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The ordinary made extraordinary

by Jean Snow

Nendo taps into nature’s secrets

Since the start of this column more than five years ago, we’ve been strong supporters of Oki Sato — better known as Nendo — and have closely followed his development as a creator into the design superstar he is today.

His two new design projects are as strong as ever: Otokurage earphones for Elecom and the Kotoli carrying case for French Champagne house Ruinart.

Oto” is the Japanese word for “sound” and “kurage” is “jellyfish,” which pretty much gives away what the design aesthetic of Otokurage is about. The entire bud of each earpiece is covered in a soft, translucent plastic shell, its shape reminiscent of a swimming jellyfish, and each pair of earphones is amusingly packaged in a clear PET bottle.

Each bottle includes three pairs of different-size interchangeable earpiece caps. Although pricing has yet to be announced, Otokurage will be released within the next few weeks and available in black, gray, green, pink, purple and white.

Nendo’s Kotoli case is a bit more upmarket. Created for revered French Champagne house Ruinart, the Kotoli is rather like a high-end picnic basket in which Champagne lovers can carry a bottle of Ruinart, with a few accessories, to outdoor outings.

As we tend to see with most of Nendo’s projects, inspiration for this one came from specific observations of nature — in this case from seeing birds perching. An extended arm attached to the winestopper allows users to hang, or “perch,” special stemless flutes of Champagne. In fact, this is the only way to put down the glasses. The cooler box to store your bottle also doubles as a Champagne bucket.

Price and availability are yet to be revealed, but expect the Kotoli to add a little class to picnics sometime this summer.

Otokurage: www.elecom.co.jp. Kotoli: www.ruinart.com.

Clinging to good kitchen ideas

A plastic-wrap case is probably one of the few things you would think needs a redesign. But Ideaco’s simple addition of a magnetic strip to the flip side of a refillable case makes all the difference. Now you can attach your plastic wrap to the refrigerator door, which not only makes it easily accessible, but also frees up your drawers. It comes in a variety of colors (white, gray, black, brown, orange or lime), so it’s easy to match your kitchen decor or even brighten the place up.

Available in two sizes, 22 cm (¥1,575) and 30 cm (¥1,890), the Wrap Holder can be purchased through the Ideaco online store.

www.ideaco-web.com/store.

Toothbrushes to put a smile on your face

How do you get people interested in something as mundane as oral care? Yumaki has definitely done a good job of grabbing our attention with its dizzying lineup of color-coordinated toothbrushes.

Yumaki Originals is a collaboration between a Japanese oral-care company and a Scandinavian design firm. Not only do the brushes look great, but they are also being sold in an innovative manner. To encourage you to regularly replace your toothbrush (something most dentists recommend you do at least every three months), the brand offers yearly subscriptions and will send you a new brush every one, two or three months. The subscriptions cost $40, $60 or $110, and individual brushes are priced at $10.

Available to order from the Yumaki website, the brushes can be shipped anywhere in the world.

www.yumaki.com.

MiniGorilla tactics for the summer

Balmuda’s MiniGorilla rechargeable mobile battery is not new, but with the possible prospect of energy blackouts in the summer, it’s worth mentioning, especially now that it’s being released in a new color combination (white/black) that matches the company’s popular — and eco-friendly — GreenFan2.

No one relishes the thought of unairconditioned rooms during the sweltering summer heat. So, whether we get blackouts of not, it can’t hurt to be prepared. The MiniGorilla offers 10 hours of use on a full charge, which mean’s you’d be set for the day. It comes with its own carrying case, as well as cables and a plug pack, enabling it to be used with all manner of electronic devices. At ¥16,800, you can order it directly from Balmuda’s online store.

www.balmuda.com/jp/minigorilla. www.balmuda.com/store.