Design brand Muji is releasing a pop-up toaster and an electric kettle by Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa at stores in the UK, USA and Europe (+ slideshow).
Following success in Japan, Tokyo-based Fukasawa's white minimal appliances have recently launched at selected stores in the USA. They will be stocked in the UK from November and be released in other European countries next year.
The collection includes a smooth-sided toaster that features round edges and functional flat sides to allow it to sit against a kitchen wall.
A temperature dial is situated on the side of the appliance, along with a function for frozen bread and another button that pops the toast up. Hidden within the base is a tray that slides out for removing crumbs.
The designer discussed the new products during a recent talk held in Tokyo, and acknowledged how toasters had become "less angular" but still needed to remain square-shaped to optimise their functionality.
"Toasters have also become somewhat less angular, but they're still more square-shaped than rice cookers," he said.
"There are reasons for this. In order to toast the bread so that the inside's moist and the outside's crunchy, there needs to be a certain distance between the heater and the bread."
Based on a typical jug shape, Fukasawa's rounded kettle is designed to be easy to hold and use. It is able to boil a cup of water in 80 seconds and automatically switches off to save electricity.
The electrical lead can be neatly wound up underneath the base, which has a gap that allows the plug to feed through while keeping the appliance flat against the countertop.
"The closer an object gets to the human body, the easier it will be to adapt to if it has a softer, gentler form," said Fukasawa.
"Our job, you could say, is not to give forms to objects, but instead to determine their positions. If it's going to be installed near a wall or used while in a human hand – that's what's important."
His rice cooker was originally designed for the brand in 2002, but is now also available in the USA. Its rounded body features a simple control panel and the lid has an integrated spoon holder.
The kettle and toaster will be available from Muji's Tottenham Court Road store in London from November, while all three designs will be stocked at selected stores in the USA.
Fukasawa previously designed a wall-mounted CD player for the Japanese brand, which is known for its minimal home products offered at a relatively low cost.
Fukasawa is also the founder of Japanese homeware brand Plusminuszero, which launched its first collection in the UK in 2009. The Infobar mobile phone and minimal dials to monitor air temperature, pressure and humidity for Italian brand Magis are among his recent product designs.
Watch the designer explain the impact of digital technology on furniture design in our exclusive video interview »
Other recently reimagined kitchen appliances include Royal College of Art graduate Ted Wiles' toaster that needs hugging to operate and Kingston University graduate Jake Rich's pod-shaped microwave on wheels.
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