WHO: Ehsan Alipour, Stanford Product Design MS 1998
Ehsan is the entrepreneur and enthusiast behind the Oliso steam iron with Auto-Lift System which Time Magazine just named one of 2006 BEST INVENTIONS. The Oliso iron has all the top features one would expect from a high end clothes iron (digital temperature control, steam, auto shutoff, pivoting cord, oversized reservoir) but it is also idiot-proof in that it automatically lifts itself up before you burn/damage your clothes. When you touch the handle, the iron lowers onto fabric. When you take it off, the iron instantly lifts itself up. You really have to see it in action to appreciate how cool it is. This feature helps prevent scorching, but it also is much safer and easier to use - no more tilting the iron on its end every time you need to move your shirt (you really can iron faster with the Oliso). The iron also is less likely to tip and fall since it always remains flat (and it is almost impossible to burn yourself since there is no hot exposed soleplate sitting upright on the board).
I am sure we can all think back to a time when a friend ended up with a shirt with a fancy iron print in the middle because they ran off to answer the phone or door - thanks to Ehsan, the next generation will not have these memories.
I am not much of an ironing person except in dire travel emergencies but I can definitely appreciate the innovation here. It’s easy to see why this product is a double award winner (it not only was selected as a Time best invention, but it also won the prestigious 2006 Housewares Design Award, Best in Class, sponsored by the International Housewares Association.
I tend to use the Purple Tie or my local drycleaner to launder my shirts but I think there is a huge market out there for people who prefer the iron. It is coming up to Christmas time so if you know a person who this would be perfect for you can find the Oliso iron online (Amazon, Home Depot, Skymall) or offline (Bloomingdale’s, Fry’s and selected Sharper Image stores). This iron actually is cool enough to give as a gift (in fact, its ideal for technology lovers; young professionals; parents with toddlers in the house; arthritis sufferers; quilters and sewers; or anyone who needs to iron – a lot or a little.)
Ehsan has done an amazing job of getting a solid channel built for this product as well as some fantastic PR - Stanford Magazine, Time Magazine, CNET, Good Morning America, Home and Garden Television, Oprah at Home, Wired, Engadget and my favorite Quiltmaker. It also will star on Ellen Degeneres show on January 2!
Ehsan is also the founder/CEO of the Unovo design group that provides turnkey design outsourcing from concept to full manufacturing. Ehsan is apparently a busy guy...