Robot revival

Where others see junk—a box of springs, the shell of a typewriter—Martin Horswell sees opportunity. Plus Chateau D’Eau, great coffee is an art, living up to the Skype, driving force, going global and going wireless.

Robot Revival

Martin Horspool robots, price varies

Magazine Layout

Where others see junk—a box of springs, the shell of a typewriter—Martin Horspool sees opportunity in spades. With a few hand tools and a lot of imagination he gives these unwanted objects a second lease on life, mixing and matching parts to create miniature one-of-a-kind robots. He says what started as a hobby has grown into an unusual but satisfying obsession; since completing his first creation two and a half years ago, he's been churning out at least one a week.

As a child, he would doodle hybrid mechanical/animal creatures—“not sinister, just goofy”—and bringing his art to life seemed a natural progression.

Horspool likens his craft to playing with Lego, or a 3D jigsaw. He favours solidly made objects from the 50s, 60s and 70s, sourced from car boot sales, antique shops and, of course, Trade Me. “I've always been fascinated by deconstructing things,” he says. “I'm better at taking them apart than putting them back together.”

For those who don’t have a lot of shelf space, Horspool also makes robot necklaces and clocks. And if you ask him nicely, he might even personalise a custom piece just for you.

ChÂteau D’eau

Water in a Box, $8

Magazine Layout

The concept is simple: It’s water, in a box. What sets it apart is the purity of its contents and the fact that nothing is wasted in its design. The ten-litre container is vacuum-sealed to protect its contents, while the inner bladder ensures you’ll get out the very last drop. It’s ideal for camping, picnics, fishing trips, your emergency kit, or just chilling in the fridge at home. And if you’re on the road, the inner bag even doubles as a camping pillow once emptied.

Naturally, this isn’t just any old tap water—it’s sourced from a natural aquifier in Whakatane where it’s been filtered through volcanic rock then stored underground for nearly 2,000 years. (Bonus: it might make you look more beautiful, too—its naturally high silica levels promote healthy hair, skin, teeth and, er, bones.) The cardboard packaging comes from renewable New Zealand pine forests, and the company says it uses more than 80 percent less plastic than water bottles would. It doesn’t get much more Earth-friendly than that.

Great coffee is an art

Limited edition Vibiemme Domobar espresso machine, $4,500

Magazine Layout

Artist Shane Hansen has teamed up with Valente Machinery to create a limited edition of five coffee makers that are almost too pretty for their intended purpose. The collection, entitled Aroha, combines the best of Italian technology with contemporary Maori art and is a must-have for any lover of coffee, art and beautiful things. Each is personally signed by Hansen and numbered from tahi to rima. “I like to take objects of desire and put my stamp on them,” he says.

Hansen says he wanted to combine his passions for art and caffeine, and these beauties represent the perfect fusion of both. “It’s the Porsche of coffee machines,” he says. “This is the best domestic coffee machine available.”

But if you miss out this time, don’t fret—Hansen is working on more additions to the range, each created with the same attention to detail as the original collection.

Living up to the Skype

Panasonic Skype communication camera, $250

Magazine Layout

Got a hi-def Viera television sitting pretty in your living room? You can now make Skype calls on it for free through Viera Cast, an online service accessed through a single button on your remote control. Just hook up your TV to the web via ethernet cable or wireless adaptor and all of Skype’s regular features will be at your fingertips.

And because there’s nothing quite like being face-to-face, video calls can now be made from the comfort of your lounge suite too. You’ll need a specially designed Panasonic camera (model TYCC10W) that plugs straight into the TV and picks up sound from couchdistance. Bonus: depending on your bandwidth, it’ll also deliver up to 720p high-definition video quality.

Going global

Paris House, Entitled range, price varies

Magazine Layout

“Whenever they say it can’t be done, remind them they can make a jellybean that tastes exactly like popcorn,” says designer Sharon Paris. It’s that never-say-die attitude that led her label to its newest home, premiere London department store Liberty. Today, Paris House is sitting alongside Marc by Marc Jacobs, Dries Van Noten and Vivienne Westwood.

Ever the adventurer, Paris went to great lengths to find inspiration for this season’s line. A four-hour exploration of northern Portugal became a “scenic” seven-hour detour, thanks to an overexcitable GPS that led her through everything from dead-end alleys to basketball courts. Next stop: New York, which (hypothetically) should be easier to navigate.

But the hard work paid off. Stylish fans can now sling a Paris House bag on their shoulders as they head out on life’s escapades, such as the ‘Fishing for Compliments’ tote made from supersoft Italian leather and complete with fish-shaped purse. (Disclaimer: while Paris House products may go hand-in-hand with new adventures, we strongly recommend you do not take this one fishing).

Driving force

Limited edition Tissot T-Race Nicky Hayden watch $1,395

Magazine Layout

Pro motorbike racer Nicky Hayden will make 4,999 of his fans very happy with this striking new timepiece for the 2010 MotoGP season, marking his fifth year as official Tissot ambassador.

It's an ideal partnership: the Swiss traditions of precision and performance are just as highly prized on the track, expressed here in the use of high-tech, top quality materials. Durability also takes pole position thanks to the waterproof, scratch-resistant crystal and stainless-steel case. Hayden’s race colour (red) and number (69) are integrated into this limitededition chronograph, along with several other racetrack-inspired elements. And dedicated motorsport fans will no doubt appreciate the full package, presented inside a specially designed helmet box.

0508 566 300

Going wireless

Powermat, $250

Magazine Layout

An end to tangled wires and overloaded powerboards? It sounds almost too good to be true, but that is exactly what the Powermat offers: recharging up to three separate devices at once in one wireless station.

Powermat is compatible with a massive range of cellphones, along with cameras, gaming consoles, GPS systems and other portable devices. Just plug the slimline mat into the wall, set up the appropriate receivers and place your gadget on the mat to charge. Whether you need to pack light while travelling or simply want to declutter the office, this is hands down the best way to do it.

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).