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London, design and elegance


Steve came back from a trip to London a few days ago bearing gifts to appease the great stay-at-homes. Our guy is something of a design nerd. So, when we hear he’s got some things to show us from his trip we don’t expect diamonds and chocolates, although we do indeed get chocolates sometimes. We know to expect things that are surprising good design.

Steve loves an elegant and simple design. As someone who is an inventor and just got his first patent on a software design, we think he’s got good design sense.

So, Steve’s bounty from his London trip offered up two examples of great (or at least better) European design:

1 — a paper cup for hot beverages with a built-in insulator (negating the need for those annoying cardboard sleeves which don’t really protect you from the heat and which slip down the cup when you least expect or want it).

2 — a plastic bag snap closure that is England’s better answer to our twist tie.

Exhibit A. The better paper cup with insulation built in

Better design, paper cup with insulation sleeve
Better paper cup

Exhibit B. The snap closure that’s better than our twist tie or the really low end plastic tab with the circle bitten into it that many grocery store breads use for closures.

British snap clip beats our twist ties.
The British snap clip.

Exhibit C. Twist tie. Usable but let’s face it not very elegant

American twist tie, British snap clip.
Twist tie. EEEEUUUU.

The little plastic device from London reminded me of some plastic snap closures Stella found at Ikea. The Ikea snaps are more like hair barrettes than this little clip however, and their design — flat and unforgiving — leaves something to be desired…They could use a little fatness like the London clips to deal with the thick folds of a fat plastic bag.

Design is important. It can help make your life good or bad. Curb cuts are great no matter how much they cost. Sometimes as a bonus design can add a little beauty in to your life. These two British designs (are they British? Maybe they’re from anther country and are merely what’s in use in London) won’t enhance the beauty of your environment but they are elegant solutions (simple, workable, nifty) as well as utilitarian and for that they are better than what’s in the American marketplace right now.

More from the elegance department

Jean Bacon, watercolor paintings
Jean Bacon, watercolor paintings

I must mention here that one other thing Steve brought home was the news that his colleague Jean Bacon a professor at University of Cambridge Computer Lab is having a show of her watercolor paintings in Blythburgh Suffolk, August 14th – 24th 2007. Jean’s art in this show is based on photos taken by Ken Moody. The works are reed bed paintings and they are long and narrow like scrolls and lovely, contempletive — and elegant.