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Product Development

The Uncommon Life

Introducing: The Scrap-Cycler

June 4, 2010


After three weeks of  educating the community about composting, reviewing 94 amazing submissions and figuratively being up to our elbows in compost – the ultimate composter has finally been chosen!

Congratulations to Gail Loos, who designed this countertop kitchen scrap grinder, with removable bin and biodegradable liners. UncommonGoods, Quirky and the LES Ecology Center loved the thoughtfulness put into Gail’s design. A fun fact from Gail: “While testing my homemade prototype, I was able to reduce the volume of my kitchen waste by 80% or more! But the ultimate benefit is this: it wildly increased the speed at which kitchen scraps were converted to compost by exposing more surfaces to worms and other composting agents.”

Thanks to everyone who voted and participated in Compostapalooza…but your work is not done yet!  Before this composter goes into production, we need you to influence the final design with your opinions and feedback. Hop on over to Quirky and complete this quick and easy product research survey. Not only does your opinion really, really matter, but you will also get a small percentage of the product sales because you influenced the design!


Compostapalooza — it’s on!

May 17, 2010


It’s time to get your compost on! UncommonGoods and Quirky have officially launched Compostapalooza — the quest to create the perfect composter. So, put your thinking caps on and get to work! The contest will run from May 17-26th and more information (as well as submission forms) can be found at Quirky. Good luck and get dirty!


YouGoods: Buckle Up for the Seatbelt Chair

May 13, 2010

“I’m in the pursuit of happiness and I know
Everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold
I’ll be fine once I get it, I’ll be good”

These are the Kid Cudi lyrics that Adam Barron — the winner of our YouGoods Vintage Vehicle Challenge — lives by. And with his spunky, take-charge attitude you better buckle your seatbelts because this guy isn’t planning on slowing down!

adam barron seat belt chair

Made of steel and junkyard seatbelts (don’t worry, he washed them!), Adam’s winning design, the eye-catching Seatbelt Chair, was a project originally created for an industrial design course at the University of Cincinnati where he had to incorporate 3 of 5 Japanese design principles: humor, craftsmanship, compactness, asymmetry and simplicity.

Seat belt chair

As Adam tells us, the final product was a result of trial and error, “When I originally designed this chair, I designed the shape of the frame before I chose to use seat belts. My original plan was to make the chair out of large sheets of bent plywood, but based on time, money, material, and space restraints, I had to consider other options. I wouldn’t say that I had a eureka moment, I just started exploring different materials, and wanted to use a thin and minimal material that would let the ergonomic research that I did on my frame speak for itself. ”

Continue Reading…


Compostapalooza 2010

May 3, 2010

Quirky and UncommonGoods are proud to present… Compostapalooza!

On Monday, May 17th we will be joining forces with Quirky — a social product development company with a great community and fun, innovative products to boot — to create the world’s best composter! We like to think of it as a Compostapalooza!

The mission: to create a useful, interesting, one-of-a-kind composter for indoors, outdoors or both. To enter this crazy earth-lovin’, garbage-hatin’ contest, just complete your submission and post it on Quirky between May 17-26 for a chance to have your design come to life.

Is this mission impossible? Of course not! With composting on the rise across the country, it seems that everybody’s doing it and tons of people have ideas on how to create the ideal composter or at least improve current models.

But, first things first, you gotta get hip to the dirty details of composting. For the skinny on how to compost, what to compost and where to compost, Quirky has you covered. Check out these informative posts on Composting 101.

compost cycle

YouGoods: Vintage Vehicle Challenge Finalists

April 28, 2010

The second edition of the YouGoods contest was all about the automobile. We opened this Vintage Vehicle challenge up to anything made of recycled or reclaimed car parts – and we mean anything. The submissions we received were creative, funky and sometimes even a little hilarious. It was nearly impossible to narrow them down to five. But (after a few squabbles and lots of debate) we selected these remarkable and innovative finalists:

Continue Reading…


YouGoods: MultiBlocks Mania

April 26, 2010

UncommonGoods is proud to announce the winner of our first YouGoods product design contest – Brad Singley and his amazing MultiBlocks!

With inspiration from his father, a civil engineer who built toys for his children, Brad Singley decided to pass on the love for analytical and creative thinking by building simple, fun wooden blocks.


“I can still remember the frustration of playing with building blocks as a young child,” Brad says. “I wanted to build BIG, but it was impossible to make a skyscraper out of triangles, semicircles, cylinders, and small cubes. When I was five years old, my dad made me a set of building blocks out of some lumber scraps from our garage. He cut them into four sizes. The smallest blocks were 1.5” cubes, and the others came in lengths of 3”, 6”, and 12”. Finally I had some dimensional lumber! I played with those blocks more than any other toy from my childhood.

“In college, while sitting in structural engineering classes, it occurred to me how many engineering concepts I had learned as a child from playing with my blocks. Cantilever beams, moment arms, centers of rotation, friction forces, etc., were all fancy names for what I had learned from playing with my blocks.

“I decided to make a set of blocks for my daughter, and she has been playing with them since before she could talk. At age four, she recognized that if she lined up 8 of the smallest blocks, they were the same length as 1 of the longest blocks. We started referring to the different sizes as ‘ones, twos, fours, and eights.’ I thought it would be helpful to route these numbers into the side of the blocks with notches at each unit increment.”

Brad Singley Multiblocks

Brad lives in Seattle with his wife and three children. He loves design, Ben and Jerry’s and Ray and Charles Eames (I tried to get some juicy information out of him and that’s all he would reveal when I asked about celeb crushes). Last week he and his wife Meg flew to NYC to tour the city, eat some delicious…albeit gluten-free food, see some beautiful sites and finalize his deal with UncommonGoods. It was exciting to meet the designer, hear the back story of the blocks and see the contest come full-circle. We are thrilled to announce that MultiBlocks will be hitting the site soon! Click here to see the MultiBlocks (previously known as Brainy Blocks) in action – Brad has built some pretty cool stuff with them!

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