The Joy of Stuff Part 1 16.08.11

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Designers Sam Hecht and Kim Colin – better known as Industrial Facility – have been collecting curious examples of inexpensive industrial design for years. You've seen the results in Icon's regular "Under a Fiver" – now here's a taste of the new book of the collection.

Chewing gum, chocolate pills and candy syringe
Japan and Jordan
Packaging technology for medicines – their materials, processes and colours – are used here for children's sweets. They are from very different parts of the world, with some of them being quite striking in their simulation. When seen side by side, the novelty that was their manufacturers' original reasoning starts to disappear and is replaced by the simple question – why?

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Disposable travel iron
Japan
A heat-producing chemical reaction is triggered inside the iron, creating enough heat to iron clothes. Of all the one-time use products in the collection, the disposable iron is one that is most questionable. The idea of such intelligencebeing disposable today seems wasteful. By using the technology often found in warming packs (when two liquids come together they crystallise and create heat) this disposable travel iron can heat up without electricity. 
The heat generated is enough to iron clothes. It also comes with a small pipette that is filledwith water to generate steam. Clearly there is a lot of technology and effort involved; just to iron one shirt and then throw the product away seems so wasteful.

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Plug with switch
The Netherlands
England is one of the few places to have on/off switches on electrical sockets. It's partly to do with the high, 240V current, which means a switch can provide an extra element of safety. So it was strange to find a switch on the plug itself, rather than a socket, in a small hardware shop in Holland. It expressed a kind of greater value and intelligence than plugs without a switch.

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Toilet float
USA
Still manufactured today, this copper toilet float presents a sophisticated surface for something that is destined for an otherwise unsophisticated position. It's a little bit like the terracotta light switch (Icon 089), where – at some point in history – someone gave a lot of material care to objects we rarely care about now. The manufacturing of it continues to this day because it is still economical to produce.

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Surgical glove packaging
UK
These gloves are from a pharmacy at a hospital. The clarity of the packaging and graphics, which act as instructions, make it very hard for a surgeon to put on the wrong glove. It's a wonderful example of how design can be thought of as succinct communication.

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Finger toothbrushes
France and the Netherlands
These are two examples of toothbrushes for babies. One fits on a finger like a thimble and allows greater control than a normal toothbrush. The other is like a wide elastic band that's wrapped over a finger – similar to a watchband.

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Industrial Facility

 

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Industrial Facility

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It's a wonderful example of how design can be thought of as succinct communication

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