The annual Prix Émile Hermès has been awarded and it is no surprise that a number of the finalists hail from Japan. 2011's Jury President Mr Toyo Ito evidently saw great ingenuity in the submissions from his fellow countrymen and women... as do we!
The brief called for designs to ecologically respond to the theme of: "Heat, me-heat, re-heat".
Use of natures existing elements such as sun, water and plant matter were employed by designers in a move to minimise unecessary power consumption in generating more heat.
One of our favourite entries would have to be the Heat Pad Pencil by Chihiro Konno & Kenjo Ohashi. Harnessing the byproduct of fermenting bamboo - heat - the wise-pair fashioned pencils that when sharpened could be contained in a bamboo fibre pouch. As the shavings ferment they produce warmth up to 50'C, creating in the pouch a small, personal desktop heat pad that has a life-cycle up to 3 years!
Another wonderfully practical entry was that of Masahiro Asakura - using left over water from the kettle as a heating agent in push bike handles. Drawing on the practice of traditional japanese hot-water bottles: Yutanpo, the hand sewn leather clad steel handlebars become vessels that warm the hands on a chilly mornings ride, and in turn are emptied into pot plants once you arrive at your destination.
Simple. Smart. Sustainable!