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For anyone who has ever traveled to Japan or recently, to New York or its airports, you may have spotted Muji, a Japanese store chockfull of minimalist, yet very functional designs!

They hold a design-with-functionality annual competition and this year’s winners are truly gifted. My favorite was the Silver award finalist, who designed this BRILLIANT outdoor trash can by Ken Surigomoto:

A trash bag that easily stands up by itself. By taking advantage of the triangular pack that originated in Sweden and has been used for years for serving milk for school lunches in Japan, we were able to achieve a sense of stability, while the tendency to worry about the actual contents of the bag has been lessened. Can be put to good use when camping, on a picnic, or with other outdoor activities.

Its visually appealing, definitely out-of-the-box (why do trash cans have to look like cans?) and molds a lot of great ideas into one. These kinds of ideas are just too juicy to ignore. It makes me marvel at how much thought and innovation put into a piece similar to this. Its one of those things where you smack your head, “WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?!”. The simplicity is staggering, the functionality, even more so.

Check out the rest of this year’s winners here. To those lucky enough to be living in these Hong Kong, London, Milan to name a few, check out the traveling exhibition (including this trash can) too!

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