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The Week in Design: Tokujin Yoshioka's Inverted Phone and a Gem Box That Doubles as Dinnerware

selection of this week's designs
The Web is teeming with the unrealized ideas of both students and established designers who set out to produce astonishing renderings and prototypes for unusual products. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time, money, or technology, many of those products never move from the planning stages to the mass market. But that doesn't mean we can't salivate over their creations, nevertheless.

The contrast between the best and the worst designs this week has never been greater. Of course, it's rather unfair to the rest of the designers that we've decided to include the gorgeous new phone by the inestimable Tokujin Yoshioka. But most of them held their own, like the avant garde helmet that inflates to save your life. But the futuristic flower bed doesn't hold a candle to Yoshioka's design sensibility; we can only hope, though, that more designers learn from it. Read on to see the highs and lows of design this week.

X-RAY Phone by Tokujin Yoshioka

x-ray phone
Do we really even need to say anything about superstar designer Tokujin Yoshioka's new X-RAY Phone? The man puts his Midas touch (without the whole curse factor) to everything from couches to crystals to art exhibits, and we've almost never heard a peep of dissent coming from the design world. You won't find much here, either, since the see-through phone's homage to the circuit is doubtlessly a beauty. Designed for KDDI iida, the phone foregoes the popular touchscreen and brings its guts into plain view. The display is not much more than a retro LED array, tucked against the side and turned 90 degrees. Yoshioka calls it "designing from the inside."

Hövding Helmet by Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin

hövding helmet
Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin designed the Hövding inflatable bike helmet to keep your skull from cracking, but opted for a model that would be otherwise hidden from view. They noticed that bicyclists didn't want to wear helmets in their native Sweden because they were considered too bulky or unfashionable. (A vegetative state and facial lacerations are totally in this season.) Their helmet is activated by motion sensors and a gas generator, which inflate folded material tucked into a collar as a car comes close to the wearer. (It appears to work, too, as they ran tests with a crash dummy during a collision.) We balked at the shape of the helmet at first, but then kind of had to agree with Core77 when it said "it's got a fantastic Hussein Chalayan thing going on." Still, we wonder if bike riders who opt to go helmet-less would remember to bring their inflatable collar with them.

Dinnerware Packaging by Nooka

nooka packaging
Nooka, one of our favorite watch companies, has come up with a unique packaging idea: a reusable container that holds your watch and your dinner. In partnership with SiliconeZone, the top of the gem box is made from -- you guessed it -- food-grade, microwave-safe silicone. To quote Core77 again, the design recalls "the days when the impoverished would save jam jars to use as drinking glasses." (Except we still totally do that, if not because we're irrevocably poor, but because it's nice for the planet.) Of course, you don't have to use your gem box as a food container; you could put bits of string, old pennies or your scab collection, for all we care. But Nooka's pushing food, apparently, as it will soon start posting recipes on it's site.

Credo E-Bone Bus by Peter Simon

credo e-bone bus
Hungarian designer Peter Simon created this concept for the Credo E-Bone Bus, a zero-emissions vehicle that looks like it came straight out of a Pixar film. Powered by hydrogen fuel cells and composed of lightweight composite plastics, the bus also contains lithium ion batteries in its roof for increased energy storage. Each wheel has its own electric motor, allowing for better driving power. Simon calls the bus the E-Bone because of the shifting density of its structure (much like bone) and overall look, but we can't help see a mechanical caterpillar. We love the concept in theory, but could do without the seemingly extraneous antennae.

Ecotypic Bed by Arthur Xin

ecotypic bed
We thought we'd close this week with a concept that made us smile. This futuristic princess bed by Arthur Xin combines a lot of what we hate about green design... and yet we can't shake the whimsy of it. The Ecotypic Bed is a sci-fi canopy mashed up with a trellis of foliage and LED-lit from below. It features embedded speakers and a sort of Bow-Flex exercise system, from which kinetic energy is generated to power your space-age cot. None of these things are bad ideas, really, but all together they form some kind of Sky Mall spawn of 'Fifth Element' hell. More people should grow plants indoors, as they reduce VOCs and produce delicious oxygen -- but do you really want to sleep on a flower bed? Xin has his heart in the right place -- designing an energy-neutral bed that blesses the atmosphere and gets you ripped, to boot -- but we can't see this in our future, unless we ever get funding for our production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream FROM SPACE.'

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