I take an opinionated approach on aesthetics and from my point of view, almost everything we manufacture today is hideous trash. I see too many people that talk about "good design" without properly demonstrating this promise. We make too much crap, and because we have limited resources, I believe that we should be more outraged. This is probably the main reason why I spend every other week writing and sharing products on this website. When something that’s functional and truly beautiful appears, I get really excited. This is one of those objects.
The Bottle Humidifier been sent by 11+.
As some of you may know, I work as a designer at Microsoft. Yeongkyu Yoo is a someone that I work with and has been a great mentor of mine. He understands the fine art of aesthetics better than anyone I’ve met and when he's not at work, he manufactures products under the brand name 11+. The Bottle Humidifer is the most iconic product he’s worked on for 11+, and has a sculptural aesthetic that is the perfect example of premium design at a reasonable price. Simple, everyday products are some of the hardest things to shop for, which makes the Bottle Humidifier a particularly interesting product.
The 11+ Bottle Humidifier is priced at $90 (available for purchase in the US/Canada via Leibal). It’s not the cheapest humidifier you can buy but not unreasonable, considering the smaller production runs it has. The humidifier comes packaged in a matte dark grey box that’s simply embossed with typographical graphics. It’s tasteful and sophisticated. Yoo and I often talk about the beautiful texture you get when printing color on white paper, rather than using colored paper. This is a good illustration of this technique.
Inside the paper box, the humidifier comes wrapped in a canvas bag. It’s a clever idea that's isn't too expensive and makes for an interesting unboxing experience. The bag is also reusable, which can now serve a greater purpose than protecting the product during shipping (I use mine to carry cables).
In terms of form, the Bottle Humidifier is as its name suggests, very much like a bottle. It’s an iconic shape and because of its lack of frivolous ornamentation, you can enjoy its form to the fullest. The only thing interrupting the clean design is a small, debossed 11+ logo.
This soft bottle shape gives it a neutral character that easily blends into the environment. This is what a good product for the home should be like; waiting in the background until the moment you need it.
What makes the humidifier particularly successful in my opinion is the juxtaposition of soft surfaces with sharp edges. It’s a modern approach to design that I believe to be the most relevant language in contemporary industrial design. It speaks to the friendliness of modern products but also expresses the precision and manufacturing prowess we have.
One of Yoo’s signature elements is a touch of orange to a largely neutral product. This presence is on the power cable for the Bottle Humidifier. Power is supplied using a built-in USB cable, which makes it ideal for use on a desk next to a computer. It also works fine using a USB power adapter, which many people have extras of collecting dust in their drawers.
Although it would have been nice to see the same design in more premium materials like ceramic and glass, the Bottle Humidifier makes do with plastics to keep prices reasonable. The execution is pretty good though, thanks to the super-matte texture of the plastic and the thick bottom of the clear base.
Operation is simple; the only controls on the humidifier are a simple +/- rocker switch. Pressing + once powers the device on and pressing it twice puts it in intermittent mode for use in smaller rooms.
As far as the actual vaporizing goes, the Bottle Humidifier uses the common ultrasonic wave nebulizing method. This method uses a piezoelectric transducer that produces a consistent, soft mist and starts up instantly. It’s relatively low power (vaporizes at a rate of 30ml/hr) though, so I'd recommend it for a small bedroom or office and not your living room.
The Bottle Humidifier uses a filter (an extra is supplied) to suck up water from the 440ml capacity bottle. Because nebulizing doesn’t introduce heat, occasional cleaning of the vaporizer is recommended to clean contaminants introduced from the water. Having a replaceable filter is a nice design choice as it’s hygienic and convenient.
The 11+ Bottle Humidifier has become a bit of a modern icon in the industrial design community. When it launched, there was a ton of hype behind this product and it’s easy to see why. Admittedly, there have been a few manufacturing hiccups initially but I hear that they have now been smoothened out. If you’re in the market for a humidifier to use in a small room, I can’t think of a better recommendation. It’s a tremendously pretty object to behold, something you want to keep around, even if you aren’t using it. I sometimes call Yeongkyu Yoo “sensei” at work jokingly, but this is an example of why he’s no joke