Someone in your way? You can ring your bell
If you’ve seen that YouTube video (bit.ly/bicyclebell) of someone ringing a handheld bicycle bell at random places in Japan, and then watching with amusement as people automatically jump out of his way, you’ll appreciate the impact Kevin Nadolny’s Runbell should have on runners in the city.
Nadolny, an American structural designer and avid runner, has miniaturized the bicycle bell into something small enough to slip on your finger but with a ding loud enough to warn pedestrians that you’re coming through. It’s a simple but effective idea that originally started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 and was upgraded with a new version in March.
Hand-crafted by Seiichi Shimizu — one of just three bell makers in Tokyo — Runbell was tried and tested before being given a raw finish that Nadolny says, “allows the brass to keep its sound quality” and give it a distinctly pleasant ding. No nickel or lead was used for the ring base, so those with allergies are safe, and it comes in two sizes that are adjustable with comfy silicone inner rings. Coming in two colors (gold and copper), it could also easily be mistaken for a piece of statement jewelry.
Just ear what Sony has to say
Sony has just released something that may also prove a hit for runners, particularly those who like to pace themselves to music. With over-the-head headphones being cumbersome and earbuds often slipping out as you jog, Just ear could be the solution — albeit a very expensive one.
As sets of earbuds that are tailor- made to every customer, Just ear’s unique molded shapes are made from measurements taken of the wearer’s outer and inner canals. Not only this, but the inner-canal ends of the buds are a silicon-like material that becomes softer with heat, creating an even snugger fit.
Set in a clear resin that reveals all the inner workings, these are cool futuristic, almost organic-looking buds. They also each have a socket for connecting cables that are tucked over the back of the ear instead of left dangling awkwardly down the sides.
Designed and individually handmade by dedicated craftsman, they come cheap. But these are premium earbuds, complete with adjustable sound modes (club, monitor and listening), and cost a whopping ¥324,000 a pair. Or, if you can settle for pre-set sound adjustment, it will set you back a slightly less but still shocking ¥216,000. Definitely one for the well-heeled runner.
The future of Arita pottery
Arita in Saga Prefecture is the birthplace of Japanese porcelain, with a history of four centuries of production. But, as with many traditional crafts in Japan, recession and changes in public taste have left its remaining potteries in decline.
In 2012, designers Teruhiro Yanagihara and Scholten & Baijings collaborated with Arita manufacturer Momota Touen to produce Standard and Colour Porcelain, two popular series of ceramics that helped put Arita ware (also known as Imari ware) on the contemporary design map. Now, they’re back, this time as creative directors for 2016/, a Saga Prefecture and Netherlands project involving 14 other internationally renowned designers in collaboration with 10 Arita potteries.
Though the products won’t launch until spring next year, the designers have already completed residency programs in Arita, so you can expect some well thought out and honed pieces. There will be 16 collections, one from each of the designers, split into two series — Standard for affordable, everyday objects and Edition for artistic, collectable works. Watch this space.