I have a long-standing theory that the best gifts are equal parts unexpected and practical enough for daily use. Too unexpected and you’re tiptoeing into gag-gift territory. Too practical and you’re giving a toaster. A gadget that fills a room with rainbows straddles that line — your office gift-exchange recipient will be tickled.
I first saw the Solar-Powered Rainbow Maker at the MoMA Design Store, and though it took a few seconds for me to figure out what it did, I did know it came from Kikkerland, which produces household goods that balk at unadulterated utility (a travel neck pillow is a trompe l’oeil tree stump and refrigerator magnets look like cat butts). Once I figured it out, I bought it immediately.
The device has three components — a solar panel, a segment of motorized cogs, and a suspended prism (as the included pamphlet boasts, it’s a “Swarovski Element!”). You stick the contraption on a window with full exposure to the sun. Once direct sunlight hits the solar panel, it turns itself on without any additional effort. The gears start spinning and the dangling gem begins to rotate sumptuously. What happens next is a little bit science, a little bit magic: Dozens of rainbow fragments are cast around the entire room. The spangles skate sprightly on your walls, linens, and exposed limbs like the phosphenes you see when you rub your closed eyes. Reading a book turns into a Pollyanna-esque spectacle. Folding laundry becomes a fairy tale. Getting dressed evokes Sailor Moon’s transformation. Gift it to anyone who could use some otherworldly splendor to enhance their daily tasks.
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