Stool has tree shadows printed on top to bring you closer to nature

Before I started focusing on writing for design, I never really paid attention to how mostly functional things like chairs are designed. As long as I could sit on it comfortably on it, then i believed it did its job and I didn’t really need to choose based on how well designed it is. But there are pieces of furniture out there, or even just as a concept, that were really thought of well by the designers to bring something not necessarily new, but at least interesting, to the table. Or in this case, the chair.

Designer: Shota Uruasaki

Capture the Light is one such design for a stool. The furniture itself is not a groundbreaking stool but is made up of the usual three blocks (seat, two legs) connected together by one small block. It looks just like your typical wooden stool/bench that you might see at a park or at a museum. But what makes this different is what you’ll see on the seat itself. You might think there’s a tree nearby casting its shadow but if you’re inside, then that may be a mystery.

It’s actually the unique design that this stool brings. The shadows casted by trees that you may see at parks or public spaces are immortalized on the seats as the designs are printed on them. The designer went around photographing the patterns that these tree shadows make, carrying a white board with them. The photographs were then inkjet printed on top of the stools and so you have the illusion of trees hovering on you as you sit on them.

It’s a simple design addition to your regular stool/bench but it’s interesting, if you’re into nature and trees. Even if the stool is inside, you get the illusion of still being surrounded by trees because of the shadows. Of course it’s still best to actually be around trees but in cases where you can’t then this stool may be the next best thing.

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Hand-carved cork furniture collection evokes the raw beauty of black volcanic stone

More often than not, furniture design is meant to feelings of warmth, comfort, or even joy, emotions that you’d want to experience inside a home, office, or even waiting area. After all, you will be using these pieces of furniture, including sitting on some of them, so it’s only natural to expect them to be more welcoming, at least visually. There are some more artistic designs that have provoking aesthetics, meant more to be seen rather than used. This furniture collection stands somewhere in the middle, projecting an image of dark and unpolished volcanic rocks that turn out to be comfortable, stable, and even charming in its own rough way.

Designer: ( ae ) offices

A volcano is full of ironies. It is both magnificent and terrifying, and its eruptions are equally destructive and mesmerizing. While the ash, lava, and rocks that volcanoes throw out inflict damage, they can also be used as materials to build and create things that have their own unique beauty despite their horrifying source. That’s the kind of juxtaposition that the DOL furniture delivers, providing a unique visual and tactile experience for every chair or table.

DOL takes its inspiration from the black volcanic stones found on Jeju Island in South Korea. These stones are being used as the foundations for different structures on the volcanic island, reusing what Mother Nature has thrown at them to build stronger architecture. The stones themselves have a raw and uneven appearance born of natural elements that give each piece a unique character. That’s the imagery that’s replicated in this low chair and low table, but using a material that’s the complete opposite of hardened volcanic rock.

The furniture uses the outer bark of the cork oak tree, a material that’s best known for being lightweight, impact-absorbing, and insulating. Each “stone” in this composition is crafted by hand, resulting in an equally unique look for each piece. Of course, cork isn’t the most rigid material for furniture, so it’s supplemented by wooden profiles that give it more structure. Layers of wood oil and waxes add the finishing touch that gives the cork a texture and character that will confuse the mind because of its dark roughness yet soft mass.

The use of cork also adds an element of sustainability, as cork bark undergoes a renewal process every nine years and is completely recyclable. It’s a fitting tribute to a stone that starts its life from the destructive explosion of a volcano before finding its way into people’s homes, buildings, and lives before returning to the earth once again to repeat the cycle.

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Plant-inspired desk accessories bring a sense of calm to your work life

There are plenty of tips and pieces of advice on how to decrease stress levels at work, particularly on your desk. Keep your workspace clean and tidy, put objects and pictures that inspire, and add green plants that remind you to take breaks and live. The latter, however, isn’t always possible in all environments, and some might not be too keen on the added responsibility of keeping that plant alive, even if it’s a succulent. That’s not to say you have to give up the benefits of having some green on your desk, especially not with this collection of accessory concept designs that try to bring life to your work by taking inspiration from Nature’s miracle workers.

Designers: Gahnghyun Yi, Jiwon Lee, Chaeyeon Ha

Plants have long been a source of inspiration for creators of all disciplines, including scientists, engineers, architects, and, of course, designers. The natural beauty these silent creatures possess is surprisingly not that easy to recreate, but we can easily distill the essence of their forms and translate them into designs that hold meaning in our lives. These desk accessories, for example, try to nudge your mind to think about real greenery, eliciting the same emotions of peacefulness, calm, and relaxation that a plant would bring if it were actually standing on your desk.

It’s not a literal imitation, of course; just an interpretation of the basic forms and shapes that plants possess. The Greenery Pencil Holder, for example, is a cylinder with a curved plate partially wrapped around it at an angle, almost like a bamboo stem with a leaf growing out of it. This “leaf” actually functions as a container as well, creating two spaces to place your pens, pencils, and other long stationery tools.

The Greenery Clock is a bit more abstract in comparison, with a stem that curves upward and a leaf that droops down from the top, forming a minimalist digital clock. There is actually a second leaf that’s less visible since it’s lying flat on the desk, creating a space to put small items on. The latter design is repeated in the Greenery Tray with two horizontal “leaves” providing the same flat container. What makes it different, other than the lack of a clock, are the elongated “stems” that act as a hook for hanging key rings and other items.

The Greenery Cable Holder is admittedly a bit of a stretch to imagine as leaves growing on a leaf vein. After all, it’s just a set of circles with cutouts for inserting a cable. One side of the circle is flat, allowing the cable holder to be stuck on desks or walls. With this set, you can add some green hues to your desk without sacrificing space, deriving both utility and aesthetic from simple designs, thanks to some inspiration from Mother Nature.

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D-LINK AQUILA PRO AI is a beautiful Wi-Fi 6 router that looks like an art object

Our Internet needs are becoming more complicated even at home. Multiple devices ranging from smartphones to smart appliances compete for bandwidth, while different services like gaming and streaming demand more data than, say, a smart thermostat. The simplistic routers of yesteryears are no longer sufficient to face the challenges of modern lifestyles, but as these boxes become more sophisticated, their presence also becomes more obnoxious as well. The latest and greatest routers seem to want to be seen as powerful monstrosities rather than helpful tools that make our lives easier. Completely bucking the trend, D-LINK launched its AQUILA PRO AI smart mesh routers that finally look more at home in your home, masquerading as a piece of sculptural art that hides the powerful technology inside its graceful curves.

Designer: D-LINK

Granted, those antennas on your router aren’t just for show, but that doesn’t always mean they need to be visible, especially with today’s technologies. It might simply be a matter of pride that some of these literally black boxes show off the number of spikes they have as if those indicate how much power they actually possess. The result is a design that isn’t just space-inefficient but also unaesthetic to most people.

In contrast, you won’t find sharp points or even sharp edges on the D-LINK AQUILA PRO AI (models M30 and M60). What you will find instead is an elegant object that belies its superior technology, looking more like a piece of decoration rather than a router. Its name and unique shape, whose ends curl up and inward, are inspired by the Aquila constellation and the eagle, a majestic bird that exudes both power and grace. That association goes even beyond the general shape of the device, with feather-like patterns on the router’s ventilation.

The D-LINK AQUILA PRO AI isn’t just all looks, of course, as it also boasts the latest connectivity technologies, especially Wi-Fi 6. And since it’s a mesh router, you can combine multiple units and spread them around your house to get rid of dead zones and ensure fast, stable, and uninterrupted connections. It also comes with the latest privacy and security protections, plus conveniences offered by smart home platforms and mobile app control.

The D-LINK AQUILA PRO AI’s ground-breaking design doesn’t stop there either. It also tries to give back to the planet we live in by making use of PCRs or Post-Consumer Recycled materials for its housing, reducing its negative impact on the environment. This smart mesh router is stunning and beautiful proof that power doesn’t have to look harsh and cold. After all, there is both power and elegance in the form of an eagle taking flight.

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A Headphone Stand To Bring In a Tale From Nature To Your Desk

In the realm of design, every product tells a story, weaving together elements of inspiration and functionality. The KIWI Headphone Stand is no exception, offering a unique blend of creativity and purpose that transcends the ordinary. As we delve into the backstory of this captivating creation, we find ourselves drawn into a narrative where nature, aspirations, and practicality converge.

Designers: Jeongjun Kim and Jinhyoung Choi

At the heart of the KIWI Headphone Stand’s conception lies the tale of a Kiwi bird with a desire for change. This peculiar bird, known for its short legs, yearned for the elegance and grace that came with longer limbs. Every day, it dreamt of standing tall alongside other magnificent birds, its imagination soaring with the possibilities of elongated legs.

One fateful day, the Kiwi bird awoke to a startling realization—its wish had come true. To its astonishment, the once stubby legs were now elongated, granting the bird a newfound stature. However, as reality often proves, ideals and wishes can have unintended consequences.

The Kiwi bird, now burdened with the challenges of its elongated legs, found itself in difficulty. The very feature it had longed for had become a hindrance. In a quest to revert to its original form, the Kiwi bird pondered creative solutions, leading to a unique association with everyday objects.

Taking inspiration from the Kiwi’s plight, the designer of the KIWI Headphone Stand ingeniously incorporated elements from various birds, including the Kiwi and the duck. The elongation of certain parts of these birds served as the foundation for a headphone stand that seamlessly merged functionality with aesthetic appeal.

To maintain a harmonious blend with nature, the designer opted for wood as the primary material for the KIWI Headphone Stand. This choice not only adds warmth and elegance to the product but also pays homage to the organic inspiration derived from the Kiwi bird and other avian counterparts.

In a stroke of brilliance, the designer introduced two similar design iterations, allowing the KIWI Headphone Stand to cradle not just one but possibly two headphones at a time or maybe use that as a hook for something else. This thoughtful addition enhances the product’s appeal, making it a practical and visually striking accessory for any workspace.

The KIWI Headphone Stand is more than just a functional accessory for your desk; it’s a testament to the symbiotic relationship between design and nature. By intertwining the story of the Kiwi bird with the practical needs of headphone storage, this product is a conversation piece that resonates with those who appreciate the artistry behind everyday objects.

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Sunflower-inspired speaker concept lets sound follow you wherever you go

Smart speakers are becoming a common sight in homes these days, even those that have yet to wander into the smart home category. They come in all shapes and sizes, but most of the designs have one thing in common. Given the design of drivers, they can only project sound in one direction, usually forward. You can have a 360-degree speaker, but that requires having more complicated hardware or a cylindrical design that has to be placed somewhere in the middle of the room to make sure the sound reaches you where you are. This concept design, however, offers a simpler but more interesting solution, taking a cue from one of Mother Nature’s more curious creations. This circular speaker turns to make sure that sound is sent in your direction, following you all the time just like a sunflower follows the sun.

Designer: Joon-Yeol Bae

In general, sound travels in the direction an emitter, such as a speaker, is facing. It can bounce off objects or spread a bit in a cone, but on its own, it will never change its forward direction. Omni-directional speakers solve this by having drivers that face multiple directions to cover all possible directions. While effective and a common practice these days, it also means multiplying the number of components used, raising the build cost. In some cases, it also requires that the speaker be placed in an open and unobstructed area of the room, which limits your interior design options.

Solros, named after “sunflower” in Swedish, is a concept that takes an unconventional approach. Employing the same technologies used by self-driving cars and robot vacuums, it can tell where you are and rotate its disc-shaped head to always face in your direction. It can even detect how near or far you are from the speaker and adjust its volume to compensate for the distance. This has the effect of making the sound feel like it’s always following you, wherever you go inside a space.

The speaker is also designed to blend into the background if you need it or become the center of attraction if you want it. Its minimalist design, which can be made available in beige, black, red, and green colors, makes it a perfect fit for almost any interior. Its graceful movements also minimize distractions while, at the same time, becoming a point of curiosity for visitors. Needless to say, it’s going to be a conversation starter, especially when the music starts to play.

As interesting as this design might be, it does raise the question of how effective it will be when there is more than one person in the room. LIDAR alone won’t be able to give priority to certain individuals, say the homeowner, and the speaker might end up getting confused and frozen in place instead of making sure its sound is sent in the right direction. Solros definitely makes the composition of a speaker a bit simpler, but the logic necessary to avoid a deadlock makes it a bit more complicated than a more straightforward 360-degree speaker.

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Unusual lounge chair uses sponge-filled ropes to mimic a certain insect

The human mind is such an incredible thing, capable of creating wonderful designs and life-changing products. Of course, it is really no match against the unfathomable “mind” of nature, as seen in the sometimes awe-inspiring, sometimes bewildering things we can find in the world, both living and non-living. The complexity of nature’s design has been an inspiration for many of mankind’s creations and inventions, great and small, either just in terms of the basic form or including their function. There are times, however, when such an inspiration takes an odd turn, like this lounge chair that half looks comfy and half unsettling, especially after you learn what the peculiar piece of furniture is inspired by.

Designers: Miray Ozlem ER

At first glance, the lounge already looks unconventional, like someone laid a series of fabric tubes across a metal frame. These “ropes,” as they are called, are indeed soft and cushy, filled with sponge material to give them both volume and softness at the same time. After all, who would want to lounge on a very hard surface, especially for a long period of time?

The entire piece, however, is supposed to resemble a caterpillar entering its cocoon phase, with each rope representing a segment of the insect’s body. It’s definitely an odd association, especially considering how some people might feel uncomfortable with such crawling critters. Then again, they don’t really have to know the details of the design’s inspiration. As it turns out, the way the sponge-filled tubes go over the frame and extends to the back also makes them look like a row of snakes draped over the chair, also not a comforting image for some people.

The lounge’s design is also unusual in that it doesn’t hide the skeletal frame of the chair. In fact, it’s meant to showcase the shiny metal chrome which contrasts and complements the soft fabric of the rest of the chair. At the same time, however, the image induces a sense of discomfort and uncertainty, especially with the gaps on both sides of the chair. Despite the lounge’s width, it’s a seat made for one, and this peculiar design tries to send that message across in a very striking manner.

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Bio-Cement: A Potential Material That May Replace Regular Cement

Industrial designer Mary Lempres has unveiled a groundbreaking bio-cement structure named Reef Rocket, inspired by the intricate and resilient nature of oyster reefs. Designed to combat coastal flooding, filter seawater, and foster biodiversity, Reef Rocket utilizes biomimicry principles to mimic the functionalities of naturally occurring oyster reefs.

Designers: Mary LempresAhmed Miftah

The structure comprises two bio-cement modules with ridged surfaces that can be stacked to form a distinctive rocket-like shape when assembled underwater. Lempres collaborated with bio-geotechnical specialist Ahmed Miftah to develop a unique method for growing plant-derived cement, drawing parallels to the irrigation systems used for plant cultivation.

Biomimicry, the practice of seeking solutions to human design challenges in nature, guided Lempres in creating ridged modules that emulate coastal oyster reefs. These reefs naturally filter algae from seawater, attract aquatic organisms, dissipate wave energy, mitigate storm surges, and manage eroding coastlines.

The bio-cement modules are formed by pouring a non-toxic solution containing a crude extract from globally grown plants over crushed aggregate. The aggregate, sourced in New York City, consists of crushed glass and oyster shells recovered from local restaurants and New York Harbour.

Lempres explained that the substrate, saturated for three to nine days, becomes natural concrete as the extracted biocatalyst causes minerals to form “mineral bridges” between the glass and shell waste. The resulting product is water-resistant, durable, and comparable to standard concrete but with the added benefit of being environmentally friendly and sustainable.

What sets Reef Rocket apart is its ability to grow in any environment without the need for heat or burning fossil fuels. Lempres emphasized its affordability and scalability as a sustainable alternative to traditional cement. The bio-concrete shares chemical similarities with the material oysters use to grow their reefs, but the key difference lies in the speed of growth, with Reef Rocket taking only several days compared to millennia for natural oyster reefs.

Lempres and her team experimented with “hundreds” of prototypes before settling on prefabricated molds for the modules. These molds allow the bio-cement to be packed and set without the need for heat or chemicals, offering an accessible and efficient assembly process.

Reef Rocket’s deliberate design prioritizes small size, lightweight construction, and ease of assembly, aiming to make the innovative solution accessible to a broad audience. Lempres envisions a future where durable materials can be grown like crops, regenerating waste and mitigating environmental pollution. The project stands as a testament to the potential of biomimicry and sustainable design in addressing the challenges posed by climate change and coastal resilience. Reef Rocket represents a significant step towards harmonizing human infrastructure with the resilient and regenerative capacities of the natural world.

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Nature-inspired pendant lamps add a minimalist and intricate aesthetic to your space

One of the things that can make your space look more elegant, stylish, and beautiful is to have lamps that will complement and enhance the room. There are a lot of well-designed lamps, light fixtures, and chandeliers out there that you can choose from and there’s always room for more. If you’re looking for something a bit more minimalist but still will stand out when you place it in your room, here are a couple of pendant lamps from Claymango.

Designer: Gamini Rawal for Claymango

The Lily Pendant Lamp is of course inspired by the Lily flower and is designed to represent “love, devotion, and purity”. It streamlines the six petals into just three, achieving a minimalist and simple aesthetic. It also has an eco-friendly finish as it uses rattan as its main material. It can stand alone as just one pendant lamp or you can group it together with other lily lamps if you need something bigger. It can be used for both task and area lighting.

The Spiral Pendant Lamp meanwhile is inspired by the rhythmic movements that the fishes make when they’re looking for food in the ocean. Therefore you get some swirls and twisty forms but still with a minimalist aesthetic, using its bamboo weave design to blend with neutral and boho feels. The fixtures that are designed as a pair can serve both as pendant lamps and chandeliers with the light suspended through the cylindrical diffuser.

These pendant lamps are minimalist but also somehow slightly intricate in design. If you have an aesthetic that fits the lily concept or the spiral concept, these would be a pretty nice addition to the room (if ever they will come out of the concept stage) as they are both functional and decorative.

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Love Hultén brick-inspired sound sculpture uses a bonsai tree to create sounds

With the prevalence of electronic devices like smartphones and smart speakers, you might think that sound and music can only come from these objects. Of course, they are more medium than source, and there are plenty of things that generate audible audio waves even without the help of man-made contraptions. Nature, for example, has plenty of mystifying sounds that almost border on being musical, but there are also hidden ways that natural objects can produce sounds with a little help from technology. Using biological data and a bit of scientific creativity, one can even hear the “music” that plants make, such as this rather unique “sound sculpture” that makes a small bonsai tree sing its heart out in alien-like tones.

Designer: Love Hultén

To be clear, plants don’t make music, no matter how enchanting that concept might be. What artists, musicians, and designers are doing is to gather the subtle electrical signals generated by chemical changes in plants and interpret them as a series of tones generated by a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) device that hardly resembles a pleasing harmony. That said, even that straightforward process is enough to capture one’s curiosity and inspire a sense of wonder, even if it won’t win any music awards.

Tegel is one such artistic exploration in the translation of biological signals into audible sounds utilizing the popular bonsai tree. The choice of plant is almost poetic, given how this family of diminutive plants is often associated with meditation, calmness, and Zen. Ironically, the tones and beeps that are produced by this sound sculpture are hardly relaxing and are more like EDM for parties.

The small tree is housed inside a tall glass dome and is connected to an audio synthesizer via wires clipped onto its leaves. The plant acts more like a series of resistors rather than an actual sound source, and the sound sculpture incorporates dials to fine-tune the sound that comes out of it. There’s even a MIDI keyboard so that the user can add their own input to the mix.

What makes Tegel really special isn’t the process but the form that it comes in. Love Hultén has created quite a few of these contraptions that transform biodata into sound, but those really look the part of machines. In contrast, this sound sculpture is as much art as it is technology, inspired by the brick creations of Danish sculptor Per Kirkeby. It makes the bonsai tree a part of a miniaturized brick garden, creating a visual contrast of organic life and man-made structures working together to produce something akin to a miracle, that of pulling music out of a silent tree.

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