Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Brabantia Continues to Reinvigorate Basics

Some of you may be familiar with Brabantia trashcans, commonly found at BB&B. Williams Sonoma is now promoting a new ironing board by Brabantia, and I like what I see. They continue to reinvigorate products that many companies write off as low-margin or commodities. The design features on this ironing board make it a product worth owning.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

After China, Where to?

This may not be news to companies already migrating out of China, but the momentum of change seems to be picking up...

Where once low-tech factories and scant wages were welcomed in a China eager to escape isolation and poverty, workers are now demanding a bigger share of the profits. The government, meanwhile, is pushing foreign companies to make investments in areas it believes will create greater wealth for China, like high technology.

Many companies are striving to stay profitable by shifting factories to cheaper areas farther inland or to other developing countries, and a few are even resuming production in the West.

"China is going to go through a very dramatic period. The big companies are starting to exit. We all see the writing on the wall," said Rick Goodwin, a China trade veteran of 22 years, whose company links foreign buyers with Chinese suppliers.

"I have 15 major clients. My job is to give the best advice I can give. I tell it like it is. I tell them, put your helmet on, it's going to get ugly," said Goodwin, who says dissatisfied workers and hard-to-predict exchange rates are his top worries.

Read the full article here, and consider that if the mainstream media is talking about the end of cheap China, the time was yesterday to look for newly affordable options Stateside.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cardboard: not Just for Boxes Anymore

Designer greats have been making cool mod furniture out of cardboard for decades. Usually, it's a little pricey for cardboard - you're buying the design philosophy more than the item. But there are some cool things being made out of cardboard these days that are fun and affordable:
Studio David Grass produces some affordable and attractive furniture like this sweet stoolCardboard Design makes all manner of products, but my favorite are their kid's playhouses. My own little rocketeer has enjoyed his for years :)
You can also find lots of affordable kids items, like these adorable chairs & table on Orange Onions.

And then again, you can quite easily make your own stuff! Sites like TreeHugger and Instructables give you great links and step by step directions to put your pile of cardboard to good use - give it a second life as toys and furniture good for guilt-free wear and tear.

[Pictured above, Foldaway Bookshop featured on Fubiz]