by - September 05, 2010

Nothing makes my day like a nice piece of design. The objects that you use day-in-day-out, if well designed, can make all the difference. I actually originally wanted to be a product designer rather than a graphic one, so I still retain the appreciation for the little touches that make objects, tools and appliances truly special. I don't necessarily mean big aesthetic design statements, but more about tactile and functional choices and decisions that make the object a pleasure to use. And the tools we most commonly use everyday are those for the kitchen.

One of my favorite kitchen tools is my OXO Good Grips tong. I've had it years and it still works and looks as good as it did when I bought it. I love how it feels and its closing mechanism which I can open up one handed cowboy-style hitting it to my hip. Yee-haa! The simplicity of its design makes for a beautiful object too. I use it for absolutely everything, even to put tea towels away on my top shelf that I'm too short to reach!

I think what I love about this range overall is the quality, attention to detail and solutions to common usability problems. Originally designed by a chap called Sam Farber for his wife Betsey who had difficulty using normal kitchen tools due to arthritis, the OXO Good grips range launched in 1990 with 15 items. It now has 850 products to make our lives easier and adds around 50 items a year, each taking roughly 2 years to design. Their products have won over 150 awards for product design, packaging and branding. This brand ticks all of my boxes!

So already being a bit of a fan, it was a real pleasure to try out a few other pieces from the range. A key piece is the Salad Spinner which was recommended to me a while ago by a good handful of bloggers on Twitter as a kitchen must-have. The spin function is just genius.

A release mechanism pops the handle up and a single one-handed push starts the spinner. None of this crank handle, energetic, arm twisting business.

You just apply the black button brake to stop it.

The crystal clear bowl has also been designed to use at the table for serving. The handle then locks down again, making the spinner compact for storage. This truly is a flipping marvelous bit of kit. I notice they do a fancy stainless steel bowl version which is even nicer than the clear plastic one.

The next piece I loved was the POP container, a storage system with bells and whistles. I came home to find Mr Graphic Foodie (a bit of a nerd to be honest) mesmerised by this one in the kitchen. It kept him unusually quiet as he played with it for at least 15 minutes which got my vote. These containers have a clever push button mechanism to create an airtight seal.

My pet hate with food containers is the stomach turning gunky seal that sometimes build up. The seal here is so easy to clean. Raised arrows indicate a way to twist the base of the lid off and the parts and seal can be individually washed.

The plastic is heavy duty and the containers are stackable and available in quite a few sizes. I'll be buying a heap of these and finally chucking out the cheap crappy ones I have with warped, ill-fitting lids. The pop lids are really addictive though and you will find yourself opening and shutting them just for fun. Yes, really.

Most measuring jugs require bizarre acts of contortion. How many times have you found yourself bending down or twisting your neck just to read the flipping measurements on the side of a jug? Why do most jugs only start at 200ml? The Angled Measuring jug has the measurements printed inside the jug starting at 10ml so you can see it as you pour in.

How cool is that! There is also a little scoop above the handle that your thumb naturally rests in. Much lighter than standard glass jugs too.

Their smaller tools like the swivel peeler and grater work well and feel good to use. The grater cuts through citrus and Parmesan cleanly. I especially like the rubbery grip areas on these items.

All the boxes, stickers and leaflets that come with the Good Grips range have been well designed with just pure function in mind, yet presented clearly and beautifully.

OXO Good Grips are unrelenting in their pursuit to solve everything. Even things that you may not have realised you had a problem with. They design everyday hero things, much like the person who designed the little twist mechanism on old-school tins of shoe polish, the "I can't believe this hasn't been though of before" items. Even their logo is functional, having been designed to be read upside down or twisted on its side!

I'd really like to hear about your favourite kitchen tool. Let me know in the comments!

Thanks to OXO Good Grips for sending me a few pieces to try out.

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