Style & Design | ON: DESIGN

The kitchen is where the party is

by Mio Yamada

Staff Writer

The kitchen may be home to the most everyday objects in the house, but that doesn’t mean they all have to be boring in design.

Soak up the cleaning experience

Suuu has re-designed one of the most pedestrian of household items and turned it into an objet d’art: the polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) kitchen sponge.

PVA isn’t new. An ultra-absorbent material, it’s the same stuff used for synthetic chamois cloths and window wipers; and most kitchen sponges are the standard rectangular block. Suuu has not only made its version decorative, but also “irresistibly tactile” in texture.

Suuu offers two types of sponges that are priced at ¥2,160. The Shizuku comes in various shades of blue and is shaped like a giant water drop, with a large base to mop up liquid and a tapered tip to make it easy to hold. Its sibling, Ishi, looks like a flat-yet-faceted rock and comes in the hues of semi-precious stones. Aesthetically pleasing when not in use, they can absorb up to 90 percent of their volume and are satisfyingly squishy, so they’re easy to squeeze out.

Suuu has also released a lineup of nonslip saucer-like coasters (¥1,512) made from polyurethane that rock gently when not in use but flatten when a cup is placed on them.

www.suuu-suuu.jp

Making mochi even more fun

Dried mochi (pounded rice cakes) from the supermarket generally come as one-size rectangular blocks (no matter the brand) and are so hard before cooking that they are usually baked or deep-fried as is. People also simply drop them into boiling soups where they become a delicious, gooey mess.

To offer the home chef a few more culinary options, kitchen goods maker Akebono Industry Co., Ltd. has invented two whimsical tools designed specifically to slice and grate supermarket-size blocks of mochi.

The MochiSura (pictured, ¥2,160) works like a vegetable slicer, but stands vertically instead of horizontally, so you can use a bit more body weight to push the mochi block down and shave off slices by the millimeter. The mochi slot is also spring-loaded from behind, so it automatically pushes the block forward to prepare it for another slice. It was originally created with mochi shabu shabu in mind — to make slivers thin enough to become soft and sticky with just a few brisk swishes in the hotpot — but it turns out Akebono discovered other ways to cook the slices. It recommends cutting shapes out of them and baking them into puffed-up crispy snacks or frying them till they’re crunchy rice crackers.

The second contraption, the MochiKezu (¥1,296), is like a mochi pepper mill. Simply slot in a block, then twist the top to create little flakes of mochi that can be mixed into dishes or cooked in a takoyaki (octopus dumpling) pan to make crispy coated mochi balls.

www.akebono-sa.co.jp

Slip into something comfy

If there’s one thing that every household in Japan surely has, it’s house slippers, and Honshu Ltd. has been filling that market since 1964. Its brand new Houstable lineup designed by Otherwise Co., Ltd., however, has definitely upped the ante style-wise.

Its genkan (house entrance) mule slippers look like they’ve been brushed over with brightly colored paint, while its cosy living slipper shoes, which can also be used as mules with the heel covers tucked in, come in vibrant two-tone variations. However, it’s the kitchen slippers that impress the most.

Unlike most slippers, Houstable’s clog-like kitchen design has an elevated heel as well as a cushioned sole to make standing around a little more comfortable. They are also water resistant, antibacterial and machine washable, while a strip of antislip textile down the center of the soles makes them safe to move around the kitchen swiftly. Best of all, the range comes in colorful stripes, each at ¥3,240 and, if you really feel like co-ordinating, matching aprons (¥3,888) will be available by the end of this month.

www.houstable.com