All posts filed under: Things for Reading

Architects Toybox

I never promote my own projects on this blog, but I think that I have a good reason to with the launch of my second product design blog Architects Toybox. While designythings will continue to be a curated list of gifts, gadgets, and gear, Architects Toybox will be a resource for architects, designers, and consumers looking for the latest architectural building product news — from lighting fixtures to plumbing fixtures. I plan to update the site a few times a week and will covering the latest products from around the world. Recent posts include a review of a new coffee table book full of inspiring tree house designs, a prototype for a flying cleaning robot, and an LED light from 3M that uses reflective film technology to can stretch the light from a single LED to multiple fixtures. Check it out if you get a moment, and don’t forget to sign up for the email list to keep up with the latest news.

Saving the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

Jim Moran got some bad news last October while he was preparing for the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum’s annual conference in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Moran, who is director of the world’s only museum dedicated to the preservation, study, production, and printing of wood type, was told by his landlord that the museum had six months to find a new home. The news wasn’t entirely a shock. Moran and his small team had noticed that the building owner, lab equipment manufacturer Thermo Fisher Scientific, had begun downsizing the employees that shared the massive building, which was rapidly deteriorating. The museum, which was founded in 1999, took up 12,000-square-feet (with an additional 25,000 for storage) of the three-block long, 1.3 million-square-foot facility that the Hamilton Manufacturing Company had built, and added to, from 1910 to 1926. The manufacturer had donated free rent, lighting, and heat to the museum, but they were now closing their Two Rivers plant and moving production elsewhere. (MORE AFTER PHOTOS) Moran had to quickly raise the estimated $250,000 needed to pack …

WakaWaka Blackout Emergency Kit

While I really could have used this little device after Hurricane Sandy, when my family and I were without power for 10 days, it is the potential it offers for those with homes that are always off the grid that is even greater. The WakaWaka Power (you have to try to get past the image of Fozzie the Bear from the Muppet Show, if you can) is a solar-powered LED lamp and mobile charger in one. This is a product with a huge demand at the moment — the Dutch company Off Grid Solutions launched it in December on Kickstarter and within a week became one of the most funded projects on the site (the campaign ends on January 12th and to date has raised almost $275,000 U.S.). The iPhone-sized kit weighs seven ounces, delivers up to 60 lumens of bright, safe reading light for more than 40 hours on an eight hour solar charge, and can charge mobile phones from all brands. The battery will stay fresh for more than a year — users should …

Moleskine Messages Collection

For the price of a fancy greeting card you can now send friends and family a mini-Moleskine notebook filled with your poems, drawings, or other artistic expressions. New from Moleskine this month, the Messages Collection includes Postal Notebooks and Note Cards made of colored cardboard covers, a Singer sewn binding, and thick paper pages. Postal Notebooks feature an envelope-shaped notebook, ready-to-mail, with eight blank pages; the foldable flaps turn it into an envelope that can be sealed and mailed. When the letter arrives, the recipient can rip off the flaps and the card becomes a notebook keepsake. The Note Cards come with a separate envelope and covered book with four plain inner pages. Both versions come in six muted colors and two sizes (3.5” x 5.5” and 4.5″ x 6 3/4″). A fun, affordable way to make up for that e-card you sent your mom last year … a day late. $3.95-$7.95.

Prizm Stand

Resembling a sort of primitive Decepticon, the Prizm Stand from Hubb Innovations is a two-piece aluminum stand for phones, tablets, and MP3 players. Introduced at this month’s CES, the Prizm stand is made from aluminum alloys and precious metals formed into two identical parts that slide together. The low-profile stand comes in anodized colors including green, blue, pink, purple, red, yellow, and black, as well as premium metals like 14k gold, antique brass, antique copper, antique nickel, and carbon fiber. Ranging price from $24.95 to $34.95, the stands are a good gift idea for  sci-fi geeks, architects, engineers, or transforming robot aliens.


Padlette is a new handle for your tablet that works like a fancy, wide-mouthed rubber band; you simply stretch it around two opposite corners of your device and you are done. Available in a rainbow of colors, Padlette is lightweight and fits iPads and other similarly sized tablets. One thing I noticed during my Padlette test drive was that if you are using the iPad2, you can’t put your Padlette on first and then put your Smart Cover on top of it. However, you can put your cover on first and then put the Padlette over it to pin down the cover to keep it from flapping open. While I think the handle is pricey for what it is (it retails for $19.99 on Amazon), it could be a great solution for those who lack the dexterity to handle a tablet comfortably, including children and those with arthritis. Two new versions are launching at this week’s CES show in Las Vegas, so stay tuned for more handy products from this company.