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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This Starfish Inspired Coffee Shop And Bar Brings Buildings To Life With Biomimetic Design

Have you seen buildings that sometimes resemble plants, flowers, or animals? Wonder what that’s called? Biomimetic Architecture is a fascinating concept that takes inspiration from nature to design buildings. It’s about bringing the efficiency, resilience, and beauty of nature into our built environment. The Starfish Coffeeshop & Bar, a stunning architectural marvel, epitomizes this ethos with its seamless integration of organic forms and sustainable materials.

Designer: Thilina Liyanage

At first glance, the structure resembles a starry creature from beneath the waves. This organic aesthetic is no accident; it’s a deliberate tribute to the starfish, with its graceful arms extending outward. This innovative design approach not only captivates the eye but also serves a functional purpose, creating a space that feels naturally harmonious and inviting.

The central disk, reminiscent of a starfish’s body, serves as the nucleus of the coffee shop & bar. Supported by five columns beneath each arm, the structure exudes stability and balance. Here, customers can gather around a 360-degree bar, enjoying cocktails amidst a tropical ambiance. The surrounding seating areas, arranged in a radial fashion, invite visitors to linger and savor the experience, similar to relaxing in a beachside shack with open views on all sides.

One of the most striking features of this coffee shop & bar is its emphasis on natural light and ventilation. Glass panels, resembling the ampullae of a starfish, beautify the ceiling, allowing sunlight to filter through during the day. This not only illuminates the space but also reduces the need for artificial lighting, enhancing energy efficiency.

Moreover, the use of speculative locally sourced materials such as bamboo and wood underscores the project’s commitment to vernacular architecture. By leveraging indigenous resources, the structure seamlessly blends with its surroundings while minimizing its environmental footprint. This emphasis on sustainability extends beyond mere aesthetics, embodying a holistic approach to responsible design.

Perhaps the crowning touch of the Starfish coffee shop & bar is the lifelike sculpture suspended above the bar. Resembling a starfish or octopus, this installation adds a whimsical touch to the space, infusing it with a sense of wonder and playfulness. For customers seated beneath, it creates a sense of being immersed in an underwater world, further enhancing the overall experience.

With its open-air design and ample seating, the coffee shop & bar provides the perfect setting for leisurely conversations and shared moments. Families can gather around the central bar, enjoying refreshing beverages while soaking in the tropical atmosphere. Children can delight in the whimsical surroundings, imagining themselves exploring an underwater kingdom teeming with life.

For those seeking respite from the heat, the coffee shop & bar offers a cool oasis, where icy beverages and frosty beers provide welcome relief. Whether you’re sipping on a craft cocktail or savoring a cold brew, every sip is accompanied by the gentle rustle of leaves and the soothing sounds of nature.

As the sun sets and the temperature cools, the ambiance shifts, casting a soft glow over the surroundings. Couples can enjoy a romantic evening under the stars, sharing sweet moments amidst the enchanting backdrop of the starfish-inspired architecture.

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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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Cute quadruped robot is actually a watermelon in disguise

We saw quite a few robots at MWC 2024 last month, but the two brightest stars were dog-like designs that were derived from the nightmare fuel that was Boston Dynamics’ Spot. Nowadays, the term “quadruped robot” would call images of that machine or its more refined descendants, but that’s only by convention and not by definition. This DIY robot, for example, also has four legs, at least for the technical definition of what a “leg” means, except it doesn’t take inspiration from canines or other four-legged animals. Instead, it tries to disguise itself as a fruit that suddenly splits into four and starts moving almost like a crab. A real-world Transformer, but in a small and somewhat cute package.

Designer: Ryota Kobayashi

Most of us probably aren’t unfamiliar with robots in disguise, at least those fictional machines that transform from a mundane shape to something truly more robotic. Of course, those fictional robots try to mimic vehicles or even animals since those things are already mobile by nature. But a spherical fruit that only rolls when the law of inertia takes effect? Really an odd choice for a disguise.

But that’s exactly what the Sherobo quadruped robot does, looking like a very fake plastic lemon in its “inactive” state. The real inspiration isn’t actually the fruit itself but what’s done with it in Japan. A game called “Suikawari” is pretty much the Japanese form of piñata, trying to split the watermelon with a stick while blindfolded. Of course, you won’t be splitting this sphere, let alone hitting it, because it splits on its own when it stretches its legs to walk around.

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Sherobo is actually made from many off-the-shelf components for the robot’s mainboard and motors. The frame, body, and legs, however, are all custom 3D printed, of course, and the designs are sadly not available publicly. What’s interesting is that each of the robot’s four legs has three degrees of freedom or 3DoF, giving it a great deal of mobility and flexibility. That said, given its design of the legs located around the body, it walks more like a crab than any other quadruped.

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And, of course, it doesn’t have to be a watermelon, either, and it can be any fruit or spherical object you prefer. It’s definitely an interesting experiment on robot design and one that expands the definition of a quadruped robot. It doesn’t hurt that it is perhaps more adorable those those Spot-like dog-inspired robots, that is unless you actually have a phobia of crab-like and spider-like critters.

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Baby roach mechanical experiment may be your next cute pet (or nightmare)

Some of the most popular (not necessarily best) memes are of people who seem to be brave on the outside but are reduced to screaming messes when faced with a cockroach. We’re talking both men and women here and seeing them freak out over these insects is apparently funny to some people. So this concept for a robotic cockroach may be the stuff of nightmares for some or a fascinating experiment for those who are curious.

Designer: Luis Lopez

Baby X-Roach is a concept or experiment into creating a robotic creature that is usually a source of disgust or fright. In his description of this creature he created, he says that she has a huge and kind heart with her curiosity keeping her alive even if most people don’t see it. It is designed to have a high tech aesthetic even though it is a low poly creation (small number of polygons in 3D computer graphics).

Based on the animations the designer included, the structure of the Baby X-Roach seems to be based on the actual cockroach’s look but with a high tech aesthetic. It may actually look right at home in a Tesla facility as per the creator. It can also be part of the Into the Spiderverse animated universe as it looks like it may be insect cousins with the spider that bit Miles Morales, with its red and black colors and mechanical movements.

This insect doesn’t seem to have any other function except to be a cute, mechanical pet. Well, that is, if you’re not afraid of roaches. If you are, you just might squish it if you see it scurrying across to you, which would be a shame for this baby roach.

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Pen blooms when pressed as you write down your dreams

While I’m basically a digital person, I turn analog when it comes to my journaling habit. This means I have a lot of tools like notebooks, stickers, washi tapes, and other ephemera to help me journal. But probably my most important “weapons” are my pens. As someone who likes colorful things, I collect different colored (both ink and the pen’s actual color) pens that I can use when I write in my various journals. So whenever I see a new kind of pen, whether it’s the design or the features, I pay attention.

Designer: Seung-Wan Nam

This concept for a pen called Bloomstick is based on the idea that writing down your dreams is an important part in making them come true. So the pen can metaphorically help your dreams to “bloom like flowers” when you write them down on paper using it. The tagline of the product is “click to bloom your dream”. It is basically a pen with a silicone-covered button that when you press it opens to a flower-like shape and turns it into a blooming instrument.

The product renders show different colors available for the pens like green, blue, and pink. The flower part of the pen is white while the “bud” part seems to be of a different color that matches the main, silicone part of the pen. When closed, it looks like just any ordinary pen and you’ll still be able to use it of course but it’s without its blooming design. There doesn’t seem to be any other function that it can do aside from write and look pretty.

As someone who collects pens and who likes flowery, pretty things, this is something I’d probably buy if I see it in a stationery store. Now if it can actually make my handwriting look nicer or make my dreams come true, I’d order it as soon as it hits the market.

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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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