Desktop décor ranges from fabulous to funky, elegant to essential, as manufacturers continue to add variety to work and study.
Tapping into the school and office products market, the fashionable folks at russell+hazel in Minneapolis shuddered at the outdated style and design of most of the school and office products sold around the country. Their proposition? A marriage of fashion and function that would encourage creative self-expression. The result? A high-spirited, attractive product line including binders, notebook jackets, dividers and expanding files, all redesigned from the inside out. The flagship Davey board three-ring binder, for example, combines a colorful linen book binding and plenty of white space on the exterior with a patented dry-erase board on the interior, allowing the user to organize and personalize stylishly. Binderbands—giant rubber bands that wrap securely around the binder—keep loose sheets from straying and can, if desired, be replaced by belts, straps or ties of any kind. Single- and three-subject notebooks similarly combine color and wide open spaces, along with r+h's trademarked SmartRule paper, college-ruled and perforated. PeopleTracker pads offer a fresh take on address books. Each pad contains 25 sheets with ample space for the essential coordinates of four people per page, including room for a wallet-size photo, multiple phone numbers, e-mail, etc. All fit easily into any three-ring binder. Pens, pencils, erasers, gift sets and mid-semester refills complete the basics. Sophisticated, lighthearted and well made. Call (612) 313-2714; fax (612) 333-9189; www.russellandhazel.com.
To accessorize such far-from-basic materials, turn to Made by Humans, those indefatigably playful designers in Vancouver who continue to devise utterly original and functional desk accouterments. Among the new offerings for 2003 are several intriguing photograph frames and holders. Foldable photo frames of aluminum, colored plastic, and glass look implausible when collapsed but easily open up to smartly hold a 4×7-inch image either vertically or horizontally. A magnetic ball and cube in blue or white resin pair up sleekly to hold a photo or memo upright. Ideal perhaps for baby pictures (or phone messages you actually want to return), a two-part magnetic cow looks cartoonish but does the job.
Two new tape measures slip into pockets or drawers for easy access and certain smiles. Slim, 2-inch squares feature a stylized Pinocchio's face or cow motif—pull the nose or tail to release the tape; press the button in the middle to rewind (60 inches/150 centimeters). Also easy and useful to have around is the new rubber travel alarm clock, which folds inside out to cover and protect itself during travel. Distinctively made of bright blue thermoplastic rubber, with a quartz timepiece and battery included.
In the desktop beautification program, Made by Humans encourages bringing nature to work with two compact flower vases. The Pop Vase, made of waterproof paper, comes flat and folded up; pull out the sides, fill with water, and it pops into shape, ready to securely hold a handful of posies. Available in several colors and two sizes and easy to mail. The Triple Test Tube Vase combines one tall, clear glass cylinder (14 inches high) with two removable test tubes attached at each side. Perfect for small (or cluttered) surfaces. Call (877) 731-0503; fax (604) 731-0585; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.madebyhumans.net.
Edging decisively toward elegance, the Southeast Asian handicrafts available through Asia Overland, in Whitmore Lake, Mich., add a graceful accent to our often-uninspired workspaces. The most recent products from the company focus on natural packaging, including boxes and bags made of banana bark, butterfly leaf, clove, cinnamon stick, mulberry paper, tree bark, waru leaf, bamboo, sea grass, and water hyacinth. Trinket boxes, small baskets, celadon ceramics, and mangowood containers make beautiful hideaways for paper clips, Post-its and pens. Rubberwood tea-light holders in a variety of sizes and styles encourage a Zen-like atmosphere. Call (734) 449-9093; fax (734) 449-8094; e-mail email@example.com; www.asia-overland.com.
Widely known for beautiful and innovative wedding invitations, Anna Griffin Incorporated of Atlanta also creates distinctive designs for products that celebrate daily life. Her refined home office collection features coordinating file folders, writing pads, letterhead, notepads and address books to both organize and decorate. The social stationery line revives traditional correspondence with charming cards, fold-over notes and letter sheets, all with coordinating lined envelopes and business cards. The luscious designs are adapted from antique engravings and European textiles; floral patterns mix and match with stripes and engraving patterns. Sumptuous offerings extend to albums for guests, addresses, photos, journals and scrapbooks, for which there are a plethora of products to enhance creativity, including elegant rubber stamps, decorative papers and die-cut paper photo frames, ribbons and more. Gorgeous. Call (404) 817-8170; fax (404) 817-0590; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ; www.annagriffin.com .