Minimalist Phone, Modern Playground, Blue Tunnel + More

As part of the Nickerson Gardens public housing complex, the renovated 17,656-square-foot Nickerson Gardens Playground is bringing a much-needed space for kids to have fun in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. The playground was designed by architecture and design firm NBBJ and its experience design studio ESI Design offering pro bono design services and direction. To make the project happen, Los Angeles native and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea stepped in as the main benefactor behind the project. Flea leant his vision, helped with fundraising, and was actively involved with soliciting donations to fund the project. The design not only looks cool visually, its adding so much to the historically underserved community of Watts.

There’s no doubt that most of us are addicted to our phones. It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t have a phone in our hand, pocket, or within about five feet of our person. Sometimes it feels great to always be connected to friends and family, stay on top of work emails, and have access to just about any information we want, all at our fingertips. But then there are times when I just want to shut down and log off. Punkt’s MP02 New Generation minimalist phone has been out for a couple of years but it’s been updated and released in a new Light Grey color. The Swiss, design-led tech company, with Jasper Morrison in art director and designer roles for the brand, has always had my curiosity piqued, especially in these post-Covid times when we’ve all had to re-learn how to connect with people in person again. I’ve known that I always like to have my phone nearby, but I realized during Covid that it was rarely out of my hand, even if I was watching TV or a movie, or talking to another person. The MP02 phone aims to help you break your screen addiction and focus on everything else around you. The dialed-back design looks like a basic calculator from childhood school days, but its small screen only allows you to make/receive calls, text messages, and see the time. That means no more endless hours of scrolling TikTok, Instagram, X or whatever social media you prefer, no camera, and also no internet searches. While I know it would be extremely difficult, I fantasize about all I could get done if I wasn’t head down staring at my iPhone for so many hours every day.

inside a tunnel clad in bright cobalt blue texture relief tiles

Photo: Riccardo De Vecchi

closeup angled view of cobalt blue 3d-printed ceramic tiles

Photo: Riccardo De Vecchi

In the historic Dutch city of Delft, Studio RAP outfitted a tunnel with 3D-printed clay tiles that make me want to take a closer look and touch. The project is the studio’s nod to the decorative qualities of the iconic Delft Blue porcelain that’s been around since 1653, which most people know as the popular white dinnerware and objects with hand-painted, deep blue patterns. Studio Rapt created approximately 3,000 unique tiles through 3D clay printing, computational design, and artisanal glazing. The multi-step glazing process of various hues of blue resulted in the rich bold color seen outfitting the tunnel. It’s so visually stunning and I imagine it’s become a popular backdrop for many local’s Instagram photos. For a closer look, check out there video of the project here.

down view looking at top of desk with cork tray holding office accessories

I strive really hard to find a place for everything otherwise it just ends up as clutter. To be honest, I’m not always good at it because I have too much stuff, but I’m always trying to be better. For example, if my desk is in chaos, it distracts me from fully concentrating on work and that just can’t happen. I’ve always loved the Grovemade brand and recently spotted these Desk Trays. I really appreciate how minimal yet functional they are, allowing you a few spaces to hold a little bit of everything you need at arm’s reach. The inside is made from solid cork that’s machined to create the spaces to hold your gear, while the outside tray is made from 5054 aluminum for a sleek look. It comes in three sizes and in a light natural cork or dark that is dyed with Sumi ink.

angled view of model making kit of assembled modern house

My love of LEGO and all things puzzles is pretty well known around here, so when Stix + Brix landed in my email, I had to do a deep dive. The Florida-based brand, founded by husband-and-wife professional architects, creates architectural model kits for kids and teens (and probably adults like me). Each kit comes with everything you need, including pre-cut interlocking wood, acrylic, assorted paints, brushes, other decorative bits, and step-by-step illustrated instructions. Currently they have eight models, including two new summer beach houses, as well as the Eco-House (above) and a cool A-frame cabin.

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Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.

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