Housewares Design Awards

2011 Best in Category: Lighting, Home Décor and Outdoor Décor

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Umbra LLC.

FishHotel Fishbowl

Design can transform environments human and, at times, otherwise, as was the case with the winner of the Housewares Design Awards Best in Category winner for the Lighting, Home Décor & Outdoor Décor segment: Umbra.

A company dedicated to using design as a means of reconstituting living spaces and even lifestyles, Umbra is populated with designers who look at the everyday objects that populate the space around them and ask some important questions, said the company’s vp/design, Paul Rowan, as he accepted the company’s Design Award at the February presentation luncheon in New York. Among the most critical are: Do those objects need to be rethought, particularly in terms of their relevance to current lifestyles? And should any reconsideration extend beyond the human realm? Ted Luong thought they should, and, acting on that conviction, he created the award-winning FishHotel Fishbowl for Umbra.

Actually, Luong is a double winner. A student at Carlton University’s School of Industrial Design in Ottawa, Luong won Umbra’s Canadian Build a Better Competition with his contemporized fish bowl. Umbra maintains a longstanding relationship with schools and students around the world. As a consequence, it affords students opportunities to interact with Umbra designers and create products that can find their way into the company’s assortment. After winning the competition, Luong completed a summer internship in the Toronto Studio, providing him the chance to take the FishHotel from concept to reality.

The FishHotel builds an ABS plastic outer shell around a glass fishbowl, which actually is something of a cube crafted for convenient removal when cleaning is necessary. Multiple windows cut into each surface of the outer shell coax folks to peer through to catch a glimpse of the inner occupant. The shell extends above the fishbowl component and is open on two sides, a configuration that essentially creates a pair of handles and an easy way to transport the item.

Never intended to be a one-dimensional product, the FishHotel is stackable, so it can be configured as a contemporary condo if the purchaser’s intention is for multiple fish to take up residence.

Umbra noted that the FishHotel is a scaled-down reconfiguration of a modern free-standing home, so, ultimately the product not only offers the fish a chance to modernize its environment, but it does the same for the human purchaser, who can transform what had been a conventional attraction and give it a more entertaining showcase.

—Mike Duff

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