Given how gizmos and gadgets are an integral part of people's lives, it was only a matter of time before designers turned their attention towards elevating the merely functional into high-design pieces worthy of their own spot on display shelves.
With so many people wired to the max - iPods and BlackBerrys being in as commonplace as wallets and car keys in handbags - designers have had to strive for ever more interesting ways to differentiate one person's taste in tech from another.
Clearly, gadget junkies no longer have to sacrifice individuality. Philippe Starck, who has successfully reinvented citrus squeezers and coffee pots, collaborated with United States tech firm LaCie to create the LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive (top right), a sleek, curvilinear external 500-gigabyte hard drive that is reminiscent of a cigarette case, comes with an embedded USB cable and can be slipped into a breast pocket. It retails for US$80 to US$90 at various e-tailers. Local queries can be sent to LaCie's Hong Kong office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Peel, created by US-based Fuse Project (fuseproject.com), comes in three fruit-inspired shapes - pear, apple and orange - and was designed to minimise the hassle of television navigation. It's a universal remote control, compatible with the iPhone and Android, that stores your viewing information and controls home-entertainment systems. More importantly, it looks cute sitting on a coffee table. It is available through Apple.com or Amazon.com for US$99, but there is a waiting list.
Just in case you thought mobile phones were all starting to look the same, London-based brothers Tej and Sach Chauhan (chauhanstudio.com) have worked with mobile company INQ Mobile to create its first two handsets, the INQ Cloud Touch and INQ Cloud Q, which will go on sale worldwide this year. The slender white phones have graphics in red and grey, and are Facebook friendly. (Inqmobile.com and Three. com.hk will provide updated information when the handsets become available in Hong Kong.)
There will soon even be something tech-savvy to remind you to drink water. Cambridge Consultants (www.cambridgeconsultants.com), a US-based technology-product design company, has produced the i-Dration (above left), a svelte water bottle that, in connection with a smartphone, alerts people when their hydration levels are low. The i-Dration is not yet in mass production.