The new year brings with it a perfect opportunity to make life improvements, or at least pretend to do so. This month’s column, therefore, is about making you more productive, better organized (with a touch of eco-related ingenuity), enhancing the air around you — as well as adding a bit of fun to our otherwise busy lives. Even better, everything can be ordered online, so accessibility should not be an issue, or an excuse (as long as you live in Japan).

You don’t have to wear the heat

It may not be pretty (and some will find it downright monstrous), but the Easy Desk Aluminum will come as a godsend for anyone who ever regularly sits a notebook computer on their lap for long periods of time (the fast processors and titanium cases of Apple Powerbooks and MacBook Pros in particular are legendary for their scorching effect). Give thanks to Thanko (really, that’s the company’s name) for this portable desk, which can be set up in many different configurations, from a simple stand-like position, to one for lying down that gives the laziest of us reason to rejoice. The six adjustment points not only make it easier to find the perfect configuration, but also make storage easy. Purchase it online from Thanko’s Rare Mono Shop (www.raremonoshop.com) for just under 7,000 yen.

Junk your appointments

Why not begin the new year with something nicer than the typical throwaway calendar by selecting one that also promotes ecological concerns. That’s what you get with Yomiko Advertising’s Waste Me Not (Mottainai) Calendar, winner of a number of awards this past year in the field of communication design. It’s a great idea; each “day” on the monthly pages can be ripped off, with the back serving as a memo note, and the calendar itself can be folded into a holder for said notes. Each page’s photo continues the theme of recycling, with a surprisingly attractive collection of images of garbage that are accompanied by recycling tips. The Waste Me Not Calendar 2007 sells for 2,520 yen, and can be ordered online from Yomiko (www.yomiko-design.com), or at most shops and stalls selling calendars throughout the city.

Breath easy

It seems that in Japan, and especially in Tokyo, the quality of air has become a priority, which might help explain why Plusminuszero’s Humidifer has constantly been — through all three iterations — the brand’s best-selling item. It’s a safe bet then that their latest release, the Air Purifier, will also hold its own in the retail sales sweepstakes. The elegance of the Naoto Fukasawa-design is a given — it’s what we’ve come to expect from the brand — but it handles itself quite competently, covering any decent-size room (the equivalent of 15 tatami mats, or 25 sq. cu. meters), and most importantly, is surprisingly quiet when operating. The Air Purifier, going for 19,950 yen, and available in white, gray or black, can be purchased from the Plusminuszero online store (www.pmz-store.jp), as well as the brand’s Aoyama presence (HOLON-R 1F, 3-12-12 Kita-Aoyama), and selected shops.

Move over, Sudoku

METAPHYS has been making quite a few waves since launching last year, with chief designer Chiaki Murata’s products turning the heads of design aficionados everywhere. An interesting aspect of the company is the diversity seen in its product range. Interior and electronic goods exist side-by-side with stationery and games. Yes, that’s right, games. I refer to the brand’s Good Design Award-winning celtis. Looking like a kind of riff on Othello, you place reversible green/blue pieces on a board, trying to align seven segments of the same color to score. It’s a simple concept that becomes dangerously addictive — probably the key element of a good game. At 5,250 yen, it can be purchased from METAPHYS’ online store (www.metaphys.jp), and selected shops.


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