Sunday, November 16, 2008
Beautifully-designed functional products, made "in small Bavarian factories by mentally and physically handicapped craftspeople enrolled in a nonprofit program" - what's not to like about Side by Side?
As Belinda Lanks goes on to explain in Metropolis, "In Germany, workshops for the skilled disabled abound — by law, any handicapped person who wants to work is guaranteed a job in a specialized facility — but they tend to make items that look a bit old-fashioned. So in 2001 Sabine Meyer, now the project leader of Side by Side, convinced the Catholic welfare organization Caritas to help her bring together young industrial designers like herself with disabled groups to develop well-crafted, modern-looking everyday objects that could compete in today’s marketplace on their own merits."
I first became aware of Side by Side when looking through the latest catalog from Design Within Reach, which carries a number of Side by Side's products. I don't own (or want) an ironing board, but the lovely one in the catalog caught my eye. Unfortunately, most of products don't seem to be up on the DWR web site yet.
So let's take a look at what's shown on Side by Side's web site - starting with the kitchen tools. The item shown above is called a Kitchenbox.
Here's a combination knife block and utensil holder.
And this is a lovely bread box with a cutting board lid. Update on May 18, 2010: You can find this bread box here.
Here's a space-saving valet stand; it comes apart to form two hangers. There's also a foldable clothes tree (and matching hangers).
Here's the keyboard - not a musical item, but a place to store your keys.
And here's a felt clothespin holder - and 50 wooden clothespins.
This book, CD, or DVD holder also caught my eye.
And there's more, inlcuding a wine rack, a shoe rack, a newspaper stand, and a wall hook.
See the Side by Side web site for contact and distribution information. It's easy to find the products in Germany; I'm finding them here and here, just for starters.
Side by Side (the song)