Jen Renzi's Top 5 Picks of 2008
by Jen / December 30, 2008

I guess the tanking economy has gone straight to my head, because my favorite posts (and thus some of my favorite designs) this year are poetically simple objects that solve everyday problems in modest and unassuming ways. Revisiting ICFF and Milan, the many gratuitous, look-at-me gimmicks on display feel so wrong right now. In contrast, I found,

1) Hulger's walnut PappaPhone;

2) Wasara's sinuous, eco-friendly paper plates;

and the 3) thought-provoking yet beautifully crafted Danish designs that featured prominently at the spring shows to be immensely satisfying--even sensual--rejoinders to all that plastic-blobby-techno stuff.

(A notable exception to my yen for Zen: skate rat/fine artist Adam Wallacavage's baroque installation of tentacled plaster chandeliers and flocked wallpaper at Jonathan Levine Gallery--such a singular mad-genius vision).

I'm also intrigued by designers doing novel things with ceramics 4), from RedStr's naughty Slave Betty teapot--the tea cozy as (tasteful!) S&M fetish gear--to,

Delftware computers to,

the ugly-awesome new Lladro designs by Jaime Hayon and Committee, which I wouldn't want sitting on my coffee table but that I enjoy visiting on the pages of MoCo Loco.

And speaking of pages, I've loved Eric Demay's periodic reports on periodicals--not only for his insightful take on what mags to buy at the newsstand each month, but also for the dialogue it opens about the web/print continuum, a topic becoming ever more urgent as design magazines fold by the week. One of the best arguments for doing away with paper altogether? Harry's post on Piel.Skin,

5) a web-only, virtual tome of highly innovative architectural facades that don't go by the book.

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