I was unimpressed, but for Jake this was a major innovation. “So if you have ice cream in the bottom, you can suck it up,” he said, sounding astonished.
Indeed, many of the products he appreciated seemed to fall into one or more of the three F’s: food, fun and funky.
Firmly in the last category were the Duck Timers from Alessi. Created by the Finnish designer Eero Aarnio, they are just what they sound like: kitchen timers that look and sound like ducks. In other words, when they go off, they quack, something that delighted my son, who promptly decided to use several to set a “duck bomb,” whereby they would all quack at once.
“Those people are going to be driven crazy,” he said, grinning like a Bond villain.
We left the booth as the countdown neared zero and found our way to Room Copenhagen, a Danish design company. Jake’s attention was instantly drawn to the Lego-style oversize plastic storage units. His favorites were the decapitated Lego heads — just the right size for a brain, he pointed out — which the company’s representatives promised could be used to hold a variety of things, including lunch meat and dirty socks (but not, one would hope, at the same time).
He also liked the bricks that were big enough to serve as a toy chest, which inspired a postmodern revelation.
“You could put Legos in Legos,” he said. Whoa.
A similarly child-friendly ethos was on display at the booth for Areaware, a New York-based company with a number of hip items, including a sneakily elegant iPod dock that converts your phone into an old-school alarm clock and a series of American flag spatulas by Jacob Wasserman, good for subtly patriotic July 4 cookouts. Jake’s eye, however, was drawn to the Cubebot by David Weeks, a wooden action figure that folds into a small cube, just right for a boy’s pocket.
Real robotics seemed to be a big trend in housewares, from newcomers like Grillbot, which introduced a frantic little device outfitted with bristles that scrambles around and cleans your barbecue, to corporations like iRobot, which makes the remote-controlled Roomba vacuum that Jake enjoyed bossing around.
“Robot!” he shouted. “Clean!”
Nearby, Ecovacs was offering the Winbot, a nifty new gadget that combines suction and squeegee technology and promises to clean your window — inside or out — in about five minutes. Jake tested its prowess by writing “Dork” and “Jake Rocks” on a pane of glass in the display. And sure enough, moments later the scribbles were gone.
Not surprisingly, considering the state of his room at home, most of the other cleaning devices were not interesting to my son. Nor were adult-oriented items like coffee makers, wine accessories and high-performance steam irons.But plenty of things appealed to his stomach: we saw popcorn and snow-cone makers, and all manner of tabletop grills. At one point, I looked up to find Jake at the Nesco booth, getting comfortable with a plateful of mini-pancakes, bacon and toasted apple.
At the Isi display, a glass of peach lemonade topped with blueberry lavender cream, made by the company’s Easy Whip, suddenly appeared.
“Foam,” Jake said, sounding like a surfer. “Awesome.”
Chicago Metallic’s booth offered all manner of marshmallow accouterments — pans, dipping sets and cutters — as well as free marshmallows. Jake had seven before pronouncing himself in “marshmallow overload.”