Stationery addicts now have a ‘concrete’ reason to buy another pen!

Good stationery can really change my productivity quotient for the day and I am sure I am not alone. Writing with a new pen brings out the calligraphy artist inside me and looking at the concrete pen, I am so tempted to start journaling again! The studio that designed this beautiful pen, 22Studio, is proud of their contribution to keeping the tradition of writing on paper alive by sparking inspiration through their products.

The stationery created by 22Studio is no less than art, these are made to last lifelong and passed down as family collectibles through generations. Concrete is used to make this pen because it adds the rich look without making it a shiny or fancy – it is simple but makes a bold statement. The solid pen starts as a liquid mixture of different elements and then it allowed to set like stone. The concrete pen is carefully designed and crafted by hand in the studio which gives it its unique personality. Books are considered as best friends, but this concrete stationery is a rock (literally!) we can lean on.

Designer: 22Studio

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This packaging design knows the heart of every cheese (lover!)

Okay, I am going to cut straight to the chase…or shall I say let’s cut to the cheese? I apologize in advance for puns, I hope they stink less than blue cheese! This old Amsterdam cheese cover brie-longs with your cheese because it understands the matters of the heart. No, it literally does – this cover is built in a way that it showcases the heart of your cheese and also protects it. The conceptual cheese cover is appropriately named ‘El Corazon’ which translates into ‘the heart’.

The center of the old Amsterdam cheese is usually served as tapas or aperitif (small savory dishes that complement beverages) and therefore deserves to be displayed like the showstopper of the snack bar that it is. The case also prolongs the cheese’s life in the refrigerator while turning into a functional showcase when needed. The goal of designing this cheese cover was to keep it simple yet effective while preserving the contents and also showing them off. The concept was tested with a prototype made using SolidWorks, CAD, and 3D printing, ensuring that your cheese always feels gouda about itself!

Designers: Mike Broekman, Erik Veenstra and Smaac Agency.

A Japanese charm redesigned to keep you healthy by syncing with the earth!

Omamori (お守り) are traditional good luck charms in Japanese culture that protect the wearer of the charm. The Japanese word “mamori” (守り) means protection, while prefix “o” gives the word an external movent connotation, transforming it to “your protection” and there are Omamoris for every area of life: love, health, luck, trips, success, protection. The concept of Kenkō is a futuristic take on the traditional Omamori, it does not cure illnesses or ward off evil spirits but it helps you stay healthy by being in sync with the earth’s electromagnetic frequencies. It is ergonomic, travel-friendly and minimal while still being a powerful force.

The earth is constantly emitting 7,83 Hz (also known as the earth’s breath, who knew that?!) along its surface which is believed to allow living beings to regulate their physiological functions. Scientific studies show that the earth’s natural magnetic fields have a positive influence on our brains. With the rapid development of electronic communication technologies, our bodies are getting confused between the natural and artificial frequencies which are dwindling our inherent ability to be in sync with nature. This concept device is aimed at increasing focus, coordinated neural activities, improve sleep and circadian rhythms, stabilize blood pressure and stimulate osteoblasts. Kenkō will be created to produce a 7,83Hz signal, reproducing the natural frequency using technology which will help human bodies re-establish their intrinsic relationship with being healthy naturally. It will have an LED light strip that glows when you switch on the device. Electrosmog caused by Wi-Fi and smartphone frequencies can no longer disturb the sync between the natural rhythm and your brain with Kenkō’s 1.5m protection radius around you. It is also designed to be pocket-sized so you can carry it everywhere like the traditional Omamori is meant to be but with a sleek touch of tech!

Designer: Daniele Peruzzo

This pill-shaped wardrobe comes with an mirror to give you instant escapism!

When you tell a child to draw a wardrobe, he will always make it in the shape of a rectangle. Even as an adult when I go out shopping for room furniture, I can say about 99% of the closets I see are rectangular. Orior made a simple switch to the shape and it’s got everyone thinking “Wow! I never imagined a pill-shaped wardrobe” which just goes to show how conditioned we are to live within the walls (or doors) or what we know. But Orior decided to shatter the notions of regular expectations by adding a unique twist – a mirror on the other end of the wardrobe! Granted, the purpose of this mirror is also utilitarian, but for my eyes, its an almost fantasy-filled world full of possibilities (it may even hold the entrance to Narnia!)

Orior’s design ideology lies in making timeless furniture with creative shapes and vibrant colors. Each wardrobe has been handcrafted with solid ebonized oak into a pill-shaped mold. The black doors are softened with bullnose edges which adds an elegance quotient to the otherwise steely exterior. The Arctic wardrobe as its called rests on solid Giallo Sienna marble legs that elongate the visual of its shape. To add a touch of luxury – literally – the handles are wrapped in Brass leather which opens up to a mirrored chest and clothing rail. The leather details are also seen in the interior drawers and side panels like the jewelry box.

This wardrobe is a balance between classic materials and modern design – it brings the essence of minimal rich furniture with a vintage soul and Irish craftsmanship. It is a statement yet subtle piece of furniture that is sure to become a staple in your home.

Designer: Orior

This no-screws Dougong Table assembles like Lego and looks like art

Alright, who is ready for a table that looks like art and does not come with a frustrating IKEA assembly guide? Because Boston-based designer Mian Wei has created this beautiful piece of furniture that marries minimal aesthetic with cultural heritage. The Dougong blocks from ancient Chinese architecture play a central role in the build and concept of the grid table – think of it as an advanced Lego challenge! Mian Wei won the Silver A’Design Award for this grid table in the homeware and furniture category, showcasing his exceptional skills as a multimedia artist who brings to life ideas that blend industrial design and emotions seamlessly.

This is a no screws assembly – yes – there is no need to keep a track of the different screw sizes and the tiny anvil! The grid table relies on the ages-old Dougong method of interlocking blocks so effectively that it not only distributes weight evenly but also lays a strong foundation while experiencing history. The supporting structure (Dougong) is made of modular parts that can be easily disassembled and reassembled in need of storage and moving. The bracket connectors (Gong) slide easily into the beams (Dou) to form the weight-bearing structure and retain structural integrity when the table is being lifted. It is made of ash, maple, and plywood which brings tone and texture ‘to the table’ (I just had to take that opportunity!).

“This project, on the one hand, tries to go back to the root to reinvestigate the practicality and scalability and bring new life to the ancient tradition. On the other hand, the project seeks to explore new aesthetic possibilities of the structure with modern forms and production techniques” says Mian Wei. The grid table gives form to the visual of wisdom and can be a stand-alone accent piece in the room (while also holding your tea and books!) without being too bold. The table is minimal yet so intricate in what can only be described as ‘engineered art’. As the owner builds the table, the complexity fades away, and the sensible nature reveals itself – the complete opposite of what I have ever felt while assembling the simplest chest of drawers in my home.

Designer: Mian Wei

This Nike Air Jordans Inspired limited-edition Xbox wins the NBA All-Star weekend!

The two giant worlds of tech and sports are colliding or rather collaborating, and I can already hear the NBA fans, sneakerheads and gamers fist-bumping in unison! Microsoft and Nike have teamed up to make a limited-edition custom Xbox One that is rightfully going to paint the town red this Valentine’s day. Here’s the catch – only one lucky Twitter user can win this exclusive console and all you have to do is retweet THIS tweet from Xbox. And if you are looking for Nike’s latest pair of Jordans, you will only find that at the NBA festivities in Chicago.

The bold edition of Xbox is inspired by Nike’s new Air Jordan III Retro U sneaker and you can also spot Nike’s iconic ‘Jumpman’ logo on the right. The top of the console is covered with the elephant print texture that is found on the Jordan shoes and it comes with two controllers. Microsoft hinted at the collaboration and the release of this custom Xbox lines up perfectly with the NBA All-Star in Chicago – also explains why the red was chosen for the console, it is a nod to the Chicago Bulls’ signature shade. Microsoft collaborates with brands for one-of-a-kind Xbox consoles often but this is one of their sleekest designs so far.

If I was you, I would already be retweeting this with both my twitter accounts – you know one for work and one for the rants!

Designers: Microsoft & Nike

Is resurrecting Google’s BookBot the need of the hour?

Everyone in Silicon Valley is trying to design something straight out of the future. We treat science and technology as the end all be all of our issues and rightfully so, but here is an unpopular opinion – do we REALLY need technology in every aspect of our lives to make it better? A decade ago, robots doing all our tasks were just a thing of movies and today we don’t go a day without interacting with a robot – think about it, even if you call a place there is a 99% chance an automated voice will speak to you first. So when I read about former Google engineers trying to resurrect a robot that was ‘put to rest’, my question was why are they bringing it back? Let’s evaluate what the two sides of this coin…or chip –

Google engineers created BookBot within the company’s Area 120 incubator for experimental products. It is a simple-looking cube-shaped robot that was becoming popular in a California town where it used to pick up books from residents and deliver them back to the Mountain View Library for check-in. Every Thursday, BookBot which has a limit of 5-10 items will come to you and deliver/pick up the books you request on its website. You will be notified via text message when it arrives or you can follow its route with a link shared with you. Safety concerns were taken care of by constant monitoring and a human handler present for the initial phase. The project’s team lead, Christian Bersch, said they are testing the waters of what could be possible for autonomous, electric robots, the problems they can run into and if it is feasible for bigger, more crowded neighborhoods. Ideally, it would help reduce the vehicles on the road, save personal time and help the senior citizens as well as the disabled residents. Who knows, it could also be the new medium to collect second-hand items for charity!

It ran for 4 months much to the delight of kids who tried playing games with it and also for those who love a cool selfie before being shelved. Despite the overwhelmingly positive response from the Mountain Valley residents and the popularity of BookBot, Google seems to want established third-party experts to handle the deliveries while it focuses on advancing in other tech arenas. The primary reason is presumed to be Project Wing, another Google partnership for making drone deliveries that will optimize Google Shopping. However, the two former Google engineers who worked on BookBot and Area 120, Jake Stelman and Christian Bersch, have launched Cartken that is offering low-cost automated delivery with a darker (think about that all-black Spiderman) version of Bookbot because of how well received it was especially by those who have mobility issues.

Now let’s flip the subject, while it brings convenience to a certain demographic, what struck me as an avid real book reader is that this takes away a part of the library experience. Now as much as we might groan about having to go all the way to return a book, we usually always end up browsing for more books, chatting up with community readers and getting recommendations that we otherwise wouldn’t come across. The whole experience of going to the library brings the local community closer – children study together, adults have bookclubs especially those who are retired and older citizens who are not as tech-savvy and still treat books as a source of entertainment. BookBot and Cartken obviously solve an issue by saving time and effort but, like any robot, it takes out the emotion from the activity and can only see through a logistical lens. As we advance, it is vital to keep in mind that technology can very quickly dehumanize us, make us dependent, reduce the EQ that separates us from robots. I am all for robots cleaning up houses or being able to translate what our pets say to our language, but let’s not take away the smaller life experiences which is also how some earn their livelihood – think of the librarians, clerks, even delivery personnel! In a small town, one robot can take over the jobs of many and unknowingly make us detached. We can now carry thousands of books in one device but it will never be the same as smelling an old book from a library and flipping the page. So I ask once again, do we really need robots to do it all?

Designer: Jake Stelman and Christian Bersch

A Fidget spinner enabled travel tool to keep your travel anxiety at bay!

How many of us have travel anxiety? It could be restless tapping of your feet while waiting at the boarding gate or in-flight fidgeting with the controls, we have all been there. This cool conceptual tool is not only a travel essential but also a fidget spinner that doesn’t look like it came with a happy meal. While most multipurpose tools are a combination of cutters, this titanium variant brings a lot more functionality than opening up like Wolverine’s claws!

When you are traveling there are so many tiny details that might slip our mind, especially when we are backpacking and cannot rely on fancy hotel services or big city solutions. I am sure we have all gotten beers or wine from a local shop only to come to our room and find that we don’t have a tool to open either – that’s when Tspin comes to the rescue. Or the time when we remember to buy the international sim card but forget that little pin to open the slot – another worry that is taken care of by Tspin with its dual nano-Sim card-holder and yes, that little pin! And a major thing if you’re traveling solo – a smartphone stand so that you can be in some of the pictures too or watch Netflix while waiting on your train. It also has a carabiner clip that definitely looks much sleeker than the one in your camping kit.

For all of us who wear glasses, this becomes an everyday carry item with its tiny screwdriver to tighten the frame whenever we need it. It also works as a cable wrapping tool – whether you are traveling or not, your earphones will tangle themselves and this little tool saves us from that frustrating man vs cable fight. Our only word of advice, this titanium concept tool may or may not be bulletproof so don’t go all David Guetta on it!

Designer: T’spin

Make authentic Japanese matcha like the ancient masters with just one button!

Gone are the days when you just picked between tea and coffee; now it is about matcha, kombucha, spirulina, and activated charcoal drinks! Yes, everything in my previous sentence is real – it is enough to fluster anyone going to a cafe and trying to order healthy. My mother rightfully said “Why to pay for it outside when you can make it at home?” which brings me to another CES 2020 innovation award honoree – the matcha tea maker for home.

This matcha maker is compact and sleek, making it perfect for homes, offices, any space with an outlet because it is portable. This matcha maker stays true to its Japanese roots and lets you enjoy an authentic cup every time by using freshly ground leaves from its ceramic mill for individual uses, just like the masters do. The movements of the traditional bamboo whisk are replicated by the magnetic whisker that mixes cold water with the tea for a frothy matcha-presso!

Matcha tea has been challenging coffee by providing lasting energy without jitters or caffeine crashes making it the hero for non-coffee drinkers. The all-in-one tea maker also comes with an aluminum canister to keep your leaves fresh and supports sustainable tea farming with eco-friendly packaging, they really mean green business in every sense. My personal tip on enjoying matcha is with steamed almond milk (oat milk if you have a nut allergy) for chilly days or with lemon sparkling water for summer – you will love it as matcha I do!

Designer: Cuzan Matcha

This Apple Pencil-based dropper is a DJ that drops data instead of beats!

Remember the simpler childhood days of using the dropper to pick a color and spill it *carefully* on another sheet? We then advanced from papers to MS Paint and I doubt any of us were able to master that virtual dropper. Now we are in the Apple era but the nostalgia of the simple dropper is not lost and that was the inspiration for the iSpoid – a conceptual dropper that picks up data instead of colors and we are here for this!

The motion of using a dropper to transfer colors was reinterpreted with the data delivery interface with an Apple pencil-like tool which has been christened as iSpoid for this concept project. The group of Korean designers who came up with this conceptual product wanted to make data transfer and data sharing between devices as easy and joyful without the stress of connecting via Bluetooth, hard drives, and the quest for finding the right device to AirDrop. The product development phase involved sketching, brainstorming about usability and making the device itself as physically similar to a dropper as possible – if you observe the form, its a hybrid between the color dropper and the Apple Pencil. The action is instinctive with this device, you position the dropper on the file, press the bubble on top and watch the 3 lights on the tip light up indicating the file has been picked. You then drop it on the desired device and the lights will dim down just like releasing color from a dropper, but here it is the data.

Keeping the aesthetics of Apple, the iSpoid also has a conceptual magnetic charger where you can mount the tool in a vertical position on the sleek stand. The package design and shape are inspired from a measuring cylinder. The concept delivers on its aim to create a minimal, user-friendly, functional device that makes co-working more efficient. Will data scientists like to be called data artists after this?

Designers: Chi-Eun Jang, Hyeokryul Kwon, Jaegeun Kim, Jeongmin Lim.