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Design

The Uncommon Collection:
Beautiful Designs, a Blueprint for Responsible Business

July 19, 2016

Roughly a year ago, we proudly launched The Uncommon Collection. While all of our goods are “uncommon,” the Collection is special because it’s a culmination of efforts to create an assortment of well-designed items made responsibly by businesses who embrace thoughtful and sustainable business practices. The Collection presents opportunities for our manufacturing partners to share the spotlight with their products, telling the stories behind those products and connecting our customer with the people who made them. We have grown a lot since introducing the Collection last year, both in terms of number of items and makers contributing to the Collection and in our understanding of the challenges and opportunities such an initiative presents.

The Uncommon Collection | UncommonGoods

What we’ve learned:

Companies come in all shapes and sizes

We approached the development of Collection criteria based on values we as a company hold ourselves and devised for manufacturers in a general sense. At UncommonGoods we work with companies both large and small, in widely varying industries employing teams all across the skill-level spectrum. It was important to us that this not be an initiative with criteria that artificially closed us off to certain industries or company sizes, but rather was as potentially broad-reaching as possible to raise the bar for as many companies as possible.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Alex Monroe

July 14, 2016
Alex Monroe

Alex Monroe in his London shop, photos by Emily Hodges

It’s only natural to “ooh” and “aah” over Alex Monroe’s handmade jewelry, which is inspired by beautiful botanicals, woodland animals, and beloved everyday objects. He has the craftsmanship to shape precious metals into delicate designs through traditional jewelry-making techniques and the keen artist’s sixth sense to capture the smallest intricacy. Through Alex’s eyes, no detail goes unnoticed. What’s really magical, from the engagement rings showcasing whimsical twig bands to watering can necklaces with sapphire droplets dripping from their spouts, is that a different story can unfold from each of Alex’s designs depending on the individual wearing them.

How Does Your Garden Grow? Necklace by Alex Monroe | UncommonGoods

How Does Your Garden Grow? Necklace by Alex Monroe | UncommonGoods

Upon entering Alex’s London-based shop, I was pleasantly surprised to be standing in a room that mimicked The Jungle Book. Lush trees and green plant decor covered the walls and pineapples seemed to float against the windows — yet signs of old-school civilization like binoculars, globes, and magnifying glasses peeked out on top of the jewelry displays and handmade wooden cabinets. One glance around the shop and it’s obvious that the natural world and useful objects are ongoing themes in Alex’s designs.

After visiting his shop, I had the opportunity to stop by the charming Victorian cobbled yard in south London where he first started making his own jewelry in 1986. Today, he has a team of skilled jewelers recreating his designs in that very same studio.

See inside this whimsical world and learn more about Alex’s journey as a world-renowned jewelry designer who has worked to perfect his aesthetic over the past 30 years.

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Design

The Nightbulb:
An Instant Design Classic

July 11, 2016

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


Nightbulb | UncommonGoods

 

Jamie Hoffman, UncommonGoods’ Home Decor buyer, was strolling the booths at a trade show in New York when the chic good looks of Liz Ross & David Westby’s Nightbulb lit up her connoisseur’s eye. “When Liz pulled the Nightbulb prototype out of her bag,” Jamie told us, “I was immediately interested, and started to talk about an exclusive launch.”

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Maker Stories

Watercolors of the United States: Renee Leone’s Paintings

July 8, 2016

Renee Leone at work

Renee Leone’s perfect world is a natural one. “I love landscapes and vast panoramic views and being able to see to the horizon,” the Chicago-based painter says. “Being outside with nature invigorates me and truly inspires me.”

Happily for the rest of us, Renee translates that inspiration into vibrant watercolors. Her geometric yet playful renderings of everything from redwood forests to desert cacti to urban seasides delight viewers — which is exactly why Renee creates. “I love hearing from people who have purchased or admire my work, and having them tell me they enjoy it,” she says. “When I see art that moves me, it’s a very cool feeling. I love knowing that my work does that for other people.” She colors in the rest of her story for us.

Drawing file collage

Desert Cacti of the Southwest (left) and  Renee’s filing drawers (right)

When did you first realize you were an artist?
I’ve loved art since I was a child and won awards in elementary school for my art. I always had this feeling inside I was very creative and artistic, although I didn’t really think I was good enough to be an artist. My self doubt kept me from pursuing a creative field. But I couldn’t shake the fact that I needed to do something more creative, and I wanted to learn to “really” draw. [After earning my bachelor’s in communications], I enrolled in design school. When I finally did learn to draw technically, I realized this is truly what I should be doing and I couldn’t believe it took me so long to realize I was an artist and needed to follow this path.

PicMonkey Collage

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Gift Guides

Gift Guide: Wedding Anniversary Gifts by Year

June 23, 2016

cta-giftguide-anniversarygifts
Just as there aren’t official rules that fit every romantic partnership, the “appropriate” wedding anniversary gifts by year aren’t written in stone–nor iron, copper, bronze, tin, steel, gold, or diamond. The origins of the traditional anniversary gift list are shrouded by the mysterious, misty mists of time, anyway.

The “traditional” guide for anniversary gifts by year featured mostly practical items, to help couples set up their new homes. The modern list, created by the American National Retail Jewelers Association in 1937, is (surprise!) big on precious metals and gems. As much as we adore sparkly baubles, we don’t believe that jewelers have the authoritative last word on this subject.

However, an anniversary gift guide of what’s generally considered appropriate can be a lifesaver: without one, it’s easy to succumb to mental paralysis when you need to come up with anniversary gift ideas for friends or relatives celebrating X years of marriage.

With all this in mind, here is our own fresh guide of anniversary gifts by year: traditional, modern, and, of course, uncommon.
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