Wood is ages well and fixes easy. Take care of it, and it lasts, neglect it and it will naturally degrade. I liked the idea of an heirloom, something sturdy and passed on generation to generation, becoming more interesting with time.
With so many electronics around us, it seems we are losing our connection/understanding of the physical world. Pushing buttons, making gestures, things happen as if by magic, but the world is still physical and a button won't prevent you from stubbing your toe. Can object be designed to reconnect us to the physical? Can it make us more aware of the physical nature of the things around us?
So, how do you dispense a toothpick? There are many ways, but they all require a certain familiarity with the object, and take a little care and finesse, a certain way to hold it, bump it or shake it. I modeled the use of the toothpick dispenser after a smoker's rituals.
Does the world really 'need' another toothpick dispenser? While a toothpick dispenser in itself is probably not terribly necessary, I find that secondary uses, make it more compelling and relevant. There are plenty of toothpick dispensers, but one that could be a surrogate for a cigarette pack and assisting someone in quitting smoking? That seems something worthwhile.
Simple pleasure through even the most mundane tasks in life. Elevate, celebrate simple tasks. We're alive, it should feel that way in everything we do.