Cult Swiss consumer electronics maker Punkt has been trying to elevate the standard of design in home gadgetry since its inception. As part of that mission, the Lugano-based firm has regularly teamed up with design schools and universities, such as the Royal College of Art in the U.K. or the University of Art and Design in Basel, to maintain links with new generations of designers, and keep itself open to fresh ideas.
This year, Punkt partnered with École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL) to give common home electronics more human-centric designs. Finished designs include an e-ink weather station, a printer you hang on your wall like a painting, a clock that is designed to fit in the corner of your room, and a hexagonal projector that can throw images anywhere. The thesis: Gadgets should be subservient to humans, not their masters.
The partnership started in September, when Punkt founder Petter Neby addressed Lausanne’s Master Product Design class. He challenged them to design new types of gadgets that could rebalance people’s relationship with technology, by addressing problems such as gadgets with too many functions and the day-to-day stress of being too jacked into the Internet. But Neby’s goal wasn’t just to design pie-in-the-sky gadgets that could never be manufactured at scale; he also taught ECAL’s students about the supply chain realities of creating new hardware.
The eight products that came out of the year-long collaboration aren’t Punkt products yet, but they very well could be included in future catalogs. In addition to the prototypes listed above, the collection includes a flashlight that can double as a table lamp; a digital camera that strips away the lens finders and screens of modern digital cameras to keep photographers focused on the here-and-now; an extension cord that automatically retracts so as to only give you as much cable as you need; and an Internet radio that allows users to tune to new stations as easily as turning the hands on a clock.
According to Nebby, keeping an open mind to ideas from up-and-coming design students is part of what helps Punkt succeed as a niche electronics maker. “It’s always good to maintain links with each new generation of designers,” he says in a statement. “It keeps our business fresh, which is good for us, but I do also believe that companies have a duty to contribute to the education of people they will eventually be wanting to employ.”
You can read more about the ECAL designers who collaborated with Punkt and their prototypes here.