the modern mandoline

How to Design Modern Kitchen Gadgets That People Want

Urban Trend co-founder Michael Stoll on making affordable yet stylish housewares

No matter your age or location, cooking is an important life skill. Prepping and making a meal can seem intimidating, especially when it requires a kitchen, a ton of oddball gadgets, and the ability to follow directions. Thankfully, there are companies like Urban Trend to make cooking easier and more economical for the layman.

Rob Kushner, a lawyer, and Michael Stoll, a tech industry veteran, grew up around the corner from each other in a Los Angeles suburb. The two founded Urban Trend after realizing a need for kitchen gadgets that are durable, appealing in design, and reasonably low cost. Its gadgets – which range from pizza slicers to two-sided measuring cups – are all priced under $35. These characteristics make products perfect for a kitchen newbie, a space-conscious city resident, and the recipient of a wedding registry (sometimes all the same person).

On behalf of The Daily Meal, I spoke with Michael Stoll about the past, present, and future of Urban Trend.

 

Michael Stoll
Courtesy

Michael Stoll

The Daily Meal: Urban Trend is a second career for you. What is it that told you it was time to get out of the tech industry?
Michael Stoll: Rob and I have started noticing that cooking was become more of a pastime than a choice for us and others. We saw an opportunity to create a line of kitchen gadgets with innovations that would take the stress and anxiety out of cooking.

What specifically spoke to you about making gadgets? Was it a person or a book?
I was spending more time in the kitchen and wanted cooking gadgets that were easy to use, unique, and would make me “look” like a pro when I really wasn’t.

What was the first gadget you made for Urban Trend?
Our Reverso Measuring Cups, a two-cup measuring cup that features our patented easy-to-read design to see measured amounts from almost any angle without either having to lift the measuring cup off the countertop or to bend down to see the increments at eye-level. It also features detachable measuring spoons that snap neatly into the cone-shaped portion for easy storage.

How long did it take to get Urban Trend going?
We debuted our first product, the measuring cups, at the International Houseware Show last year and got picked up by The Today Show. Ever since, our gadgets have been a huge hit.

Pricing aside, what makes Urban Trend better than companies that make similar products?
No other companies make similar products, but what makes us stand out amongst other kitchen brands is that we solve cooking problems you didn’t know you had in the kitchen so you can create great tasting food. Each Urban Trend gadget has a clever twist that makes it easier to slice, dice, mash or serrate like a pro making food prep more fun.

 

Do you have a favorite Urban Trend item?
Our newest, the Smart Cut Salad. It’s an easy way to make a fresh salad, easy to clean, and easy to use. Simply add your favorite produce to the bowl, attach the strainer and grab your favorite knife and cut along the cutting guide and serve your salad in seconds. The Smart Cut Salad makes a quick, easy, delicious and healthy chopped salad or a quick dinner salad. It’s perfect for fruit salads, too.

 

What's coming up for Urban Trend? Are there plans to make even more household items?
Yes, we are consistently trying to figure out ways to enhance the cooking experience with kitchen tools that look great, function better and are accessible to everyone, so stay tuned!

 

When not busy with Urban Trend, how do you like to spend your free time?
I like to spend any free time I have with my children, and they like to spend their time in the kitchen. We create recipes together.

 

What are some of your favorite restaurants in Los Angeles?
I am from Orange County, and my favorite there is The Playground.

Finally, Michael, any last words for the kids?
Kids should be encouraged to cook by making it fun and safe for them.

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