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Design

Shirt Tales: Personal Shirt and Message Pillow Stories

August 1, 2016

Most of us have an old shirt in the back of a drawer that we just can’t bear to get rid of. Maybe it doesn’t fit quite right anymore, or maybe it just doesn’t work with your current wardrobe, but throwing it out or even donating it just doesn’t feel like an option. Maybe that shirt is from an unforgettable concert or a big game. Maybe it’s from a special day, like that tuxedo shirt from your wedding that means a lot, but will probably never be worn again. Or maybe it’s a shirt that was passed on to you by someone special. Just because you don’t wear it anymore doesn’t mean you can’t show it off. Turn it into a Personal Shirt and Message Pillow to give your old shirt a new use.

A few folks on our team had t-shirts with sentimental value, and now they have brand new pillows stuffed with memories (and synthetic, goose-friendly down).

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Maker Stories

Inside the Maker’s Studio with Splyt Light designer Jason Krugman

May 13, 2016
Splyt Light Designer Jason Krugman

Splyt Light Designer Jason Krugman in his Brooklyn studio, photos by Rachel Orlow

There’s an exciting energy that runs through Jason Krugman’s workspace in the New Lab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The open, industrial space fosters cross-pollination of ideas in an environment where science, technology, invention, and art meet. Nearby, an experimental collaborative of architects works on design and material concepts that seem drawn from science fiction—from mushroom bricks to human shelters made from cricket colonies. In the midst of this fantastic innovation, Jason and his partner, Scott Leinweber, created the Splyt Light, an innovative new lighting design that lets consumers build their own unique fixture from a kit of modular parts. We visited Jason’s light-filled space for a look at where Splyt was born, and a conversation about his work sculpting with light and finding ways to share that exhilarating experience with others. Continue Reading…

Design

8 Spring Cleaning Tips To Clean and Organize Your Way into a Fresh Season

March 15, 2016

Woo-hoo! Warmer weather is just around the corner, meaning, well, yes, barbecues and bikinis are on the way, but also… ’tis the season for home organization and spring cleaning. Fooey  Yay!

Looking for simple solutions for how to organize your home and keep your house clean? (Some of us believe that not cleaning is the simplest solution of all, but we really shouldn’t go there.) We’ve collected some good ideas, ranging from de-cluttering tips to a weekly cleaning schedule. These 8 steps will help you easily and effectively spring clean your way into the season. When you’re done, you can celebrate with some well-deserved cocktails or wine. (Of course, it would never, ever occur to us to suggest a bit of tippling while you’re cleaning. Nor have we ever done this ourselves!)

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Vedat Ulgen

March 10, 2016

Vedat posing on the patio of his Redhook Studio | UncommonGoodsVedat Ulgen outside his Brooklyn studio, photos by Rachel Orlow

UncommonGoods is a place that celebrates entrepreneurs and makers and wholeheartedly embraces creativity. If you’ve spent much time shopping with us or reading our blog, you’ve seen this celebration shine through the stories we tell about our products and the designers who make them. These stories share what really makes the pieces we sell and the artists we work with unique.

While every product we sell meets standards that make it an uncommon good, every once in awhile something comes along that is truly weird. Weird in the best sense of the word: In the way that weird, new music makes you want to listen again and again. In the way that a brilliant invention makes you ponder how in the world someone actually came up with that. In the way that an eccentric person makes you want to get in touch with your own beautiful inner weirdo.

Vedat Ulgen’s Worn Sleeve Vase and Worn Jeans Stool are perfect examples of this type of “weird” design. They are totally unexpected, look one way and feel another, and are as useful as functional products as they are intriguing as art.

Thislexik Designs Products | UncommonGoods

These designs are made from upcycled clothing, so they should be soft, right? But they have a unique texture that’s smooth and doesn’t feel anything like you’d imagine.  It seems like the sleeves shouldn’t stand upright and the stools shouldn’t hold the weight of a full-grown person, but they do.

Like his products, Vedat’s studio, Thislexik, isn’t exactly what it seems. From the street, it looks like a stack of shipping containers. Get a bit closer to the five colorful containers, and it becomes clear that the stack is actually a building with a living roof and windows perfectly placed to let in enough light. Inside, Thislexik is rooted in sustainable practices, fueled by experimentation, and filled with dozens incredible designs.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Red Hook, Brooklyn studio myself recently, and as a proud proponent of the aforementioned brand of weird, I was in paradise. It’s hard to convey how inspiring this space is to someone who hasn’t been there, how cool these designs are to someone who hasn’t interacted with them, and how innovative Vedat is to someone who hasn’t met him, but I hope these photos and this interview are at least a start.

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Design

5 Simple Steps for Entryway Designs Made Easy

February 25, 2016

Home accents from UncommonGoods

Whether it’s a coveted job interview, the cover of a book you want to buy, or even the interior design of your home, first impressions matter. Since your entryway is, architecturally speaking, the first “impression” of your home, it needs to make a statement. Think of it as a snapshot of your unique sense of design and what your home represents to you. And if that sounds like too much pressure, don’t worry. Here are some easy design steps to help you through the process of creating an entryway that screams you.

The first place to begin is simple: look at your space and think about your needs. Is there enough room for a chair and table, or will you need to focus all the attention on wall hangings? Does the area feel small and dark or blank and impersonal? When you walk in the door, do you drop your keys, mail, shoes, and umbrella here, or do you already have an organized spot for your things? Questions like these will help solidify the function of this room, which will give you a list of “must haves”—and from there comes the fun. Time for creativity to take over and start decorating from the outside, in!

The Treehouse: Hallway Turned Mudroom | Design Mom

Photo by Gabrielle Blair, Design Mom
from 
The Treehouse: Hallway Turned Mudroom

 1) Begin with your walls and floor. If color is your thing, don’t be afraid to go bold. Choose a loud hue or even a high-drama wallpaper that pops the second you walk in the door. If that makes you dizzy to even think about, keep it straightforward. White is always classy and never bores when paired with the right accessories. If you go this route, a colorful or textured rug will add warmth to your entryway without being too in-your-face.

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The Uncommon Life

Three Tips to Achieving a More Holistic Lifestyle

December 15, 2015

Editor’s note: Laura Benko is the maker behind our collection of aromatherapy sets. In this guest post, Laura shares three holistic lifestyle tips from her upcoming book The Holistic Home: Feng Shui For Mind, Body, Spirit, Space, available everywhere books are sold starting January 2016.

The Holistic Home | Laura Benko

In my upcoming book The Holistic Home: Feng Shui For Mind, Body, Spirit, SpaceI update ancient Feng Shui myths while keeping some principles that are still relevant and blend them with my own holistic lifestyle concepts of connecting the mind, body, and spirit to your space.  I include over a decade of my clients transformative stories along with my own personal narrative woven throughout.

I’ve learned that when emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects are addressed as a whole for each individual in their home, the effects of transformation can be quite profound. It’s about connecting the dots between the challenges in your life and how they are physically manifesting in your space. My three tips below will help you to experience a great change within your space and yourself.

1.) A Holistic Home is Not a Magazine Showplace
Guaranteed, you will shine and excel more in a home that bears the traces of real life than one that covers it up. A perfectly designed home where everything has been meticulously curated and placed–however awe-inspiring it may be–creates a subconscious feeling for visitors and occupants of unease. Over time, anxiety, angst, and nervousness will thrive when you are not innately comfortable where you dwell. It doesn’t mean living in a dirty, disorganized mess where a sense of neglect resides. At best, it means having a meaningful, comfortable, clean, relaxed home that supports your goals.

Holistic Home | Laura Benko | Featured Image

This home has soul and warmth. It’s clean and beautiful, filled with meaningful items that are all being used, yet nothing is too precious. “It’s the heart of my home, where everyone gathers,” says homeowner Regina Weishiet.

Start with this: Put systems in place for organizing the basics (recycling, mail, paperwork, keys, kids backpacks, etc.) then choose your high traffic décor items carefully. Pick pillows, duvets and couch cushion covers that can easily zip off and be thrown in the wash because when life happens and throw up, wine, or blood land there, you don’t panic. Put your money into items like artwork or light fixtures that can go up on the walls and not in precious rugs that take a daily pounding of dirt and spills. Surround yourself with items that uplift, inspire, and delight – just be smart about how you are going to use them and how effortlessly you can clean them. Leave the dishes if that means you have more one-on-one time with your kids. Don’t stress about the smudged fingerprints on the white walls when company comes. The bottom line is, a looser, relaxed, more forgiving environment is what makes a house a home and truly supports the best to happen for you and your family. And that is priceless.

2.) Your Fears are Showing Up Very Clearly in Your Home
Fear is the most transparent emotion that I can see clearly manifested in the home. A fear of commitment shows up in unpacked boxes, indifference in decorating and procrastination on big-ticket purchases. A fear of success or low self-esteem is found in artwork or mirrors that are unintentionally hung too high, leaving you subconsciously feeling like you can never measure up. Piles of procrastination and avoidance show up in the form of paper work, clothes, odds and ends or unfinished to-do lists, exposing a fear of failure. An overly-ordered home where anxiety lurks with even the slightest possibility of chaos, disorder or violated house rules reveals a fear of losing control. Stock piling and hoarding display a fear of uncertainty. The first step is to try to identify your own fears and take small steps to counteract it. For example, if you have a tendency to live in the past, haven’t updated your décor in eons, and you realize that your fear of change is holding you back, start small by updating accessories like a welcome mat or throw pillows. Then, move to medium tasks like moving your bed or desk. A new, physical perspective can often kick start a fresh outlook and help you metaphorically see things differently. As you make your adjustments and feel the positive effects of these changes, take a moment to revel in the feeling of progress of tackling your fears and know that you are creating an environment that is truly supportive and empowering.

3.) Mind, Body, Spirit, Space. It’s All Connected.
My life’s work has inspired me to launch a business that creates handmade, luxury products that holistically encourage the support of goals, desires and positivity for the individual user. The key to an effective, long lasting transformation and richer, more meaningful experiences are by uniting all planes of action – physical, mental, spiritual and emotional – together in your space.

The “Mind” portion covers the psychology of how you dwell. For example, if you have trouble sleeping, take a closer look at your bedroom. Is your bedside table stacked with unread books or unfinished to-do lists? Fast moving imagery of crashing waves should be replaced with serene waters and exercise equipment should be removed. Unresolved energy or jarring images can be unknowingly unsettling to the psyche. Besides the symbolism, tackling insomnia on another angle led me to create a “Sleep” spray to be used on your face and sheets at bedtime. The combination of lavender, chamomile and sandalwood are a potent slumbering elixir that UncommonGoods sells in a gift set with three other sprays.

Aromatherapy Deluxe Gift Set | UncommonGoods

The “Body” portion relates to all things physical. It’s the aesthetics of design, positioning of furniture, levels of organization, sustainability, décor choices, the health of your home and the efficiency of the layout. In Feng Shui, a basic tenant of empowerment is to situate yourself in the best possible commanding way. If your desk is positioned so that you cannot see who is entering, it automatically puts you at a disadvantage of being in a vulnerable state because you can’t see what is coming. Make sure that your desk is facing the door but not in direct alignment of it. If that’s impossible, put a mirror in front of you so you can easily look up and see behind you. You will subconsciously feel more empowered and in command. My “Revive” spray helps give you an edge by honing your focus and boosting alertness. It’s the perfect mid-afternoon antidote at your desk for waning energy.

Revive | Aromatherapy Spray Set | UncommonGoods

The “Spirit” covers the soul of the home, the atmosphere and the invisible energies. The prevailing energy that resides there has a significant impact on those who live there. Whether that’s anger and illness or laughter and love (or a mix of both) its crucial that just as you would physically clean your home, you need to spiritually clean it too. This is not some new aged hocus-pocus. It’s a custom that has been around for centuries in nearly every culture and religion and has recently become so mainstream that you can find packets of sage to cleanse the energy of your space at virtually any organic health food and wellness store.

After cleaning your home, open up the windows and light one end of the sage stick. Blow it out and let the smoke waft around as you walk throughout the home. Visualize that you are releasing anything negative that does not serve you well. Pay attention to any pockets of energy where arguments, bad dreams or self doubts occurred and spend some time releasing it all and letting it go out the window. My “Good Juju” aromatherapy spray is made from essential oils of sage, Palo Santo and Frankincense and was created for this reason.

Good Juju | Aromatherapy Spray Set | UncommonGoods

This mighty trifecta of energy shifters helps clear out stale energy and negativity.

As with all actions you do – whether its removing clutter, spraying “Good Juju” or using the salt scrub below – visualize that you are releasing specific emotions or attributes that don’t serve you well and you are envisioning a positive outcome.

Deluxe Aromatherapy Scrub Set | UncommonGoods

While using the “Revive” sea salt scrub in my shower this morning, I also “scrubbed away” some excessive worry I’ve been carrying around. By dovetailing three planes of action together while setting a positive intention, your results can be much more effective and long lasting.

Wishing you all things good for your mind, body, spirit and space!
xo
Laura

Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Amie & Matt Van Susteren–Spreading Sustainable Holiday Cheer

December 7, 2015

As a B Corp certified company, UncommonGoods is excited about sustainability. That means more to us than just being “green” – we strive to offer products that reflect the environmental and social best-interests of everyone. So, when our makers are as concerned with sustainability as we are, we’re always excited to learn more about their process and the positive impact they’re having on the world.

Filling Snowflake Boxes

While many of our makers rely on sustainable practices at one point or another in their process, we’re especially excited about those who place the wider world at the forefront of their craft – those who are making an uncommon impact. Meet the owners of Nestled Pines Woodworking, Amie and Matt Van Susteren — who make Maple (and Cherry) Wood Personalized Snowflake Ornaments — and see the ways that they’re helping preserve forests.

Living in Lone Rock, Wisconsin — about an hour west of Madison — is inspiration enough to make sustainable art, Amie tells us. “We’re on the Wisconsin River nestled in a valley. There are coyotes wandering through the backyard. It’s everything idyllic you can imagine about Wisconsin,” she says. “It’s beautiful, and there are so many resources here to be inspired by and pull from.”

Amie and Matt Van Susteren

Amie and Matt Van Susteren 

Seven years ago, the couple decided they wanted to change their lives and embark on a creative endeavor together — but they wanted to make sure any eco footprint from their business would be small. “That part was a no-brainer,” says Amie. “I can’t even imagine not moving forward under this philosophy.” Next, the painter and her hardwood-floor-making husband looked around to see what was at their disposal. “You’re sustainable by using what you have,” she explains. “That’s our motto.”

Forests are plentiful in their area, so it’s not a surprise that, as Amie says, “the wood came first.” Establishing their source material helped them see the laser wood cutter they’d recently acquired in a different light. “It was, ‘Well, we have this and we have this — what can we do with it?’” The answer: intricate wooden ornaments. “There’s a market for crafts in the U.S. and holiday ornaments always feel special,” says Amie. “There’s that sensation you have when you pull your ornaments out every year and they’re new all over again. We want our customers to get as much joy out of the product as we get out of making the work.”

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