It’s a little thing, I know. But it’s near to perfect. This soy sauce dispenser was designed by Masahiro Mori back in 1958. It’s won untold numbers of awards, is still in production and nearly ubiquitous. If you’ve ever used one of these pieces you would have noticed that there is nary a drip from the spout. The lines are elegant and the piece itself fits the hand with no distraction. To me, it’s a kind of benchmark for the design world. I’d like it if the realm of mass production accorded the same amount of respect commanded by this little soy sauce bottle (shoyusashi) to the rest of its mighty output. Imagine. To purchase one for yourself, click here.
So, what the hell? I found this little “toy” at the local farm and garden center amid hundreds of small scale replicas of tractors, wagons, hay balers, combines and a whole array of farm animals. This piece (with the John Deere label affixed to the price tag) is part of a huge collection of precision cast miniatures of farm and construction equipment manufactured by Ertl Toys, a company that’s been around since 1945. This particular tanker is labeled anhydrous ammonia, which is a broadly applied and inexpensive source of nitrogen fertilizer used in farming. That said, it is also highly toxic and crazy dangerous to handle. And, as it happens, drug dealers now use it in the manufacture of methamphetamines. Hmmnnn, I’m not sure that inculcating our youngsters with this type of approach to growing food is the best way forward. Would a truck full of chicken poop be a better alternative? Anyway, maybe skip the chemicals and stick with the tractors and the cows.
I was reading the actual paper version of the NYT this morning and was basically assaulted by the scent of perfume as I paged through one of the sections. Couldn’t figure out where the odor was coming from until I bent my head down to sniff an advertisement for…perfume. Blech. And then I was reminded of some razors I bought over the summer. They emitted a very pungent strawberry scent as soon as I removed them from the packaging. Again, I couldn’t initially figure out from where the aroma originated. And how had I missed the two little berries on the label? Something about this seems to have crossed a line. I’m still mulling over why it offends me. I did a little homework and found a story in the Times offering up various explanations (most of them pretty obvious, but still weird) as to why the last unscented bastion in our bathrooms has now succumbed to the forces of marketing.
I don’t want to proselytize too much, but these wood burning stoves are fantastic! In a recent conversation with a designer who is planning to build a studio adjacent to her home, I found myself waxing lyrically about the beauty and efficiency of our own Morso stove (we have the little Owl…the 5th image down). The Danish company has been around since 1853, so in my opinion it’s got some cred. These stoves are so efficient, that when used properly there is no smoke coming out of your chimney and virtually no ash left in the stove itself. I was originally looking at some really fancy (read: expensive) stoves, but we couldn’t imagine spending that kind of money on a design for which we were not even that keen. They were lovely, but essentially too cold and hard-edged for our humble little A-Frame. There had to be something else out there that embodied the essence of Scandinavian design, but with some warmth and character. Morso designs run the gamut from very classic Danish court style to ultra modern. And, what’s even better, they use 98% recycled materials in the production of their stoves.
I am often amazed at how much subtle variation exists within a single product. There is obviously an entire industry surrounding the manufacture of these little plastic bag closures. Some friends of mine knew I was forming a little pile of them and presented me with a bag full the other night.
The first Cutler Mail Chute was installed back in 1884 in a building in Rochester, NY. Who knows how many of these are still in active use. I read that in Manhattan and the Bronx alone, there are well over 900 still in operation. Although, as a matter of fire safety, they have been banned in new construction since 1997. Which makes good sense. I suppose. I just love that there was an entire industry devoted to designing, manufacturing and installing these things. And, if you live in a city, you have doubtless seen, or perhaps even used, one of these. I can’t quite describe the thrill of seeing my little envelope hurtling downward into the box on the ground floor!
Yay!!!! Rima Suqi from the NYT wrote a little piece in Thursday’s Home Section about my Tupperware designs. Thanks Rima! Thanks NYT! I hope this gives the containers a little extra street cred. Photos by Richard Gary.
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