Wired magazine's Product Editor reflects on a golden age of technology design that is transforming our homes
As a breathless 14-year-old, I remember buying my first stereo system. The giddy excitement I felt when I saw the blinking lights and rows of brooding, dark hi-fis in store was heady stuff for a teenager about to make his first technology purchase.
Yet my excitement was short-lived. Once home, my stereo did not resemble the pinnacle of audiophile desire I'd envisaged. Instead, it looked out of place once removed from the sympathetic surroundings of the store. Having depleted my pocket money savings, I instantly regretted the purchase.
I learned a valuable lesson that day: design truly matters – no matter what the product is, or the price bracket. What is surprising is how long it has taken industrial designers to come to the same conclusion.
But provenance and narrative are not confined to pieces of furniture with a long and distinguished history. As new generations of designers evolve, new names begin to emerge as the ones to watch, and their designs have their own stories to tell.
But the good news is we are now enjoying a golden age where the savvy consumers' sensibilities rightly demand form as well as function, from products as diverse as electric toothbrushes to coffee-makers.
In fact, let's take those two examples. Who would have thought, even five years ago, it would be possible to buy a stylish electric toothbrush? Yet the Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean has a stylish finish, elegant charging glass, plus five clever brushing modes.
Modern coffee machines are a design triumph, too. Bodum's Bistro coffee-maker (left) adds a welcome splash of colour to any kitchen and the FrancisFrancis! Y1.1 coffee-maker would settle well into any minimalist home.
The sleek new Sage by Heston Blumenthal range, which includes a blender, ice cream maker, citrus press and nutri juicer, also exemplifies how considered design belongs in all areas of technology.
To top it all, at this year'sConsumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I fell in love with a fridge – and there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.
Beneath its robust, clinical stainless-steel cladding, the Samsung T9000 boasts an LCD touch-screen, an Android-based OS, web connectivity and compartments that switch from fridge to freezer with ease. It's time to shun those ugly items of technology around you.