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The Week in Design: Erecting an Homage to Edison, A Washing Machine Garment Bag

selection of this week's concepts
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.

Some designers got cheeky this week. From pin-on tails to bawdy bulbs, we found a few designs that make light of their own form while remaining entirely functional. And then we came across some designs -- the kind of stuff you see in the SkyMall catalogs, the dreck that makes you think, "Who on Earth would buy this thing?" -- that perplexed us, making us wonder what kind of world the designers, themselves, live in. A single-garment "washing machine" that uses ozone? We're good, thanks.

Mobile Tail by Studiooo Factory

Mobile Tail by Studiooo Factory
There's not much to say about Studiooo Factory's Mobile Tail, save for the fact that we like it. The little tail attaches to the back of your mobile device -- iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, whatever -- to prop it up either vertically or horizontally. The tail is made from highly flexible liquid silicone rubber, so you can easily adjust the angle of your screen with a wag. (We wonder if it's sturdy enough for an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy Tab?) The concept works because it relies on little material (as opposed to requiring an entire case), is easily removable, and is compatible with an array of devices. And it's 100-percent adorable. There's been enough interest in the silicone suction cup accessory that Studiooo is putting it into production soon, and the designers will be donating a portion of their profits to animal conservation organizations. Paws up!

Rise and Shine Lights by Joost Wever

Rise and Shine Lights
Well, good morning! Holland-based designer Joost Wever isn't a man of subtlety, as his Rise and Shine trio of lights makes no bones about its meaning. Like new media artist Jim Campbell, Wever laments the imminent death of Edison's incandescent bulb, which will soon be banned across the E.U. (as they may be in the U.S. if ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton doesn't get his way). Wever's lights pay homage to the incandescent's ascent, so to speak, to worldwide ubiquity -- and its eventual wilting. Cheeky to be sure, these lamps have a real pair on 'em.

iDropper by Heo Jaeyoung, Jin Hoyoung and Jung Han-Bi

We really like this! The iDropper is a very ambitious vision of a future interface -- but, a few years back, so was the iPad. Essentially, the iDropper moves media from one device to another; you "suck up" an image, song, file or app from, say an iPad and "drop" it onto another device, like an iPhone. The dropper itself has a display on its side, showing the various files it's holding, piled up on top of each other. It cuts the cord currently required for most file-syncing, but it's also a few years away from implementation. With current tech, an image or a document could be moved from device to dropper to device easily with a good Wi-Fi connection, but songs, movies and other large files would take a while to wirelessly transfer. Still, we like where it's going.

Ecodrive by Juil Kim

ecodrive bike
Juil Kim's Ecodrive bike looks pretty, but we wonder if that's where its value ends. It utilizes some kind of power source to light up turn signals and brake lights, and, while the designer says a battery is mounted inside, we feel like a kinetic electrical generator attached to the pedals would make more sense. Perhaps that would better buttress its 'Eco' name. Kim is apparently concerned that using old-school hand signals is distracting to and dangerous for the cyclist. What we find more distracting and dangerous, however, is the iPhone attached to the body of the bike. Sure, it could give you GPS directions and all sorts of fancy road info, but you have to look straight down. (The battery -- either charged by the pedals or a wall outlet -- also keeps the phone full of juice, for what that's worth.) Doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of designing a safer ride?

Washing Machine In Wardrobe by Minsung Bae

Washing Machine In Wardrobe
Maybe we shouldn't speak for the whole industry, but, in our experience, a tech blogger's life is full of stains. Those of us that don't furiously chain-smoke over our laptops are still disheveled slobs, hunched atop a pile of crushed Four Loko cans and Pringles dust, our hair encrusted with pizza grease and Bac-O-Bits. But would our fine, three-piece suits and moldering sweatpants benefit from an in-closet laundry contraption? Minsung Bae's Washing Machine is naught but a fancy garment bag that quietly sprays your clothes with ozone and pressurized air to kill bacteria and remove dirt, respectively -- allegedly providing you with clean clothes without any water or detergent. Ignoring the fact that the designer doesn't explain how the unit is powered, where the O3 comes from, or why anyone would want to buy something so cumbersomely inefficient (one shirt at a time), we just don't think it's right for our lifestyle. Bae's concept may be fine for the Muji set, but we have to imagine that our sweat-darkened freelance pants would require a bit more elbow grease, and maybe a long soak in lye.

Tags: bicycle, concepts, design, DesignConcepts, ecodrive, features, idropper, IpadAccessory, iphone, IphoneAccessory, JoostWever, JuilKim, lamp, MinsungBae, mobile tail, MobileTail, ozone, RiseAndShineLights, StudioooFactory, top, WashingMachineInWardobe, weekindesign