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Household art: How design makes the everyday amazing

Joel Willans Published by Joel Willans Wed, Nov 14

Household art: How design makes the everyday amazing

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259

Joel Willans Published by Joel Willans Wed, Nov 14

Great design has made a huge impact on our lives. To see for yourself take a look around your home.

You only have to hold the Lumia 920 in your hand to see that it’s a stunning example of design. Of course, Nokia designers have been beautifully matching form with function for decades. The rest of us, however, often don’t appreciate the importance of design in our lives. In fact, we should probably say ‘wow!” every time we walk into the kitchen or bathroom. Why? Because they contain a feast of design delights that, like the Lumia 920, help make the everyday amazing.

Juicy! Alessi Juicy Salif Lemon Squeezer

More War of The Worlds than plain old kitchen implement – this 1990 design has height, elegance and verve. It’s fun too. Lemon juice runs down the spindly legs rather than just pool in the bottom. Designed by Philippe Starck, the success of it made people think. Why couldn’t an architect design a spoon? Why did mass-produced mean dull on the eye or humourless? It led to a wave of competitive aesthetics, particularly in kitchen design. If life gives you lemons, you make lemonade – right? But you’ve got to squeeze them first….

 

 Cool operator- The fridge

After scientists had refined the basics (no more methyl chloride or Freon) it was time for beautifying. No longer just ‘white goods’ – now fridges loom large and bold in every kitchen. The technology inside – to produce ice and chilled water – means that no one treks to the mountains for ice, or keeps goods in a cellar. Huge amounts of food are kept fresh and sensitive medicine stored.  Happy bachelors are able stockpile beers in a mini-fridge. In the USA, you can even buy one that looks like a Marshall amplifier. That’s cool in more ways than one.

Cleaning up society – the bath 

Imagine shivering, washing yourself in cold water (if at all).  Contrast that with sliding into a hot scented bath. Baths were originally cast iron, enamel and later, warmer and cheaper acrylic. But no designer wants to be limited. Now materials like copper, stone are used. There are minimalist half-egg shapes or more ornate forms. Even retro. A Brazilian company Innovative House manufactures the Smart Hydro. It prepares your bath – exactly as you like it – before you even get home. It will speak to you when ready and even clean itself afterwards. Now your bath can be a friend.

 Flower power –  Alvar Aalto puddle (savoy) vase 

Glass as a material is pure magic. From gritty sand to smooth sensuous beauty – it’s alchemy. The avant garde Finnish designer Aalto wanted more than straight lines. Inspired by nature and puddles in particular, he produced his curvilinear vase in 1936. His influence was a profound one – designers looked now at nature for their ideas. It also made glass objects affordable art for everyone’s home. Even the humble jam jar with flowers in it. The fact that glass can be recycled is an added bonus.

 Sitting on art – the chair 

One use, many incarnations. Huge scope for designers. Some chairs have even been hung up on walls as pure art. Who could forget Starck’s Le Courbusier chair or Jacobson’s Swan and Egg set? Never has the word iconic been so appropriate. Chairs are about the joy of adapting to the human form. But some more conventional classic designs have also been adapted to use in space. The classic wing chair for example – using open cell visco-elastic memory foam that adapts to your shape.

There’s no doubt that design helps make our lives more amazing on a daily basis, but is it so pervasive that we take good design for granted? If so, what every day items do you think deserve more praise? 

Image credits: Eraphernalia

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