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24 Simple, Ingenious Design Solutions To Everyday Problems

“Anyone can be complicated. Simplicity, that’s hard.” – The Great Train Robbery

We live in a complex, fast-paced world, where problems stretch across the globe and solutions can be difficult to find. In light of that, it’s nice when we can find simple solutions to everyday problems.

These 24 fixes solve problems from storage struggles to waste woes, and they’re all satisfyingly simple.

1. What Goes Up: The Flume bathtub is a masterclass in accessible industrial design, crafted to help wheelchair-users enjoy a bath with minimal or no assistance. Building on the principle of a child’s seesaw, the tub allows the user to get in on the side with the handles, and sit down in the associated seat. As the bathtub fills up with water, balancing out the weight of the user, the bathtub levels out naturally. The reverse happens when the water drains out of the bath, allowing the user to easily return to their wheelchair!

1Emily Pollock

2. Lighting Bugs: CS Electric, an electrical company based in Belarus, was inspired by Thomas Edison’s quote that a firefly was an ideal source of cold light. Their beautiful packaging drew on that quote, as well as old-school physics illustrations. Not only does the design look way cute, it allows the buyer to look at the lightbulbs before they buy them while still keeping the fragile bulbs protected!

2Emily Pollock

3. Out Of Thin Air: The appropriately-named “As if from nowhere” set is a set of independent, modular bookcases that hold a hidden surprise: tables and chairs stashed directly in the unit. The pretty, colorful design is light years better than hiding a stack of creaky folding chairs in your cupboard in case of extra guests.

4. Hole In One: Sometimes, the best design solutions are truly, incredibly simple. Like this coffee cup with a hole where you can put the string of your tea bag to stop it from falling down into the cup, dooming you to overstepped tea and a soggy bag that you need to fish out afterward. Unfortunately, the clever solution condemns the lefties among us to suffering from tea dribbles down their shirt – if only designers could invent a product to solve our societal right-bias!

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 5. Do You Hear What I Hear: These beautiful zipper headphones probably won’t stop your headphones from tangling altogether, but they’ll definitely cut down on the snarls. Plus, they’re actually pretty cool-looking? Win all around!

6. Stay Gold: Nicebydesign has made their name on designing adorable, practical covers for chargers and earphones. The “Goldie” charger is one of their best, as its design has a dual function: its thin body allows you to tidily curl a charger’s cord around it, and its back “fin” functions as a wall stand for your charger!

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7. Surprise!: If you ever dreamed of living on a tiny houseboat or cozying up inside a mobile home, this adorable folding desk is perfect. It lets you store your stuff in a pretty wall shelf with a cover that swings down to reveal a space-saving desk. Best of all? The front is covered with chalkboard paint, for a clever way to keep reminders!

8. Millennials Strike Again: Because no self-respecting millennial would go to the washroom without bringing digital entertainment, DIY Show Off developed a wall-mounted toilet paper rack that includes space for your phone on top. This clever design solves two problems at once: having to put your phone down on unclean surfaces and feeling like the world’s most embarrassing gremlin for your terrible attention span/constant need for entertainment.

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9. Cup Half Full: Product designer Mileha Soneji has developed several low-tech concepts to make it easier for people with Parkinson’s tremors to live independently. Her “No Spill Cup” has a small opening and a curved rim to prevent water from spilling out when the holder’s hands shake, and a wide, ergonomic handle.

10. An Open Book: If you, like me, like to read on the bus, the book thumb ring is a lifesaver. It allows you to hold a book open with one hand while frantically grabbing at the handrail in an attempt to stop yourself from falling into someone’s lap with another. Best of all, while it’s a buyable product on several online stores, it’s also possible to DIY if you know how to woodwork or use a 3D printer.

11. Slip-n-slide: MIT scientists have finally found a solution to one of the world’s stickiest problems – how to get viscous liquids like ketchup to slide out of the bottle smoothly. Ph.D. candidate Dave Smith teamed up with the Varanasi Research Group to develop LiquiGlide, a slippery, non-toxic coating for the insides of bottles. Smith estimates that their coating could save around one million tons of food waste annually.

12. Zip along: Jessica Ryan-Ndegwa’s Disability for Design promotes design solutions for disabled people that are as discrete and beautiful as they are helpful. These gorgeous dog tags unfold to reveal a zip pull for people who struggle with zippers, offering an alternative to larger and more cumbersome medical aids.

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13. Key to my Heart: Listen, I hate to repeat sources, but as someone who would forget their own head if it wasn’t screwed on, this stylish USB key would be a lifesaver. Ryan-Ndegwa says she designed this because her occupational therapist mentioned that she’s constantly losing her USB key. This old-style key makes the boring USB cute enough to wear around your neck. And it’s a pun! What could be better than that?

14. Chip Off The Old Block: Designer Petar Pavlov’s redesign of the Doritos bag is excellent on several levels. First of all, the design uses the shape and texture of the chip to create an adorable effect and allows you to close the bag back up after using it. Second of all, the new bag’s use of cardboard rather than plastic keeps waste out of landfills!

15. Hacked: A dedicated community of people who call themselves “Ikea Hackers” have mastered the art of using IKEA furniture for purposes other than what they were created for. This little reading nook with built-in storage, crafted from what was originally a humble bookshelf, should inspire the designer in all of us!

15Emily Pollock

16. Now We’re Cooking!: It’s hard to package freshly-baked cookies in a package as appealing as they deserve, but one Iowa-based bakery has delivered. If you get to-go cookies from Thelma’s Bakery, they come in this adorable retro oven box. Now, to find out if they deliver internationally!

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17. The Eyes Of The Beholder: Physicist Joshua D. Silver found a way to change the curvature of lenses using pumped silicone gel, and he channeled that into solving a serious problem: young people suffering from poor vision in areas of the world where it’s difficult to find or afford optometrists. These glasses can be mass-produced, and they allow people to adjust their own lenses without the need for optometrists. Even cooler, Silver’s glasses allow people to continue using their glasses when their prescription changes!

18. At Arm’s Length: The idea of installing a mini side table on a couch arm is already ingenious enough. But this design, made by Etsy creator LipLap, is adjustable and will sit nicely on the arm of your chair no matter what size it is, without falling off.

19. De-light-ful Design: These adorable forks solve the burning problem of how to stop hot wax dripping onto your cake as you take the thousandth obligatory birthday shot. Perpetual Kid, the company behind the concept, also markets candles in intriguing scents like “stinky zoo,” and “fast food,” which you might not want to stick in a birthday cake.

20. Nailed It: This product is only a prototype, but the repairwoman in me is already salivating. Not only does the Handy Nails box make it easy to grab your nails without sticking your fingers directly into a box of sharp ends, the included carabiner can be clipped through a belt loop, putting an end to the dreaded problem of sticking your nails in your mouth for access.

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21. Wow: Let’s face it, we all already nibble on the ends of our pens, why not put that to a good use? The DINE INK set lets you attach utensils to the end of your pen, making it far less cumbersome to bring your lunch to work. Now, if only someone could invent something to stop me from losing my pens

22. In Sink: Look, anything that both saves space and saves the environment is fine by me. This double toilet/sink unit allows you to use the water from washing your hands to fuel your next flush. And to those worried about hygiene, you don’t need to be: the water in the sink is not coming through the toilet and should be as safe as water from any other source in the house.

22Emily Pollock

23. No Use Crying Over Spilled Milk: If you hate soggy cereal, the “Obol Never-Soggy Cereal Bowl” is … well, it’s certainly something. The bowl is designed so that you push the cereal you’re about to eat down the abyss of milk in the lower cavity of the bowl. It advertises a “BUILT-IN GRIP” that makes it “easy to hold while watching TV or in bed with no mess,” which sounds like a challenge to me.

24. Peachy Keen: 3D printers get an unfair rap as expensive toys. But some designers are using them to create beautiful, simple solutions to everyday problems. This spiky little design, which won the 2015 3D Printed Tangible Solutions contest, helps you keep produce centered as you chop. Different spike widths, meant to accommodate different shapes of fruits and vegetables, make the act of chopping veggies a slice!

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