This Concrete Block Makes a Fine Espresso

Montaag
Montaag

Have you ever thought your kitchen could use more of a Soviet Union vibe? Do you find the fixtures in abandoned buildings charming? Then the AnZa espresso machine—essentially a coffee maker encased in a concrete block—may be for you.

According to Curbed, the AnZa is part of the art and installation aesthetic dubbed Brutalism, an architectural movement using spare, blocky designs. Moving away from the sleek, shiny appearance of most modern appliances, design firm Montaag crafted a rough block with simple knobs. As post-apocalyptic as it may look, it’s reputed to make a very good cup of espresso. And it’s “smart”: a smartphone app can adjust the brewing temperature to the user’s preference.

A close-up of the AnZa's knob
Montaag

The project’s Kickstarter recently met its $145,000 goal and is now accepting preorders at Indiegogo for $799. You can hoist this subjectively beautiful appliance on your countertop beginning in March 2018.

[h/t Curbed]

New Memory Foam Neck Pillow Takes the Pain Out of Travel

iStock.com/izusek
iStock.com/izusek

Travel can be a pain in the neck—quite literally. Kinks and cramps don’t have to be part of the package, though. Edge Signature, whose lineup of practical travel products includes a digital luggage scale and an anti-theft backpack, has designed a memory foam pillow that adapts to the contours of your head and neck.

The True Adaptive pillow has been given an ergonomic M-shape, with the two bumps in the back providing some extra support for your neck. The problem with many travel pillows is that they don’t hold your neck steady when you start to doze off. “The deeper we fall into unconsciousness or our sleep state, the more relaxed our muscles will be,” Edge Signature writes in its Kickstarter campaign for the True Adaptive pillow. “This makes it practically impossible for us to get a good rest or sleep while sitting upright as our neck muscle will have to keep working to support our neck.”

That’s where the pillow’s high-density memory foam comes in. It will stay in place even as you move around, and an adjustable string in the front makes it fit as loose or as snug as you’d like. There’s even a smartphone pocket on the side, so you won’t have to worry about finding your phone in a dimly lit aircraft cabin.

When you’re done using the pillow, fold it up and place it back into its carrying pouch, which can be clipped onto your suitcase or backpack. After returning from a long trip, you can remove the cover and throw it in the washing machine to get it ready for your next big adventure. The zipper is hidden, though, with the advantage being that you won’t have any plastic bits poking you in the face while you’re trying to nap.

The pillow’s usefulness isn’t limited to travel, either. Wear it at your office desk, or while studying or reading for extended periods of time. Backers who pledge $39 or more before January 9, 2019 will get the True Adaptive pillow and carrying pouch at a 35 percent discount. U.S. shipping is free.

Finally, an Umbrella That Bends Without Breaking

Pluvi, Kickstarter
Pluvi, Kickstarter

Make 2019 the year you replace the collection of busted-up umbrellas at the bottom of your closet with a piece of gear that will stand up to whatever the weather throws at it. Instead of a metal stretcher that splinters apart on a windy day, the Pluvi umbrella is made from flexible polymer, so no matter how much abuse it endures, it will always snap back into its original shape.

Pluvi, which is raising funds on Kickstarter now through January 11, owes its strength to its innovative design. Rather than the 100-plus parts you'd find in a conventional metal umbrella, Pluvi's stretcher is made from just 24 plastic components that snap together. The material is meant to bend in any direction, so years of use or a few particularly windy days won't wear it out.

At just 265 grams (about a half-pound), Pluvi is also lighter than most umbrellas. The canvas canopy is made to repel water and block 95 percent of UVA and UVB rays, and the entire package is 100 percent recyclable.

One Pluvi umbrella costs $14 to $15—and if you're someone who tosses out several wind-damaged umbrellas a year, that price quickly pays for itself. You can reserve yours today with a pledge of $14 or more on Kickstarter, with delivery estimated for April of next year.

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