Areaware X Parsons New School For Design: Small Things Matter

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Impulse buys – we’ve all been there. This time around, Parsons The New School For Design and Areaware have partnered up to investigate the mystery behind the impulse buy object in a study called Small Things Matter. Assistant Professor Daniel Michalik challenged 13 of his Product Design Juniors to develop an inexpensive gift item that fits within the current Areaware accessory line, conceptually linked to a charitable cause, and also is able to stimulate the emotional desires that an impulse buy creates. The winning entry will be produced by Areaware, with a percentage of the sales automatically donated to a particular charity or NGO. We’ve compiled all 13 entries below, in no specific order.

1. CritterClips by Aikita Sen: CritterClips are adorable little clips that come in all different animal shapes. They add a fun element to everyday life and remind us to protect our favorite animals, which we often forget as adults. Every purchase of CritterClip will go to a cause dedicated to conserving wildlife. [Tied for 3rd Place]

2. The Night Guardian by Whan Choi: The Night Guardian is a night light that protects kids from fear and helps them sleep more peacefully. There’s also a deeper metaphor – our kids represent the light of future generations, so the adults in their lives need to protect them and help light their paths. The charity associated with this project is Save The Children Foundation, Aflatoun, and KIDS. [2nd Place]

3.  Little Architect by Carlos Ng: Little Architect is a tool set for young architects that dream of designing and building amazing structures around the world. All of the modular tools combine work and play, and a 12” rule, a protractor, and a 45/90 triangle are all included in the set. By turning the tools into puzzle pieces, a sense of playfulness and fun is added to the tools. Proceeds from the Little Architect will go to benefit Architecture for Humanity. [1st Place]

4. Whist by Patrice Hall: Whist is a wooden whistle that hugs the neck, rests in the hand, and lies against the heart. It is a form of communication for the stories and voices that go unheard, and celebrates friendship, independence, protection, music, and play. For whist means to be silent, and whistling breaks the silence. Thus, Whist will benefit organizations that are dedicated to preventing suicide and domestic violence.

5. Kaiju Blocks by Alex Svizeny: Inspired by a Japanese Monster culture, Kaiju Blocks use magnets and plush forming to create fully customizable creatures. Kaiju means “strange creature”, and with the flexibility of these blocks, they offer a new take on traditional wooden building blocks. Fittingly, sales from Kaiju Blocks will benefit Child’s Play, an organization that seeks to improve the lives of children in hospitals around the world through the power of play.

6. Prism by Daniel Martinez: Prism is a glass desk tool that magnifies whatever surface it’s on. It opens your eyes, allowing you to see everything more clearly. The name Prism, stems from the National Security Agency and its P.R.I.S.M. spy program. Proceeds will be donated to the Wikimedia Foundation, whose goal is to encourage the growth, development, and distribution of free, multilingual, educational content.

7. Hedgehog Hairbrush by Giuliana Gentile: The Hedgehog Hairbrush is the sweetest little piece with a distinct personality. Made out of solid hardwood, this is one hairbrush you want to put on display. “Richie’s” perfectly shaped, pudgy little body also fits snugly in the palm of your hand while his spines detangle your hair. The charity associated with Hedgehog Hairbrush will be Locks of Love, which donates high-quality wigs to those who suffer hair loss due to medical treatment. 

8. The Canopy Coaster by Grey Young Kim: Kim transforms the ordinary coaster into a set of concentric circles that give the impression of spinning in the air, above a forest canopy. The geometric patterns provoke contemplation during a late night dinner conversation, where each coaster has a unique, laser-cut motif. Proceeds from the sales would benefit forest conservation organizations such as FERN or FSC.

9. Jayu (the Smuggler’s Lock) by Jasmine Kim: Jayu is inspired by a tradition Korean lock, where one can hide secret messages or small objects within. Like its inspiration, Jayu is meant to hold private objects or hide messages. Jayu will help support non-governmental organizations that help people that are politically oppressed, such as Liberty in North Korea.

10. NOMAD by Malini Khargie: NOMAD is a set of portable kits that helps urban dwellers. There are three different kits, and included are picnic kits, desk kits, and a first aid kit. They all fold cleanly into a small square and contain all the necessary supplies for each activity. Each kit supports a different charity category, from environmental causes such as Grow NYC to educational and health efforts, such as Reach Out and Read.

11. Wish Boxes by Mary Chimenti: Wish Boxes are small vessels that hold inspirational messages. Once the notes have been locked in, they’re unable to be retrieved again and the box can’t be opened. On the surface, symbols for luck, wish, or health are etched onto the surface. Wish Boxes were inspired by Chimenti’s friend, who suffered from a terminal illness. Proceeds will go to the Make A Wish Foundation, which helped her friend fulfill a personal dream for himself and his family.

12. Palbeau by Mayan Hennemeyer: Palbeau is a tool aiding transcendental meditation and only takes 15 minutes, which is the necessary amount of meditation it takes for one to free themselves from self-promoted chaos. Proceeds from sales will benefit meditation centers around the world, so that others may learn to seek inner peace.

13. Bottle Axe by Sam Falco: Be it a soda or beer, you can unleash your inner barbarian relatively safely with the Bottle Axe. Bottle Axe is a bottle opener cut from steel, sanded, with the handle wrapped in leather. The 6 designs were inspired by various medieval weapons and children’s board games. The charity that proceeds would go to is Child’s Play, which brings video games, board games, and toys to children in hospitals. [Tied for 3rd Place]

Which was your favorite?