This concept by 1/plinth studio is proof that industrial designers can find inspiration in the strangest of places — even in the very tools they use to make things. The design was dreamed up upon gazing at an abrasive disc that’s more commonly used for grinding or polishing surfaces. What the designers saw, however, was a set of 14 unusual coasters. Each disc in the stackable set has its own unique texture and color. Combined, they make for a unique conversation starter and add touch of industrial style (and ring protection!) to your tabletop.
“The 14 coasters possess a different tactile sensation in order to engage the user and allow a different experience depending on the type of coaster and type of cup used,” 1/plinth studio told Yanko Design.
These coasters have holes in the middle made up of a 4-inch diameter disk, similar to a doughnut, and can be stacked on top of one another on a rack. The rack comes in two size options. Its lid and bottom pad are made up of abrasives similar to the coasters which it holds.
Every grillmaster is faced with one tough choice: make your life easier with a gas grill, or make your food next-level delicious with a charcoal fire? Designed with this in mind, the Everdure Fusion Charcoal Electric Ignition Barbeque ensures you never have to choose.
The design simplifies charcoal cooking with a Fast Flame Ignition System and electric element that helps charcoal burn consistently at the ideal temperature. Better yet, the innovative system will heat up to your preferred temperature setting within ten minutes. Easy and on the eyes and even easier to use, it gives charcoal and gas grilling fanatics the best of both worlds.
The aptly named Soap Beam might take inspiration from the shape of a soap bar, but it has next to nothing to do with getting fresh and clean. The device is actually a portable projector designed to be used with a smartphone. No larger than a phone itself, the design is easy to tote, carry, and pack. Better yet, it features a simplistic and intuitive interface that makes it possible to plug and play in seconds. Simply hook it up to your smartphone and instantly share your favorite movies, music videos, and photo albums with friends.
Ordine is an innovative cooking solution designed for the modern user. Optimized for small spaces, the design eliminates the need for a bulky traditional stove, clearing the way for more cabinet and counter space.
The design features two hob units that are mounted on a central power hub on the wall. Elevated neatly out of the way, the user must simply grab one or both hobs off the wall and set the desired temperature to activate. Clad in materials consisting of natural wood and copper, the design not only saves valuable kitchen real estate but is made to complement your interior aesthetic on display.
Travel adapters are an absolute necessity when it comes to traveling to a different country; without them our electronic devices would become nothing more but expensive paperweights in just a matter of days. However, current adapters are bulky and heavy, and they occupy the already limited space within our bags… but this certainly isn’t the case with EVO, the world’s smallest global travel adapter!
Measuring in at just 0.8inches thick, EVO may be small, but it sure packs a punch; two USB interfaces can fast charge any two devices simultaneously, eliminating the need to carry extra adapters! EVO can charge these devices in over 150 countries, and this is down to its ingenious use of adjustable plugs, that are neatly concealed within the plastic shell when transporting!
This unbeatably compact travel adapter is a must-have for the people who enjoy the comforts of electronics whilst traveling, without having to compromise on space in their suitcase.
An evolution of this original design by Deepanjan Sinha, the Plus/Nest 2019 makes the switch from headphones to speaker a seamless experience. Imagine that you’re just getting home from work and in the middle of your favorite song or tuned in to breaking news on your headphones. You want to change out of your work clothes but don’t want to miss anything by removing your headphones. Well, now you don’t have to! As soon as you get home, simply toss your headphone on the Nest and your audio will automatically transition to the speaker, ensuring you never skip a beat.
Designer: Deepanjan Sinha
Plus and Nest advertises a way to easily switch between 2 audio devices by negating the involvement of a phone. With the simple gesture of throwing in the earphones into the speaker, you can now seamlessly switch from a “Private” music listening to a more “Public” music listening experience.
2 magnetically attaching earbuds also allow you to easily turn on/off the device without the use of annoying and awkward long presses. This ensures a more “gesture” inclusive way of controlling your earphones.
A controller on the earphone with a convex and concave surface gives a sense of tactility allowing you to “feel” what you’re pressing without really looking at it.
The enclosure on the earphone houses a wireless coil and a battery and acts as a “wireless” link between the speaker and earphones. When dropped into the speaker tray, the music instantly switches to the Nest Speakers….
The Tray on the Nest speakers also double as a wireless charger for your Plus earphones, giving it a designated space in your home to store them when not in use.
The grooves on the Nest and Plus lightly grip each other, allowing for a better alignment to successfully charge wirelessly.
Plus and Nest are designed to work for and with each other. The pair are also sold together, making it a unique, one of a kind audio package for both your private and public music listening experience.
Nike is giving the iconic Air Max 1 a golf-inspired makeover with the upcoming release of this Grass colorway. The remixed silhouette features a turf-like upper reminiscent of the putting green. The look is complemented by matching laces and contrasting white Swoosh branding. The shaggy upper rests atop a white midsole with visible Air cushioning at the heel and a gum rubber outsole for grip.
Companies like Ikea had it all figured out a long while ago. Compact furniture is good furniture. You can transport more in the same shipping space, making logistics easier and cheaper, and even less problematic for the customer who wants to carry the furniture with them. Besides, with the practical explosion of online purchase, customers are more likely to buy things online than travel to a brick and mortar shop to see a product that they might then have to wait to be delivered to them. Even perhaps a two-person bed.
The Slash/Bed was designed to be so incredibly compact when shipped that its entire set of components fit into two boxes that are the same size-footprint as two large pizzas. Open the boxes and your entire bed sits within, ready to assemble. The Slash/Bed is designed in such a way that putting the bed is a one-person task and requires no power tools. The bed relies entirely on Japanese joineries, and the ‘Slash’ design allows each beam of the bed to be folded in half, but be strong when opened out, transferring minimal weight onto the hinge. In the places that use screws, the Slash/Bed relies on metal inserts, so the screws don’t puncture or damage the wood, making it easy to disassemble the bed too.
The bed’s made of sustainably forested Indonesian wood, which gets its Scandinavian touch with a minimal design and a minimal footprint that allows your bed to be practically carried by hand and delivered at your doorstep… a feat that Slash/Bed claims no other company can match. Normally fitting a bed through a narrow doorway or stairwell would be a monumental task (the Pivot Scene from Friends comes to mind), but the Slash/Bed can simply be carried under your arm to your bedroom, where you can simply open the bed out and have it ready in no more than 10 minutes. The bed promises a lifetime of use, thanks to the use of durable Indonesian hardwood. It can be used indoors as well as outdoors (I’m not the glamping kind, but I don’t judge), and once you nail the assembly (even though there aren’t any nails involved), the Slash/Bed can even be a total lifesaver when guests show up.
Packing can be one of the least enjoyable aspects of going on holiday; attempting to cram a weeks-worth of belongings into a relatively small space can be challenging. But with the Vasco Bags, this is no longer an issue! Composing of a nine-piece kit, this premium set of travel organizers ensure that everything you need is neatly packed away, but still readily available.
You’ll now be able to take more items of clothing with you thanks to their ingenious Double Compression Packing Cubes; each of the cubes compresses down to significantly reduce the amount of space they occupy within the suitcase. The risk of your toiletries leaking onto items of clean clothing has been eliminated by the easy-access toiletries back that features a waterproof zip to help contain any unfortunate spills, whilst the electronics bag neatly contains your electronics and their accompanying cables, to help you stay organised throughout your trip.
With separate bags for your shoes, laundry, laptop and more, it’s sure to be a great addition for anyone who is looking for an easy solution to their packing nightmare!
Last week we walked through the 5 major trends shaping product design. The trends covered there speak of the current positivity wave, with most people looking to live a more wholesome, fulfilled life. In part 2 of this series, Ryan Chen (Director of Design & Innovation Strategy at the Bressler Group) talks about five more points he considers pivotal in shaping up the future of product design.
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The Five Global Megatrends I wrote about last month touched on a number of fundamental shifts in consumer and social trends, and their implications for design. The picture they painted was of a more pared down, meaning-focused world, where just enough is better than too much, focus is better than distraction, and well-being trumps getting ahead.
But they only paint a partial picture of what the next decade is going to look like — there’s also a lot changing in the way we communicate with each other, our ability to impact the world around us, and our expectations for products and services to understand and adapt to our needs. To get a full understanding of what’s going to change in the next five to ten years, and how brands and organizations need to change in order to stay relevant, you need to go deeper.
These next five megatrends plumb the depths of identity, community, and meaning, revealing some sky-high expectations from consumers, but also an increased willingness to form lasting relationships, especially with communities (and products) that treat us as individuals rather than just wallets or eyeballs.
6. Radical Personalization
Never before has it been so easy or cheap to personalize products and experiences. Where bespoke and highly targeted offerings were once reserved for the wealthy and sophisticated, such customization is now commonplace, for everything from laptops and athletic shoes to vacations and medical advice.
Part of the appeal is function: a personalized product satisfies your specific needs more completely and efficiently than a one-size-fits-all alternative. But the emotional aspect is perhaps even more important. If you want to build a true connection between consumer and brand, there’s nothing more direct or more certain than giving them something unique, that shows you know them and understand their individuality like no one else does.
What’s driving this trend?
Digital services are naturally easier to customize (digital stickers in social media, recommendations based on browsing history, etc.), pushing consumers to expect higher levels of personalization offline as well.
Technologies like 3D printing and rapid prototyping make customized products feasible to produce at scale, at far lower cost than in the days when personalized automatically meant made-by-hand.
An explosion of available data means the information needed to create a personalized product or service has already been gathered. All the customer needs to do is give permission for it to be accessed.
What does this imply for design?
Customization still often comes at a premium, so target niche users who stand to get the most out of it. IKEA’s user-specific 3D-printed chairs, for example, are aimed specifically at the hardcore gamer crowd.
Seek personalized offerings that reinforce your brand direction. Nestle’s Wellness Ambassador service does this by using customer-supplied genetic data to make diet and supplement recommendations, in keeping with its pivot in recent years away from sweets & snacks, and toward health-conscious living.
Recognize the difference between pragmatic and emotional personalization: it doesn’t always have to provide technical benefits. Candy store Lolli & Pops, for example, uses facial recognition to alert sales associates when VIP customers enter, giving them a list of preferences and allergies so they can make more personalized recommendations.
7. Search for Authenticity
More abundant, more probing media and the rise of fake-everything means consumers rarely take things at face value anymore. And in an era when anyone can publish content, there’s no reason to rely on the traditional sources for our information. All of this makes it much harder for brands to convince consumers that they’re for real.
“Symmetry of Information” is one of the most promising responses to this skepticism: the idea that customers should know as much about the brand as the brand knows about them. While marketing campaigns are often met with skepticism, a clear window into the workings of the company is hard to dismiss, especially if it comes with a shift in policy, away from misleading images, statements or practices.
What’s driving this trend?
A social media and political climate in which traditional sources of reliable truth are increasingly seen as untrustworthy.
Cynical corporate practices around environmental responsibility and labor practices are harder to hide, leading to declining faith in once-trusted brands.
The rise of small, socially conscious startup brands and citizen media are giving real alternatives to traditional commercial and media channels, and an opportunity for consumers to find new brands that more closely resonate with their own values.
What does this imply for design?
Give consumers a little credit — they don’t necessarily need every video, photo and testimonial to be flawless. Suave’s “Hair You Can Believe” campaign and Dove’s “No Digital Distortion” mark, for example, both attract followings among customers tired of unattainable standards of beauty and perfection.
Look inside your organization for qualities to celebrate externally. Fashion brand Everlane has built a huge loyalist base (and grown 100% annually for five years now) by exposing every detail of its business, from manufacturing costs to tours of the factories where its clothes are made.
Invite real customers to participate in marketing messages. Lush Cosmetics now sources spokespeople from among its “superfan” customers, who make up in enthusiasm and authenticity what they might lack in adherence to traditional norms of photogeneity.
For decades, technology and telecommunications has worked relentlessly to give us more access, more information, more communication — and now it seems we’re victims of their success. Bandwidth is so cheap and communication channels so abundant today that choosing when and how to be connected has become a treasured capability.
Increasingly, this means services that make connection easier with the right people or information, while providing more fine-grained control over who we interact with, when, and in what context. In some cases, it can also mean disconnecting, as evidenced by the proliferation of “digital detox” vacations and device-free events.
What’s driving this trend?
Smartphones, connected devices, ubiquitous WiFi, dozens of messaging and sharing apps, all conspiring to keep us communicating non-stop, whether we like it or not.
Increased competition in digital services means one size no longer fits all. Consumers can choose the platforms that make the most sense for their situation and desired communication modes.
Greater awareness of the downsides of constant connection. The latest research identifies developmental effects of too much screen time on kids, as well as the emotional burden of being “always on”.
Increasing social isolation, as younger generations delay marriage and move more frequently than their parents. This has created a critical mass of digitally-savvy solo consumers, eager for connection but wary of unmoderated interactions.
What does this imply for design?
Consider offering alternative versions of existing products and services, to address different styles of browsing and communication. Dating apps are a good example, with a landscape that includes image-first (Tinder), conversation-first (Taffy), women-first (Bumble) and algorithm-driven (Match, OKCupid) approaches — each of which has a loyal audience.
Look for new ways to serve solo customers, by connecting them with each other to share costs and experiences in a curated way. Co-working spaces like WeWork and ridesharing apps like UberPool make this effortless and relatively secure.
Create services that put a moderation layer between strangers who still need to communicate. Airbnb and eBay have been doing this for years; more recently, apps like MoveCar allow residents of Chinese cities to leave virtual notes for their neighbors, asking them to move vehicles without fear of awkward or dangerous interactions.
9. Empowered Individual
The line between consumer and producer has been blurring for years, with newly democratized tools for producing and publishing content, and communications platforms that allow entire new movements to spring up practically overnight. For companies this can be a two-edged sword: empowered individuals can be tremendous marketing allies, merciless critics, or even upstart competitors.
Many brands are seizing on this fluidity as a source of ideas and a way to activate their customer communities. It’s still early days though, and a poorly executed customer engagement effort can easily come across as a cynical attempt to exploit authentic social connection for commercial gain.
What’s driving this trend?
Social movements are exploding, from #MeToo and grassroots political campaigns to environmental protests and pro-housing YIMBY activism. More than just making noise, they’re affecting real change in the lives of millions — including consumers.
User reviews are so credible and so easy to leave that they’ve largely supplanted marketing and professional reviews, for everything from restaurants to taxi rides to people’s homes.
Powerful, easy-to-learn tools have transformed a wide range of creative endeavors, making tasks that once took a roomful of seasoned professionals achievable with a laptop or smartphone.
Investment and commerce have been democratized too, with crowdfunding and sales platforms designed for broad access, and blockchain promising to remove the need for central controlling authorities in many transactions.
What does this imply for design?
Take a page from independent makers and use crowdfunding platforms to try out experimental product ideas. LEGO did this recently, proposing the FORMA line of mechanical kits on IndieGoGo, and using the launch to solicit feedback and build buzz while testing the concept’s appeal with a new audience: adults.
Look for opportunities in the peer-to-peer (“sharing”) economy created by new technologies. South Korean ridesharing app TADA, for example, is taking on Uber by using blockchain payment utilities to cut out the middleman, letting drivers earn more per ride.
Crowdsource new products and features — carefully. Fashion label Nyden uses Instagram stories to get feedback on new designs, inviting followers to vote on their favorites. This is different, though, from simply asking users to design something for you from scratch, which can appear exploitative, and rarely produces good results.
10. Consumer Remapped
More granular information about customers and more powerful ways of processing it are giving companies unprecedented insight into who’s using their products and services, and what their interests and needs are. This has the potential to revolutionize market segmentation, making it far more granular, and accurate, while also letting customer service associates know more about who they’re talking to when offering assistance or solving problems.
The results of all this insight can upset accepted wisdom: it turns out that consumers are more likely to fall into a spectrum than a series of buckets. Some skateboarders are girls, some makeup users are men or transgender, and some NBA fans are disabled. In the past these were dismissed as niches too small to address, but with today’s informational and personalization tools, they’re sources for growth — and intense loyalty for the brands that get there first.
What’s driving this trend?
Big Data, in all its glory. As consumers travel through their connected lives, they leave a massive trove of information about their interests, habits and social connections.
Machine learning and improved processing algorithms are making it easier to draw meaning out of the petabytes of data now available.
Multi-culturalism is becoming the norm, with ever more mobile societies, and significant fractions of North American and European kids identifying as multi-racial.
Consumer expectations for personalized experiences mean more than just being able to ask for something specific. They want to be known, and to see brands proactively shaping products and services for them, without effort or fuss.
What does this imply for design?
Over-reliance on traditional demographic segmentation like age, income level, gender and education is becoming a liability. Conversely, more granular consumer insights can translate directly into new offerings, such as a recent special issue from Vogue, focusing on readers over 60.
“Inclusive design” is no longer just to satisfy policy or demonstrate virtue. Properly done, it can also signal to underserved consumer groups that they are valued and welcome, as with Sephora’s makeup classes for transgender customers, or the NBA Store’s efforts to make its NYC location more comfortable for autistic shoppers and those suffering from PTSD or dementia.
Use the customization potential in new technologies to show customers what’s uniquely relevant to them. UK fashion retailer ASOS, for example, is using Augmented Reality to let customers view clothes on a variety of body types, going far beyond the typical 5’10” size 2 model.
The original write-up on the Bressler Group blog by Ryan Chen can be found here.
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