For people who love their homes or spaces to have a certain aesthetic, products that are both functional and decorative are very much welcome. If you have a small space, you would of course not want to have all sorts of decorations clutter it up (well, unless you’re a maximalist) if they do not serve any other purpose other than just be pretty. So if you find something that beauties up your place and at the same time performs a useful function, then you got yourself a winner.
Designer: Hanyoung Lee, Eunji Ko
This concept for an air purifier is just one of those designs that are both functional and decorative. Abell’s main purpose is as a device to help purify the air inside your room or house. But instead of just standing there in the room, it is actually a lighting device. It will not take up space on your floor or on your table but it can be hung up wherever you want and it will give you cleaner air and also light up the room. And if you’re into the minimalist, monochromatic look, then it can also serve as an aesthetic addition to your room.
If it’s not hanging up there, it looks like your ordinary air purifier with a mushroom-like design. You probably can also use it as a table or shelf-top purifier although it’s unclear if it will light up as well. But if the bulb is under there as the product renders seem to indicate, then the lighting function may be useless if you don’t put it up there. Now when you use it as both a purifier and a lighting fixture, there is a controller attached to it so you can adjust how much light it emits.
It would be interesting to find out some more details about the air purifying aspect of the device. During the pandemic and even now when we’re getting back to whatever constitutes as normal, breathing fresh air even when indoors is an important part of our living. So the quality of air purifying that Abell can give is an important aspect of whether or not someone would buy it, if it becomes a product eventually.
While I am very much a digital girl, there are still some things that I enjoy the analog versions of. That includes journaling and scrapbooking. I love printing out photos and adding them to my journals or putting them up on my cork boards. I’ve gone through my fair share of various photo printers but I’m always looking for something new that can make my notebooks prettier or more interesting. This concept for a printer seems to be unique and can add even more creativity to your journaling life.
Designer: Gabin Park and Subin Lee
Potto is a concept for a toy camera that prints different kind of photos. Unlike the polaroids and instax cameras and printers, this one doesn’t print your typical pictures but instead gives you an outline of the image that you took or that you sent to the camera. You get a line drawing that you can either keep as it is or color in the images if you want a more colorful or creative thing to add to your journal. It’s something that both kids and adults can appreciate as both may actually love the coloring part of the process.
The camera itself looks like your typical mobile photo printers with the round and soft shapes as well as pastel colors. The line photos are printed on a thermal paper rather than the polaroid or zinc paper. This means that the heat-sensitive paper is more affordable but will also eventually fade over time (apparently just like our memories). So if you want something that will last longer, then this is not the camera or photo printer for you.
The camera has a yellow button that lets you take the picture and then print them directly. There is also a display screen at the back so you can still see the images first before you take the photo. There is a cutting blade so you can easily cut the thermal paper, which are available in sizes 79 x 70 cm or 2 x 3 inches, depending on what you need. This is something that I would like to someday have so hopefully, this doesn’t remain just a concept.
When you travel to a place where you don’t speak the language, there are now tools and devices you can use to help you communicate with the locals who may also not speak your language. You can use your smartphone and various apps or services that can help you in the translation. For some people though, this may not be such a comfortable situation for them and can even be a barrier towards communicating with people. This concept for a device starts out with a “joke” but can become something actually useful.
Designer: Taewan Kim
This concept started out with the metaphor or pun “Let’s taco ’bout it” and it evolved into something that actually uses the idea of the taco, or at least the shape of it. The translation device is shaped like a taco and will be used by both the speaker and the listener. It’s actually like one of those two-way cup devices that you may have used when you were young (or at least those of a certain age) but now using digital technology. The basic idea is to make communicating more fun and functional.
The entire device really looks like a piece of taco but when it’s time to be used, you “cut” it into half and give the other part to the person you want to talk with. You press the button on your half of the device and speak into it and the other half of the device is the speaker where the translated voice comes out. It will also probably work the other way around so the person you’re talking to can also have their voices translated back to you.
The Taco device concept is pretty simple but if it works, it should be enough. It is an interesting way to talk to other people rather than just use Google Translate on your smartphone. There doesn’t seem to be any other function that the device can do but in terms of design, it is pretty cute and interesting.
It’s never too early to start teaching kids about the cycle of life and the joy of taking care of plants. I wish my mom or grandmother taught me that when I was a kid but unfortunately, they also both had “black thumbs” so we couldn’t really keep our garden alive. But now there are things like hydroponics and other devices and ways for kids to learn about plant care and understand plant life. These things can be incorporated into their education in order to cultivate a love for plants and life.
Designer: Mona Safari
Spacecrop is not just a device where you can take care of plants but it also serves as a fun nightlight for your kid (and you). The design is modeled after a spacecraft, like the ones we see that land on the moon or planets but the difference is that there are seeds and eventually plants inside. There are buckets inside where the seeds will be placed and this space is filled with the lightweight hydroponic substrate Rockwool cubes. These cubes will help the plants grow and the air stones on top of the buckets will bring oxygen to the roots, along with the air pump included in the system.
The device also has something installed in it that will project the night sky in the child’s (or adult’s) room. They can also choose to play sounds like sea, wind, forest, rain, and other nature atmospheric sounds when you’re sleeping, reading, or meditating. This way, even if you live in the city and don’t have access to natural environments, the kids can still develop an appreciation for nature. They get to take care of the plants in a low maintenance and also have fun with the device.
I actually feel that while Spacecrop was originally designed for kids, it’s something that adults would enjoy. I’ve been considering hydroponics lately as I want to have plants at home but as previously mentioned, I somehow don’t have that green thumb. So having a pretty uncomplicated device to help me grow plants and also have pretty night lights seem like a good one to have at home, even if I’m far from being a kid.
There are very few people in the world who don’t appreciate the beauty of flowers. I, for one, am either calmed down or awed when I see beautiful flowers in the wild or even as decorations indoor. I wouldn’t be able to raise them or take care of them on my own, but they’re still very pretty to look at. Accessories that pay tribute to flowers and floral arrangements are also something that appeal to a lot of people so this collection that highlights nine different flowers and uses them to shape the design may be something flower lovers will be interested in.
Designer: Weijing Tan
The name of the collection is simple enough: In Praise of Flowers. The concept is made up of nine different “chapters” and the products range from vases to stands to sculpture-like accessories that can make flowers even more appealing and glorify their natural beauty. The nine flowers that were chosen for this particular “exhibit” are the following: Peony, Lavender, Hydrangea, Asian Orchid, Lily, Tulip, Narcissus, Rose, and Baby’s Breath. These flowers served as the design inspiration for the accessories in the collection.
The Peony or impressionist muse is a vase enclosed in two glass dividers where you can place peonies or any other flowers you want to inside. The fragrant Lavender accessory is a white vase housed in a small dome made up of circular white cups. The majestic Hydrangea looks like a lamp at first glance with what seems like a big mirror that will enhance the flowers that you place in the vase. Or it might be that the round thing has a kaleidoscope-like design of hydrangeas. The Asian Orchid, referred to as exotic, is a stand housed in what seems like an acrylic enclosure with a circular hole to look into the flowers placed inside.
The showstopper Lily is a black clamshell-like vase that is in direct contrast to the colorful flowers you’ll place in it. Since the Tulip is known as a delicate flower, the accessory inspired by it is a minimalist stand where a single piece of flower can be placed in. The Narcissus, which is of course associated with reflections because of mythology, has a stand that will reflect the single stalk of flower that you’ll place in it. The Baby’s Breath has a transparent glass to magnify its beauty. Lastly, the Rose is a flat accessory where you can lay it down like in a bed. This concept seems pretty interesting if you want mostly minimalist vases and stands placed in your space.
There was a time before the world changed when most people who are in the corporate world were stuck to their desks for most of their 8 hours every day. But when COVID came and we were “forced” to work remotely, people finally discovered what digital nomads have been saying for years: you can actually work everywhere. Even now when some have gone back to their buildings and cubicles, people have learned to be more mobile so product designers have been coming up with various products to suit this new work lifestyle.
Designers: Nankyung Han and Jimin Seol
First Layer is a concept for a mobile desk that users can use for telecommuting and working from anywhere, without having to bring an actual desk with all the things you need. It’s basically something that can hold your monitor and can serve as a desk divider, and even as a trolley to bring your things around. When folded, it looks like a portfolio (a pretty big one) or a suitcase (a small one). When you unfold it, you get a pretty functional desk divider that can hold your devices and other work accessories.
As a desk divider, you can use it as a partition and a holder for your monitor. You can attach the monitor through a magnet and then if you need to move your work station to another place in the office (or even outside), you can carry your monitor with you within the “case”. The device also powers the monitor through the pogo pin when you attach it through the rear circular panel. The side panels lets you attach mobile devices including your smartphone, smartwatch, earbuds, and even analog things like sticky notes, pens, etc.
The trolley function not only lets you move the stuff around but can also serve as a stand for when you want to use your monitor as a vertical stand, in case that’s possible for your device. The renders show soft colors that should match your aesthetic, if you’re into that thing. On paper, the concept for First Layer seems to be an interesting one that can be useful, if it will function as advertised. It won’t be useful for people like me who rely on our laptops or MacBooks but if you’re using a monitor for your work process, then it may be something you’ll want.
As someone who spends more than half a day sitting in front of a computer screen or lying down scrolling or reading or watching, I keep reminding myself that I should get up every few minutes or so. The problem is that even if I’m just sitting down, my work is stressful enough so standing up takes a lot of effort. Most of the time, I still need to rest and relax even when I’m standing up and taking a break from work. So what if I could stand and rest at the same time?
Designers: Wonchul Lee and Boyeon Kim
The idea for the “Lean On” concept is to have that “three minutes” rest between sitting and standing that some are advised to do. This is perfect for people who like me who need to stand every once in a while to just stretch but also need to rest while doing so. This piece of furniture will capture that “ambiguous” moment in between sitting and standing. The curve of the object lets you have a few moments of rest even as you’re technically on your feet.
Think of it as a wall that you can lean against except there’s still a small seat to rest your hips and back on. The base and structure of the entire Lean On furniture is a continuous, tubular steel frame that curves slightly for the resting part and it is meant to fit the contour of the body. The “seat” or the “wall” is made from leather and can be different colors, as shown in the renders. You can actually place two of them perpendicular to each other so you and an officemate or friend can rest together while standing up.
The photos seem to show it is meant for tall people, or at least for people of regular height. I don’t know how people like me who are vertically challenged will be able to fit into the contour of the Lean On so maybe there will be some options as to the height of the curve so it can be more height-friendly.
Sometimes, when we use small items at home, in the kitchen, or at the office, we don’t really pay attention to what materials are used, as long as they fulfill their function. But now that people are more conscious about where things come from and how they are produced, there are some product designers that have been coming up with great concepts that use minimal materials and are cost-efficient. As to whether they can become actual consumer products is still up for debate though.
Designer: Theodore Simon
It’s still pretty interesting though to look at these designs and concepts and see the possibilities. This minimalist and monomaterial kitchen scale was created as a diploma project at ECAL, a university of art and design in Switzerland. This entire scale was made from just plastic and is composed only of two parts, which will make it easier to produce and can also facilitate an easier recycling process even though it’s made from plastic. The concept for the scale is from ideas from micro-engineering and production.
Normally, scales are made from different materials as well as various parts to achieve its functionality of weighing ingredients and other materials placed on it. But with this concept called Lari, Simon was able to use the elasticity of plastic to just use one material and use just two parts. The first part is a tray where you place the item to be weighed and is linked to the base through two flexible parallel beams. The second part is a flexible indicator that is able to calibrate to zero and moves the tray by sliding in the base.
The look of the scale itself is as minimal as its parts and materials. The two parts are like puzzle pieces that you can connect in order for it to function. The accuracy of the scale though is something that may have to be experimented more on, if somebody is able to grab this concept eventually.
One of the reasons why I don’t want to have pets (aside from the fact that I don’t really like them) is that I don’t like the responsibility of caring for other creatures. I’m afraid I will probably forget to feed them leading to them getting sick and eventually dying. But trying to learn to be responsible for other living things is probably something that most people would like to learn. If I can remember to charge my electronics, I should be able to remember to feed another organism. What if you could combine those two?
Designer: Jasmine Lu and Pedro Lopes
Of course you know about virtual pets like Tamagochi but this “experiment” seems to bring this to another level. Two scientists from the University of Chicago have come up with a living organism that can be attached to a smartwatch and power it, as long as the owner feeds it and keeps it alive. The idea behind this is not really to come up with a new device that can be powered by slime but to actually create a symbiotic relationship with gadgets and see how this affects the users.
The smartwatch’s function is pretty basic and the design is also minimalist since the latter isn’t really the point. It can tell time and it can also measure your heart rate. But how it is able to do so is where the experimental part comes in. The device has three main components: the slime mold or the living organism which is scientifically called the physarum polycephalum, the organism enclosure which is able to connect electronically to the watch, and the “watch electronics” itself. The enclosure has four layers which includes the lid, wells, channel, and magnets.
So you need to feed the slime with oats (every two days) and water it 1-2 times a day. As long as it’s healthy, it will be able to power your heart rate monitor. But if you forget to feed it, it will dry up and your monitor will not work anymore. Most of the wearers in the experiment actually became attached to their devices, even though it’s basically just slime on your wrist. The point that they want to make is that there should be a focus on caring for our devices rather than just constantly consuming them and replacing them when the next shiny thing comes along.
As someone who uses multiple gadgets and therefore carries several cords with me at all times, the chances of these cords tangling themselves with each other and with my other stuff are pretty high. The same thing almost always happens with my various chargers in my workspace. There are several solutions already available in the market but there is always room for even more innovation. Sometimes, the best solutions can also be the simplest.
This concept for a cable organizer came about because of the same problem that I and countless individuals, have experienced as stated above. He also experienced the tangling of cords with other stuff in his bag, in particular, with something as mundane as his lozenges. This inspired him to design a cable organizer that is actually similar to his pack of lozenges. Actually, at first glance, they looked more like lego pieces or bricks, if you didn’t know the backstory.
The cable organizer is made of a silicone body with peg circular cylinders on top where you wrap the cords around. You can actually place 2 cables on top of each other if they’re placed in the same row. He came up with 3 different types, depending on how many cables you have and also the space on your work area. There’s a mini (2×2), a medium one (3×3), and a large cable holder (2×5). If you’re using it on your desk, you can stick it to the surface with a micro suction tape.
The renders show different colors, most of them in light, pastel colors. There are also different materials used like concrete, teak wood, and even a Prusament galaxy black PLA. It’s something that’s pretty simple but also well thought of. I for one, with my constant tangle of cords and cables, would like to have something as minimalist and functional as this. While it’s designed for work spaces, it would also somehow work for my bag as well.