The wheel, the light bulb, the doorbell that plays your favorite song — every great invention began with an idea. And these developments aren’t just in the past. In today’s fast-paced technological society, the world is changing quicker than ever.
Though we’ve all seen drones and smartphones, many of these design innovations are happening right under our noses. Bridging the gap between functional and fun, these clever ideas each deserve a standing ovation.
1. Sure, most of us throw away pizza boxes once we finish eating. But you just might want to hang onto these boxes, as the insides pop out to look like a tuxedo. Finally, you can dress to the nines and not freak out when you spill sauce down the front of your shirt!
Reddit / pwenski
2. With all due respect to the Brooklyn and the London, Vietnam’s Golden Bridge might just be the coolest in the world. Tourists from all over come to walk it and admire the view. Don’t worry about the bridge toppling either; you’re in good hands.
Reddit / conorthearchitect
3. In cities like Rome that have narrow, winding streets, UPS can’t use its usual trucks. That’s why they’ve developed special bike trucks to deliver packages, and to give their drivers a chance to put those shorts into action.
4. Can public spaces be both beautiful and functional? Architect Yong Ju Lee wouldn’t have it any other way. One of his most famous works is this root bench in Seoul, South Korea. Its tendrils even rise up and down to create benches and tables.
Reddit / earthmoonsun
5. Here’s an easy way to make shopping more fun: when you visit certain LEGO stores, they will send you on your way with a bag that transforms you into one of their famous figurines! Or at least your hand, anyway.
Reddit / eazymoney68
6. This smiley face has a very serious message behind it. Rudolf Kohn, a Miami artist, took the remains of a mangled car and transformed them into a jumbo-sized emoji, all as a warning against texting while driving.
Reddit / MobilePeasant
7. Even if you’ve got the drabbest suburban view possible, you can still feel like you’re in the big city with these curtains. They filter in the perfect amount of sunlight to create the Manhattan skyline, lit up by stars and skyscrapers.
Reddit / OMG_my_name_doesnt_f
8. When it comes to bathroom innovation, no country in the world can hold a candle to Japan. Besides having the built-in bidet, this model plays ambient sounds to cover up any less pleasant noises that may erupt.
Reddit / peppershaker00
9. Anyone who’s ever broken a bone knows that casts are itchy and annoying. But thanks to these 3D printed models, you can go about your business without any clunky plaster around your arm or leg. You can even take these casts into the shower!
10. These leather-bound tomes take cover design to the next level, illustrating the continual decline of Rome with their crumbling pillars. Just about everyone will be impressed by this clever layout — except for the Romans.
11. Lugging boxes and furniture up and down stairs is always the worst part of moving. However, it could be a cinch if you invest in one of these specialized dollies, designed to traverse any steps. It beats the old-fashioned way and saves time waiting for an elevator.
Reddit / tokyodrew
12. The United Kingdom has devised a cool way to honor its top athletes: whenever one of its competitors brings home gold at the Olympics, the postal service paints the local mailboxes the same color.
Reddit / tombola201uk
13. Unfortunately, the most delicious finger foods are the ones that leave the most grease and crumbs. To keep your mitts clean, invest in a pack of these plastic finger covers. They’ll maximize your snacking, though you should still wash your hands as well.
14. The easiest way often isn’t the best way. Many Belgian urban planners took that truth to heart when designing their city crosswalks. Eschewing the usual paint, they constructed the white bars out of small marble tiles.
Reddit / noobking101
15. Trying to memorize all the conversions between measurements can make your head spin. Why not let your kitchen gadgets do the work for you? This handy spatula displays various liquid measurement conversions, and believe it or not, it can also stir!
Reddit / Naatrox
16. This Manchester bar installed a TV and Nintendo 64 at every table. Aside from providing a fun activity, it gives bar patrons a fantastic way to get out of an unwanted conversation. “Do I have a boyfriend? No, I’m trying to focus on my Mario Kart for the time being.”
Reddit / AKH4
17. Hoping to make Rubik’s Cubes more accessible to the blind, this Redditor realized that LEGOs could make all the difference. Instead of colors, each face of the cube has its own unique texture, easily recognizable by any puzzle fan.
Reddit / TheGoldA
18. There’s nothing better than a beach party — unless you forget to pack a bottle opener. Luckily, these flip flops have you covered. They’ve got a built-in opener in the soles! As a bonus, they’ll also save you from the pitfall of wearing Crocs.
Reddit / improdrive
19. High quality design is about blending practical elements together in an aesthetically pleasing way. This aquarium aces that test by framing its legally-mandated fire extinguishers as oxygen tanks for scuba divers!
Reddit / 2chainsguitarist
20. Have you ever wanted to turn your kitchen into an M.C. Escher drawing? If so, get yourself some optical illusion floor tiles. They’ll definitely wake you up when you stumble in to grab coffee first thing in the morning.
Reddit / coopdapoop
21. Every human on Earth remembers the horror of going down a hot metal slide in the summer. No longer! This particular playground pumps water underneath to make sure it stays cool all year round.
22. Imagine how much of a better place the world would be if more people took the time to thank others. Finland took the lead on that issue by installing “Thank You” buttons on buses, so that riders can show gratitude to the hard-working drivers.
Reddit / mehuakannussa
23. Of course, the best designs often involve giving old objects a new purpose. Good fences make good neighbors, but this is a great fence. Rather than buy fresh wood, this carpenter used old doors, creating a neat funhouse effect around the yard.
Reddit / wrankin1101
24. Any veterans out there will appreciate this tip. If you’re unsure about what to do with all your old uniforms, take a page out of this book and make them into a cat bed cover! Your new superior officers (the kitties) will appreciate your service.
Reddit / hellostarbucks
25. Some dads are handier around the house than others, but this former airline pilot came up with a nifty idea. Rather than throwing away his stacks of maps, he put them to good use as wrapping paper. That’s first-class service!
Reddit / skonen_blades
26. Most people wouldn’t view a $4 t-shirt as anything special, except for standard laundry day attire. However, this DIY-designer turned the bland shirt into a highly stylish collared dress! By the looks of this photo, she’s about to step out on the catwalk.
Reddit / GrinningCatBus
27. Even the best photographers have bits of film that don’t develop properly. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve lost their artistic potential. For example, they can serve as perfectly framed canvases for miniature paintings.
28. In an effort to convert to a zero-plastic household, these innovators repurposed some empty whiskey bottles. They say that it not only offers a more sustainable option but also that “it helps our house look more rock n’ roll.”
Reddit / upsidedownmoonbeam
29. If you want a pair of shoes that are inexpensive and eco-friendly, look no further. This African entrepreneur makes comfy sandals out of old tires. Most impressively, he can size customers up to the nearest millimeter without needing any measuring tools!
Reddit / OneHundredKilometers
30. Most of us likely haven’t sat in a shopping cart for decades. However, that can all change once you realize that with a bit of DIY magic, any cart can transform into durable patio furniture! One note: it wouldn’t hurt to toss some cushions on those steel chairs.
Reddit / Rezaime
31. Don’t feel ashamed if you’re one of those people who keeps out their Christmas decorations way too long. By carefully stringing up these lights — and skipping the disposable tree altogether — you’ll have a gift that just keeps on giving.
Reddit / noslowsongs
32. We wouldn’t recommend that you stop bathing to help save the Earth. However, there are little things you can do. For instance, you can make your own shampoo bars, which will cut out the plastic bottles and only cost you $20 per year.
Reddit / eloquinee
33. Each year, we get a torrent of holiday cards in our mailboxes, often from people we barely know. Nevertheless, they could be more useful than you’d think. With a little bit of cutting, you can salvage a bunch of gift tags to use the following year.
Reddit / OfficerUnreasonable
34. Libraries often resort to dumping out old or duplicate books, but this branch came up with a novel alternative. They formed stacks of vintage hardcovers into stools. Even if they’re no longer being read, these tomes are giving people a place to read.
35. At just about any store, you can blow a few bucks on a drawer organizer that may or may not fit inside your furniture. Or, you can make a fully customizable version out of old cardboard. Put those boxes in your basement or attic to good use!
Reddit / wahlb3rg
36. In some hidden corner of our homes, many of us have stashed away a giant bundle of plastic grocery bags, which we someday hope to recycle. Finally, here’s a way to make that wish come true — just weave them into a reusable shopping bag like this one.
Reddit / pegamoose
37. There’s no sight more hilarious than a little kid putting on adult-sized clothes. However, there is a sensible idea buried somewhere in all those folds of fabric. Some crafty folks have taken old dress shirts and cut baby clothes right out of the middle!
Reddit / tammyrich
38. Reusable bags tend to be pretty cheap, but do you know what’s even cheaper? Making your own! This Redditor simply took an old pet food bag and added a handle to make a trendier accessory than you’d find in any store.
Reddit / GrinningCatBus
39. More so than any other article of clothing, t-shirts really pile up. But instead of just tossing your oldies in the trash, consider sewing them into a quilt! You can experiment with colors and patterns to make it a future family heirloom.
Reddit / AlchemistDoctor
40. For most people, there’s no trash more commonplace than dead leaves on the ground. But did you know that they can make some all-natural confetti? This project is perfect for any mountain man throwing a surprise party.
41. We may not always realize it, but even the smallest components of everyday objects can be mighty when properly utilized. Just look at this mom, who knitted an entire scarf out of nothing but tea bag string! If she’s lucky, that scarf will smell like chamomile.
Reddit / fluraichean
42. After a huge dinner party, this Redditor’s friends were about to toss a huge turkey carcass in the trash. Luckily, she grabbed it and made over a dozen jars of savory stock from it! We bet you never thought the word ‘carcass’ could be so appetizing!
Reddit / HamishCat
43. You might think that one lip balm tube in the trash doesn’t mean much, but they add up to a lot of waste over time. As a matter of fact, you can eliminate this issue altogether by saving the tubes and re-filling them with a homemade, organic concoction.
Reddit / logibearr
44. Remember that not every item’s second life has to involve a ton of work. Any glass jar can instantly become a cup, though we recommend you clean it out first. And you’ll get bonus points for using a metal straw instead of a plastic one.
Reddit / battraman