Located in the burgeoning creative community of Portland, Oregon, James Owen Design specializes in design and product development. Principle and owner James Owen has been succeeding in the world of design for over fourteen years. His interest in art and culture began at an early age and he has honed and refined his skills, sensibilities, and expertise over the last decade and a half creating products and strategies for clients such as Nike, Altec Lansing, Yakima, Pulpo, Philips, Depadova, Mattel, Michelin, HP, and Intel to name a few. The work of James Owen Design has been recognized in the trendiest magazines, books, and new media from Hong Kong to Moscow. He has won several IDSA and Chicago Athenaeum GOOD DESIGN awards and holds multiple patents.

Cassette tapes were big in the 80’s and it seems they might be on their way back in today. Cassettes’ make me think of afternoons spent repeatedly trying to dub off the best possible copy of The Cure from my friend’s Sound Warehouse copy. This was ultimately a futile effort that created copies of great music with more hiss and warble on the tape than actual music. Even the $5.00 per cassette high-end Sony tapes sounded like I was standing next to a waterfall if I cranked the volume up to “11”. Best then not to get too caught up in how poorly cassette tapes actually performed but how they bring back carefree memories of trying to fast forward to the “good part”. Soon to replace Vinyl as the hipster retro-tech of choice [and as mixtape nostalgia washes over aging Gen-Xer’s] here are five must-have, cassette themed novelty objects:


1. Cassette Tape Dispenser
So obvious, but I wish I would have thought of it! Of course it comes from Japan, land of clever novelty items, and rocks a standard size roll of Scotch Tape. Best features: non-skid base and sweet / crappy 80’s style graphics. This looks exactly like what foreign language lessons used to come on in 1982. [via Inventor Spot]


2. Classic Cassette Tote Bag
I could actually carry a large, super-hipsterish vinyl collection around with this big cassette tote bag. I’ve seen this item in many trendy design shops and museum stores and it’s WAY more durable and roomy than it appears to be in pictures. Again, screen printed with generic Radio Shack-y C-60 cassette graphics which reminds me of the time that my dad had me dub all of his 45’s [literally hundreds] from the sixties on to the cheapest long play cassettes possible. Quality was not a priority.


3. “Mixa” USB Tape
Again, stupendously brilliant. Brings the mix tape into the 21st century [for those old enough to remember that sort of thing]. I’ve seen other vaguely related implementations of this idea, but this is the best by far because the USB device IS the cassette. That’s the way it should be. Plus, this item is pretty cheap for what it is and if you really don’t like the music you or some other admirer who’s trying to “get in your pants” put on it, it can be used as a regular old USB drive with tons of style. If “Max Headroom” was re-imagined as a feature film this would be in it.


4. Cassette Wallet
Man, oh man. The Cassette Wallet. If I were ten years younger and / or still in high school I’d be rockin’ this thing all day. Probably meant for girls, but built for unisex duty and is one of the better examples of recycled gadgetry. Kitsch factor is on a par with the molded vinyl LP fruit bowl that has been with us for a few years. [via Gearfuse]


5. Cassette Tape Portraiture
Probably one of the best ideas in art that I’ve seen in a long time. Converting mundane, found objects into art is nothing new, but the implementation here is genius. An artist by the name of iri5 uses unwound cassette tape material to create startling and graphic likenesses of iconic musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan. Between the given line weight of the polyester tape, the inky blackness of the magnetic coating on the tape, and the fact that the tape simulates a marker stroke, the effect is graphic, bold, and very compelling. Especially when one realizes how these pieces were made. These artworks walk a fine line between gallery art and street graphics. [via Craziest Gadgets]