You’d think the humble square might have been played out by now as a design concept. Not so, according to Yu Hiraoka, a designer based in Milan. Squares and cubes feature strongly in his portfolio, and he has a knack for turning their simple forms into eye-catching pieces.
Hiraoka studied design in Japan, the U.K. and Italy, then launched his professional design career in 2013. Yes, just three years ago. Since then the talented designer has collaborated with design studios in Italy and tackled projects for international clients. He’s also won enough design prizes to fill all of the shelves he’s created.
Originally he specialized in industrial design, but luckily for us, he has branched out into furniture, lighting, electronics and fashion, garnering new fans at every turn.
Here are six square-based pieces by Hiraoka that we love, and one rectangle we couldn’t resist:
1. Planet Without the E
This modular mini-planter system lets you arrange it according to your whim. Want separate planters? Go for it! Prefer a connected display? Perfectly fine.
Don’t have a green thumb? No worries. We’re secretly thinking the glass bowls would be great for snacks at a party… Or goldfish, if you don’t have a cat.
2. Giochiamo Shelves
Think of these shelves as grown-up building blocks and have fun with them. Stack them vertically like a traditional bookcase, or connect them together in a crazy horizontal format with shelf openings facing different ways. You can even be daring and build a shelf pyramid.
3. Isola Bed
OK, we have to be honest. We’re not sure if this is exactly a square, but it looks square, so we’re including it. And yes, we know finding square sheets might be a little tricky. But how cool is this bed?!
4. Spirit Digital Camera
Hiraoka says the Spirit was inspired by luxurious liquor bottles. “I designed the interface to look like an alcoholic liquid,” he explains, “and the liquid shows how much battery is left.” The image tilts as you move the camera, too.
5. Folding Pad
This is a leather pad that does double duty as a mouse pad and a desk organizer. Just fold one side of the pad and you get a nifty pen-holder/note space to help you corral the contents of your desk. Need to travel and work? Fold the pad in half and stow it in your backpack or computer bag, and unfold it at your destination to give you a desk away from home.
This is a pocket-size portable mixing station — slide the parts out, then use intuitive right and left controls to make your own remixes. Yes, you’ll be a party just waiting to happen.
7. Neisa Wooden Side Tables
Again, Hiraoka has left you in control of your own furniture destiny here. “You can just have one table or combine them to expand the size, thus you have choices to arrange them as you want,” he says. “I chose walnut and black oak that have different colors and textures to present the aesthetics of each wood, and I enjoy combining them.”