Ken McCallum – UncommonGoods Data Scientist, Analytics
Marion Cage McCollam considers herself a designer first, an artist second. “By that, I mean that I am more of a problem solver,” the Columbia University-trained architect says. “My background defines my work in that there is always a technical as well as a creative component to everything I do.” In other words, whether the New Orleans resident is making hardware for a home, a dog tag for a beloved pet, or a ring for a human, she pushes herself to achieve elegance in form and function.
Marion developed her fluid yet strong sensibilities when she was in her 20s working under world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, who created the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 London Olympics among myriad other celebrated structures. “She was a mentor to me,” says Marion. After Hadid’s untimely death in March 2016, Marion found herself creating a special series: “My latest jewelry collection was inspired by the forms I was introduced to when working for her.” It’s the elegance of these shapes, as well as Marion’s thoughtfulness, that sets her work apart. The designer and Big Easy shop owner tells us about her ultimate influence and the creative process behind her latest work.
Nick Spano, UncommonGoods Help Desk Coordinator, Technology
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.
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.
I have a habit of switching perfumes pretty frequently. I can’t seem to be satisfied with the same aromas for too long because, well, I just get bored. I have never repurchased a scent for myself. I always wonder how some people have that one fragrance that they’ve worn for 15 years. I am always in search of the best scent that describes my mood and my life which is forever changing. I’ve dabbled in perfumed oils, luxury fragrance brands, body mists, and even heavily perfumed lotions. My nose immediately perked up when the Mixologie Perfume Collection joined the UncommonGoods assortment. Some features that got my attention were that the individual bottles are travel friendly and upon first sniff, I was enthralled with the 8 scents on their own. I jumped at the chance to experiment with the different cocktails that this kit suggests and make up a few dozen scents for myself!
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.
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.
Ariel Araza, Software Architect, Technology
Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.
What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Dale Salvaggio Bradshaw, creator of our new Flower Ring.