The rolling dunes of the Sahara have been sculpted by wind over countless millennia. Each curve and peak is a work of art that evokes a sense of carefree beauty. For mankind to create such art, perhaps we need tools that are equally carefree. That was the idea behind a new painter’s palette inspired by the Sahara.


As the painter Bob Ross famously loved to say, “we don’t make mistakes — we just have happy accidents.” In a similar line of thinking, designer Hitoshi Obi has reinvented the palette, one of the painter’s oldest tools, to allow for our creativity to run wild in the boundless dunes of the Sahara.

The design was recently award first prize in the 2023 Kokuyo Design Awards (previously), which asked designers to submit new ideas inspired by the year’s theme: “embrace.” Obi’s design won out over 1000 entries, roughly half of which were submitted from overseas and the other half domestically, from Japan.

These awards have been hosted by stationary firm Kokuyo for over 20 years and the results are always delightful. Although the designs are not yet available for purchase, the firm will evaluate market demand and often commercialize the winning designs. You can check out some previous winners here.