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Handy music, Eiffel Tower Jr., analog emoticons and peaceful weaponry

by Jean Snow

Music of the spheres

The Yupina brand of beautifully crafted wooden objects hails from the Yatsugatake South Alps region of Nagano Prefecture, where it collaborates with local designers and artisans. It evidently finds plenty of inspiration from the region, having created a line of unusual musical novelties. One of our favorites is the Maru Orugoru, a spherical wooden music box, or rather ball. Unlike a box, the Maru Orugoru’s shape encourages you to cup it in your hands. And as the melody starts the ball gently vibrates, enhancing the enjoyment of the tune. When placed on a flat surface, the vibration also makes the ball rotate by itself. To wind it up, simply turn one of the two halves of the ball clockwise. As with all Yupina’s objects, the Maru Orugoru is a terrific sensory experience. Available in three wooden finishes, it is priced at ¥15,000 and can be ordered from Yupina’s online store.

www.yupina.jp

Sitting on a tower

Designer Shigeki Fujishiro’s Eiffel stool is more than just a functional replica of the most famous of French landmarks. While the iron Eiffel Tower was a symbol of the Industrial Revolution, Fujishiro’s stool is more of a symbol of eco-friendliness. Made entirely of pure pulp and recycled paper, the Eiffel stool comes in a flat pack and is easy to assemble yourself. Although very light, the material gives the structure a sturdy feel; and being a tripod, it allows more leg room for the sitter. Available in two colors (gray or brick), the Eiffel stool sells for ¥8,800.

www.shigekifujishiro.com

Emoticons go analog

While the electronic world has a habit of taking something analog and digitizing it, here we have a great example of the exact opposite. Japanese design company Ginghami has produced the Kaoiro: a kaomoji — or emoticons, as we know them in the West — stamp that lets you physically print onto paper those cute character images you normally send when texting or e-mailing. Kaoiro takes the typographical elements needed for emoticons and allows you to combine them to make your own expressions — usually a sentiment by way of some sort of face ( ^ o ^ ). It has seven belts, each with more than 20 characters, which means close to 2,000 possible combinations. The Kaoiro stamp can be purchased online through Ginghami’s Web site for ¥2,700, and is available in either white or black.

www.gung.jp

Boredom killer

“Happiness is a warm gun,” sang The Beatles, but perhaps it should be more of a Peace Gun. Leave it to H Concept to produce yet another fun impulse buy, one set to “kill” all productivity or at least a little boredom. Designed by Yasuhiro Asano, the perspex gun just needs to be loaded with rubber bands and you’re ready to start shooting. To improve your aim, you can practice with the four targets that come with it — perfect, since the gun can shoot four rubber bands in a row. Selling for ¥1,260 and available in three transparent colors (blue, yellow, and red), the Peace Gun is available in all of Tokyo’s better select shops.

www.h-concept.jp

A few chubby friends

Tokyo-based creative agency TiWiKi Design — the duo of French product designer Thibaut Rocher and French-Japanese architect Aline Mandai — is enamored with the whimsical, and that certainly comes off in its line of chubby figurine accessories. First is the simple TiWiKi Figure — available in blue, white, or pink — which can be matched with the TiWiKi Candle, the TiWiKi LED Bulb and the TiWiKi Radish Pot, a plastic vase. During this year’s DesignTide event at Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi, a limited-edition item was also introduced: the TiWiKi Code : Limited — a magnet that not only doubles as a pin, but also has its own QR bar code of an original name, number and personality trait. It’s available in seven colors and like the rest of these items can be purchased online through the newly launched store section of TiWiKi Design’s Web site. Prices are in U.S. dollars and vary from $15 to $50.

tiwiki-design.com