so that it's out of the way. It can run on batteries or be plugged into the mains, making it an ideal travel device.

The MuVIE costs ¥3,150 and is available at all of Idea's retail shops or online at stores such as Caina.jp.

Idea International: www.idea-in.com/yuento.


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