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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011
Cleverness in things great and small
By JEAN SNOW
Milestones for cyclists
There's a bicycle craze currently sweeping the nation — or so the media would have you believe — and in the midst of it, we're starting to see designers pay particular attention to cycling accessories. Design trio Mile has introduced a beautiful take on the bike stand with its Milestone (great self-referential name, too).
Each Milestone is custom-made to fit your bike and carved from a block of stone. This means you need to take into account a delivery time of about 1½ months. Available in black or white at ¥44,100 and ¥47,250 respectively, they can be ordered online through Mile's Love One project site.
Clean starts for the autumn
There's something nostalgic about the end of summer and early fall period; it brings about that ingrained "back to school" feeling that always has me longing for new stationery and supplies. And it just so happens that there are two terrific new erasers to add to my desktop arsenal.
H Concept's Evolution Eraser, designed by Hiroyuki Shiratori, is a miniature physical representation of Darwin's theory of human evolution — creationists might not be too pleased with this one. One end is shaped like an ape, while the other is shaped like a man, and as you use it the eraser gradually wears down to reveal the different stages of evolution. Available in three colors (white, black, and beige), each costs ¥315 and can be ordered online through H Concept's webstore.
Another example of using the eraser to imitate something is METAPHYS' Gum, the latest addition to the brand's stationery line. Gum, as the name suggests, looks like and is as thin as a stick of gum. It has a metallic cover that keeps the flat eraser in place so that when used vertically, it can erase with precision and when used horizontally, it can rub out larger areas.
The pared-down aesthetic is something that we've come to expect from METAPHYS: simple, solid, and available in white, black, and orange, colors that match the rest of the stationery line. Each stick of gum costs ¥546 (which includes an extra stick) with refills at ¥231 each. They are available at METAPHYS' online store.
An animated way to cool down
D-BROS has been creating beautiful stationery and paper accessories for years now, and amid the last of the summer's sweltering heat, it's a joy to see the unit's Rolling Fan, designed by Yoshie Watanabe. Sure, you can probably pick up a paper or plastic fan for free from a leafleter while walking around town — but those fans always sport unattractive advertising, and they don't give you the fun animated effect that D-BROS' does.
The Rolling Fan takes its inspiration from the earliest forms of animation. It has a slightly different illustration on each of its sides, so that when the handle is rolled between the palms and the sides rotated, a moving image appears. It comes with an envelope (making for a nice sendable gift), and there are two sets of illustrations — a dancer pirouetting and a man kicking a ball to his dog. Priced at ¥1,680 each, they can be bought online at webstores such as Caina.jp.
A battery that runs on water? In fact, not just on water, but pretty much on any water-based liquid? Sounds impossible, but that's exactly what manufacturer Nakabayashi offers with its NoPoPo (No Pollution Power) battery.
This miracle of electrical efficiency uses a mixture of carbon and magnesium that reacts with water to create energy. To charge the NoPoPo, you fill it with water using the accompanying plastic dropper, or just drop it in a glass of water so that it fills itself. It's great for emergencies; as the manufacturer suggests, think of it as a tiny power generator with a shelf life of 20 years. More eco-friendly than regular batteries, there is just one downside, which is that they can be recharged a maximum of five times. Currently only available as AAs, NoPoPos are sold in packs of three for ¥610 or in packs of 100 for ¥20,790.