Product Picks for July

Smart Planter

Lua Planter

This amazing planter, Lua, gives your plant emotions! It uses sensors to measure the soil’s moisture, temperature and light exposure. It also measure your movement, so it peers at you when you walk by. The emotions help you know when it’s thirsty, sick, too hot, etc.

I’m always a sucker for sustainable houseware and packaging of any kind. Gaurav Wali uses pine needles here to create holders and organizers. He uses natural binders and waxes to make this a completely bio-degradable product. The material can also be colored with natural dyes made from vegetables and spices. What a cool way to use something that’s all around us!

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I would use this Twin Utensil Set daily. When you switch from chopsticks back to western utensils, there’s even an interlock between the fork and knife so that they become one interlock.

 

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Product design picks for June

A bell for runners so you can tell people when you’re coming up behind them – similar to a bell on a bicycle. I think this is pretty genius. This could also just be an app, but I suspect the ring reverberates better if it’s a physical one.

Designer: Kevin John Nadolny

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An LED that helps you communicate with other drivers. You can view it up to 50 feet away. There are shortcuts to the most used messages, and the controller has large buttons.

Designers: John Stanley, Nina Stanley, Harsha Venna & Harshit Aggarwal

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A clock that shows you the time in a new way. Because I work as a UX designer, I’m always looking for new interaction patterns and new interfaces – both digital and physical. This one is simply and unique.

Designer: Mattis Boets

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Product design picks for March

A jar that expands and contracts based on the quantity of food you need it to hold. [Designer: Terence Myers (Botto Design)]

“Just expand the jar, open the lid, and pour your contents in before closing the lid and pressing down on the top. Air releases from the valve on the jar’s lid, packing your food in tightly not only to make the jar more compact but to also remove excess air from inside the container, keeping your food fresher for longer.”

A smart mirror that gives you a weather and calendar preview of the day. [Designers: Hongseok Seo, Minkwan Seo & Jo-Young Choo]

It’s connected to the internet, can play for favorite tunes and helps you get ready for the day.

Bose AR sunglasses. These devices funnel sound towards the wearer’s ears. It could be interesting to combine good graphics with Bose’s sound quality. These look more natural than the AR glasses we usually see. source

 

Simple and Practical Product Designs

As a former student of industrial design, it’s often fun to go back and study how other people are currently designing everyday objects around us to be easier to use. Below are a few good ones that I’ve stumbled upon recently.

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The Bare Chair (Leano) by Nik Lorbeg – Design Boom | Ridiculously portable. Easy to make.

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The Sticky Feet Flex Mount aka Gekkopod by Gal & Boaz Zucker | Works on any surface.

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The 160 deg. Socket by Zhoucun Yu | Great for large plugs.

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What Art School Taught Me (not what I expected)

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No one expected me to go to art school. Not even I did. I was a bit of a conformist back in high school, taking tons of math and science classes so that I could please my parents and impress my peers. Painting was fun, but art school?

Now that I think about it, it’s probably because I had no clue what art school was actually about. People mostly see and hear about RISD through the media, which means they only get to know it as a place where kids with purple hair draw naked people (albeit, you do see plenty of that as a freshman).

What they probably don’t know about RISD is that it does the most amazing job of taking away fear – the fear of starting, the fear of trying something new, the fear of fear

Art and design push boundaries like nothing else, which is why RISD actually ended up being perfect for me. It made me do a lot of things that I was really uncomfortable with, which in hindsight ended up the best thing I could have ever done.

During my first semester as a freshman at RISD, I was given the assignment to build a violin from cardboard (FYI it didn’t have to work). I immediately started making calculations and measuring angles. The girl beside me simply traced an actual violin on cardboard, building each side as she progressed. Guess who finished first? Not me.

While high school taught me to be methodical about decisions, RISD taught me to hack things together until they worked.

RISD taught me to just start. Make something rough. Make it imperfect. Just make it, because it’ll get you further ahead than the person who’s still “measuring” the perfect way to do it.

I had never worked like this before in my life. Grade school never taught me how to make, so it was my first experience of getting my hands dirty and toying with creation.

During my time in the industrial design (ID) department, I learned how to use a vacuum-form machine, a metal lathe and a blowtorch. If you had asked me high school whether I wanted to play with these machines, I would have probably backed away pretty quickly.

But the courses I took in ID required me to use them again and again, and as a result, they broke my fear of them. I practiced and practiced, until I realized nothing bad was going to happen to me while I used them.

By the end, I had hand-machined slider cranks, built foot pedals for sinks and soldered hollow-construction rings together.

RISD made me comfortable with fear. I became adjusted to trying new things on a regular basis; instead of being risk-averse, I became very risk-tolerant.

When you do this enough, it becomes more than a habit; it turns into an attitude, a mentality that you carry with you whenever you approach obstacles at work or in life. Instead of hesitating and worrying about whether the outcome is going to be perfect, you just dive in and see what it’s about.

While I’m not saying that art school does this for everyone, I am saying that sometimes, you just have to let go. Go and jump into something you’re afraid to do. You’ll look back and wonder why you ever feared it in the first place.