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Itty-Bitty Baths Inspire Daft Designs

While urban dwellers enjoy ready access to city amenities, a trade-off is the distinctly urban micro-bath. Why, I could fit most of these city loos inside my obnoxious suburban garden tub…which I never use, as it requires an obnoxious amount of water!

If you’re dealing with cramped quarters in your citified bath, the solution, as always, is abundant dollars and over-the-top design ideas. Read more

graphjam chart for summer weather heat and humidity

Chart: Summer Suffering in the Midwest

graphjam chart for summer weather heat and humidity

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity! Oh dear, we’re at it again… instead of producing revenue or creating other things of value, I’m creating more fake charts for our amusement!

So what to do if terrible humidity is a problem? If you’re given humidity, make humi-nade! (Human Aid?!)

The Dew Bank Bottle by Ki-Tae Pak DOES in fact make humi-nade by gathering and collecting dew in desert conditions. The design won a Bronze Prize at the Idea Design Awards 2010 and interestingly, is inspired by a desert-dwelling beetle which procures water by collecting morning dew on its body.

Is Water the Silver Lining in Every Cloud?

After I posted the snickering, tongue-in-cheek writeup on the 1931 “fog farm” concept, Angela B. sent along (via inhabitat.com) information on this real and modern example of a “fog farm” from a sharp student with her head in the clouds, so to speak.

For her final thesis in Industrial Design at Germany’s Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Imke Hoehler designed the “DropNet fog collector” that harvests drinking water from fog, air and mist. The great features of her design include simplicity, zero energy requirement, easy assembly and portability (unskilled workers can quickly assemble it on flat or uneven ground.) It’s a feasible approach for isolated areas with little or no infrastructure.

Each unit reportedly collects 10-20 liters per day. Unlike the kooky Modern Mechanix fog farm concept, this isn’t conceived to irrigate farmland, but it can ensure a safe supply of drinking water in challenging conditions. Has Irme, literally, found the silver lining in every cloud? Or more importantly, a reasonable way to mine it?

In looking at the design I wonder…might there be a way to incorporate rainwater harvesting into the unit so that it could also collect those supplies when available?

Groovy! Mid-Century Modern Water Storage

If Mike Brady had designed water towers or water tanks, I imagine they’d have looked like this!

These are pages from a 1965 promotional book from the Committee of Steel Plate Producers, American Iron and Steel Institute, obviously to introduce industrial designers and engineers to the coolness and versatility of steel plate for water storage products. (This copy was missing the middle-section pages.)

We love the 60s-era illustrations depicting that happy time when balloon-festooned children always strolled hand-in-hand with their parents. Below is a small sampling; the entire booklet can be seen on my Flickr site by clicking any of the pictures below.

Many thanks to Angela Blann for saving this book from the trash bin!

When a Plain-Jane Rain Barrel Simply Won’t Do

Saving water is stylish now! And a consequence of that is more high-design products with which to stylishly save water! While that DIY-hacked, second-hand barrel you dragged from the dump is still perfectly functional, you should know that it’s so last year. The formerly humble and homely rain barrel is already getting an extreme makeover. The aggressively-named Waterwall Fatboy from Waterwall Rainwater Tanks in the UK is sure to satisfy your very-particular modern design sensibilities. From waterwalltanks.com,

Despite the name, the Waterwall Fatboy tank has an excellent size-to-capacity ratio, holding 650 gallons whilst being just over two feet wide. Waterwall tanks are made to exacting standards – the UV stabilised high density polyethylene ensures light does not enter the tank, to stop algae from growing in your tank water. Solid, thick walls keep the tank strong and prevent bulging over the many years of service.

And did we mention they look good? Next up from the company: a freestanding tank that’s designed and engineered to be used as a boundary fence. How much, you ask? Well of course good design is not cheap. Raindepot.com has the 650 gallon Waterwall Fatboy for $1,189.99. (If you’re style-impaired, the site offers plenty of other plain, but reasonable options.)

Modularity is a well-loved concept in modern design; that’s why the Rainwater HOG offers so many design-y opportunities. The innovative, award-winning modular tank stores a large volume of water in a small footprint, opening possibilities for creative applications in architectural and landscape design…like this installation, where they’re being tucked under a deck, ready to bulge with rainwater bounty while staying completely out of sight.

This commercial installation at Nundah School in Queensland, Australia of features 114 HOGs storing 5,700 gallons of water. These units were custom molded in the school colors of yellow and black, and the harvested water is used primarily for toilet flushing with the excess used for garden irrigation. Extra credit for these Rainwater HOGs, as the school uses them as learning tools in math, science, and environmental  studies.

Are you gazing longingly at the Rainwater HOGs, wondering if they’re budget-friendly? This is exceptional style, people! You can’t even get these at Target yet! You can get them from aquabarrel.com, $1,960 for 6 units. Plus shipping.

You can’t buy “A Drop of Water” at any price, because it is (still?) a prototype. Designed by Bas Van Der Veer, it passes the “good design” test with flying marks while ingeniously providing an integrated watering can that automatically fills as it rains. Grab and go! The smallish size will be ideal for you city-types with small container gardens. )If you’ve ever wondered how “one of a kind” prototypes are created, browse the photos of the process at www.basvanderverr.nl)

All the Hip Toilets are Wearing These

If you think there’s not much you can do with the bland look of white porcelain, the cooler-than-us people at Hu2 Design have come up with something affordable, impermanent and way, way out there. Their “Smart Vinyl Laboratory” features vinyl stickers can be applied to any smooth surface…like this one! And renters, note, they are completely removable.

A bargain at £20, given the huge amount of attention you can expect to get from any guests who may use your facilities!

Flying Water Catcher for the Futuristic Home

I hope I live long enough to own one of these! The fanciful Water Catcher, conceptualized by Penghao Shan from Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, China, is a finalist in the Electrolux Design Lab ’09.

It is a robotic “birdie” that flies about, returning home with a bounty of water gathered from rain or humidity. The idea seems a bit silly initially, but watch the video; you’ll likely be won over with the “wants” for the little hydro-whirlybird like I did. Even the Jetsons didn’t have it this good!  (NOTE: the public can vote on the entries! Send Penghao Shan some ballot-box love in the poll on the right sidebar.)

From electroluxdesignlab.com:

Flying in the rain
Penghao Shan has created a product that addresses water shortage. His solution is “Water Catcher”, a flying rain catcher and water purifier. This automated device dispatches small flying balls in the air to catch raindrops. After the raindrops are collected, the balls return to a homing tray that purifies the water for drinking. Once purified, the balls take the drinking water directly to a person to be drunk. The homing tray also reads fingerprints to determine what additives should be added to the water to ensure the drinker optimizes their health.

Awesome Trash for the Wardrobe Stash

I’d like to see Jennifer Aniston and her “Smartwater” go green on the red carpet in this. That way, she could look trashy in a positive way (and smarter, too!) In this age of new austerity, what fashionista wouldn’t kill for this fabulous trash-art necklace, crafted from PET bottles and fishing line by Turkish architect Gulnur Ozdaglar. (See more of her beautiful work here or at http://gulguvenc.blogspot.com/

From an article on columbia.edu.,

With the help of an open flame, scissors, a knife and a soldering iron, she transforms soda bottles into brooches, necklaces, vases and even plastic “petal” chandeliers, which sell for $250. Her pieces were recently featured in a well-known Turkish design store, and she is now working to win the sponsorship of environmental organizations in her country.

“Recycling is not one of the bigger issues in Turkey, as we are dealing with unemployment, human rights and more, but I think it is everyone’s responsibility to live without harming the earth,” says Ozdaglar. “I, all of my friends, and all of my neighbors, did not put one single bottle to waste last year. I make something out of all of them.”

The Campaign for Lovely Carafes

Thankfully, many great campaigns are underway to get clean water to those who desperately need it.

But what about getting water to those who need it in a chic, well-designed container? Isn’t design-lifestyle snobbery one of the factors that’s spurred the rise of premium bottled waters?

Perhaps a good strategy is to “fight fire with fire.” The 2008 London On Tap competition teamed London’s mayor with Thames Water to draw designers into the tap water vs. bottled water struggle via a contest to create the ultimate water carafe. The winning design, “Tap Top,” (created by Islington industrial designer Neil Barron) went on sale last week for £10. (£1 of each sale will be donated to the charity WaterAid.) The goal is to get every London restaurant to serve tap water in this beautiful, chic carafe.

To kick the campaign off, at least 1,000 restaurants are receiving a carafe; the campaign hopes to ride the coat-tails of a previously successful campaign that convinced thousands of restaurants and bars to actively offer free tap water. (Did you notice that the Tap Top’s top mimics the shape of a old-school tap handle?)

Tap Top edged out some truly worthy entires, including these two shortlisted designs:

“Connected Pipe” by East End designer Nina Tolstrup

“Tap” by Adam White of London’s Factory Design Ltd.