Dave Evans - Coolhunting (3 stars)

(Southbank Publishing)

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Doggles

CULT DESIGN

Current adverts for DVD box sets of flashy dross such as The OC and Friends claim that these shows are ‘funny, sexy, cool’. But what, then, does it mean to be cool? The definitions have certainly changed down the years with archetypal leathery characters such as the Fonz and Jimmy Dean now about as cool as your elder uncle dancing to Beyoncé while the geeks they sneered at have come along to inherit that crown.

In this ‘guide to high design and innovation,’ it seems that ‘cool’ is a darker, sillier, often uglier thing altogether, though with hints of humour or eroticism never too far away from the surface and all just a mouse click away. Take the humble doggles for example (www.doggles.com). Who wouldn’t want some neat shades or natty jewellery for their pooch? And is there anyone who’d have to think twice about getting a toilet-based t-shirt for their kid (www.peeandpoo.com)?

Then there are spectacles made from wood, inflatable pin cushions, stickers for your iPod, vitamin enriched underwear, bamboo bikes, waterproof pool lamps and on and on it goes with two mutually exclusive ideas coming together in one whimsical moment. A prime example is the crossbrush (www.citizen-citizen.com) which can wipe away flecks of dust and cardinal sins at the same time. It all seems a little Nathan Barley and most visits to these sites will induce snorts of derision rather than gasps of wonder at the innovative glories within. Though I am tempted by www.catgee.com with its DNA profiling and storage kit.

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