I was in Berlin for the day yesterday to speak at a World Consumer Rights Day, and before I headed back to the airport, I dropped in at Werkhaus, a retail outlet that sells innovative, made-in-Germany flat-pack housewares that are skinned with beautiful photos of decayed, wabi-sabi surfaces from street furniture, antiques, and industrial apparatus. I bought one of their "Telefonstation" shelving units, designed to hold and charge your phones and mobile devices while disguising the charge-cables; the one I bought is skinned with the exterior of a scuffed and beaten Soviet pay-phone, with stenciled Cyrillic lettering.
Werkhaus's product-lines are a great blend of decorative/whimsical and practical; on the purely decorative end, there are the ToPaHausen
, which are little birdhouses for your toilet-paper.
More practical (and in a bewildering variety of skins) are the Hocker
end-tables, which really come in styles to suit every taste.
Werkhaus's designs scale up to full-blown, stand-alone furniture, including a beautiful, practical line of desks with functional drawers.
And there's plenty of options for topping your desk with whimsical/functional lamps, organizers, and other bits of design-led, flat-pack goodness (including lamps that look like old TVs).
The products are made of sturdy, 4mm pressboard, and fit together with a simple slot-and-tongue system that is anchored by means of easy-to-attach rubber bands (it took me a little while to notice the rubber bands, which made things much harder than they needed to be -- be warned). In addition to being rather beautiful, they're also very well thought-through, and come with screw fittings, wall anchors, and even screw templates for getting your wall-mounting just right.
I'm very happy with my Soviet phone, and seriously considering ordering a few more pieces from them.
Ethan Zuckerman — formerly of Global Voices, now at the MIT Center for Civic Media — has spent his career trying to find thoughtful, effective ways to use technology as a lever to make positive social change (previously), but that means that he also spends a lot of time in the company of people making […]
If you’re a student journalist and want to attend HOPE XI, the Eleventh Hackers on Planet Earth conference (July 22-24, NYC) you can win free admission (and an interview with me!) by submitting an article about any of the topics come up at HOPE conferences! Get writing!
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Some people say magic tricks are nerdy and best left to your 12-year-old asthmatic cousin. But others see value in perfecting the slight of hand and showmanship associated with a perfectly executed routine. We’re firmly in the latter camp. And now, we’re giving you the ability to put a few parlor tricks up your sleeve with the Penguin […]