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Small surprises and understated brilliance

by Jean Snow

Spread a little light

Idea International’s new multipurpose LED interior lamp shows that just a little light goes a long way.

The Hotaru, which means “firefly,” is a portable lamp that gives off soft, natural lighting. It’s also wireless and rechargable via USB, with a full charge lasting up to 13 or 14 hours. There are three modes, each using a different number of its energy-efficient LED bulbs: torch light, table light and the brightest — all light. It also comes with a strap so that you can hang it from a hook.

Available in three colors (white, yellow, and green), the Hotaru costs ¥4,725 and can be purchased from Idea’s online shop.

Idea International: www.idea-in.com; www.idea-onlineshop.jp.

The scoop on ice cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Naoki Terada’s Ice-Cream Spoon collection is designed to make the whole gelato experience even more enjoyable — even as winter approaches

Part of a new line called 15.0% — which it’s planned to expand with more “products and recipes to make your ice cream tastier” — these spoons are made of aluminum, the same base material as most of those big ice-cream scoops. Aluminum is a good thermal conductor, so your body heat warms the spoon to help it cut through ice-cream easier. Perfect for the cold days ahead.

The spoons have smooth, chunky handles for a better grip and come in three shapes: the regular rounded Vanilla, a flat-end Chocolate (for scraping up every last dribble) and the spork-like Strawberry (to stab at fruity bits). They’re available online at the Caina store and cost ¥3,150 each.

15.0%: www.15percent.jp. Caina: www.caina.jp.

Measuring up to the interiors

Everyone has to measure something at some time, so Cement Produce Design have created the House Measure. Much more attractive than the standard DIY tool, the tape is hidden within a little wooden house. It’s ornamental enough not to hide in the tool box and handy to have lying around the house.

Made of ash, House Measure was developed and manufactured in the city of Asahikawa in Hokkaido. It costs ¥2,940 and will soon be available through Cement Produce Design’s online store.

Cement Produce Design: www.cementdesign.com. cementdesign.shop-pro.jp.

Sniffing out a good design

Tissue boxes are unattractive enough as it is, so why do manufacturers insist on making them even more garish with illustrations of flowers or tacky bright colors? H Concept suggests you ditch the box altogether and put the tissues in their minimalist Folio, designed by Hirohisa Shimura.

The Folio’s takes the boring old tissue-box shape and folds it in half. Its “L” shape not only looks good, but it also makes the box easier to tuck into a corner or on the end of a shelf. You can even flip it over and leave it standing as a minimalist piece of art. Available in black, brown, pink and white, a Folio costs ¥1,575 at H Concept’s Koncent online shop.

H Concept: www.h-concept.jp/fs/hshop/c/folio. Koncent: www.koncent.jp.

Furniture to flip out over

As always, Tokyo Design Week brought a host of great ideas to the fore, and at DesignTide, which presented a number of prototypes, Daisuke Motogi’s Flip furniture series caught the eye.

As the name implies, each of the Flip series can be turned over for a second function — a standard chair becomes a rocking chair, a low lounge-like chair becomes a higher dining chair. Since they are made of lightweight urethane, they can also be easily handled by children. Best of all, the Flip series is one of the DesignTide items that is already set to be produced. Furniture-makers Sixinch Japan has plans to have them hit stores in early 2012.

Sixinch: www.sixinch.jp.