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THE AFFORDABLE WISH LIST

Spring has come, and it always blows air of changes in people’s lives. Decluttering, reorganizing, tidying, are the mottos for this season. By making space we create voids to eventually fill with new versions of ourselves. 

I’m sitting in my apartment, and it’s raining outside, so I thought "What a perfect time for surveying some wishes I had for my spaces?” 

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Instruments for Designers continues its series with a new episode exclusively dedicated to the (affordable) beauty of iconic and well-designed objects I have run across in my life as a design geek, a kind of a wish list that sheds light on small design pieces - with a pinch of history about them - that you can make yours to spice up your homes, and I bet you hardly know. 

There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! 

Wow is the one to aim for.

Milton Glaser

Ossidiana espresso coffee maker

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Ossidiana by Mario Trimarchi (Alessi)

Designed by the Sicilian designer Mario Trimarchi, this espresso maker is a fusion of the appearance of a traditional moka pot with the physiognomy of volcanic stone. The object functions as a reminder of the hand-carved shapes that prehistoric men crafted while celebrating the optical effect of the obsidian glass stone when cracked.

A few Christmases ago, I gifted my mum and dad with the Ossidiana coffee maker, and its personality is still popping in their kitchen.

Price: ca. 50 $

La Boule Memphis

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La Boule Memphis, Villeroy & Boch

The first La Boule hit the market in 1972 and immediately became a cult object. Why? Among its function as a piece of furniture when closed, the sphere is actually a tableware set for two, containing bowls and dishes, for a total of seven items. 

Created with high-quality porcelain, and designed by the eighth-generation family member, Helen vonBoch, the revolutionary design for the time led LaBoule to be part of the collection at Musee des Arts Decoratif in Paris.

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La Boule Memphis unpacked

Price: ca. 300 $

Wall-mounted CD player

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Wall mounted CD Player, Naoto Fukasawa for Muji

“Sometimes they come back” as the expression says. I’m talking about the CDs.

Following the latest trends that knock on 2000s doors in order to re-evoke soaked fashion and music styles, the choice of the third object veers towards a design that wanted to frame its contents forever, by transforming it into a wall-mounted graphic element. 

I'm talking about Naoto Fukasawa's CD player sold by Muji.

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“Muji CD Player sketching idea” by muji.com

The minimalistic design is deliberately inspired by the motor-driven ventilation fans that we can find in the kitchen: when the cord is pulled, the blades start to spin. Speaker integrated, A wall-mount CD player which can be switched ON/OFF by pulling the power cord.

Price: c.a. 200 $, available on Muji Japan

MAYDAY LAMP

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Mayday lamp designed by Konstantin Grcic, Flos

Designed by Konstantin Grcic and awarded the Golden Compass prize, Mayday unmistakably alludes to International Labour Day, the first of May: the lamp designed by Konstantin Grcic for Flos, gives off the appeal of a multi-purpose lamp.

The lamp is suitable for multiple uses and locations: it can be placed on a table, on the floor or suspended, thanks to the practical handle that also fulfills the function of a cable winder, a work tool in short. 

The pop inspiration of the lamp is also echoed in its price: Mayday is in fact one of the most affordable Flos lamps available in the catalog.

Price: ca. 140 $

SAVOY VASE

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Savoy vase, Iittala Alvar Aalto Collection In the picture: Vase 160mm ultramarine blue

The Aalto vase by Iittala is a true icon of Finnish design and glass art that continues to enchant fans of Nordic design with its organic and mysterious shape. 

Created by the legendary designer and architect Alvar Aalto, the vase was introduced to the international public in different colors and sizes at the Paris World's Fair in 1937 and has since become one of the most famous glass objects in the world. Each Aalto vase is mouth-blown at the Iittala glass factory in Finland.

Price: from 80 $ to 300 $ depending on shape and color

AJ CUTLERY

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AJ Cutlery, Arne Jacobsen

The highly stylized AJ Cutlery was initially designed in 1957 by architect Arne Jacobsen for the Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) Royal Hotel. The cutlery service was later replaced by cutlery designed elsewhere, but the futuristic style was so well recognized that it was chosen for the legendary 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.

To this day, the cutlery service is still produced by Georg Jensen, so 'the future can be, very literally, in your own hands', to quote - edited - the line from the 2001’s cinematographic masterpiece.

Price: ca. 80 $ for 4 pieces

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A footage from 2001: A Space Odyssey

IN ATTESA, THE TRASH CAN

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In Attesa, Enzo Mari for Danese Milano

In Attesa is a capacious paper basket with a basic design. As its name says (which means “waiting”), the trash can gives the feeling that it is on hold to catch the trash from the user.

It is an injection-molded polypropylene cylinder, but the base is not perpendicular to the sides, but diagonal, giving the object a noticeable tilt that helps people aim at it when trying to center it with waste paper and thus enhances its function.

Designed by one of the greatest artists in the field, Enzo Mari, the paper basket is still sold by Danese Milano, the brand for which In Attesa was initially designed.

Price: ca. 50 $

TRIPOD, THE TRIVET WITH MOVING ELEMENTS

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tripod, Gabriele Chiave for Alessi

This trivet, conceived by young designer Gabriele Chiave, is designed to be hung from a kitchen hook and then picked up and playfully thrown, dice-like, onto the table. Once its arrangement on the table has been adapted, it becomes a base on which to place a pot, a pan, or a serving dish.

The trivet gives a magical effect to the kitchen supplies, that makes it look like they are floating.

Price: ca. 60 $

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tripod in use

UTEN.SILO

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Uten.Silo, Dorothée Becker and Ingo Maurer, Vitra

The Uten.Silo panel is the embodiment of the spirit of adventure and experimentation in 1960s plastic design. Initially designed by Becker as an interlocking wooden toy for her children, it was put into production a few years later by the company founded by her husband, the designer Ingo Maurer, until the stop due to the oil crisis of 1974.

In 2002, the Vitra Design Museum relaunched Uten.Silo, and it is now on sale on their website in a colored plastic version.

Price: ca. 500 $

Stay tuned for further stories about everyday objects, those designed to be close to people, inside our homes, to improve the habitability and beauty of our environments.

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