Most food storage is functional, not delightful. Your average Tupperware or Glad container never aspires to be more than a plastic vault for your lasagna, and after seeing this new concept by the Japanese design firm Nendo, that feels like a real missed opportunity.
Air Lids is a series of five different quirky containers that leverage the lid to reinvent every-day kitchen activities like pouring oil or picking up salt with unique user experience design. The lids themselves are actually made out of rubbery fluoroelastomers, a highly heat and acid resistant material found inside HVAC systems produced by Daikin, which commissioned the work.
Nendo–being a deep-thinking design firm, unafraid of exploring the symbology of objects–imagines that this material from air conditioners is constructed from air itself. “These lid designs aim to symbolize ‘something’ between human and an object, and to convey the abstract feeling of air to be a bit more tangible, which in reality we cannot really ‘sense,'” Nendo’s designers explain over email. “I hope that the people will enjoy the ‘airy’ quality as if directly touching something materialized from the air itself, which normally cannot be touched.”
To help the user appreciate the strange paradox of touching the untouchable, Nendo has given the lids a quiet sense of humor. The pick-up lid features thimble-like nubs, which you wear like a two-finger glove to pinch salt while keeping your hand clean. The press lid looks something like a Zippo lighter, but when you press it the lid releases the liquid. The cone-shaped pinch lid could be mistaken for a children’s party hat–that is, until you lift it up and reveal a small spoon underneath for scooping whatever is left in the jar. The push lid features an oblong ball on top, which seals the jar–but by flipping it on its side, the lid messily sinks into the jar’s contents to spill them out of the front. And finally, the pull lid is actually a ball attached to the bottom of the jar. You open the container lifting the ball to the side, but rather than placing the lid on the table, it just hangs in the air on a tether.
The closer observer may notice that, in an ironic twist, the Air Lids don’t always look airtight. Nendo isn’t sweating that fact, given that the one-off project isn’t going into production. Which is too bad, really. Our Tupperware could really use some soul.