The home, household goods & services

Grandmother's Rock

Lahti Polytechnic in Finland is using a group of eight grandmothers to test the idea that rocking chairs help the elderly to improve their balance (which in turn means they fall over less often).

Source: Daily Telegraph (UK).

Smelly packaging

It started on packs of fresh coffee then turned up on packs of washing detergent. Now scratch & sniff panels have shown up on Crest toothpaste packaging in the US.

Source: Fortune (US).

Smelly idea

A perfume is expected to go on sale later this year re-created from a vial of perfume found in the wreck of the Titanic. It’s hoped that sales will go up rather than down.

Source: The Times (UK).

Fast Toy turnover

In a typical year, 40% of toys and games on the market are now less than 12 months old.

Source: The Economist (UK).

Self-adhesive clothing anyone?

A backless bikini top has been invented in the UK. A gel solution used in operating theatres keeps the thing on.
We don’t think the inventor will pull it off.

Source: Daily Telegraph (UK).

Where should you put it?

It appears that manufacturers are catching on to the idea that most of us have too much to remember these days (and lose instructions). Companies are now starting to design products with secret ‘drawers’ that contain instruction booklets.

Source: Cube design (AUS).

Supersize me 2

It’s not just people that are getting bigger. In Japan there’s a growing trend for oversized furniture (primarily armchairs and sofas) that promise the ultimate in relaxation. Actus Co has launched a ‘love seat’ that’s 2.1 metres wide while other companies are offering chairs with built-in massage functions.

Source: The Nikkei Weekly (Japan).

The return of the prefab

50 years after prefab houses made an appearance in London they’re back. This time ‘micro-flats’ are being designed by architects as the ultimate in cheap chic urban living. Easy assemble shacks are also being seen as affordable second homes in countries like Australia.
Ikea is even selling flat pack houses in Sweden.

Source: Wallpaper (UK).

Is the chicken coming home to roost?

Chickens are the latest must-have urban accessory according to the Wall Street Journal. In the UK you can buy an ‘eglu’ - a stylish chicken coop available in a range of dayglo colours, while in Australia you can rent chicks for a few weeks or a few months. Currently 1% of households in Britain keep chickens (versus 6% who keep rabbits). Membership of the Poultry Club of Great Britain has risen by 15% over the past 12 months. What’s responsible for this? - The fantasy of a rural idyll of course.

Source: Wall Street Journal/The Times (US/UK).

Barbie has a mid-life crisis

It’s official, Barbie is 44 years old and following a split from her boyfriend Ken sales are 18% down in the UK. The replacement for the pink princess is called Bratz and sales are up 77%. Bratz dolls are into clubbing rather than horse riding because: “what children are looking for is content to give them a storyline to put the dolls in the right context’. However, according to Professor Geoffrey Goldstein, a specialist in child development, children are no less imaginative than in previous generations. The difference is that attention spans have decreased so kids are craving things that are new.

Source: The Times/The Guardian (UK).

Sleepless in Skegness

Research conducted by Oxford University says that 66% of children in the UK have a computer, TV or games machine in their bedroom. One consequence of this invasion of playthings is that children are getting less sleep (between 2 and 5 hours less than their parents’ generation).

Source: The Observer (UK).

The hidden power of darkness

Mankind is now bathed in so much light that we are all in danger of losing the power of darkness and shadows.

Source: Architectural Review (US).

Lofts and cellars of the future

Houses are becoming so expensive (and in some cases so small) that we are witnessing a boom in self-storage. In the UK there are now 450 self-storage facilities compared to just 100 in 1999. The industry is growing at 35% a year but is still some way behind the US where there are 40,000 facilities and the industry is worth more than the music industry.

Source: The Times (UK).

Houseplant heaven (and hell)

What ever happened to houseplants? Cut flowers are in and potted plants have been out for some time, but we might be on the cusp of a come back. The problem is status and aesthetics. Choosing the wrong plant is like wearing the wrong clothes. Big architectural plants and grasses are in and even Bonsai are making an appearance at several top restaurants. Plants, like pets, can reduce stress so maybe we should all adopt an Agapanthus.

Source: The Financial Times (UK).

Temples to culinary worship

Sales of luxury kitchens are booming in the UK. Sales of free-standing ovens and fridges have increased by 45% since 1997 with some cookers costing as much as GB £67,000. The kitchen furniture market in total is now worth almost GB £1 billion. Why the rise? One reason is the popular fascination with food (the new porn?). Another reason may be that food and cooking are the new indicators of status.

Source: The Observer (UK).

Icon wanted

Architects have never been in greater demand, but there is an increasing requirement for show-off buildings. These are structures that potentially ‘brand’ a city or country in the same way that The Opera House identifies Australia or the Guggenheim Bilbao. However, it’s an arms race in which the losers are often the poor souls who have to work in the buildings that don’t work.

Source: The Observer (UK).

The spread of leisure

Computer games are about to take one giant step out of the house and into the street (or onto the bus). One consequence of this is less parental control. On a connected note, women aged18+ now make up 26% of game players – that’s more players than boys aged 6-17.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald (AUS).