Ultra-Minimalism: 19 Cool Products That Are Almost Impossible to Use

Sometimes modern design and minimalism go a little too far and it’s hard to figure out exactly what the products are. We’ve tracked down 19 products that look quite cool but leave you wondering wtf?

The Cell Tankless Toilet

Even in the most modern bathroom design, a toilet is a toilet right? Apparently not, which is fine with us because why should your bathroom have to revolve around the throne? Downplay it with the egg shaped design of the Cell Tankless Toilet. [Via Yanko]

Recycled Paper Side Table

It’s kind of easy to call anything that could technically support a lamp and some magazines a “side table” which gives lots of room to minimalist designers. The Recycled Paper Side Table by Matt Gagnon technically fits the requirement of being able to hold something on it, although until you put a lamp on it people will have no clue what it is. $2798 [Source]

KONE Vacuum System

Usually you’re looking for a place to stash your vacuum in your tiny city apartment, but here’s one that you can leave out as a piece of modern art. The Dirt Devil Kone Vacuum is cordless, bagless and the coolest looking vacuum you never knew you wanted. $40 at Amazon

Das Keyboard Ultimate

Das Keyboard was designed to be the best keyboard ever made and it provides the best tactile typing experience… That’s great but why does it have blank keys? Apparently real typists can feel their way though so silly things like marked keys are unnecessary. daskeyboard.com

Flavor of Time

It’s been said that our most powerful sense is the sense of smell and that the scent of a fond memory can stay with you forever—like homemade cookies from when you were a kid, or the way that that she smelled the first time you kissed… But you probably never thought you’d be telling the time based on smell alone. That’s the idea behind the Flavor of Time Clock. There are 12 different “flavor capsules” so each hour a different scent is exuded from the holes on the face of the clock. Source

End Table Bookspine Saver

As most minimalist products you might not know what this is until you see it in use. And like the best minimalist designs, once you realize what Habitual Bedside Table is you realize it’s really the ONLY way to design a bedside table… especially if you read a lot. Via Boing Boing

Harmony Salt & Pepper Shakers

Is that one of those new tiny speakers I’ve heard so much about? Yeah, that’s got to be it. They’re for your iPod right? This product looks way more complicated than it is… seriously, it’s just a salt and pepper shaker. The outer part holds pepper while the center blob holds salt. corinagarona.com Source

Fuksas Mocha Cups

Don’t be surprised if your friends try to ash their cigarettes, or ignore these altogether because they look like art. The Fuksas Mocha Cups eliminate handles and that tired ‘cup’ shape most mugs have. Simple and of course very unique. Source

Mondrian T Lamp

Unless it’s on you might think this was some kind of hat rack or something. The Mondrian T is about as simple as it gets for lighting and you get the benefit of clean lines without loads of color which is usually what comes to mind when there’s a mention of something “Mondrian.” See it Source

Osorom Bench

A bench huh? It’s hard to imagine something that looks like this would have a purpose, but apparently it does. Actually the curved sides might be pretty comfortable as opposed to a hard square corner. Although those holes all over it seem like if you sit on this thing you’re asking for some uncomfortable snaggage. Yeah nevermind about the Osorom Bench seeming comfortable. Source

Pano Logic Computer

If you think that even the Mac mini has too many bells and whistles then you’ll appreciate the Pano Logic Computer. It literally fits in the palm of your hand, doesn’t have any disk drives, or even a hard drive and processor. We’re not really sure how it works, but we think some kind of voodoo may be involved. (Actually, all of the real computing is done off site somewhere which is subscription based) $300 panologic.com<

Phillippe Starck Veiled Watch

If you’re a fan of the slick metal bands on a men’s watch, but hate a big clunky face you’re gonna dig the Phillippe Starck Veiled Watch. At first you’ll think this is just a cool metal bracelet but upon further inspection you’ll notice the subtle hands underneath… or you might not notice—they’re pretty obscure. $150 at Amazon

Sliding Shower

You could give someone all day to guess what that weird panel on the wall was and they’d probably never figure it out without the context of a bathroom or someone using it. The Sliding Shower feels like something straight out of a sci-fi movie and seems like it’s designed to make you feel uncomfortable with change. Source

Samsung ML-1630 Printer

Usually when you think of a minimalist gadget you think of mp3 players, speakers, maybe even computers, but printers? The Samsung ML-1630 Printer makes fools of us all. At first glance we weren’t sure if it was a digital scale or some kind of light-up paperweight, but we certainly didn’t think it was a printer. Kudos Samsung for making us want a printer for looking cool rather than what it does. $159 at Amazon

Stick Sound FM Radio

Hey that’s a neat penholder. No? Um, oh, it’s a joystick for video games? Oh it’s not? The Stick Sound FM Radio makes its purpose known when you grab the stick which tunes the radio, adjusts the volume and turns it on and off. And if that’s not cool enough for you, it’s base glows blue when it’s on. $39 at Singulier

Pendulum Wall Clock

This is the result of creating a minimalist grandfather clock. No numbers, no face, no housing… just hands and a pendulum mounted to a wall. It’s a pretty cool design, but we have to wonder what the point of a pendulum is on a minimalist clock since we don’t see the point of them on a regular clock. $114 Source

Ultimate Wheel

Who needs bike chains… or handle bars…. or a seat for that matter? The Nimbus Ultimate Wheel is as basic as it gets. Until now we though the unicycle was the stripped down version of the bicycle… but no, apparent it’s a wheel with some pedals. And sure, you may look at this and know what it’s for right away, but we dare you to use it! $90 at Unicycle.com via Geekologie

Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard

This is definitely one of those products that you’ll have absolutely no clue what it is until it’s in use. And it uses lasers, which is always a plus. The idea behind this product is that instead of typing on the keys, this virtual keyboard can tell what you’re trying to type by how you interrupt the laser… it even simulates the typing “click” sounds so it feels pretty natural. $150 at ThinkGeek

Transformer Shelves

One of the marks of great minimalist design is that it actually serves a great purpose that you might not have noticed right away. The Transformer Shelves look like a table that makes cool uses of lines in its design, but it turns out it’s actually a very complicated customizable storage system. Or a very big rubix cube perhaps. Source


  • ddAadA SD SA

    stupid wheel won’t work. but will look cool leaning up against a wall until you get around to throwing it out.

  • James

    Das Keyboard is awesome, there is a version with the letters on too, but seriously, if youre a geek and you cant touchtype yet :( for shame!

  • http://www.Foolstr.com Charles

    Don’t forget the “Monome”, it’s a box with tactile led buttons that can be configured in different ways.


  • http://www.jpkeisala.com/blog/ jp

    I have Das Keyboard Ultimate and it’s pretty good but you are right about the fact that it is pretty stupid to have blank keyboards because sometimes you need special characters or someone else wants to borrow your computer.
    Next time I buy Das Keyboard Professional which is the same keyboard but keys visible.

  • http://www.afrodream.com afrodream ‘n’ beaded sandals

    i guess thy all look so complicated but good to knw thy all work properly. That’s the best part of. its all creativity, i like that

  • kijmuunuuuuuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!

    DO NOT BUY THAT LASER KEYBOARD if you have a girlfriend! My girlfriend doesn’t trust me anymore because she saw my keyboard and found my underground lab and thought I was CIA.

  • WIlloh

    “stupid wheel won’t work. but will look cool leaning up against a wall until you get around to throwing it out.”

    Don’t be too quick to judge. While it takes a hell of a lot of practice and muscle – and some Unicycle knowledge helps – it’s do-able. I still prefer my Unicycle, but the Ultimate Wheel is always good for a laugh.

  • meh

    Why is ferris bueller’s sister in the last photo?

  • http://thescitechjournal.blogspot.com/ Darshan Chande

    Wonderful designs. Look like in future all will be true!

  • http://www.gadgeta.net Gadgeta

    “Stupid wheel won’t work…”

    Actually, it does, but not well. Search You Tube for ultimate wheel and you’ll see the herky-jerky riding and leg strength it take to pull it off. Never going to be used for transportation, just for a quick special effect.

  • DocTerry

    Hidden features = bad design. I don’t know why designers feel the need to obscure the function of objects. Form follows function, according to Frank Lloyd Wright. These are all ugly objects and their designers need to find different jobs.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    That wheel is pretty stupid. There’s no way to drift; if you want to keep moving you’ll have to keep pedaling.

  • sdfsa

    has anybody else noticed the smiley-face in the very bottom-left corner of the site?

  • http://gatesofmaur BILL COSBY

    The keyboard doesn’t have any text on it because it can use multiple layouts.

  • Rhys

    Ummm, actually the Das keyboard is to help learn how to touch type.

  • derrick

    “we have to wonder what the point of a pendulum is on a minimalist clock since we don’t see the point of them on a regular clock.”

    In a normal clock, its used to time the dropping of the weights which turns the gears that make the hands move.

    on a minimalist clock, maybe just for the *Tick Tock* effect

  • Petey Lu

    That laser keyboard looks pretty awsome
    I wonder if they could create a piano keboard version that you could use like a standard midi controller keyboard. It would be cool for live shows not to mention saving space onstage…

  • Bunnied816

    Actually, I really liked that Sliding Shower! I could picture that on the Enterprise…or maybe the executive officer’s bathroom on the Death Star…

  • http://www.killmonkies.com Odessa

    That shower would be cool for public use at the beach, or maybe outdoors in the backyard, part of the whole swimming pool, jacuzzi combo deal.

    “That laser keyboard looks pretty awsome
    I wonder if they could create a piano keboard version that “… mmmmmm, lots of applications if someone can get to hacking that bad boy. Reasonable price, I bet someone can afford to break one or two in the name of mad science!

  • zarboki

    The laser keyboard is actually really good for clean-room applications such as operating theatres.

  • http://www.gadgiko.com Scott

    This stuff is pretty stylish…but I gotta get my hands on one of those virtual keyboards!

  • Cam

    Hey guys i found this awesome product that does the same thing as the End Table Bookspine Saver except it costs pretty much nothing. It’s called…a bookmark…

  • Ben

    The ultimate wheel is quite hard to ride. Im pretty good at unicycling and it is quite hard to get, all of those little stabilizer muscles get worked hard.

  • aguy

    das keyboard looks just like every other lame keyboard on the market. It’s a inefficient design, a waste of space, and an ergonomic nightmare.

  • http://www.gadget5.com/ Gadget5

    Really silly gadgets but that watch is really cool and usable too IMHO!

  • da king

    The printer : i don’t understand the trouble with it….
    Almost impossible to use??? What are you talking about ???
    I have one. I am not a big scale user so : 1. It IS a nice design (to me) 2. It IS doing his job. It prints. What more do you want? Even more : no unneccessary buttons. No handles. No BS.

    Oh and i forgot : It is a nice design (TO ME)……

  • http://artsofar.org Sofar

    Well, on a normal clock the pendulum keeps the time, instead of a spring or a quartz crystal.

  • haydon

    So the Pano is basically a dumb-terminal from the 60’s, just smaller with a high-gloss finish.

    How is that innovation??

  • http://www.twoeightnine.com twoeightnine

    If the end table is “impossible to use” I’m thinking that the problem doesn’t lie with the table.

  • inked

    hey ya… what is the smiley face for?!

    P.S. I like the shower too!

  • http://mistkits.com Dwayne

    The smiley has something to do with WP stats I think.

    Nice catch! I definitely would have missed it!

  • dawg

    The smiley face appears to turn a quarter turn sideways when I highlight it… but I couldn’t find it in the source code.

    …and suddenly, the smiley face becomes more interesting than the gadgets in the article!

  • mark

    the transformer shelves scare the hell out of me

  • Myself

    Here’s what you do…get the Das keyboard and use it in combination with the laser keyboard…

  • sill/bill

    i dont see the smily face… ;[

  • sill/bill

    oh wait nevermind i see it..!

  • http://squidoography.com Andrew

    These are all very cool and interesting! I wouldn’t say no to Das Keyboard, it would make me look like a computer pro. LOL.

  • Schory

    I would totally ride that wheel everywhere!

  • http://www.timein.com Script

    Someone wanted the source for the smiley face…

    you can find it just above the “http://www.google-analytics.com/urchin.js” link

  • eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeephaaaaaaaaaaarrrrr

    uhhhhhhhhhhhh what smiley face where now?
    radio seems kinda different…
    but who cares, it looks cool!

  • Les

    The unlabeled keys in the Das keyboard are not so unique. Librarians used to use manual typewriters with unlabled keys wa-ay back when. I worked with a woman in 1982 who used such a typewriter. I asked her why she used it and she said she knew all of the keys and did not see why she needed the labels anymore.

  • http://zmail.sourceforge.net Zach Denton

    For anyone interested in the smiley face, it’s hosted at http://stats.wordpress.com/g.gif

  • Tim

    The Bluetooth laser keyboard is the first step. Put an LCD projector on the back, the processor inside and maybe a USB port. You carry your computer in your pocket. Put it on a table that’s against a white wall and your up and running. You’ve just taken the two elements out of the computer that dictate it’s size–the human interfaces.

  • haggis

    Aaaaargh!!! Please do not ever use the phrase “very unique” ever again (anyone who reads this). Either something is unique, or it’s not.

    A mass produced object with a unique design, yes perhaps.

  • http://designonestudio.blogspot.com/ John Michael

    Blank Keyboard! awesome!

  • http://www.tv-gossip.com/lost/ Lost Guy

    yeah so if you make a useless product out of recycled products does that mean your still saving the environment

  • http://www.tv-gossip.com/lost/ Lost Guy

    that soundstick radio is awesome haha looks like it’d be fun to try to find stations on it

  • Jica Monsanto

    i like the shower and the laser keyboard :)
    i’d definitely buy those 😀

  • geek_wife

    “Librarians used to use manual typewriters with unlabled keys wa-ay back when. I worked with a woman in 1982 who used such a typewriter.”

    Really, I wasn’t even born yet!!

  • SaraAbigail

    Great comments that point out the usefulness of the laser keyboard: cleanrooms and portability! Until I saw those two comments, I thought it was a stupid idea. I know some phones (like iPhone?) have touchscreen keyboards instead of “real” keys/buttons. I used to think that I needed the tactile feedback of the button in order to type, but maybe not? Now I’m open to the idea of a laser keyboard as well as something like the iPhone’s touchscreen keys rather than “real” keys.

    I’m a teacher and I have a SmartBoard interactive whiteboard as well as a SmartBoard Airliner Wireless slate. The wireless slate took me a while to get used to using, but now I LOVE it!!! It is excellent because I can stand in the BACK of the class and I don’t block the students’s vision, as well as the fact that I can SEE the kids so they know they shouldn’t goof off.