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Clever designs in kitchenware and desktop decor

by Jean Snow

Keeping flower books

It takes a special kind of vase to make this column and Fumiaki Goto’s Hanabunko for 5×8 Products hits the mark with originality. Designed to slot among the novels on a bookshelf, the Hanabunko is a simple, rectangular container with an open corner. It’s A6-sized — the size of a bunkobon, Japan’s standard paperback, and has a central hole that helps keep a flower stem stable but also adds to the overall design.

Placed between books, you can add a little bit of natural greenery to your shelf, or use it on its own for clean, minimalist decoration.

Priced at ¥3240, the Hanabunko can be purchased through a few Japanese online stores, including Generate Design. For overseas orders, you can also look to the Spoon & Tamago online store.

5×8 Products: bit.ly/hanabunko Generate Design: bit.ly/genhanabunko Spoon & Tamago Shop: bit.ly/spoonhanabunko

Bring on the cool breeze

As the heat kicks in, we turn to one of our favorite designers again. Naoto Fukusawa’s Plus Minus Zero has updated its classic energy-saving fan series with the addition of the Aileron Fan Y620. Improving on something that was already quite good, this is a new five-blade design that takes inspiration from avionics. The extra blades increase the propulsion of air, as well as its reach, making it even more efficient than other fans in the Plus Minus Zero collection.

Available in beige or brown, the Aileron Fan Y620 is priced at ¥19,400 and can be purchased directly from the Plus Minus Zero website.

Plus Minus Zero: bit.ly/aileron PMZ Store: www.pmz-store.jp.

Traces of great craftsmanship

White ceramic is a mainstay of minimalist design, but sometimes it can appear slightly clinical or cold. Cement Design, however, has found a unique way to bring warmth to the medium without interfering with its pure aesthetic.

Created by craftsmen in Seto, Aichi Prefecture, Trace Face cups have the surface texture of two familiar old-time handicrafts — basket-weaving and knitting.

The rattan basket and cable knit patterns are raised so that they both look and feel attractive, and the only colors used are subtle tones of green, pink or blue on the inside of the vessels. The overall effect is both delicate and clean.

Both the Rattan Basket and Knit Wear versions of Trace Face cups are priced at ¥2,160 each and can be purchased from the Cement Design online store.

Cement Design: bit.ly/traceface

Grow a business-card tree

Despite the numerous digital ways of keeping contact information, Japan still retains a business-card culture — ans Metaphys has developed something that may encourage others to keep on collecting them too.

Tronc — the French word for “trunk” — is a simple stand that turns cards into a desk ornament by arranging them like branches on a tree. The cards are held in place by tiny slots that spiral up an aluminum pole so that the information on them is easily visible. The idea is that you can arrange the cards in order of importance.

Tronc costs ¥9,800 at the Metaphys online store.

Metaphys: bit.ly/metaphys Metaphys Store: store.metaphys.jp

Unfold a mat for the hot stuff

Sometimes the best ideas come from reimagining the simplest of things. Atsuhiro Hayashi has cleverly redesigned the kitchen-counter hot-pan mat into something that is not only attractive but is also conveniently compact.

The Orishiki, as the “ori” of the name suggests, is an origami-inspired silicone mat. Smooth side up, it’s a straightforward mat to protect tabletops from hot items. Grooved side up, it can be used to allow washed glasses to drain and dry. To store, it folds neatly into a quarter of its size, with the grooves interlocking to prevent bulk.

It’s smart, simple and colorful, available in blue, brown, green, orange and white. An Orishiki costs ¥1,296 and can be purchased from H Concept’s Koncent online store.

h-concept.jp/fs/hshop/c/orishiki