2017/10 design magazine

Get inspired by the latest innovations, such as the battery free toothbrush Be, Mui, camera book, five zippers, thermally adaptive materials.


For many of us sand is one of basic elements of the childhood. The most popular playing and building material in the world. The most accessible, for many places. When you hear the word sand with your eyes closed, you almost feel it in your shoes, you see sandcastles, beach lines and dunes, huge sand ocean from Sahara. And the last what you probably get in mind is the depletion.

Nevertheless that is a fact we face now. Because of the growth of cities and the consequent construction activity there is a huge demand for special kinds of sand for concrete production, and natural sources are running low.

In 2012 French director Denis Delestrac made a documentary called “Sand Wars” about the impact of the lack of construction sand. It shows the ecological and economic effects of both legal and illegal trade in construction sand. Growing demand turns out really badly sometimes: fish depletion, landslides, and flooding. Countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia ban sand exports, citing these issues as a major factor.

The uses of sand is very divers: for agriculture and building construction to sandblasting, glass production and Wuḍūʾ (religious procedure for washing parts of the body).

Atelier NL, a design studio from The Netherlands runs a project “To see a world in a grain of sand”. People from all over the world are invited to send in sand samples from their localities. Atelier NL is melting each site’s “wild” sand sample into glass, with location-specific variations encouraged.

When fired at high temperatures, these samples are expected to produce glass with colours and textures unique to their specific areas.

Atelier NL co-founders Nadine Sterk and Lonny van Ryswyck said that they saw the project as a way to engage audiences with both design and the environment.

“From students and scientists to neighbours, children and artists, we bring people into our process,” they said. “By becoming part of our work, they begin to appreciate the wealth of local areas in new ways and thus identify more deeply with their surroundings.”

The studio hopes that the project also alerts the industry to the potential application of sand in its wild forms, noting that current glass manufacturing uses exclusively pure white sands from a few quarries.

“As an expression of the human desire for speed, control, and predictability, the conversion of white sands into glass has become highly standardised,” they said. “Somehow, along the way, sands have lost their stories along with their natural colours and personalities.

Atelier NL has created a ZandBank, – a library of 80 different natural sand samples from western Europe, following a glass-trading route used by the ancient Romans. The designers fired the sands in small porcelain pots, describing the experiment as yielding “a stunning array of unique colours, opacities and fractal patterns”.

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Be. stands for Beyond Electric. Unlike electric toothbrushes, Be. is more than just a vibrating head. Built as a kinetic storage device, Be. harnesses and amplifies the power of 2 simple twists into over 80,000 tartar fighting brush strokes. No cables, no batteries, and no problems. Put toothpaste on the bristles, give the dial two full twists, hit the power button and let Be. work its magic. 


Mui is a product that interfaces between an object and space. The interface has various applications.

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Mirjam de Bruijn’s project ‘Twenty’ is a wonderfully smart solution to the world’s logistic and packaging crisis. Once you have bought your shampoo capsules, you then put them in a reusable bottle and add water. All of de Bruijn’s packaging is constructed with materials that can be recycled, like cardboard, as well as reusable plastic bottles.

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This book is a camera

Kelli Anderson designed this book to demystify the workings of the camera. Open it and it instantly forms a camera-esque shape. Just lock the tabs and place the shutter into its slot. Then all you have to do is insert the special photo paper, aim the camera, lift the shutter for a second or two, place the shutter back, and voila!

The book also introduces the analog style of photo developing. Once you click your photo, the paper needs to be developed in a dark room. The image you get is very retro, a black and white image that needs color inverting.

Melt Surface

Squashed, squeezed, distorted and moulded into a flatter blob. Tom Dixon found new applications on wall, ceiling or floor for Melt’s extraordinary luminosity. With its instantly recognisable metallised effect, this latest evolution of Melt is now destined to be mounted on any surface. The versatility of the new shade is further enhanced by the soft glow of a new bulb.

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Things Come Apart

Todd McLellan started collecting abandoned items to give them a second life. A kind of homage to all these precious everyday objects left behind. He launched the Things Come Apart project in 2009 and continues to grow it a little more each day. At first, the idea was to disassemble objects and photograph them on the ground like an instruction manual. Then Todd wanted to give them a second story, or as he explains “a double personality”, photographing them as they are thrown into the air. The result is captivating.

Five zippers

The basic concept of a zipper is to open and close the opening between two pieces of material without any gaps. By thoroughly assessing each component five new zippers were created.

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Thermally adaptive materials

What’s most exciting about Otherlab’s fabric is that it operates completely passively. There’s no power source, no wiring, and no controls, nothing but a combination of common synthetic fibers, each of which has different thermal expansion characteristics.

It might take a minute or so for the fabric to transform itself from completely flat to completely poofed and then another minute to go back, but that’s certainly quick enough to be useful. At minimum poof, the fabric insulates you about as a heavy T-shirt. And at maximum poof, it’s equivalent to heavy outdoor gear, nearly tripling its insulating ability in response to a temperature drop of 15 °C.

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Playful & Precious

Hintlab has created a line of customisable jewellery encouraging a little nostalgic indulgence. Their collection of LEGO jewellery features rings and earrings in a range of materials, which can be embellished with the famous toy bricks.

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