John Austin is a 27 year old toy designer and self-proclaimed master in the tradition of the college prank. So much so that he's written a book called Prank University: The Ultimate Guide to College's Greatest Tradition to share his favorite tricks. The site and book are well designed and feature great illustrations of the pranks, which are ranked by difficulty and have step-by-step instructions for optimal results. Hey Ami, have fun in London at the Design Festival. We're not bitter that you drew the lucky straw. Really. We'll take good care of your desk while you're gone… Prank University is available at the book's site and from Amazon. via Core77
Like the iDiamond Earphones we featured in May, Ear Drops add personality to the standard-issue white earbud. Available in three bejeweled modelsâ€”heart-shaped, round with pearls and the traditional in-ear bud shapeâ€”they come in either black or white and with a variety of rhinestone colors. Like the charming copy reads, " As stylish accessories and dresses, don't you want to have fashionable headphones? …The beautiful rhinestones shine casually beside your ears which make your music life glamorous." In other words, starting at just $31, you can get a pair to match every outfit.
The clever lads at Jack Spade have obviously been reminiscing about middle school science class days gone by. One of their newest products includes this Frog Dissection Kit, complete with all the tools you need to dissect the vacuum-sealed formaldehyde treated frog, a tray and a guide to help you identify your handiwork. Available in-store only from Jack Spade's New York store, +1 212 625 1820.
Though likely already in the works before the mini-scandal back in April prompted by Apple's corporate form letter reply to a Northern California 3rd-grader who suggested a karaoke feature for iPods, Griffin's upcoming iKaraoke accessory should at least be validating for the young correspondent. Due out this coming Winter, the new microphone-based device plugs directly into iPod's universal dock, transmitting instrumentals and backup vocals (minus lead vocals) to your stereo using an in-line connection or an FM transmitter. With a switch to toggle lead vocals off and on and three levels of reverb—now all you'll need are lyrics.
Made by Cerealart, the Philadelphia producer of contemporary art multiples, these new drinking glasses feature designs by renowned Japanese artist, Yoshitomo Nara. Known for his "kawaii" or cute style that adopts the look of animated cartoons, the tumblers are made in Japan andâ€”like his other pastel, sad-eyed charactersâ€”are sure to find fans among adults and kids alike. Available from Cerealart in three different sizes, each features a different colored dress in blue, green, or red and are priced between $18-24. Also on Cool Hunting: Yoshitomo Nara
Inspired by Harold Edgerton's famous "Milk-Drop Coronet" image Jeff Zimmerman's Soft Explosion collection for Steuben Glass evokes the random beauty of natural phenomena. Zimmerman's coveted sculptures employ the techniques of advanced glassmaking and the defining properties of glass itself to create narratives of the explosive patterns that occur in nature that he calls "soft explosions." The artist's first work in lead crystal, the collection is comprised of six designs including bowls that describe splashing water (perhaps the most literal rendering of Edgerton's work), vases that evoke growing trees, sprouting seeds and a limited-edition monumental centerpiece of fallen forms that appear to redirect a path in the forest. Starting at $1,900, Soft Explosion will be available in October online or by calling 1-800-steuben.
Known for impeccable production values and extensive supplements, the Criterion Collectionâ€™s new reissue of Akira Kurosawaâ€™s masterpiece Seven Samurai is a case-in-point example of what makes an essential addition to any DVD collection. With its epic narrative and spectacular swordplay, the film is both a staple of any film school education and a favorite of the Tarantino-generation alike. Possibly their most in-depth release in the collection so far, this three-disc set contains not only a beautifully restored version of the 207-minute film, but enough scholarly commentaries, additional documentaries, and lengthy essays to leave you prepared to teach a course on the film. Best of all, the exquisitely designed packging by Neil Kellerhouse makes this a smart-looking addition to any living room. Pick it up from Amazon. by Michael Talbott
With Lomo's reintroduction of their popular Sidekick camera bag today, the quest for the perfect unisex photo bag may in fact be over. Available in two sizes and two color variations, charcoal with purple lining or khaki with blue lining, the updated model is a slightly slimmer version of the all-time classic, done in natural and timeless cotton canvas. Both bags are comprised of two separate components that can be worn together or separately, a large rear bagâ€”big enough for large books or a 15-inch laptopâ€”and a small camera case that holds two Lomo LC-A-sized cameras. More diminutive, the Sidekick "Lite" also features a two-in-one modular design. Its main bag is a bit more compact, but still large enough for a book and your choice daily necessities, while the camera case holds one Lomo LC-A-sized camera and a cell phone or equivalent electro-gadget. Both bags feature an adjustable webbed canvas strap to keep it securely over your shoulders while leaning over a railing to get that perfect shot. Pick up the Lite ($50) and the large Sidekick ($65) from the Lomo Shop. by Letizia Rossi
Founded by a Los Angeles-based artist/engineer, Jared Van Orman, Tattooed Steel's line of artist-designed jewelry is a way for the tattoo-shy or wearable art-obsessed to get more images on their body. Designs by Rose Hardy are modern takes on more traditional designs (like those by her father, Ed) and range from angels to surreal images, like a flower and eye (pictured left). Other images include tribal designs and abstract tessellations, like Van Orman's "Mirage" (pictured right). Cuffs (available in different sizes) and dog tags start at $60 from Tattooed Steel.
One lucky CH reader will win a set of these amazing Katana Series knives by Calphalon. These knives are a great example of design and technology used to improve a product that hasn't seen a lot of innovation, and are winners of the best consumer product design from ID Magazine's 2006 Design Review. The Calphalon design team spent a year designing these knives, which blend classic European and Asian knife forms. Increasing performance was a challenge solved by using VG-1 steel, a limited production steel from Japan. Higher in carbon (and therefore stronger) than most other steel, it helps the knife achieveâ€”and retainâ€”its edge. Inspired by the way katana (the swords used by Samurai) were made, the blades are formed from a VG-1 steel core; 16 layers of other steel alloys are then added to each side. This process (and the way it looks) is known as Damascus style. One of the key benefits it offers is an increased ability to prevent food from sticking to the knife's surface as it is being cut. This is further enhanced by the use of kullen (the oval indents) on the lower portion of the blade, which create air pockets when cutting. Another great feature the design team came up with was an integrated bolster (where the blade meets the handle), which they patented. It makes the knife incredibly comfortable to hold, and helps it be more balanced. Best yet, the knives are suprisingly well priced, ranging from $29 to $89. The Katana section of the Calphalon site is also well designed and has videos and details on the complete line. The set (and individual pieces) are available online at Amazon. CH Katana Series Knife Set ContestWe're giving away an 8-piece set (whch includes a 3.5" parer, 5" Santoku, 5.5" serrated utility, 6" utility, 8" chef's, kitchen shears, bamboo knife block and a 10" diamond steel, worth $299 and pictured above) to the CH reader who sends us the the funniest kitchen mishap story (keep it brief). Please send your entries here by the end of the day on Thursday 3 August 2006. We'll announce the winner, and print their story, on Friday 4 August 2006. Thanks to all of you readers who submitted your stories. The winner of the contest can be found here.
Making gardening (or at least the planting part) easier than lighting a match, Matchstick Garden is a matchbook that holds 10 cardboard matches loaded with seeds ready for planting. Available in wildflower (Cornflower, Shasta Daisy, Corn Marigold, and Field Poppy) or herb (Basil, Chives, Parsley, and Thyme), simply insert a seeded matchstick into soil, add water and sunlight, and watch your garden grow. The packaging can also be customized (minimum orders of 5,000) by contacting Noted. Though still on backorder, Matchstick Gardens will be available from several retailers, including Exit9, Orange County Museum of Art, and the J Paul Getty Museum Bookshop.
Apparently, mythological creatures aren't only found in forests and lakes these days. Urbanyetti has been sited in cities worldwide, on t-shirts, and on this (suitably scared-looking) baby's onesie. The brainchild of San Francisco-based artist and one-time Nickolodeon prop designer Aaron Terry, adult sizes come in either black or baby blue, onesies are on soft white, and they're all silkscreened on 100% cotton American Apparel. The urbanyetti also comes in three dimensions as a limited edition toy that Terry handmade from wood. Part of Project Spera, an organization that works with youth to increase global awareness.
Whether you cook once a day or once a month, sharp knives are essential to get the job done right. Even if you havenâ€™t mastered using a â€œstone and steel,â€ you can hone your tools to near perfection without going to a professional with FÃ¼ri's Tech Edge Pro Knife Sharpening System. Designed for both home users and professionals, the Tech Edge Pro Knife Sharpening System is dummy-proof. It comes with an edge restorer and a two-part systemâ€”just a few quick swipes through its â€œfingersâ€ restores all non-serrated knives. Designed to adjust easily for different cutting edge angles, the FÃ¼ri eliminates human error and minimizes the removal of metal, unlike other sharpeners. Available through Amazon. by Amy Sherman
Taking inspiration from the king of pop art's "resourceful imagination, restless curiosity, and skewed sense of humor," Andy Warhol 15, a collection of new Seiko watches, draw on Warhol imagery to create a wristwear series that's as vivid as the original artworks—and maybe even slightly more ironic . Most innovative are packs of three that, as a whole, make a single image (either a Campbell's soup can (pictured) or a daisy), but also function as colorful abstractions on their own. Others include glow-in-the-dark details, bold, chunky shapes to match the pop graphics, and many are water-resistant. From $75 at Andy Warhol 15. Also on Cool Hunting: Watchismo, Any Warhol "Giant" Size, Denim Hokusai, Blow Job Puzzle Card, S2A Belts
Looking for a gift for your favorite butcher? Sweet Meats makes plushies of meat, providing comfort to carnivores outside of meal times. Steaks, ribs, sausages and ham are all represented.
Like artist Barbara Kruger’s more traditional work, this canvas pillow makes an oblique pairing of a dramatic black and white image with a cliché phrase. The characteristic Kruger effect—canceling out any heavy-handedness with humor before it even begins to feel pedantic—is a wry comment on domesticity and family. Available exclusively from the Whitney for $30, as a gift, it’s the most artful guilt trip out there.