Product Design Archive

  1. Apo-list

    There was a time, as a young budding freelancer, when my business partner (that’s much too professional a title really) and I used to work on his kitchen table all day. We’d eat breakfast and lunch there and sometimes dinner too, with our computers pushed to one side for five minutes so we could shovel down tins of soup. The best part of this otherwise disheartening existence was rigging up a table tennis net on the table every lunchtime and pretending we worked in some trendy up-and-coming studio where 50% of your time is spent brainstorming over foosball or hot-desking on bean bags.

  2. List

    I can look back fondly now on Christmas morning, when my poor, sleep-deprived parents would spend hours wrestling with those little rubber sandwich ties in boxes and relentlessly searching for batteries in drawers which hadn’t been opened for years. This is exactly the kind of impatient nostalgia that Andy Brown harnesses. When the photographer was commissioned to make a series of images for the Children’s Hospital in Sheffield he decided to photograph the most popular toys since the 1880s from museum collections around the country, and the resulting surge of frustration, joy, and the memory of a veritable cacophony of irritating electronic sounds indicates that he’s more than succeeded in brightening up the place.

  3. List-1

    If the phrase “changing the way we interact with our tableware” just reminds you of that bit in The Little Mermaid when Ariel is told that a fork is actually a comb for her hair then it might well be time for you to become better acquainted with the work of Polly Collins. Whilst studying silversmithing and jewellery at Edinburgh College of Art, Polly decided to push the boundaries of dining experiences to encourage users to spend more time over eating.

  4. Jessehoward-list

    I don’t really see myself as the paranoid type but I have to confess to a very occasional and irrational fear that when the technological apocalypse comes (and it will, you mark my words) I’m going to be one of those goons left behind by people with real world skills. As someone who spends more than their fair share of time online I’d be useless in a world without electricity. How do you make a fire? With the switch of a button. Cook a meal? Pretty much the same way. And what about boiling water for tea? Look, I don’t have a clue ok, there’s people out there whose job it is to know these things so I can just keep on tapping away at my keys.

  5. Particules-list

    Hold on to your hats kids because this is a little more complex than it looks. The images above and below show the work of Particules Studio, a french product design duo doing remarkable things with simple objects. Their Objets Sans Âge series in particular pushes traditional materials in wholly unique directions, fusing ceramic, wood and exposed electrical circuitry to produce radios, alarm clocks, speaker systems and light switches that are uniquely tactile.

  6. List

    It was London Design Festival last week and so creative stores city-wide joined in the excitement; perhaps none more so than Darkroom. The design accessories store launched a season of products based on the work of Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass using themes he introduced during his time with the legendary Memphis group.

  7. List

    Every year by dint of their size and the publicity machines behind them certain LDF projects get more attention than others. But to really appreciate the festival in all its glory, it make sense to seek out some of the hidden gems which always help make LDF what it is. So today we are looking at a show inspired by abandoned shoes, one which celebrates London in graphic novels and a Mexico/London-inspired exhibition form the award-winning Bethan Laura Wood.

  8. List

    I make no secret of my stationery obsession – there were times as a child where I’d walk into a Rymans and be near incontinent with glee. In fact it was the one part of returning to school after the summer holiday that would put me in a good mood. Stuff seeing friends after the long August break, I was more concerned with what ink eraser/pencil case combo I’d be going for that term. Needless to say I’d have been beside myself had this new piece of kit from Antalis been available in Year Nine. Designed by Blow in Hong Kong, this beautiful poster drawer of paper-based goodies recreates design studio staples in various Antalis stocks, from a mousemat and ruler through to your very own pulpy laptop. It IS September kids, so I might treat myself to a little gift for the new term.

  9. List

    We’re no strangers to the age-old conundrum of how best to fix a wobbly table leg at dinner (see folded up train tickets, the restaurant menu, a salt shaker, your foot), and neither, it seems, is Ana Rita Antonio. A Portuguese-born, Oslo-based designer who claims to have too much time on her hands, her recent project 14 Ways of Replacing a Table Leg does exactly that, and takes full advantage of her limited resources. This hilarious project was first presented as the second chapter of an ongoing series The Poetics of Miss Understanding as part of her graduation show from DesignLAB and promises to be the first of many strange but brilliant ideas from Ana.

  10. List

    Early morning, prising your eyes open, you reach into your clothes drawers and pull out those cycling shorts. No, it is not sleep deprived eyes tricking you, they really are that small and you really will have to squeeze your resistant limbs into them. Some can pull it off; those fully covered lycra bodies speeding on their bicycles, but let’s face it, under a dress or fitted jeans, that extra padding ain’t so svelte.

  11. List

    Unsure where to pop that pin you’ve just pulled out of your newly repaired hem? Well do not fret, friend, Eleonor Boström has designed a ceramic dog with a pin cushion for a head which will be suitably equipped to meet all your pinning needs. Not a sentence I ever predicted I’d write, but I’ll embrace it with open arms because not only has Eleonor designed tiny ceramic pups for fans of needlework, but also as salt and pepper shakers, and peeking out over the rims of teacups, and with eggcup pots for heads. And other less functional kinds which are just as lovely.

  12. Print1

    Given up trying to wrench paper from the clenched jowls of a printer that has greedily hoovered up too many pages at once and then choked, coughed a bit and paused, flashing a big lit-up-in-red NO at you? Well worry not as recent design graduate from Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne Mugi Yamamoto is here to take all of our printer foibles away with his incredible new design Stack.

  13. List

    Dumbbells made of mayonnaise containers, a crocodile-lilo created from empty detergent containers or a tea-bag lamp anyone? These were just some of the eye-popping pieces on show at Unilever’s recent Reform exhibition where they worked with our sister agency INT Works to challenge a host of creatives to turn everyday products into something new and inspiring.

  14. Bag

    The tote bag became big when we gave up on the idea that we’d one day get around to using all of those plastic bags that were stuffed inside one another and lodged in a drawer. Less of an eyesore, totes came swaggering onto the market to couple with illustrators, designers, artists and record labels. The tote bagged them all and we loved them for it, so much so that they began to stack up, hidden guiltily beneath coats in their plenty, savoured by their users as fashion statements, edging dangerously close to the passé.

  15. List

    French onion soup with fresh thyme and gruyère cheese; a light coconut crȇpe, wrapped around halibut delicately poached in truffle butter followed by forest foraged ramp risotto topped with prosciutto and dusted with fresh parmesan. Still hungry? How about some crack pie with milk ice cream balanced on a vanilla tuile followed by a French canelé with a malt barley and hazelnut latté?

  16. List

    Inspired by Mary Poppins’ seemingly never-ending bag, Royal College of Art student Jule Waibel’s post-graduate project Enfaltung, meaning unfolding, was based around a range of garments created using intricate folding techniques. Incorporating the concept of collapsible structures into her design process, Jule toys with ideas of dimensionality to create clothes which expand and contract with the movement of the wearer, placing emphasis on transformation and growth. She uses Tyvek, a lightweight waterproof, tearproof synthetic paper to make her pieces, onto which a gradient is printed before the garment is made. Even better, you can watch a time-lapse film of the whole arduous process below. As she explains, “the project celebrates the beauty to be found between geometry, transformation and play.” I’d say she’s done Mary Poppins proud, wouldn’t you?

  17. List

    Every year the James Dyson Award throws up some potentially worldcvhanging inventions which kind of make me feel bad for doing so little with my life (comparatively). This year’s competition closes tonight but already a UK student has caught the eye with a great solution to the longstanding problem of access to clean water in developing countries.

  18. Lexpott-list

    Dutch designer Lex Pott has a product design practice that’s intuitive in its logic, making use of natural processes, historic traditions and happenstance to inform the conceptual backbone of his physical projects. He’s fashioned jewellery from coins, intentionally tarnished mirrors for aesthetic purposes and even, most impressively, created furniture that’s reliant upon the oxidisation of its component materials.

  19. Manere-list

    German designer Martin Schuster (aka Lang) is something of a creative polymath. He’s recently completed a masters in visual communication at the Bauhaus-University, Weimar, where he’s been engaged in a variety of design practices, from graphic to product design and seemingly everything else in between. During his studies he was employed by BUREAU Mario Lombardo, where he worked extensively on some of their projects for Gestalten Verlag (including one of my favourite monographs, The Tender Spot) and since graduating he’s been slaving away building up his own concept brand Manere, specialising in luxury products and furniture.

  20. List

    A wooden bike, you say? Surely not? Yes sir/madam, it’s true – Strasbourg-based BSG, founded by design studio Boltz & Saos, have created a beautifully designed new model called WOOD.b, made from a strangely harmonious combination of beech plywood and high-quality steel. The careful balance between the two materials allows for complete customisation of the design, and the universality of the Columbus parts means it can be repaired or serviced at any European bike shop with no trouble at all. Quite simply, this is great design at its most versatile.

  21. Sapper-list

    For a man with no formal design education, Richard Sapper has managed to make an indelible mark on the face of global industrial design. Since the 1950s his innovative approach to product design has led to some of the most forward-thinking, technically complex and strikingly-beautiful objects of use. From his early days at Daimler Benz to latter years at IBM, Sapper’s vision of the industrial world has come to be more or less our own; from the kettles we boil our water in, to the units from which we send emails.

  22. List

    In the ongoing battle to redefine and reimagine the act and art of publishing for the 21st Century comes this project from the fine fellows over at Artomatic. CONTAINER is a thematic collection of objects produced specially by the contributors to that particular “issue.” For the first one, based around the idea of “hot and cold,” the likes of Nic Roope, James Bridle, Daniel Eatock and Accept & Proceed have created a weird and wonderful selection of treats from takeaway forks to pine wood burners. Not only are the objects themselves really special, the project challenges our notion of publications and our increasing expectations of what is becoming a luxury rather than a staple of our everyday lives.

  23. Cmyk-list

    If a great idea and clever name is all you need to achieve design brilliance then we imagine Peter Chadwick of Popular is basking in the warm glow of creative success right now. Assisted by Jonny Holmes and aided by the photographic skills of David Ryle, Popular have created a fully-functioning printing table that acts as a simple, elegant manual press.

  24. List

    The Design Museum has already announced its winners of the annual Designs of the Year showcase and we were thrilled to see the GOV.UK site scoop the top prize. But with just a few weeks of the accompanying exhibition set to run, now is YOUR chance to have a say on which designs really knocked your socks off. The Visitor Vote throws the power to the people and anyone can cast their vote at the pop-up polling station as to which of the 99 entries is their favourite.

  25. List

    If you’re reading this at work, get ready to pretend you’ve got something in your eye because this is one of most uplifting design projects we’ve seen in ages. JWT Brazil worked with the A.C.Camargo Cancer Center in São Paulo to help change the way children think about their leukaemia treatment. We see a lot of high-tech wizardry aimed at alleviating the stress youngsters undergo in hospital, but the Superformula solution is simplicity itself.

  26. Main

    It’s not often we post about things that you can actually buy with your hard-earned cash, but seeing as it was payday last week we present you with one of the most coveted household items we’ve seen for a long time. We found out about Schönstaub after lovely photographer Nadja Stäubli dropped by the office last week. Together with pal David Schönen, she creates machine woven, large format carpets that resemble the creamy, sci-fi goodness of The Milky Way.

  27. Plugg-list

    As a religious Radio 4 listener I’m constantly troubled by the appearance of The Archers twice daily, interrupting the station’s otherwise exciting range of shows. When the theme music starts I’m quick to switch the volume off, but I’ve often wished for a more literal way to put a cork in my least favourite radio drama (nobody cares what’s going on down on that bloody farm).

  28. Fslip-list

    The first time we posted Fort Standard’s work you could have been forgiven for thinking that they weren’t exactly heavyweight designers. We loved their geometric Balancing Blocks for their playfulness and charm but you’d have been hard-pushed to suggest that they were essential items – I can’t really think of an instance in which red, blue and green wooden shapes would get you out of a fix.

  29. List

    With COLLECT – The Crafts Council’s annual showcase of the some of the best creative talent from both the UK and abroad – opening its doors in London tomorrow, it seems like the perfect time to swing our spotlight on three more of the artists who will be displaying their work in the show’s Project Space area. We’ve praised before the sheer range on show at the Saatchi Gallery over the weekend and this selection proves once again that The Crafts Council have worked hard to identify talented individuals across the spectrum of disciplines they promote.

  30. List

    Since the days of GCSE maths I haven’t had much cause to use a calculator but my solar-powered Casio will always have a place in my heart. But there’s a new pretender to the throne in the form of this extraordinary Knock Knock offering from Swiss designer Khalil Klouche. Designed for small children, it works through an Arduino circuit board and presents an amazingly tactile, fun way to engage youngsters with fundamental maths. Well I say fundamental, you may find yourself having to concentrate on these simple sums more than you’d expect!

  31. Main1

    You may have recollections of making pinhole cameras at school or university. Perhaps, like me, you remember being a bit confused, not entirely sure why you were being told to put paper into a plastic cup and leave it outside before spending time making a smudgy photo that you can’t quite make out. Well those days are OVER. Not only does Kelly Angood’s much anticipated project, The Pop Up Pinhole Camera look like a lovely classic Videre camera which follows on from the success of her previous pinhole Hasselblad project, but it also produces very high quality, two-fingers-up to Instagram, pinhole photographs of which you can see some examples below.

  32. Swine-list

    Studio Swine are pretty unique in their commitment to sustainability in the luxury product market. There’s not many other designers out there that would trawl the oceans for plastic to create a bespoke stool or use human hair as a production material for luxury eyewear. It seems to us that they’re almost single-handedly championing recycling and reusing in their area of the creative industries – which is all well and good on its own, but all of Swine’s output also looks fantastic.

  33. Lisssstmate

    What’s that you say? Toiling over how much pasta to cook for numerous people has gone for good? Well Studio Lievito has designed a beautiful accessory which might just have ended that conundrum for good. Made from a single piece of white Carrara marble, each slot caters for one, two, three or four people. It’s an Italian hunk that not only is ridiculously good-looking, but means you will never let pasta go to waste again. Along with the spaghetti measurer, Studio Lievito presented an variety of elegant and practical products at Milan Design Week 2013, including this dry-rack suspended by a perimeter of natural bristles. Benissimo!

  34. Mallist

    What an absolute pleasure it is to read about Philippe’s carefully made, happy projects. From beautifully crafted bowls made of leftover receipts, to tiny boats powered by tea lights, to contraptions that produce perfectly rectangular loaves of home made bread. You know those ideas that you have sometimes when you’re walking along in the sun that, for one reason or another, you shrug off? Well, it’ almost as if Philippe’s practice is to actually put those nice little ideas into practise. And, as you can see, it was definitely worth his while. I urge you to read more about his lovely projects over on his website.

  35. Wonmin-list

    We came across South Korean designer Wonmin Park tucked away in a basement of the Spazio Rossana Orlandi – just below the space in which Konstfack were exhibiting – but don’t be fooled, the quality of this man’s work can’t be contained below ground. Wonmin is a graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven and since 2011 has presided over his own studio creating unique products and furnishings, all notable for their ethereal beauty (not a word you’d normally associate with an object designed to cradle your backside).

  36. Philips-list

    It might be over now but we’ve still got one or two bits and pieces left over from Milan Design Week that we’re not done talking about just yet, one of which is the collaboration between Philips, Kvadrat and Patricia Urquiola at Moroso’s Milan showroom. To celebrate the launch of Patricia’s first textile collection for Kvadrat, Moroso held a special launch event, The Revolving Room, that played host to these innovative fabrics.

  37. List

    One of the other great things about being in Milan this week is how many old friends you get to run into. The guys at Konstfack (arguably Sweden’s most prestigious design school) have visited us in London a couple of times, but we never get to see their work outside of paper portfolios. At their Milan show Design Anima, we got a chance to spend some time with them and have a proper look at the incredible quality of their work.

  38. Monterzino-list

    There’s a vast amount of incredible design on display at Milan’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile at the moment, from huge, big-brand collaborations releasing worldwide collections to lone practitioners making limited-run objects by hand. Big or small, the aim of the game is showcasing intelligent, beautiful products and design. Which makes it odd that the first person I got talking to here has temporarily given up his day-job as a product designer to spend time developing a more conceptual practice.

  39. List

    “Everyone’s a winner baby” sang Hot Chocolate and in a way they were right, but in another, more accurate way they were wrong. Of course all the work which gets nominated for the Design Museum’s prestigious Designs of the Year is brilliant, but we’ve just this minute received word which projects scooped the top prize in each of the seven categories.

  40. List

    LA-based artist Steven Harrington has been exploring the idea of balance in his work for a while now, interested as he is in the metaphorical significance of balance in our increasingly hectic lives. But in his new foray into product design, Steven has applied these ideas to a lamp, creating a great-looking, super-fun piece covered with his trademark shifty eyes. Working with wood for the very first time, each piece is hand-carved and hand-painted to create objects of real beauty, the curious totems topped with splash-coloured shades. Steven says: " Each one represents the harmony we seek in our daily lives, an inspired and inspiring reminder of the importance of equanimity…Each lamp is a functional work of art that illuminates, literally and figuratively."