Friday, May 13, 2016

Tabletop planter from Japan doubles as emergency earthquake helmet

From tabletop planter to earthquake safety helmet in a snap. (Video screenshot: +MET Project/YouTube)

Unless you happen to be an archeologist, contractor or erstwhile member of the Village People, there’s a good chance that you don’t have a hard hat just lying around the house within easy reach.
Leading Japanese safety helmet purveyor Tanizawa wants to change that.
In the wake of the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, it dawned on the good folks at Tanizawa that countless lives could have been saved and many more injuries could have been prevented if Japanese citizens had easier access to protective headgear — protective headgear that hasn’t been stashed away deep in a closet, cabinet or garage. This being said, plenty of (smart) homeowners in seismically active parts of the world such as Japan do indeed own safety helmets for donning when the ground starts to rumble. However, it’s unlikely that they’re out and within an arm's reach.
Founded in 1932, Tokyo-based Tanizawa is traditionally concerned with workplace safety, not natural disaster preparedness. Yet its latest collection of hard hats, conceived in collaboration with global marketing behemoth J. Walter Thompson, very much revolves around the idea of being hyper-prepared at home.
As a helmet maker, we were faced with a difficult reality. We know that helmets are bulky and can get in the way. Give helmets a new role to play in daily life, and make it something you want to keep around you.
So how, pray tell, has Tanizawa transformed potentially life-saving earthquake safety helmets into everyday objects, not something to be stored away, out of sight and largely out of reach?They’ve turned them into rather tasteful tabletop planters and lamps.
A decidedly more palatable manner of tremor-izing ordinary household furnishings than, let’s say, this bed, Tanizawa’s two-piece +MET Project collection of safety helmet home accessories wouldn’t look too out of place on the shelves of IKEA. Simply called Pot and Lamp, the multi-tasking helmets are simple, functional, inoffensive. Not the most style-forward things on the planet, particularly the mushroom-style lamp, but that’s not really the point.
Pot, a planter that transforms into an earthquake safety helmetOf course, one might argue that despite being integrated seamlessly into one’s home décor (they come in different colors, by the way), Pot and Lamp might take too much effort to deal with in emergency situations as time is very much of the essence. After all, you do have to remove a houseplant from the planter-cum-helmet before flipping it and over and strapping it on. Tanizawa would counter, however, that this process is significantly less involved than rummaging through a closet in search of a safety helmet, if you can even remember where you stored it to begin with.
Lamp, on the other hand, doesn’t involve removing anything from anything given that the shade of the light fixture is the helmet itself — just detach the shade and plop it on your head. What’s more, the base of Lamp can also be removed and used as an emergency flashlight. Easy-peasy.
+Met, a tabletop lamp converts into an emergency flashlight and a helmet. When the ground starts shaking, it would certainly be reassuring to turn to a simple tabletop lamp that coverts into an emergency flashlight and safety helmet (Screenshot: +MET Project/YouTube)
Sure, donning a rigid plastic planter or lampshade on one’s head might initially look a touch silly — it’s hard not to crack a smile while watching Tanizawa’s promotional video for the prototyped products. But the concept behind the +MET Project is incredibly clever — and, as Tanizawa hopes, also has the potential to save lives.
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