Gift Guides

Super Sweet Gifts for All Your Valentines

January 23, 2017

Whether you’ve settled down with someone who sends you over the moon, are falling hard for a guy or gal you can see yourself with for the long haul, or are just getting to know a new flame, you’re probably thinking about getting them a gift for Valentine’s Day. Of course, February 14 isn’t only about romance. It’s also a time to show the other great loves of your life how much you appreciate them. Celebrate those close to you, whether they’re friends, family, or happen to have fur or fins, with this assortment of super sweet gifts for all of your valentines.

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Design, Maker Stories

Physics and Poetry Meet with the Beating Heart in a Bottle

January 17, 2017

Leave it to the French to make physics seem…romantic. Artist Philippe Bouveret truly marries science and poetry in our Beating Heart in a Bottle Sculpture: two halves of a heart joining together again and again in a rhythm much like the beating of our own hearts. Thanks to the power of capillary action, the piece is almost like a living work of art.

Never lacking in inventiveness and always eager to experiment, Philippe spent years (from the ages 13-18) building a real, 6m long boat. Eventually, after getting a technical degree, he traded his plans of becoming a naval architect for more artistic endeavors: assisting in the construction of Jean Tinguely’s Cyclops, an enormous moving sculpture tucked away deep in the forest, creating massive pendulums and fountains, and crafting “hidden tableaus that reveal unexpected objects simply by placing an aspirin tablet in a provided slot. Much of the work Philippe has created, either on his own or in collaboration with other artists, engages the viewer in a game of sorts. Now, you can find him continuing to follow his playful sensibilities, working in his “laboratory-studio,” as he calls it, “accidentally making little discoveries that arouse [his] curiosity.”

Acclaimed art collector and museum director Pontus Hultén describes Philippe’s work as containing “an intriguing element, like a happy secret, an awareness of something that leads on much further, towards infinity.” We’re pleased to share the happy secret of the Beating Heart in a Bottle with you–it’s one of our very first international products that’s exclusive in the USA to only our customers.

Another (not-so) happy secret? Few of us here speak French. And so communicating with Philippe necessitated a bit of extra je ne sais quoi. See? I don’t even think I used that right. Fortunately, Philippe’s son Grimaud stepped in to help with an interview and ensured that nothing got too lost in translation. (Merci beaucoup, Grimaud!) Read on to learn more about Philippe’s inspirations and obsessions, as well as what he hopes for everyone who receives a Beating Heart in a Bottle.

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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Kenneth Myers

January 11, 2017

Kenneth Myers, UncommonGoods Jr. Data Scientist

My hometown is…
Wading River, NY

I’m inspired by…
“When the sun hits that ridge just right”

An uncommon fact about me….
I’ve taken a selfie everyday since August 2012.

The word or phrase that best describes me…
“Pizza” – The Ninja Turtles

My guilty pleasure is…
Listening to anime theme songs.

I’m stubborn about…
Kingdom Hearts is the best video game series ever.

Something that always calms me is…
Taffy

My spirit animal is…
Bison.

Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studio with Anne Johnson & Arra David

January 10, 2017

Anne Johnson and Arra David outside of the Sea Stone Studio in Windham, NH, photos by Cassie Tweten Delaney

Canopies of colorful leaves. Air so fresh it actually feels different when you breathe it in. Wide open spaces and dewy blades of grass. These are things I don’t get to enjoy all that often in Brooklyn, but New Hampshire is another story. I experienced the natural beauty of “The Granite State” firsthand last fall, when I also got a full tour of Arra David and Anne Johnson’s bustling studio.

The state’s nickname is certainly fitting, given the extensive quarries in New Hampshire. It’s also fitting that Anne and Arra make their designs there, considering that their one-of-a-kind creations are made with wood, natural stones, metal, and–you guessed it–granite.

Curious about just how the designers are able to turn solid rock into functional home designs, our Tabletop Buyer NéQuana and I made the five-hour road trip from Brooklyn to Windham, NH to get an inside look.

Anne and Arra welcomed us in, offered us some of the homemade hard cider mentioned below, walked us through the studio and workshop, and let us take some tools for a test drive. With Arra’s guidance, NéQuana even built her own Sea Stone Splash Sponge Holder!

Arra, an engineer, talked to us about designing special tools to tackle heavy-duty work. He also shared thoughts on taking hold of inspiration when it “ambushes,” advice on the importance of collaboration, and a perfectly pertinent Thoreau quote.

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Design

Melissa J. Gondek’s Family Sculptures: Celebratory Symbols of Love

January 9, 2017

Family photos have the power to evoke all kinds of complicated feelings: nostalgia, awkwardness, humor, love. They grace our holiday cards and fill up our (increasingly digital) photo albums. They capture small moments that can hold big meaning when we look back on them later on. These photos have their place in our family histories for sure–but what if we could display a representation of our love that’s more tangible, less fleeting? That gets at the essential feeling of being loved, rather than a specific moment in time?

That’s where sculptor Melissa J. Gondek comes in. She says of her work: “I’m sculpting love, and everyone needs more of that.” Our customers have already fallen for her sculptures that depict the bonds we have with our cats and dogs, and so we’re excited to have an exclusive “So Happy Together” family sculpture from Melissa–one that showcases the sweetness of the ties between parents and their children.

The customizable pieces communicate meaningful messages in a heartfelt, simple package. Parents sit with their kids (you choose one or two) cozied up on their laps in a sculpture that would be equally at home on an entryway table or a mantle, in a new baby’s nursery or close at hand on your desk. They aren’t exact replicas of your family, but instead represent its loving spirit–the essence of what keeps you all connected. The universality of the figures lets you decide what “So Happy Together” means to you–whether it’s warmth, or safety, or trust–or all of those good things wrapped up into one. 

We can’t wait to get these sentimental sculptures out to you and your families, but in the meantime, read on to hear from the artist herself about how she brings unique life to the ones we hold most dear through her work.

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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Jesse Jacobsen

January 5, 2017

Jesse Jacobsen, Purchasing Assistant

My hometown…

That sleepy, forgotten borough of Staten Island, NY just across the water from us.

An uncommon fact about me…

As a musician, I have performed in some of NYC’s premier venues, from Otto’s Shrunken Head to The Delancey (oh, and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center).

The word or phrase that best describes me…

A smile on my face, a song in my heart.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Ben & Christen Aroh

January 4, 2017

Ben & Christen Aroh - UncommonGoods

It’s about time we found a fun and functional solution for all of us chronic key-forgetters. Ben and Christen Aroh, the makers of our new Wooden States of America and USA Magnetic Key Holders, met in college and have become partners – both in their marriage and in their business. Together they’ve created these homey works of art that help us hold onto our keys. Ben does the woodworking, and Christen helps to keep the business side running smoothly while also working as an elementary school music teacher. 

We know you appreciate the inspiring, motivating stories behind our products just as much as we do, so settle in and read our interview with Ben about how he and Christen have made magnetic, key-saving magic in their Louisville, Kentucky woodshop.

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