Beautiful bookmarks, must-have MP3 players and everything else you should covet over the next month.
German industrial designers Sirch01 have built on their high bough reputation for premium quality wooden products with a line of children’s homewares. Having spent the past 10 years building modular systems for home and office, the team decided it was time to branch out into something a little more fun. This high chair solves the age-old problem of coordinating garish kids’ furniture with your understated interior palette. Other products include a rocking horse, baby walker, wheelbarrow and doll’s pushchair. It may strip a bit of the fun out of din-dins but there’s always more Milupa in the bowl to fling at Mutti und Pappi.
“I love adding elements of surprise to my designs – like magic,” says 28-year-old product designer Matt Carr who was plucked by Canadian design company Umbra straight from Humber College School of Industrial Design six years ago. He has since designed over 150 products for Umbra and its exclusive studio line U+. This walnut bookmark looks like a static, solid piece of wood, yet it is a flexible book “worm” made up of 65 tiny laser-cut wooden slats to give it flexibility. Carr’s “bookworm” bookmark has hidden magnets, ensuring that your pages are perfectly secured together, no matter what size your tome.
At Monocle we err on the side of smart-casual, but we do love to formalise every now and again. Michael Drake and Isabel Dickson founded Drake’s02 in 1977 with a range of scarves for men. Such was the popularity of the high-quality accessories that they decided to add a line of ties and handkerchiefs to the label. Since then Drake’s has become a darling of the stealth wealth set with its extensive range of designs in silk, wool and cashmere. Popularity is growing once again with the Italians and Japanese spearheading the charge. Dover Street Market in London now stocks a limited line and on a recent visit to the Clerkenwell atelier we were offered a sneak preview of some forthcoming styles.
Itoi Textile’s president, Toru Itoi, has developed a fabric called Sasawashi03 with engineer Mitsuo Kimura. Sasawashi takes its name from the materials that make up the fabric – a type of bamboo leaf called kumazasa (sasa means bamboo in Japanese) combined with rice paper (washi). In its raw form this wonder herb acts as an antiseptic and neutralises poison as well as having a deodorising effect. The Sasawashi textile has therefore been incorporated into socks, slippers, sheets and towels. Having put it to the test, the Monocle front desk team is feeling dramatically smoother and absolutely spotless.
Japanese electronics manufacturer and online retailer Shanghai Donya is known for the sale and production of novelty gadgets such as headphones that light-up in a variety of colours. Its staple electronics range from security cameras to DVD players and have built up a following among consumers looking for functional, cut-price products that are easy to use. One of its many offerings is this MP3 player. Its durable rubber exterior comes in a variety of colours and its simplicity is a godsend for the technophobes among us. This 30g MP3 player only has five buttons and is loaded with interchangeable memory cards. At the bargain price of ¥999 (€6) we know why Shanghai Donya was named Japan’s web retailer of 2006.
Lately we’ve developed something of a healthy obsession – we’re addicted to the “sit spritz”. The Japanese bathroom is a remarkable place and if you’ve ever had the extraordinary adventure of using a TOTO toilet (see Monocle issue 3) then you’ll know you’re not in Kansas any more. A few nifty flashing button combinations will give the “sitter” a once-in-a-lifetime freshen-up as the retractable nozzle sprays, spurts and “dehumidifies” the posterior. So enamoured are the Japanese of their beloved Washlets that the 90-year-old sanitaryware company invented a portable version which slips neatly into a handbag. No self-respecting TOTO devotee would be caught short on the hoof without this handy hygienator.
Almdudler is an Austrian favourite and sends even the laziest Alpiners bounding up the massif. This lemonade isn’t just fizzy, it effervesces with energising elderflower, sage and bitter gentian herb extracts for a tingling taste of the Tyrol. Soda water producer Erwin Klein founded the company Almdudler Limonade 50 years ago, naming his nationwide venture Almdudler after the 1950s concept of Auf den Alm Dudeln, meaning “humming along happily in the hills”. A nation of mountain lovers bought into the concept wholeheartedly and today Almdudler sells around 32 million cans and bottles in Austria. With just over eight million inhabitants, Austria must be humming to the high hills with happiness.
Canadian childhood chums and teenage skater-gang rivals, Devin and Mike, set up their woodcarving shop Furni in Montréal five years ago. “We didn’t want to ride out our unemployment benefits sitting on a couch eating chips so we decided we should do something creative with our time,” says Mike. Early success came with a clock modelled on an old Radio Shack alarm, which convinced the duo to branch out and make many more shapely timepieces named after their numerous skateboarding idols. This is the Gator SE alarm clock, named after infamous skateboarder Mark “Gator” Rogowski, who’s now serving time for murder – a nod to the pair’s dark sense of humour.
One of the most charming villages of the Italian deep south is Lecce and it’s one of the best places to immerse yourself in Puglia’s traditional cucina povera. There is only one address to head for: the private kitchen of Anna Carmela Perrona. You must ring the bell before entering this private dining room. Anna Carmela swings around the restaurant together with two other bella mammas serving up authentic Puglian dishes such as pure di fave con cicoria e pane fritto, a fava bean purée with braised wild chicory and fried breadcrumbs topped with olive oil. Don’t worry about what to order, Anna Carmela decides the menu; and be sure to work up an appetite – the portions are pure Pugliese plump.
19 Via Costadura, Lecce; + 390 832 245178