Design

Comments of the Week

November 18, 2011

It’s hard to believe it’s already November and the holiday shopping season is underway! We’re proud to offer a plethora of giftable goods, but we know that sometimes shoppers want to take a break from browsing. Our community voting app is a great place to take a load off and tell us just what you think! The goods shown aren’t available for purchase yet, but with your help, they could be in the future!

Our favorite comments this week were posted about an eco-friendly, handmade jewelry design, a gorgeous custom pendant, and a fresh, fun umbrella.

We’ll get our roundup rolling with Darcy’s comment on Monica Farbiarz’s latest design, Batik Drop Earrings.

We’re glad to hear that Darcy not only likes the look of these tagua nut earrings, but also supports fair trade artisans!

Another lovely handmade jewelry design is also getting some attention this week, Amy Ambroult’s Personalized Silhouette Necklace. To make these unique necklaces, Amy takes customer photos and shrinks them to fit the pendant, she then creates a sterling silver silhouette for an uncommon take on the traditional cameo. Although Barbara likes the idea, she isn’t quite sold.

Although Barbara isn’t completely convinced, Louisa and Hilary are both ready to buy.

That’s the kind of enthusiasm we love to see! Our next commenter was less enthusiastic. In fact, we detect a hint of sarcasm in her feedback for the Goggles Umbrella.

Thanks for the feedback, Laura. Just in case our sarcasm meter is off–we sincerely hope that you only lose that important sign on days when it’s raining.

Speaking of sincerity, Deborah seems sincerely amused by this creative design, and was still able to slip in a joke.

We’re glad this silly (but functional) product gave you a good laugh, Deborah! Thanks for your feedback, and thanks to everyone who used our community voting app this week! We look forward to seeing what you have to say about our next batch of items up for voting!

The Uncommon Life

The Biggest Supporter of the Arts

November 17, 2011

There was a time when Santa’s elves had to work hard in the months before the holidays, stuffing dollies, carving rocking horses from wood, and assembling shiny new bicycles. It seems as though letters to Santa have changed a bit, and now those elves are placing orders to Apple for iPads and checking parental advisory warnings to see whether the latest video games are suitable for youngsters.

Does any one out there still care about artisan made goods?

Letter to Santa & Letter to Santa (Back), magma666

Although those pointy-eared little fellas don’t get to use their artisan skills as much as they’d like these days, we know UncommonGoods shoppers do still appreciate high-quality, handmade pieces. With this in mind, our highly scientific data analysis team decided to find the Biggest Supporter of the Arts and give that city their due recognition.

We took a gander the sales of a few of our most artfully-made items including:
Stephen Kitras’ hand-blown Glass Globes
Traci Medeiros-Bagan’s Crocheted Headphones
Al Stephens’ Hand-forged Cheese Slicer

Lo and behold, Atlanta wins our title for Biggest Supporter of the Arts! But we’re proud to say Brooklyn’s not far behind.

Here’s the full breakdown of how our art-loving cities stood out against the rest of the country:

Atlanta, GA Atlanta is known as the cultural hub of the south. This peachy city hosts nearly 50 arts and culture festivals each year, evidence that Atlantans don’t just love handmade goods, they also like to party.

Brooklyn, NY For years, Brooklyn has been in the shadow of Manhattan’s art scene, with no Village, fewer well-known galleries, and cheaper food and rent (making it harder for artists to starve). Now, Brooklyn’s art culture is booming. The Brooklyn Museum rivals the MET, The Brooklyn Flea attracts hipsters, crafters, and all kinds of creatives, and neighboorhoods like DUMBO and Williamsburg are known for their studios and galleries.

New York, NY Brooklyn’s art-lovers came out a just a hair ahead in our analysis of art sales versus overall sales, but NYC holds steady in the top five. New Yorkers have long appreciated art, earning the city the reputation as the art capital of the world (we suspect that Parisians are still a little ticked over losing the title).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, plassen

Austin, TX Austin may not be home to a world-famous museum, but they do boast the Austin Museum of Art. Austin art fans can also visit Austin Art Garage, a gallery founded to highlight emerging artists while bringing affordable art to the people. We love the idea, but as far as we can tell from the photos on their website, the Austin Art Garage is not really a garage at all, so you’ll need to go elsewhere if you also need an oil change.

Chicago, IL The Art Institute of Chicago is in Chicago (which is good, because it would probably have to change it’s name). The world-renowned museum’s adjoined school, aptly named the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is often considered one of the best art schools in the United States. Sure, tuition is expensive, but fortunately artists make a ton of money right out of college, so new graduates won’t have to worry about student loan debt.

Art Institute Lion Wearing Bears Helmet , egvvnd

Actually, that last bit of information may not be entirely accurate. Do your part to help those art and design grads pay the bills by giving the gift of handmade goods this holiday season!

The Uncommon Life

DIY Gifts that Keep On Giving

November 17, 2011

We love the internet – there’s a treasure trove out there of inspiration.  Here’s what’s caught our eye recently in the world of DIY gifts, a trend we’re totally on board with.

(Image courtesy of Design Boom, from Sabine Marcelis)

Our own Jonathan and Kira tested the Beer Making Kit earlier this summer, and it looks like they aren’t the only ones experimenting with DIY distilling: Design Boom brought to our attention Netherlands artist Sabine Marcelis’ “Housewine,” a beautifully simple and functional display of the wine-making process.

(Image courtesy of My Baking Addiction)

Another recent trend that’s right at home with UncommonGoods is indoor gardening, and now that flu season is upon us, a great way to stay healthy is by adding herbs to your repertoire of recipes. Consider making Jamie of My Baking Addiction’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil Herb Dip. The Dip includes oregano and basil, which can both be grown in our recycled Grow Bottles!

(Image courtesy of Astronomy Today Sky Guide; photo by Jenny Rollo)

While UncommonGoods specializes in gifts that are great for the home, we’ve also got goods that are out of this world – the Planisphere Watch tells the time and maps the night sky.  If you’re interested in DIY astronomy, check out Astronomy Today’s Sky Guide, a handy tool for tracking otherworldly occurrences.

Design

The Ceramics Design Champion

November 15, 2011


Our judges met at Flatbush Farm last week to take a look at the five finalists from the Ceramics Design Challenge.


Alice Goldsmith, known for her handmade flatware series, and Jono Pandolfi known for his iconic Pillow Plate joined Product Designer Sarah Stenseng to look at some very impressive work:

Kathy Gorg’s Calla Lily collection won the customer vote.

Jennifer Fisher’s Pocket Planters charmed everyone with their bright colors and potential to become tiny terrariums or jewelry trays.

Romi Hefetz’s Mini Bowls stacked perfectly in the judges hands and showed off beautiful glaze work.

Kyla Toomey’s Button Series wowed everyone. Nobody could believe how much work and detail went into making each woven mug or button bowl.

But Tasha McKelvey’s Birdie Mini Dish stole the show.

The judges agreed these handmade dishes were great gifts for moms, aunts, grandmas, sisters, daughters and best friends who dye their hair pink and collect kitschy relics of the fifties. (That last idea was from Judge Alice Goldsmith.)

The judges were particularly impressed with the dish’s construction. Each dish is handpressed with a weathered piece of antique barn siding to give it a look of rustic wood. Each hand-sculpted bird is glazed separately and then added to the lip of the dish.

While the judges wished the birdie mini dishes were a bit larger, they all agreed that Tasha McKelvey’s creative work was a perfect fit for UncommonGoods.

Tasha wins $500 plus a chance to sell her dishes at UncommonGoods. Sign up to be notified when her dishes become available!

And let us know– should we bring in Tasha’s mushroom dish as well? Leave a comment to let us know what you think.

The Uncommon Life

Birmingham Knocks NYC Out for Most Design-Savvy City

November 14, 2011

When it comes to cities that have their eye on modern design, you’d expect New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago to be top of the list, right? Not so!

We were taking a look at the sales data for some of our most popular design-friendly gifts:  the Face Mug, Unzipped Glass Zipper Bag, Buddha Bowls, Elevate Utensils, and Urbano Eco Trash Can.

The trends that emerged are not what you’d expect.

Birmingham, AL – Leading the pack of stylish cities is Alabama’s cultural capital.  Home to Vulcan (the world’s largest cast iron statue) and a brand new 19-acre Railroad Park, it’s no wonder this epicenter of cool urban planning has design-minded gift-givers as well.

Vulcan Park, Greg Willis

Royal Oak, MI – A suburb of Detroit, Royal Oak may be unfamiliar to most. But, as any dedicated 1990s TV-watcher will tell you, Royal Oak was the setting for the much-loved Home Improvement series starring Tim Allen. Perhaps great home improving lives on not only in the show’s Disney Channel reruns, but in Royal Oak’s residents as well.

Pleasanton, CA – This Bay Area city’s name is an accurate indication of its residents’ eye for good design. We bet their lovely interiors and home decorating skills factored into Pleasanton’s ranking as one of the best places to live.

Green Bay, WI – Green Bay’s strategic location on Lake Michigan made it a historically important center of railroad transportation and trade. Nearly 400 years of gift giving and exchange sounds like enough experience to land the #4 spot on our list of America’s most design-savvy cities.

Museum of Glass, Casey Yee

Tacoma, WA – Tacoma has the highest density of art and history museums in the state of Washington, including a Museum of Glass that our Unzipped Glass Zipper Bag would feel right at home in. Whether UncommonGoods shoppers in Tacoma find inspiration for their homes from museum visits or not, we applaud their great taste.

You may be wondering where cities such as New York and Los Angeles are on our list.  The City of Angels ranked 45th, and the Big Apple came in 94th.  If these numbers don’t sound right to any of you Angelenos and New Yorkers, what are you waiting for?  Get shopping!

Design

Comments of the Week

November 11, 2011

We’ve wrapped up our Uncommon Ceramics Design Challenge, and our community voting app is once again filled with fab finds submitted by our buyers. They’ve picked some great products this week, and it looks like our community is super excited about two categories: baby goods and gardening gifts!

The first miniature marvel up for voting is a pair of cool shades. Baby Aviator Sunnies look like grown-up glasses, but are made just for kids.

We agree with Michelle, and also want to add that these sunnies don’t just look cute while protecting little eyes from UVA and UVB rays, they’re also extra durable. The frames are made of rubber and the lenses are impact and shatter-resistant acrylic material, so they’re baby proof.

David pointed out that dropping the glasses isn’t the only thing parents have to worry about. Babies are also pretty great at sticking weird things in their mouths.

We won’t make any claims to the nutritious value or flavor of these aviators, but we can confirm that they are BPA and phthalate-free, so baby can gum, suck, and teeth on them without inducing parental fear.

Another baby good, the Nappy Mat, has gotten a mixed response.

While Nicole seems a bit bummed about too many bundles of joy in the world, JoBeth’s comments lead us to believe that she supports procreation (and organic, recycled goods).

Now switching gears from growing children to growing plants, the Seed Pot Maker is also getting some great feedback.

While Christina may not know many amateur horticulturists, Liane and Mary think this wooden wonder could make a great gift.

Do you agree with Liane’s theory that gardeners will eat this new design up? Is Mary right that it’s a great niche gift for someone special? Or, do side with Christina? We’d love to hear what you think of the Seed Pot Maker, these baby gift ideas, and the other items up for review in our community voting app this week!

The Uncommon Life

Giveaway: Family Traditions Journal

November 4, 2011

Every family has traditions. Some of them are big, annual events, like that special meal on your favorite holiday. Others seem smaller, like bedtime stories and inside jokes, but even those daily details help build lasting memories.

Our new Family Traditions is the perfect way to celebrate those memories and we’re giving away three, just in time for the holidays.

Whether it’s a plump turkey on Thanksgiving, Goldilocks and the Three Bears at bedtime, or a funny nickname with a funnier story behind it, the Family Traditions Journal is a way to capture those moments and pass traditions on from generation to generation.

Continue Reading…

The Uncommon Life

Comments of the Week

November 4, 2011

Our Uncommon Ceramics Design Challenge semi-finalists are now up for community voting, and we’re already getting some amazing feedback!

We love that our community is weighing in with their votes and comments to help us pick the winner of a $500 prize and the opportunity for a vendor contract with UncommonGoods.

To start the comments roundup, we’re pleased to share posts from Chelsey and Giraffe, who each mention the amazing technical skill illustrated by Kyla Toomey, who entered her Button Series.

Our next voter didn’t love a design in our voting app, but the reason was more aesthetic. While Katie’s not a fan of the Teef Mug, Kim sees the humor and gave it a thumbs up.

We’re glad Ginny Waters’ design is making you smile, Kim!

While Katie gives “creepy” a thums down. Another semi-finalist, The Blob by Nereida Trujillo got an up-vote from Tasha for being a bit risqué.

We love to see our voters sharing their unique viewpoints! We welcome your opinions, and we can’t wait to see what else you have to say about our Uncommon Ceramics Design Challenge semi-finalists. Visit our community voting app before November 9 to cast your vote!

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