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Gift Guides

Gifts for Teens: 20 Cool Gifts for People Under 20

October 21, 2016

Gifts for Teens | UncommonGoods

More than any other age group, teenagers go through a crazy roller coaster of changes. Once they bid farewell to the “little kid” years, they really start to explore who they are, who they’re not, and who they want to become. They are on a constant quest to find a voice (and, perhaps, the #perfecthashtag). We think this period of self-discovery is really awesome. Here at UncommonGoods, we’re all about encouraging individuality. So we hand-selected 20 of our coolest items for the savvy, curious, flourishing and fun-loving teens in your life. These gifts will not only be Instagram worthy keepsakes, but also little stamps of uniqueness during this holiday season and beyond.

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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Sending Light and Love with the SolarPuff

October 17, 2016

*Editor’s note: In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, we’re donating 20% of proceeds from SolarPuff™ orders placed between October 19-October 31 to support FAARM™, a non-profit comprised of designers and architects who are currently distributing SolarPuff Lights to hurricane victims in Haiti.

SolarPuffs lighting the way

All images and videos courtesy of Solight Designs ™

Some of us take light for granted. The sun goes down, we flip a switch, and our homes are flooded with an electric-energy-fueled sunshine substitute. But for the 1.6 billion people in the world without access to electricity, it’s not that easy.

In many areas around the globe, kerosene is used in place of electricity. Kerosene, like gasoline, is a fossil fuel made from petroleum. It’s expensive, it has to be burned to create energy, and burning it creates air pollution. Unfortunately, many families don’t have access to any other source of light. That makes cooking, studying, or even seeing the face of the loved one sitting right across the room impossible without the aid of kerosine lamps. Use of these lamps can be dangerous. They get hot, they send soot into the air, and in some cases, they even use open flames.

Aiming to bring a safe, clean alternative to kerosene to those living by lamplight, product designer, architect, and Professor of Design and Material Culture at Parsons the New School of Design, Alice Min Soo Chun developed the SolarPuff™— an inexpensive, collapsible light powered by the sun.

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Design, The Uncommon Life

Home Run Beer Pong:
A Design Double Header

October 10, 2016

Home Run Beer Pong


Ah, two of America’s greatest pastimes: playing baseball and crushin’ brewskis. Our ever-innovative product development team had the genius idea to combine them in our latest original product: Home Run Beer Pong. When our team is working on something new for our assortment, they typically need some guinea pigs to test it out – and lucky for us on the blog squad, people to document the process! I’ll admit, I’m no sports expert. But since I have played a fair amount of beer pong in my day, I figured I was qualified enough to tackle the reporting of this product-testing event while Cassie, our blog editor, handled the photos.

Allow me to set the scene for you. It all went down in Conference Room A-2 – the table free of it’s usual keyboards and mouse pads, instead replaced with a mini paper baseball diamond (the real game has a board, not just a sheet of paper – remember we were product testing). Our single can of Canada Dry was cracked and ready, and our two opposing teams were eager to show off their baseball playing, soda slugging skills. Another disclaimer: the real game is meant to be played with beer, obviously, but we were playing at 11 AM on a Thursday and we only had the conference room booked for an hour, so we kept it low-key. But, you’re free to chug ginger ale instead if that’s what you’re into.

From left: Team Ken (Red Team), Team Craig and Jackie (Blue Team)

Let’s meet the players. We had many statistical minds on the field/conference table, including two whole Kens! Ken “The Elder” is our Data Scientist, and Ken “The Younger” (also known as “Yung Ken” in some underground rap circles) is our Jr. Data Scientist. They obviously formed a team. Team Ken. AKA the Red Team. Next up is Craig, our Data Analyst, and Jackie, our PR Intern who did double duty slugging it out and documenting the process on the UGoods Insta. Craig and Jackie don’t have the same name (bummer) but still made a fine Blue Team.

After a brief review of the rules from the brains behind it all, Senior Product Developer Tiffany, the game commenced.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Danielle Kroll

October 7, 2016
Danielle Kroll | UncommonGoods

Danielle Kroll in her Greenpoint, Brooklyn studio, photos by Rachel Orlow

One thing I’ve learned in my years of visiting artists’ studios is that they’re rarely what I expect. Danielle Kroll’s was no exception. Sure, I expected it to be full of beautiful art and hoped to see a plethora of paints and piles of paper, but I had no idea just how fun, colorful, and full of creativity-sparking treasures her space would be.

I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical when I arrived at what looked like a warehouse in a seemingly industrial part of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. (But, in actuality, I shouldn’t have been. By now I should know that many interesting and inspiring places are hidden away in former factories and warehouse buildings.)

Artist Danielle Kroll's Studio | UncommonGoods

Danielle invited our small group–myself, a photographer, and our content intern–into the old building and we followed her up a steep staircase into a beautiful communal area used by several artists. While I was impressed by the art in the halls, the eclectic combination of furniture, and the relaxed feel of the whole space, Danielle’s own studio really blew me away. Flooded with natural light, decorated with her own art and art she’s collected, and filled with books, it was the kind of space where I felt right at home.

That welcomed feeling was only enhanced by the artist’s openness and enthusiasm. She not only showed us some of her paintings, but also opened her sketchbooks, showed off some of her favorite objects she’s collected as a self-proclaimed “pack rat,” and shared about a few of her creative projects.

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The Uncommon Life

10 Easy to Grow Succulents for Every Home [Infographic]

October 6, 2016

Indoor Succulent Advice | UncommonGoods

With fall in full swing it’s time to spruce up your indoor gardening game. If you’re hoping for an easy and beautiful indoor garden sanctuary try succulents. Succulent plants come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, suitable to all kinds of interior spaces. Easily identified by their juicy leaves and stems, these plants aren’t just pretty—they’re designed to hold water during droughts. Good news for the forgetful gardener: succulents are resilient, hardy, and versatile.

But with thousands of varieties to choose from, it’s hard to know which types of succulents are right for your indoor space. Low levels of natural light and cooler temperatures mean you’ll need to adjust how much water and fertilizer you use. Some adapt to hanging planters and terrariums better than others and some indoor succulents can even be toxic to your pets. When you get right down to it, there is a lot to know about succulent care! That’s why we’ve researched and compiled a list of 10 favorite indoor succulents to brighten up your home this fall.

The 10 Best Indoor Succulents | Indoor Plant Tips | UncommonGoods

Thanksgiving Catcus | UncommonGoods Continue Reading…


The Aurora Light: A Brilliant Addition to our Assortment

September 12, 2016


Aurora Light Blue Office

Photo courtesy of Nanoleaf

If you search for the definition of “aurora,” you’ll see it described simply as “a natural electrical phenomenon.” A bit of historical research will find you Aurora with a capital “A,” a glowing, celestial goddess from ancient Roman mythology who announces the sun’s arrival each morning. You’re also likely to call up images of the aurora borealis (commonly known as the Northern Lights), a stunning natural wonder that some people spend their whole lives hoping to see.

When you get your first glance at a set of the Aurora Smart Lighting Panels, a shining newcomer to our assortment, its name seems exceedingly appropriate. It’s an ecodesign enthusiast’s dream, in that it’s both highly efficient and really nice to look at. It’s like a mini Northern Lights right up on your wall. It’s versatile, too. You can use it as an aesthetically pleasing alternative to an alarm clock, programming a soft glow to greet you in the morning a la Aurora the goddess. Or, once night-time hits, you can dance till dawn using the Aurora for ambiance. Just click onto your saved Party Time setting and you’re good to go.

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Maker Stories

Christine Schmidt’s Mismatched Earrings & Peculiar Pet Pendants

August 22, 2016

Christine Schmidt in her San Francisco Studio | UncommonGoods

Christine Schmidt is a jewelry artist, printmaker, designer, illustrator, author, and fraternal twin. She says that maybe that last one influenced her decision to veer from convention and create her clever, quirky mismatched earrings: “I am myself different but a part of a unit. I’ll spare you the therapy–but I like to change it up.”

Here at UncommonGoods, we like to change it up too, and that’s why when we saw some of Christine’s mismatched designs, we couldn’t wait to work with her to create more canny combos.

We thought about a few of the interests our customers (and even many of the folks that work here) share, and worked with the artist on a new line celebrating books, space, and pets. Christine captured each of these concepts through her charming illustrations, turned them into brand new mismatched earrings, and even designed adorable cat and dog necklaces exclusively for UncommonGoods.

She took some time out from being a multi-talented super artist to tell us about her road to a creative career, her process, and working with our team.

Christine Schmidt's Mismatched Earrings | Exclusively at UncommonGoods

Books and Eyeglasses, Sun and Moon, and Cat and Dog Mismatched Earrings | Exclusively at UncommonGoods

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Maker Stories

Nancy Nelson’s Bee Love Jewelry: Honeycomb, Heart, and Hive Help

August 19, 2016

Many jewelry makers would describe their collections as “playful yet sophisticated and timeless.” Nancy Nelson happens to be one of them, but she isn’t referring to a new line of fall fashion must-haves; in her world, it’s the inspiration for her work: the honeycomb. Each of her bee-based designs is a sweet but serious tribute to the awe-inspiring insects that build their own hexagonal homes, produce healthy honey, and pollinate the crops we depend on every day. Her Bee Love Necklace and Earrings were shaped by the geometry of a heart-shaped piece of honeycomb given to her by her beekeeping friend Katie, but also by the vital environmental role played by bees and the alarming threat of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).


There are many theories about what causes CCD, including fungicides, viruses, mites, and the commercial beekeeping process itself, in which colonies are stressed by being trucked all over the country to seasonally pollinate crops. But entomologists, apiary advocates, and artists alike are working hard to diagnose and respond to the crisis. “After learning about the epidemic of the bees vanishing from their hives and knowing that they pollinate a third of our diets, I realized I needed to do my part to help save the bees,” said Nancy. In response, she donates a portion of sales from her honeycomb jewelry collection to Bee Informed Partnership, a nonprofit organization addressing the decline of the honeybee population in the United States.


Recently, we asked Nancy to reflect on the connections between bees’ industrious design work, their role in a healthy ecosystem, and her own tribute to their creations. Continue Reading…

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