Posted in Home sparks

In the hot seat

Gizmag is a fantastic site full of innovation and interesting ideas – some more practical than others. I’ll let you decide which camp this design falls into, but after I saw it last week I knew that I had to share it with you…

Firstly, do you remember those Hypercolor t-shirts that changed colour with your body heat, so you could do something totally crazy like leaving your coloured handprint on someone’s shirt, only for the shirt to return to its original colour minutes later? Just in case you’ve forgotten (or you never knew the magic of Hypercolor back in the day), here’s a pic and a link to the Wikipedia site. (This also shows that there really is a Wiki for almost everything, yes?)

Oh, Hypercolor - you so crazy!
Oh, Hypercolor – you so crazy!

Anyways, back to the Gizmag find. It’s a variation on the Hypercolor theme – furniture for your home that changes colour when heated. Yep, if you put mugs on your table, they’ll leave a mark (which will then disappear when the area cools). If you are someone who insists that everyone uses a coaster, this concept may really freak you out – I’m sorry. Of course, it also means that your body heat will leave its mark – a handprint, your arms leaning over the table and, of course, your bum when you sit on the bench.

Thermochromic is the technical name for it, apparently. The mugs and hand prints are cool and fun to look at, but I really don’t want to be taunted by the size of my bottom, highlighted for all to see after I get up from the bench. Especially if I had a second helping of tiramisu for dessert. But I think the idea behind it is very clever and I like Jay Watson’s work very much.

Your mugs will leave their mark. [Pic from Gizmag]
Your mugs will leave their mark. [Pic from Gizmag]
Handy. [Pic from Gizmag]
Handy. [Pic from Gizmag]
It's almost spooky - there you were. [Pic from Gizmag]
It’s almost spooky – there he was. [Pic from Gizmag]
You can check out the Gizmag post here and the ‘Linger a Little Longer’ collection (amongst others) on the Jay Watson design site here.

Posted in Home sparks, WWWhat?

Pop goes the weasel

Hello, I’m Cate and I am globophobic. No, I am not afraid of the globe – I’m afraid of…balloons. It’s not a glamorous fear, I know – and I am thankful that it has an actual name, rather than being tucked away in the ‘weirdo’ section of the psychology handbook. Granted, it’s known to psychologists as an ‘uncommon phobia’, but I say why settle for a boring old fear of heights or flying, when I can have an uncommon phobia? Even if it is mocked by small children and adults alike.

According to Dr Google, I should be able to trace my fear to a traumatic event. But since balloons are mostly associated with happy parties in my memory, I am not sure where it started. I do remember hating those games where you had to pop the balloons to get a prize, but I don’t think they messed with my head any more than an egg & spoon race or pinning the tail on that poor donkey.

After childhood, there was a blissful mostly-balloon-free decade or so, then my beloved nieces and nephew came along and the balloons reappeared. At parties, from shopping centres, with showbags. Pop! Pop! Pop! But my family knows that I am a balloon hater, so they try not to use them very often. And my nieces – bless ’em – usually shepherd any stray balloons out of the room when I come in. So now I mostly just have to dodge the balloons in shopping centres (why oh why can’t stores just give out pens or ipads or gold bars as promotional tools these days?). You might have seen me, ducking and weaving to get away from a balloon in a shopping trolley, or a balloon being held too close to the ground by a little kid, or a balloon coming into contact with something sharp. I know, I know.

One day last year, I went to work in the city office of the insurance company I was with at the time. I was just expecting an ordinary day in the HR bearpit. But when the security door opened and I walked on to the floor, across the wide span of a football field of open-plan workstations, there was a sight to be seen. Hell had come to the office overnight – in the form of hundreds of helium balloons tied to ribbons, hovering over every desk. Before the first pop, I reminded my team mate of my fear and he kindly moved the closest balloons, but they lurked not too far away and kept bobbing about, getting closer and closer as the day wore on, like a pack of hyenas. I am not sure how I survived, but the psychologists in our team (it’s HR, so there were a few) said that I had participated in ‘exposure therapy’ and that I should actually thank the balloon deliverers for helping me to overcome my fear. Not only for the balloons, but I do not work there anymore.

So, when I saw this piece of furniture on the fabulous Umbra site recently, I thought that perhaps I should buy it and continue my ‘exposure therapy’ via this cool stool. Designed by young Canadian designer Natalie Kruch, the Balloona stool features over 500 brightly coloured balloons tied onto solid wood. It looks funky and not too intimidating, so I will think about it…(You can check it out here.)

Or there’s this beautiful balloon necklace, made by Nokike in Florence. These balloons look too cute to be scary – and if new jewellery can help conquer my fears, then I reckon this ‘exposure therapy’ might be a good idea after all. (Necklace is here.)

Of course, another option is to move into an inflatable house, like this one. Now, that would be confronting my fears.

Posted in Home sparks, WWWhat?

Sit down, pet

Sometimes mainstream furniture doesn’t quite cut it. You’re looking for more of a statement piece – something that you won’t see in the lounge rooms of all of your nearest and dearest. Or perhaps you’re just no good with an allen key, which rules out the array of flat-packs that magically turn into real-life furniture (give or take a few extra screws). Or maybe you fancy a life like Old McDonald, rather than a cramped studio apartment in the city. Or you’re bored with your pet mouse and want the company of a new furry friend. Whatever the reason, you should check out this range of animal chairs/stools from Japan.

There are a range of different animals in the collection (from the farm to the jungle, via the forest) and they hold up to 80kg in weight. So you could sit on a donkey, giraffe, zebra or elephant (and a deer…at least I think it’s a deer). But I like this cow – it is cute and the Fresian markings are actually a map of the world, which is pretty cool. However, please note that, as in real life, adults shouldn’t sit on the small cow stools – it will not end well.

Want to moove (sorry, couldn’t help it) some of these into your home? Check out the collection on the Matomeno site here.

Posted in Arty sparks, Home sparks, WWWhat?

Help! My Lounge is Mutating!

I first saw these amazing pieces of furniturart (ok, so I just made that word up) on the fantastic My Modern Met website (and they had sourced them from the very cool peeps at Design Boom) under the heading Mutating Furniture Made of Bubbles. Yes please! You don’t get that at Ikea.

And I was not to be disappointed – like a Miss Teen USA contestant, these are at once beautiful and kinda creepy. I’m not sure how comfortable they would be, but as soon as you contemplate that thought, you know you’re not really worthy of the furniturart. Same goes for wondering how you’d keep them clean of dog fur and childrens’ handprints. Or how they’d look next to your teak coffee table. But we can still look, can’t we?

Belgian designer Maarten De Ceulaer’s Mutation Series will be presented this year during Milan Design Week. Each piece is unique, made from foam spheres covered in “a durable rubber or velvet-like finish”. According to My Modern Met, Maarten says “I want to use my work to tell stories, to stir people’s emotions, to tickle their imagination or to make them wonder.” The Willy Wonka of the furniture (furniturart) world, I guess.

And, like Mr Wonka before him, Maarten’s creativity knows no limits. Apparently he said, “Maybe one day we will be able to grow a piece of furniture like we breed or clone an animal, and manipulate it’s shape like a bonsai tree.” Yes, Maarten, maybe we will. I kinda like the idea of a naturally grown, fully furnished tree house. Add a glass elevator, chocolate river and an everlasting gobstopper and I’m sold!

More info in the My Modern Met post here.