The term “design” can mean a lot of things. It’s at once esoteric (from an industry perspective), but also subject to basic human notions of beauty. Here at IHHS, design is often as important as value and function. It’s for this reason that the International Housewares Association devoted an entire gallery and awards ceremony to product design.
The Discover Design showcase houses more than 110 products, all competing for the 2013 Global Innovation Award for Design, which will be announced March 4. With more than 100 products across a wide range of categories, it’s not clear which qualities the IHA deems excellent design; perhaps that will be unveiled at the awards ceremony Monday. But as we represent an organization interested in the consumer experience, we decided to walk through the gallery and highlight those products that most grabbed our attention.
Maybe it’s because I’m a recovering Lego Maniac, but this is the first thing that caught my eye. Doesn’t it seem… obvious? Like, of course you can make a storage container out of a giant Lego head! Duh! The product’s designer, Room Copenhagen, claims it can be used to store Lego bricks, popcorn, or pencils, but I think it would do just fine as a decorative display in some damp basement nerd cave.
We had mixed feelings about the Bar10der from Quench Products. Yeah, it’s pretty cool; there are a full 10 bar tools in one compact, collapsible device—more than most bartenders will need, save for an Absinthe spoon. It’s also nicely designed and comes in a variety of family-friendly colors. But as a former bar-back I can’t imagine wielding this thing, since it’s rather large and wouldn’t fit very well in a pocket or bar apron. Not to mention, most actual bartenders—if they know what they’re doing—have all their tools in one location anyway, or several are spread throughout the bar so they never need to look for one. I imagine this thing will save maybe 7 or 8 seconds in preparing a drink. Oh! In case you’re curious what the tools are: muddler, reamer, jigger, zester, stirrer, strainer, corkscrew, bottle opener, standard knife, channel knife.
As a self-professed coffee nerd, it pains me to admit why I was so attracted to this tiny, simply designed coffee brewer. Forget about water temperature, filtration or total dissolved solids: This coffee maker is just plain cute. There, I said it. Please, don't take away my Technivorm.
Appearance aside, the Unplugged coffee brewer from Koziol is essentially an elegantly designed filter. There’s no electricity, which means you have to add the hot water yourself—just like a French press, except it’s a drip machine. And, yes, it's cute.
I didn’t understand these serving trays at first, but the more I thought about it the more I liked them. It’s just a lump of slate with two stainless steel handles designed like antlers. Simple enough. I imagine it’d go well in some rustic, Vermont ski lodge.
These magnetic knife blocks are certainly eye-catching. They also appear ergonomically sound. The manufacturer, Artelegno, claims the design was inspired by three things, none of which make much sense looking at it: the leaning tower of Pisa, an image of the rising sun, and the front of a jet engine. Cool, I guess. But you don’t need to point this out to sell some units; they’re attractive enough.
I’m trying to think of a word that combines “neat” and “silly.” Nothing comes to mind, but that’s what these cookie cutters are. They’re neat because the manufacturer, Italo Ottinetti, shaped each one after famous European monuments. They’re silly because, well, they make cookies shaped like famous European monuments. In case you didn’t catch it (I sure as heck didn’t), the above display is a typographical map of Europe.
That’s just a glimpse at the Discover Design gallery. There are dozens more products, and the award-winner(s) will be announced Monday. Check back for an update. Maybe that Lego head will be crowned! I should win an award for pun of the year.