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The Week in Design: Cornstarch Earbuds and 3-D Printed Shoes

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 progress from the planning stages to the mass market. But that doesn't mean we can't salivate over them, nevertheless.

As you unwrap that pair of too-small neon Crocs from your loving and soused uncle this Christmas morning, think about the work that went into their design. Indeed, even our most hideous footwear requires imagination. However, thanks to a lack of self-restraint, creativity can quickly veer from fashion-forward to freakishly fugly. But maybe you'll think the 3-D printed shoes we discovered should head to the garbage, and that Crocs are tops. Or maybe they'll even become the new Crocs. Ponder that, dear readers, as you sip on eggnog and explore the rest of this week's designs after the break.

EOps Noisezero i+ Eco by Michael Young

EOps Noisezero i+ Eco
Hong Kong-based Michael Young designed these iDevice-supporting earbuds, which are made from cornstarch. ("Hold the Christmas gravy, Ma! We've got audio equipment to make!") Each of the silicone-tipped buds features a bass reflect port in the back, which is as much a part of the buds' silhouette as it is a benefit to the sound quality. Even better, the audio jack supports Apple devices with its three-button remote.

Rapidprototypedshoe by Marloes Ten Bhömer

We've seen some pretty nutty shoes spring from the mind of Dutch designer Marloes Ten Bhömer, and her latest pair is no exception. The Rapidprototypedshoe is 3-D printed all in one go, but consists of two separate parts (since the heel detaches), just in case one or the other needs to be replaced. Currently on view at Design Museum Holon in Israel, the Rapidprototypedshoe could, of course, be made to fit your foot perfectly -- if it ever goes into production. These heels won't replace your workaday Ferragamos, but you'd save them for next Halloween's Isabella Blow costume, anyway.

Door Handle by Choi Borni

Door Handle by Choi Borni
So, this is a self-sterilizing door handle. Um, we'll take 10 million. We've got a germaphobic friend in designer Choi Borni, whose Red Dot Award-winning handle concept incorporates UV light to fry pesky pathogens to death. Until it gets realized, though, get your damn flu shot at one of the many convenient locations around the country. Seriously, we're not getting sick before New Years because of you jerks.

C-Water by Chao Gao

Chao Gao's expanding desalination device isn't especially high-tech, but that didn't stop it from recently winning an Incheon International Design Award. Imagine you're stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the Red Sea with naught a drop of fresh water left in the canteen you managed to grab before your cruiseliner sank. Delicately float the C-Water into the waves, and natural evaporation will produce desalinated water to slake your thirst. Water vapor goes up, leaving salt behind, and drips down into a compartment on the side. Sure, it's got flaws -- it'll take an awfully long time to produce a drinkable amount. But is it the best unplugged, portable desalinator we've ever seen? Why, yes.

Double Cell Phone by ZTE

Double Cell Phone by ZTE
Apparently China didn't get the memo that flip-phones are so last decade, but at least telecom ZTE has good reason to resurrect the form factor. Another Red Dot winner, the Double phone, features solar cells on its outside to help soak up power while it's in standby mode. But does it really need to be a clamshell? C'mon, Ive. Can't you slap some cells onto the back of the next iPhone? Then again, they might kill your reception.

Tags: 3d printer, 3dPrinter, c-water, ChaoGao, ChoiBorni, columns, concepts, cornstarch, Desalination, design, designconcepts, DoubleCellPhone, earbuds, Marloes Ten Bhömer, MarloesTenBhömer, MichaelYoung, Rapidprototypedshoe, shoes, solar, top, Ultraviolet, uv, zte