Nutty about design? From teak toys to matchboxes to a help manual for budding designers, we have a selection of graphically and artistically superior products to tempt your fancy.
“Since cracking nuts was possibly the first challenge for mankind, we decided it was the ultimate problem to solve,” says Stockholm-based designer Oscar Löwenhielm who, together with partner Erik von Schoultz, came up with the ingenious Drosselmeyer. Made from a zinc alloy, the no-fuss nutcracker uses a double-action lever similar to a nail clipper and its protective cone stops shell shrapnel flying off.
Having spent preceding years high-flying around Paris’s media industry, Isabelle Carron jacked in a job at JAK, the design agency she founded, and launched Absolution cosmetics. She bases her products on chic Parisian friends’ advice and each tincture is designed to be matched with others in the range. For hotels and airlines looking for a sure-fire unisex organic toiletries company for a co-op, Carron’s creation is a good place to start.
Gestalten/‘The Little Know-It-All: Common Sense for Designers’
Colour theory? Paper sizes? Perspective? The pocket-sized Little Know-It-All covers the entire design world in seven chapters: Design, Typography, Digital Media, Production, Marketing, Law and Organisation. Also available in German and Spanish.
Steiner1888/Hot water bottle covers
Since 1888, the Steiner family has woven high-quality loden for clothing and blankets at the base of the Austrian Alps. We were particularly taken, however, with their accessories, including a collection of hot water bottle covers in natural fibres – our favourite comes in a velvety soft rex rabbit fur. The ideal sleeping companion on cold nights, the hotties can be monogrammed to prevent accidental bed-hopping.
Footnote: Last year, Steiner’s Alina Preiselber blanket scooped a Red Dot award for great product design.
Editor of New Objects/ Bowls
Enjoying its new found pride of place on our dining table is the “Blow” bowl with its colourful rope handles. Part of a set of three, the hand-blown glass dishes were just launched at January’s Maison & Objet in Paris. “The idea is to have an invisible object with just the handles being visible,” says the designer and rising Swiss star Alexis Georgacopoulos.
Architectmade/The Optimist and The Pessimist
Danish Architectmade, which produces objects designed by the nation’s architects, has re-launched Hans Bølling’s Sixties classic, The Optimist (left) and The Pessimist. Hand-crafted from the finest teak wood, these diminutive figures have flexible arms made of woven cotton and rabbit fur hair. Perfect for any design lover.
Footnote: Bølling proved a dab-hand at product design and his teak ducks have become a design classic (see Monocle Design Directory p.48).
Swedish Museum of Architecture/Matches
A favourite purchase from Stockholm’s Swedish Museum of Architecture gift shop are these matchboxes designed by Forsman & Bodenfors. Illustrated with buildings that range in style from Renaissance to Gothic, stack together to make a miniature city block but don’t set the neighbourhood on fire.
One of the world’s only producers of chocolate liquid licorice is Danish Lakrids. “The green number two is the saltiest, that’s how Scandinavians like it,” says founder Johan Bülow who grades his licorice depending on its saltiness. This year Bülow will open three new Lakrids shops in the rest of Denmark and expand into Europe.
Siddhartha Das/Wooden pens
A collaboration between designer Siddhartha Das and Indian-based craftsman Chinnaya, these Ankudu and Wrightia Tinctoria wooden pens are handmade on a sitting lathe and dyed using natural indigo extract. Part of a series of 40, Das links traditional craft with modern design.
When luxury French publisher Assouline decided to launch a set of candles as a part of its homeware collection it called on Diptyque and L’Artisan Parfumeur nose, Olivia Giacobetti. She recreated the atmosphere of a fantasy library for serious biblophiles and the scents include wood (red cedar and copaiba), leather, books and, more indefinably, Havana and “culture lounge”. (+ 33 143 292 320)
ASKUL is Japan’s go-to for office goods and it’s been turning to Stockholm Design Lab since 2005 to sharpen up a range of its products. Wipe away unsightly stains from pristine office desks with these wet tissues – the bold graphics made such an impression they were exhibited at Tokyo design week last November. “We wanted to use something that symbolised wetness and so designed the seal to look like a drop of water,” says graphic designer Fredrik Neppelberg. askul.co.jp, stockholmdesignlab.se