A-maize-ing: Lexon Creates Desk Gadgets Made From Cornstarch

The Italian studio Spalvieri/Del Ciotto mixes form and material innovation to create an affordable line of accessories.

Surely the world doesn’t need more analog clocks or pocket calculators--both of which have been subsumed by smartphones. And yet, while there is little room for innovation in terms of form, there’s great potential for making them more environmentally responsible. Spalvieri/Del Ciotto shows what can be done when good, responsible design meets material innovation, with Maizy, a cheerful six-piece collection of everyday gadgets for Lexon made of polylactide (PLA), a bioplastic derived from cornstarch.

Using a biopolymer didn’t pose much of a challenge--PLA can be processed on standard equipment used for petroleum-based plastic--but Lexon’s demand that the collection be affordable pushed the designers to get creative without adding lots of bells and whistles. They used green to highlight the most important features (for the snooze bar on the clock, the screen on the calculator, and the buttons on the radio) and playing up clever functional details: An antenna doubles as a hook, and the power button of the LED flash light contains a USB port for recharging.

“We think that today, with the infinite number of products with the same technologies on the market, it would make little sense to design another radio or clock, changing only a little bit the shape from the other one already existing,” Simone Spalvieri and Valentina Del Ciotto tell Co.Design. “A design object must be capable to identify an epoch. Bioplastic is an interesting material that can identifies our epoch.”

Maizy will retail for between $15 (for the pocket calculator) and $95 (for the small radio). Contact Lexon[/url] for more details.

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