Times are changing continuously and nothing stays how it is. Even the perception of what looks cool and what doesn’t changes every so and so often. In product design it’s about wrapping the function up in something that looks cool or feels good.
So why did VCRs, DVD players and Bluray players all looks so different, even though the function was somewhat similar? Ok the technology was different but basically those devices are hooked up on displays, you put media in and hit play to watch a movie. They could have build the VCR in a design similar to the design of modern Bluray players, but people just felt different about their product design back then.
This is Zeitgeist and chases us through fashion, automotive industry and general product design. Zeitgeist invokes that what we find normal today will feel like historic artefacts to our children. What looks cool and what doesn’t changes dynamically with us humans.
Today we picked ten products that you could consider top designs of our current age and time. Innovative function combined with nice looks? That’s good design! Check them out.
Firo (Fire Extinguisher)
This product was designed by Hannah Choi from the South Korean company plusD in Seoul. Fire extinguishers are a crucial tool to put out fires, mostly within buildings, and even though they could potentially save lives and property, their general design has not changed much in the last decades. Firo is an attempt to offer fire extinguishers that are both appealing and a lot easier to use than traditional fire extinguishers.
Helix Cuff (Bracelet with Bluetooth Earbuds)
Think Apple are the only ones who can do cool designs on earbuds? Let me show you this nice piece of design from Ashley Chloe in San Francisco. The Helix Cuff addresses several problems around using earbuds when on-the-go. They are wireless (except for the cord that keeps them together) and connect to a playing device via Bluetooth. If you’re not using them, you wrap them up and they become a bracelet.
Speedmax CF SLX (Bicycle)
This bike isn’t from the future, but it looks like it. Design studio ARTEFAKT industriekultur has worked on this together with manufacturer Canyon Bicycles, both coming from Germany. This product introduces some functional innovations and looks like a transformer. If you’re into sport bicycling and prefer bulky fat designs over slim bikes, this might be a nice choice for you.
Ray (Interior Lighting)
The Ray lamps can be set up stand-alone or in a group of lamps. Depending on room size and lighting requirements these can be set up modularly dynamic. This lamp design comes from János Héder of Inarchi from Budapest, looks very special, cool and has a great light distribution.
Smartflower POP (Solar Energy Collector)
The naming of this product is simple but it does a great job at describing the primary design elements of the solution. I can’t stress enough how important it is to push green renewable energy sources like photovoltaic systems (solar power panels). The smartflower POP was developed by Smartflower Energy Technology and designed by GP designpartners, both from Austria. This solution follows the sun and is efficient enough to supply enough power to match the consumption of an average household.
Bivita (Sprouting Jar)
This is a great innovation for growing your own fresh supplies in your kitchen and it looks like a little piece of organic art. Bivita has been designed by Dennis Becker and Christoph Wiehle of Invivodesign and is manufactured by GEFU Küchenboss, both coming from Germany. The dome acts as greenhouse and provides ideal growing conditions for a variety of sprouts, seeds, beans, peas or similar foods to grow in your kitchen for ultimate freshness.
abTouchPhone (Desk Phone)
This product isn’t designed by a small company or independent creative studio, but comes from electronics manufacturer Acer from New Taipei, Taiwan. Touch interfaces are no news. Not in consumer areas and not in corporate environments, so what makes this desk phone special? This product makes great use of its space and has integrated all of it’s function into one module. Beyond the design, this product let’s you connect with social media and instant messaging tools on a HD display.
Joyoung Smart IH Cooking Machine
This isn’t a spaceship model, this is a smart multi-cooker from Joyoung in Hangzhou City, China. Qinzhi Xu, Li He, Yinfeng Zhou, Yan Feng and others have worked on creating this modern kitchen utensil. I am no stranger to multi-cooking devices but I haven’t seen anything like this yet. If the looks haven’t flashed you enough, this product can cook more than 100 of the most common Chinese dishes with little to no cooking experience. Of course everybody should be able to cook but doesn’t hurt to have a device like this, right?
Nona Dome 4.0 (Tent)
This stylish tent has been designed by Jake Lah from Helinox in Incheon, South Korea. Why “Nona Dome”? Because it has nine corners and that makes it a nonagon. The design makes this tent very stable and it is able to easily resist even stronger winds. It has several ventilation openings, which enables a nice natural airflow for better air quality. On top of all that, you can connect Nona Dome tents to give you even more space, in case the four metres diameter are not enough.
Johammer J1 (Electric Motorcycle)
A truly retro-futuristic look on this one! The Johammer gives you emission-free mobility and it will definitely give you a lot of attention. This motorcycle was designed by Leonie and Jean-Marie Lawniczak from Yellow studio and is manufactured by Johammer E-Mobility, both from Austria. How far will this future vehicle get you? After charging it for about an hour you will be able to ride for 200 km. The actual body of the EV is made primarily of polypropylene mono-material which is not only very light, but also recyclable.
What do you think about this selection? Of course there are so many neat innovations and cool designs out there, but I hope we could give you a good sense of what’s happening right now. Do you have a favorite? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below.
Are you interested in design and problem solving practice and theory? Make sure to visit LearnSuits by Markus Mattern, where he is talking about Design Thinking, Ideation, Prototyping and creativity in general. Stay creative!
Photo credit: Photos are owned by all the respective designers and manufacturers as attributed above.