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Design

An Unfolding Story: The Shape-Shifting Ollie Chair

October 26, 2017

*Editor’s note: The Shape-Shifting Ollie Chair is coming soon to our assortment. Be the first to get it by pre-ordering here.

“I like creating objects that move and change and don’t always stay what they seem to be,” says Ollie chair designer Jess Banks. Transformation is everywhere you turn at her studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It starts with the building itself. The jaw-dropping space of the New Lab, where Jess and her team develop their kinetic designs, was once part of a shipbuilding mecca. The space is now a high-tech entrepreneurial hub. “It’s really amazing to think of how we’re based in a place that was running because of war, and I’m allowed the freedom and luxury to create new ideas,” she reflected. This is just the sort of place you’d expect to find a chair that unfurls from a two-inch-thick rectangle of aluminum and wood tambour—and transforms back again with a gentle pull.

We visited Jess to discuss design inspirations for her shape-shifting chair, the personalities behind it, and why she doesn’t call it a “folding chair.” Along the way, we learned more about tambour and discovered why the former Comedy Central employee looks forward to buying toothpaste. Continue Reading…

Design

Coffee Brake: The Manual Three-in-One Coffeemaker

October 21, 2017

*Editor’s note: The Manual Three-in-One Coffeemaker is coming soon to our assortment. Get it first by pre-ordering here.

Coffee can be a complicated thing. Unless you’re drinking decaf, it signals speed and gulp-and-go morning motivation. It’s no accident that many American offices provide a steady stream of java, as if to say coffee equals productivity. But the slow food movement has put the brakes on preparing this fast-lane beverage. “Slow coffee is really asking folks to consider coffee as something more than just a caffeine jolt,” says Manual Three-in-One Coffeemaker designer Craighton Berman. Brewing methods like pour-over and French press that predate auto drip and K-cup coffeemakers have made a comeback. You could easily end up with a cabinet full of coffee paraphernalia, but Chicagoans and slow-coffee devotees Craighton and his wife and design partner, Emily, have a solution: a brewer that combines two manual methods with an insulating double-walled design.

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Design

Functional Fashion:
The Tulry Utility Necklace

October 9, 2017

*Editor’s note: The Tulry Utility Necklace is coming soon to our assortment. Get it first by pre-ordering here.

The Tulry Utility Necklace is coming soon to UncommonGoods | Pre-order here

“A lot of everyday products are designed with a male-centric audience in mind,” says designer Nate Barr. He admits that he hadn’t really thought about that until his wife, Bryn, challenged him to think from the perspective of people who aren’t always empowered to speak up. Bryn also inspired his latest invention, the Tulry Utility Necklace.

Bryn said she loved the functionality of Nate’s tools, like the Multi-Tool Box of Wonders, but had no way to carry them. “She pointed out that dresses don’t have pockets. Jeans pockets are too tight, and a purse is never big enough,” Nate explains.  She encouraged him to create a unique way to solve this problem. The result marries an elegant jewelry design with a highly functional piece.

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Design

Material Matters: The Warmth of Wood

September 27, 2017

Actor and avid canoe builder Nick Offerman once said, “How lucky my life is that I have two arms, and two legs, and ten fingers with which to make things out of wood.” Such dedication to this organic, flexible, and renewable material is nothing new. Wood has been a favorite of architects, builders, and designers for millennia. Technically speaking, it’s cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin. Unlike metals and plastics, wood is versatile, structural stuff that can be grown. Plant a seed or acorn, wait a few decades, and you can build yourself a house, a ship, or a cuckoo clock. From ancient Japanese temples to the flowing furniture of Scandinavian modernism, wood inspires an amazing variety of design. Not surprisingly, you’ll find it in many corners of our collection, where makers draw out its inviting qualities to infuse their work with natural beauty. Thanks, trees! Continue Reading…

Design

In Praise of Sound Design: Introducing the Public Radio

July 25, 2017

*Editor’s note: The Public Radio – Single Station Tuner is coming soon to our assortment. Get it first by pre-ordering here.

Modernity can be a little overwhelming. Don’t get us wrong, of course; the internet is an amazing tool, and smartphones make virtually everything easier, from navigating the wildlands otherwise known as the subway system to finding out whether it’s going to rain in fifteen minutes or if that cloud’s just looking a bit more angry than usual. We agree: These are all good things. But sometimes an escape from the wealth of information our era provides seems awfully luxurious. Sometimes you just want to turn your phone off for like, one second. And sometimes you’d rather not wonder which one of the hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there you should listen to today. You’d rather flip a switch, hear one thing (and one thing only), and move on with your life, complex as it already is.

Spencer, left, and Zach

Enter the Public Radio – Single Station Tuner, brainchild of media and sound technologist Zach Dunham and his childhood friend Spencer Wright, a manufacturing strategist. A breath of fresh air among the seemingly endless streaming options in today’s digital landscape, the Public Radio – Single Station Tuner radically simplifies your listening experience. Tuned to a single FM station of your choice, it has only one knob, for volume control. And while lowercase public radio (or, y’know, Hot 97) devotees will appreciate the ease with which they can tune into their favorite station, design aficionados will take to the gadget’s thoughtful construction, which allows it to fit into any wide-mouth Mason jar—not only the cute, compact half-pint variety it ships with.

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Design

Designing a Force for Good: Behind the Scenes of Our Hope Shines Necklace

June 30, 2017

 

For 16 years, we here at UncommonGoods have demonstrated a commitment to supporting causes we care about through our Better to Give Program, an initiative that allows us to donate $1 from each purchase to a non-profit partner of your choice (and at no additional cost to you). Earlier this year, our Product Development team joined forces with one of our longest-standing Better to Give partners, RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to craft a unique item of jewelry to benefit their organization. The result—our Hope Shines Necklace—is an elegant emblem of what RAINN stands for, symbolizing hope, reflection, and triumph over darkness. But how did we arrive at this design?

 

 

The process was a long one—about four months—but our team began with a few ideas in mind. At first, they used text as a springboard, attempting to translate everything from statistics—like RAINN’s assertion that every 98 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted—to the number for the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline into wearable pieces of jewelry. Soon, however, they broadened their approach, exploring ways to highlight some of the more general themes associated with RAINN’s mission, like hope, forward motion, and the ongoing nature of one’s story.

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Design

A-Side Design: Jeff Davis’ Vintage Vinyl Bluetooth Speaker

June 16, 2017

*Editor’s note: Jeff Davis’ Vintage Vinyl Bluetooth® Speaker is coming soon to our assortment. You can be among the first to get this design by pre-ordering here.

Vintage Vinyl Bluetooth® Speaker | UncommonGoods

Side A

Fresh from its triumphant world tour on Kickstarter, Jeff Davis’ Vintage Vinyl Bluetooth® Speaker puts a new spin on old LPs, letting reclaimed vinyl play music in an innovative way: as the speaker itself. With a bemused smile, Jeff points out that you can’t drop the needle on these reshaped records, but they will play your entire digital music collection in analog-inspired style. It’s a cool way to give your smartphone an audiophile upgrade.

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Design

Wash Your Pet without Getting Drenched (Thanks to the Aquapaw)

May 22, 2017

Have you ever given a dog a bath? She probably squirmed around a bit. OK, that might be an understatement. It’s more likely that that she wouldn’t hold still, splashed around a whole lot, and then did one of those full-body doggy shakes that sent a shower your way. Almost everyone who’s owned a dog has had a similar experience. Product designer Daniel Lentz certainly has, and it got him thinking that there had to be a better way to get our furry friends squeaky clean.

The Aquapaw Dog Bathing Glove lets you keep one hand free to hold your dog’s collar or reach for the pet shampoo, while the other hand wets and scrubs. The whole time your dog is getting the spa treatment, he’s also getting a good petting. It took Daniel years of thinking about the product, piles of prototypes, and some time spent scrubbing dirty pups at a local dog shelter, but now his design is ready to make bath time easier for pet parents and their pets. The Aquapaw is coming soon to our assortment, so we asked Daniel to tell us more about his development process and why he thinks every pet owner should have an Aquapaw.

 

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