If you have ever met a self-proclaimed inventor, you might have soon realised that they are ordinary people, just like you and me, but with a mind that is able to realise there’s a gap in the market.
However, while many of these inventions never see the light of day, others are so useful that you couldn’t imagine life without them.
To get the lowdown on how some of the inventions of the modern day came to light, The Conversation went on a mission to find the best-designed products and their story.
From the everyday products to the more expensive, single-purpose items, here are a few you might fancy:
Born in 1924, the PH lamp was designed by Danish designer Poul Henningsen after he observed Copenhagen at night, lamenting the quality of light in people’s homes, explains The Conversation:
He noticed that the incandescent bulbs – sometimes bare, sometimes surrounded by a single shade – created “arrows of light” and a harsh glare.
Henningsen set out to create a new design that would mitigate this “dismal” effect; it would be “…constructed with the most difficult and noble task in mind: lighting in the home.”
“The aim is to beautify the home and who lived there,” he wrote, “to make the evening restful and relaxing.”
His approach was scientific. He rigorously examined how using multiple shades could cast a warm glow of light within a room.
Did you know the paper clip is officially patented as a “gem paper clip”? More than 11 million paper clips are bought every year in the States, and, although the device is near-perfect today, it had a long path to the flawless form we know it as.
The paper clip started out as a pin that pierced the papers to hold them together. The sharp pins would prick the workers using them and were difficult to use. Thus began the gradual improvements: The straight pin morphed into something called a T-pin, a device with a horizontal wire on the end that allowed the pin to be pushed more easily through the papers without needlessly pricking fingers. However, this design still left holes in the papers.
In the late 1890s inventors in the United States and Europe began to work on new versions of the paper clip. In 1898, Pennsylvania inventor Matthew Schooley believed he had improved upon the pin design by creating two loops in the wire. But there was still a problem: A piece of wire extended from the loops and would catch and rip the paper.
Many other inventors introduced various clasps, clips and metal-stamped designs, all in an effort to create a reusable paper binder that would be cheap, safe and secure. Finally, in 1899, an inventor from Connecticut named William Middlebrook designed the gem paper clip, along with a machine to manufacture it, to create the paper clip that we know today.
A 100 percent local design, Drilby was created by three guys who had an issue with the dust created from drilling into walls:
This ingenious little device can accommodate six different drill bit sizes, so once you’ve chosen the one you’re after it’s time to get to work.
Simply mark your spot, insert the drill bit through the appropriate guide hole, press the Drilby firmly against the drilling surface and unleash the fury.
All of that dust? What dust, because it’s captured by the Drilby.
For just R100, you can order a Drilby by clicking here.
Yes, those famously uncomfortable airport lounges are indeed a thing of beauty, especially when you look at why they were created.
In 1958, architect Eero Saarinen, who had been tasked with designing the main terminal for Washington Dulles International Airport, approached furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames – already famous for their Eames Lounge Chair – with a request: He wanted a public seating system for the terminal that was affordable, sturdy, stylish and versatile.
In 1962, the husband and wife team unveiled their tandem sling seating system. Even though it was designed to complement Saarinen’s terminal, it was so practical that it quickly became one of the most common seating solutions for airports around the United States – and, eventually, the world.
But why? Well, because:
public seating gets so much use, it needs to be sturdy and easy to maintain. Cost is always an issue, so designers are often hamstrung if they want to make something that’s aesthetically pleasing.
The chairs are sturdy but lack a cumbersome support structure, which makes it easy to clean the floor under the seats. The configuration is flexible: Rows can be as small as two seats and as long as eight.
Furthermore, there are only three main materials used in the design: aluminum, vinyl and neoprene (a synthetic rubber). Even though the materials are cheap, they look expensive and upscale. The sling seat cushion slides into a slot and never tears. Meanwhile, the width of the seat accommodates a wide range of body types.
Maybe it’s time for you to turn your idea into a reality.
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