E&T got a tour of this year’s iF design awards in Hannover. Our guide was Frank Zierenberg, manager of the iF product design awards 2012.
The EzyStove doesn’t look like much but it’s beauty is in its simplicity and convenience. It’s a simple outdoor stove for basic cooking using tiny amounts of wood fuel in developing countries. It comes as a flatpack of parts that can be assembled and welded by the village blacksmith. Designed in Stockholm, made in Namibia.
The DHDG Adaptive Gripper is a truly elegant robotic hand that gently curls its ‘fingers’ around objects to hold them softy but securely. The mechanism, which was inspired by the movement of a fish’s fin rather than a finger, naturally curls the ‘finger’ around the object to fit its shape – but it does it all mechanically rather than electronically controlling each joint. “You can grab an egg with this robot gripper without breaking it,” Frank Zierenberg assured me.
The Balance audio interface is the first piece of hardware from top music production siftware company Propellorhead. A slick, clean, black form with intelligent use of colour and generous controls. Makes you want to plug in your headphones and start mixing sounds – even if you’ve never done it before.
At first site it’s a bit daft and gimmicky but on further consideration it’s very much in the fun, upbeat, simple to use spirit of the gadget it goes with. It’s the Arkcanary II from Arkwhat of Oakland California. And it’s an amplifier and speaker for the iPhone 4. That’s it really: plug it in the bottom, play and listen. And you can even use it to convert your iPhone 4 into an extremely expensive bike horn.
You might have to explain to your children what this little gadget does. It’s called a fountain pen and this is a particularly cool one. We love the way the cap becomes the body and we love the fact that someone somewhere is designing fountain pens. That someone is Industrial Facility of London and we give them top marks for their first try.
PC gaming is a taste-free zone as far as designers are concerned. Search online for images of PC cases and you’ll get the idea that the bigger, brasher, the more fans, the more lights and so on the better. Search for ‘PC mod case’ and it gets worse. In short, geeky teenage boys don’t do subtlety.
Frank Zierenberg told me these entries are discussed every year by the product design jury: these designs seem to be right for the market but the judges, in short, don’t like them. However, this year the jury relented and picked its first gaming PC case: the AsusTek CG8565. Make up your own mind.
Entries for next year’s iF awards close in September. Go to http://www.ifdesign.de/awards_product_index_e for details of how to enter.