32 Products from 2012 That Someone Else Thinks Are Great – Part 1

Sometime ago, Fast Company, a very design-centric business/industry magazine,  decided that they were getting too much into design. So they created Fast Company Design…err…Co.DESIGN. There’s also Co.EXIST and Co.CREATE. I have no idea what the hell those are about…besides existing and creating, I suppose. Don’t both those ideas also fall under design…? Anywho…most magazines/online entities like to jump on the “HEY IT’S THE END OF THE YEAR LET’S PUT OUT A LIST OF A BUNCH OF STUFF WE WROTE ABOUT SO PEOPLE CAN KEEP CLICKING ON OUR SITE AND WE GET LOTS OF PAGE VIEWS AND STUFF”-bandwagon, and Co.DESIGN was not the exception. They picked 32 products from 2012 that they liked.

“It was difficult to pick favorites, so we decided to just put every single product we wrote about in the previous year on this list.”
-Sharon Endyear Listmaker, writer, Co.DESIGN

[She didn’t really say that. I just made that up. Also, she doesn’t exist.]

But seriously. THIRTY-TWO different products? Whatever happened to the standard “Top Ten”? Even twenty products would be fine. Thirty-two??  I don’t know. Regardless, we here at Flawesome also want to jump on the bandwagon and do a list, but we’re kinda strange and unconventional. So instead of making a list of things we wrote about on our site, hoping you will click on the post links, so we get more page views, we’re just going to take someone else’s list [Co.DESIGN’s], and tell you why we think their picks for their favorite products of 2012 are completely valid…or completely Flawesome. Oh, and do we get something for potentially giving Co.DESIGN a bunch of hits to their site? Maybe a t-shirt? How about a pizza?

Because Co.DESIGN’s list is soooooooooooo long, we’re going to split our list into four bite-sized posts, with eight products listed in each post. Let’s begin, shall we?

32 Products from 2012 That Someone Else Thinks Are Great – Part 1

1. Nike FlyKnit – We say: Kinda Awesome 

Nike’s FlyKnit, A Paradigm-Shifting Shoe Knit Like Socks 2012 saw the advent of “minimal” running shoes amongst mainstream runners, and Nike led the pack with their FlyKnit technology. Unveiled on the soles of Olympic athletes in London, these sock-like shoes incorporate proprietary technology developed over four years by Nike.

Carl: This is an interesting product, and it’s pretty innovative in regards to athletic shoe manufacturing. The one-piece uppers of the shoe are woven/knit from fibers/yarn/magical string, creating a really unique look, and a really light running shoe. And with probably less waste than cutting, stitching, and gluing fabric uppers of other running shoes. Hopefully we’ll see this manufacturing technology trickle down to other Nike sporting apparel.

Zheng: *busy designing important UI stuff*


2. KiBiSi’s Capital Urban Headphones – We say: Maybe FLAWESOME

KiBiSi’s second entry on this list, Capital, are a set of sleek headphones that are designed for durability. Unlike other high-end DJ-style headphones, these babies are strong: a fiberglass-reinforced nylon exterior and a 40mm titanium driver make them fairly indestructible.

Carl: You can buy these. They’re $100. As one who used to write/record music, I’m a stickler for good cans. I’d have to listen to these to see how they sound. The one feature I’m concerned about is the durability. I’m not saying that they aren’t durable. I mean, they look incredibly durable, with fiberglass-reinforced nylon construction. My question: why? Why do headphones need to be that durable? If you go on their website, you see an action shot of some guy skateboarding on a rooftop while wearing the headphones. Yeah, I’m sure LOTS of skateboarders wear full, over-the-ear headphones, blasting their tunes, while skateboarding…on the roof of a high-rise in the city. What would happen that he would need those headphones to be incredibly durable? He doesn’t stick a landing, and the headphones go flying off his head? Yeah, I guess that’s a situation. I really don’t think a fall like that is going to break most headphones like these, though. They also state the headphones are water-resistant. I don’t know about you, but if I’m outside and it’s pouring rain, I am NOT wearing full, over-the-ear headphones. Or if I am, I’d have an umbrella to shield myself  and my cans. I believe this is a case of exaggerating build quality to give a sense of durability…that’s not really needed, because, most likely, the product will not be used in extreme situations. Oh, and my pick for a good set of over-the-ear headphones? Sony MDR-7506, which also retail for about $100. There’s no microphone, so you can’t use it as a phone headset, but it’s a quality product, with replaceable parts. I’ve had mine for 20 years with no issues.

Zheng: *busy designing important UI stuff*


3. Oru, The Folding Origami Kayak  – We say:  Almost Flawesome

The Oru Kayak, a polypropylene sheet that folds into a super lightweight package, topped its goal on Kickstarter almost immediately. It’s completely unlike typical kayaks, which require plentiful storage space when not in use, and can even be carried on the bus. Total weight? Only 25 pounds.

Carl: This reminds me of the Dahon Folding Bikes. They’re compact, convenient, and unfold in seconds. You can carry one with you, ride it around, fold it up, stick it in your office or car with ease. It’s great…if you’re not really into cycling. If you are serious about riding your bike, you’ll soon realize the Dahon sucks as a bike. It has small wheels. The proportions and fit of the bike are not optimal. It looks really weird. But that’s what happens when you compromise the design so that the bike can fold up into a small compact package. I have no doubt the Oru Kayak works; they have great footage of it in the above video. This is a kayak for those that need a kayak that fits in the trunk of their vintage BMW 2002 (as seen in the video) [Note: I have a ’87 BMW E30 325iS, which is quite larger than the 2002, and I think I’d have a hard time getting the Oru in my trunk. Just sayin’.] This is a kayak for those who need to take one with them while riding a bus (as seen above…with no other people riding the bus, curiously). This is not a kayak for someone who wants to get into the sport of kayaking. I guess it’s for the ‘leisure kayaker’…? Is that a thing?

Zheng: *busy designing important UI stuff*


4. La Chance Sofa – We say: Flawesome

A Sofa That Abstracts Rome’s Most Beautiful Park Knoll’s classic 1960 Petal Table was the starting point for this contemporary piece, designed by Noé Duchaufour Lawrance for La Chance. But unlike the Knoll original (which was based on Queen Anne’s Lace), Lawrance based the couch on trees in Rome’s largest public park, Villa Borghese. The result is a piece of seating that looks lovely from the front or the back–a rarity.

Carl: It’s a pretty sofa. Possibly highly uncomfortable. People aren’t buying this to lounge. They’re buying it so other people see it and say “That’s a pretty sofa!”

Zheng: *busy designing important UI stuff , no time to talk about a stupid sofa that looks nice & highly uncomfortable*


5. The ReadyCase iPhone case – We say: Flawesome

An iPhone Case That’s As Handy As A Swiss Army Knife – Who hasn’t wished their iPhone came with a beer opener? The ReadyCase has all that and more: a USB drive, two ‘kickstands’ for watching movies, a multi-tool, and a lens ring all fit into these unassuming little 4S and 5 cases. Throw in a tire patch kit and I’m sold.

Carl: Are there really people out there who don’t want to carry anything else with them other than their iPhone? Do those people also have the need for a knife/screwdriver/bottle-opener multi-tool to be carried with them at all times? Do people who use the iPhone have a need for an external USB drive, to share files…? Isn’t that what iCloud is for? Or DropBox? Or, you know, email?

Zheng: I mean, our phones are already all in one devices. They tell us the time, they play music, they connect us to the internet, they’re a contact list, phonebook, camera, video camera, and a flashlight. It’s only natural that someone would want to extend that further into say, anything else? It seems a bit ungainly though. Like, you’re just adding features because you can at that point, not because you should. Like, if my phone case had a screwdriver, I bet it would be a bitch to use. Because my phone is a 4.1″ screen phone i.e. it’s HUGE. 


6. Anti-Sports League Apparel – We say: Flawesome

A Line Of Fan Gear For People Who Hate Sports A branding coup aimed at conscientious objectors to sports mania, the Anti-Sports League offers non-sports fans to pledge their loyalty to a team against all teams, distinguished by its founders’ tasteful graphic design.

Carl: This was basically a design portfolio piece/project, wasn’t it? A logo was created, and so was a proprietary typeface. And for what? For you to *not* be able to buy a t-shirt with these things emblazoned on it. We’ve all been duped. Oh, well.

Zheng: *busy designing a website*


7. MakerBot Replicator 2 3-D Printer – We say: Pretty Awesome 

MakerBot’s Second Generation 3-D Printer – MakerBot founder Brett Pettis brought Brooklyn Mayor Marty Markowitz out to announce the downtown Brooklyn startup’s second generation printer, the Replicator2. The 3-D printer represents years of research and development for the company, with much-improved resolution and a new software that makes it much easier for new users to get started with the machine. The company also opened a physical location, where customers can both buy 3-D printed gadgets and play with the printers themselves.

Carl: I’m all about 3-D printing, as any enthusiastic industrial designer should be. They’ve helped me prototype a number of projects quickly and efficiently. The improved resolution compared to the previous generation MakerBot is a welcome improvement, as is the new software. But I can’t give this a ‘Super Awesome’ rating. Why? Because it’s still FDM: Fused Deposition Modeling. It builds up objects layer by later using melted plastic. And yes, those layer thicknesses are getting smaller and smaller, but there are still unsightly ridges and such that need to be smoothed out. The 3-D printer that gets the ‘Super Awesome’ rating would be something like Formlabs Form 1. It’s a true stereolithography desktop printer. To put it plainly, it shoots a laser at a bunch of liquid goo, building up objects layer by layer, like an FDM, but doing so at a much higher resolution. Did I mention a laser shooting at liquid goo?

Zheng: I agree.


8. CYSS LED Task Light – We say: Flawesome

Dyson’s LED Light That Lasts 50 Years – This paradigm-changing LED light from Dyson must have upset a good many competitors. After intense research on commercial LED lamps, the company found that most of them incorporate planned obsolescence in their circuitry, simply by not incorporating a more effective cooling system. Dyson’s update will last for 50 years–or longer.

Carl: Okay, first off: this lamp is $900. Also, it was designed by Jake Dyson, son of the guy that makes vacuum cleaners that every other vacuum cleaner manufacturer is trying to copy. This actually deserves it’s own dedicated Flawesome post, because there are a lot of ideas here that could use some critiquing. This is a desk lamp that costs $900, but supposedly will work for 50 years. They claim that incredible life expectancy because of the specific way they cool the LEDs: using heat pipes. You know, that’s great and all, but I still have to pay $900 for this lamp. I can get many other lamps, and change their bulbs every year for 50 years, and still not reach an ownership cost of $900.

Zheng:  I dunno, businesses aren’t dumb. If they thought people would buy a more efficient longer lasting lamp with a cooling system, they would probably have made it.

Next post: More from the Co.DESIGN list – a minimalist bluetooth headset, a thing that measures spaghetti, and a wooden toy that shows how bears get MRIs.