Design Insights: Week 46

Untitled…an effort to improve our lives that is funded by a unanimous philanthropic family.


So here is a new device (series of devices) that enable you to test the chemical compound of your environments by simply inserting a “probe” into…whatever…your fruit, your drink, your dirt. It works with your iPod/iPad and a special app. This device called Lapka could possible show up as often as you see the Purell hand sanitizer. I envision being in the produce section at the local grocery store and seeing tiny probe holes in all the bananas…and seeing this accompanying the omnipresent media phone atop any restaurant table.


A find by a good friend of mine Jim Faulk at FaulkDesign. These designs by Ray Rex for B&N, cover a wide band of looks and thus emotive responses. Some bizarre, some beautiful. Do you know how hard it is to design a pattern for a panel like this that can be repeated every 4 or 8 feet? This is a great example of success in that regard.


The new Nest. Designed by an Apple interface engineer and even sold on the Apple website. Yes we have seen this in magazines and websites. But I partook in a whole new “in aisle” experience. I went to Lowe’s to specifically look at this…something to do at lunch. I was totally impressed. The design is truly different then ANY others on the market, it talks via a Wi-Fi to your whatever, senses when there is movement in the room, lights up when you are near, monitors outdoor temp and tunes your HVAC system accordingly, sends you monthly reports, talks to other in the house. So picture this:

Scenario 1) on Saturday’s you have it programmed to turn on at 9:00 AM, you want to sleep in so you grab your iPod and tell it to wait until 10:oo.

Scenario 2) Saturday’s it’s programed to turn on at 9:00 AM but doesn’t sense any movement after 9:15 and reverts the earlier temp.

Scenario 3) you are at the cabin and discover the weather at home is warmer then you planned…grab you iPhone and tell it to  turn off the A/C/.

Scenario 4) someone keeps playing with the temp but denies it…the monthly report shows up and it indicates that it was done with a iPad, at just about 3:30 every day (ironically that is right when the kids get home from school).

All that aside…what else’s was cool about this…I was playing with it in the aisle and one staff member stopped to “see if I needed any help” (a.k.a. play…), then another, then another customer, then another staffer, then yet another customer and then…the store manager who claims to have bought one a year ago and believes it has reduced his heating and cooling bill by about 40%. Sometimes it worth it to just reach out and touch things.


A great article in Dwell about their modern kitchen favorites for the year. Fascinating how many different desirable ways people have come up with to contend with lighting (natural and otherwise), open and closed storage, gallery vs. the “U”, etc.


If you are a photographer…you look at the world for things of beauty and interest that you can capture…if you have a bud vase on you bike…you probably stop and smell the flowers more often…this option is found at Rob Forbes (founder of DWR) new bike company Public.


SwissMiss posted this…a “cash capsule” for men from Britain’s Rose & Gray. The popularity of cash might be dwindling and you can’t roll up your media phone…but this is still cool enough to buy it and ponder what else you could put in there.

mcor_skull1-660x510 has an article indicating that Staples now offers a in-store 3D printing service…now my son can get some custom LEGOs made? I’m not the first to think of that, apparently there are some law suites being presented from toy companies that address patent infringements.


Pyramid power as described in this article at The Designer Pad…as if our pets don’t have enough power over us. “Meow like an egyptian”.



Continuing my sermon on the under utilized but powerful effect of lighting…this article at Design Sponge or “D*S” as they put it…features a small woodworking firm in Austin Texas called Kartwheel.



The ethos of greenhouses emits some form of health to me…things new, green, just born, aromatic…I have always wanted to have or perhaps live in a greenhouse… is featuring this one I could easily make my address. As proof to my ignorance of so many global stages…here is the designer but I have no idea what it is says:

“АМ Тотана Кузембаева”
Тотан Кузембаев
Анастасия Измакова
Ирина Сусуева


Guys dream closet…were it not for the likes of coolhunting…I would never have found this one. I mean a red, white & blue saucer…how cool is that? Rudy Williamsburg (from Seattle) sets up a coffee shop in NYC. I first encountered this idea of a “community table” when in Aspen with my family in 2003 at a restaurant there. The tiny place was full so we just sat at a big table full of local newspapers. Next thing we knew we were sitting among a host of local’s and sharing some great stories. Now every Starbuck’s has one.


Designed by Peter Tu and offered by Umbra…this little dude brings a new robotic twist to tea. I wonder how easy it would be to fill and clean? I know…I am a kill-joy.


Not far from home. This architectural mystery is in a suburb of Toronto. Designed by a Japanese firm called MAD, it was intended to provide experiences for its occupants that more accurately mimic those found in nature. Every balcony is a “new view”, every floor although based on an oval is different then the others. This article at goes into great depth regarding this projects effort to free the typical urban landscape from protruding vertical boxes.


These duck shaped (and nesting) funnels won the RedDot Design Award in 2010. Designed by Roger Arquier Studio. You must check out their mousetraps…what is the word for mouse psychology?…what ever it is this is a great example understanding the end-user.



“Designers & architects we should know something about”…I came across an article on Clive Wilkinson Architects at the website The Served. I met Mr. Wilkinson many years ago when he designed a self-contained desking system with Steelcase for one of his clients TBWA/Chiat/Day called “Nest”.


I have always enjoyed the way his solutions balance fun, color, patterns and function…and at the time one of his other trademarks what horizontally stripped socks.






Coolhunting’s gift guide.



After 5 years Austin Martin brings back the Vanquish. I asked but they couldn’t get one to me by Christmas. 565 hp, 183 mph, 1000 watt Bang & Olufsen stereo with 15 speakers…I need all of that to get to Target and back.


Un-cork the music…designboom is featuring this new radio by Skrekkogle that turns on when you pull the plug…usually you have to plug-in a radio for it work.


10 “Wow” factor hotels featured in an article at This one, The Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa in Italy, emphasizes the common rule of no running  in the pool area. In Italian: “Nonvi esegua intorno al raggruppamento sciocco sciocco, voi cad da dalla scogliera.”


Remember these?…they are still available at the Walker Art Center shop.


Although I have seen this solution at some local office supply stores…this is an example of the offering available at a new store in Brooklyn called MODULAR-R, that SwissMiss is featuring…the entire offering is “customizable”.


This concept is showing up on a lot of blogs, this article from features a GravityLight was created  for the impoverished areas in the world and operates with weight (sand) and gravity. Designed by Therefore Design, only cost roughly $5.00. The development was monetarily funded by indiegogo skunkworks.


Sahrah Susanka’s book “Not So Big Remodeling” is now available in paperback. One of the project highlighted in the publication is her own in home studio. ORG Home helped her design, and install her master closet, guest room (studio), husband’s closet and laundry room. The publisher, one of my favorites, Taunton Press…understandable has restrictions publishing a list whose product and services are used in their books but we were one of them!


Pantone has become quite the marketing machine. The little dandies are available through an Italian source called Seletti.


Enjoy the shopping experience this year…I think someone should open a wine-bar-toy-store so you can stroll around and study things without fear of tripping over little kids whose dreams are much larger than their parents wallets. I found this scene at our local Toys-R-Us store that even had me lusting after it…maybe combining wine and a toy store isn’t such a good idea.

By Jon King

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