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Maker Stories

Inventors Month: the Joseph & Joseph Story

August 2, 2010

joseph & joseph

August is National Inventors Month, so to kick things off we interviewed twin brothers Richard and Anthony Joseph – the brains behind a collection of amazingly simple and well-designed kitchen gear. We love how they approach everyday kitchen problems with style, a pop of color and thoughtful design. Almost all of their products make us say, “Why didn’t we think of that?!”

Not only are Richard and Anthony great designers, they are also very generous! They have agreed to donate two of our favorite Joseph & Joseph products, the Nesting Prep Bowls & the Elevate Utensils, to our Uncommon Giveaway! Be sure to come back to the blog on Friday for a chance to win.

And now, on to the exciting interview!

When did you both become interested in design?

Our mother is an architect, and our father had a glass manufacturing business in the UK, so there was a strong creative influence when growing up. We were both quite artistic at school and this led to  Continue Reading…

The Uncommon Life

Happy Inventors Month!

August 2, 2010

August is National Inventor’s Month!

Here at UncommonGoods, we have always valued the “Aha!” moments, the midnight brainstorms and the people who see everyday problems as opportunities to make daily life a little bit better. And so to celebrate all those inventors, designers and dreamers, we are planning a month-long celebration on our blog with posts about Uncommon Designers and Inventors, cool green inventions, giveaways and updates on our latest YouGoods contest.

Happy Inventors Month, everyone!

The Uncommon Life

Gift Lab #7: the Tara & the Diana

June 23, 2010

Diana Camera

1) Product Name: Diana F+ Camera by Lomography

2) Background Research: I’m an avid camera collector. Medium format and 35mm are my favorite films to shoot. After acquiring a Holga (also by Lomography) 2 years ago, I soon after became interested in the Diana F+. My Holga has never failed to capture beautiful, soft, surreal images. Once you become familiar with the camera, depending on your artistic style, it can become a very expressive and fun toy. The Diana F+ is very similar in that it’s very lightweight, purely plastic, and uses medium format film.

3)  Hypothesis: From images I’ve seen, I expect the Diana F+ will produce some super saturated images – hyper bright colors. With experience with my Holga, I also think there may be some light leakage around the frames. As far as shutter speed and aperture are concerned, the Diana F+ appears much more complex and unpredictable, so I’m pretty sure quite a bit of my first roll will be blurry, over-exposed, and/or under-exposed.

4)  Experiment: One of the beauties of this camera is it’s easy to take with you everywhere, so I kept it either in my purse or strung from my neck for the entire month May.

5)  Results: I was very concerned with brightness, fearing my images would be over-saturated when shooting outdoors in very bright light, but I was proven wrong. Many photos were much darker than I expected. There was light leakage in some images, but not enough to distract. The worst light leakage was  from from my first roll – I didn’t take very good care of it before having it processed (I know, shame on me). The best example of this leakage is actually an image of Larry Murr, Uncommon Goods’ Inbound Auditor! There’s a nice big KODAK right over his head!

Diana F+ Camera

Most of my second roll was shot in Coney Island – these images were brighter, and the colors richer. They were also very dreamy and soft – objects and people look as if they’re floating in the images. Although they were a bit blurry as well, I thought it was a nice effect.

Diana F+ camera

Diana F+ Camera

An issue I had with my images was overlapping exposures, so I should have installed at least one of the additional frames that comes with the camera. The Diana F+ is also very delicate. I recommend acquiring a protective case of some sort. The shutter release is very sensitive and the film spool advances more freely than one would like it to. The lens cap wasn’t too secure either – mine disappeared after a week.

5) Conclusion: My second roll came out better than the first, so using the Diana F+ well involves a great deal of practice and becoming familiar. If you prefer super sharp images, a tripod is necessary, sometimes even when using the fastest shutter speed. I will definitely continue to use the Diana, as it appears there’s still a lot to learn about the camera. It’s a fun, lightweight, and I love the dream-like quality of its images.

About the researcher: Tara is Accounting Liaison to Operations and Return to Vendor Coordinator at UncommonGoods. She’s  an  aesthete and enjoys photography, inventorying, urban  exploration and  technology.

The Uncommon Life

Gift Lab #6: Channeling Jackson Pollock

June 16, 2010

Action Painting Kit

1) Product Name: Action Painting Set

Action Art Kit

2) Background Research: I was looking for a fun way to make some paintings but it always seemed to be too time and energy consuming.

3) Hypothesis: If I use the action painting set, I will have some vibrant little paint squares for my wall.

4) Experiment: To use the action painting set and create some paint squares for my apartment and have fun with paint!

5) Results: So, I was all excited to get started with my action painting set during the weekend. I opened the package and it had a few paint tubes, drip stick , 2 little canvas squares and sand. The instructions were pretty clear, except for the sand part. It said ‘use the sand to give structure to the painting. I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant and decided to leave the sand alone and come back to it later.

Action Art Kits

I started to mix the paints in little plates and had three watery paint concoctions. The paints wash away easily, so don’t worry about messing up the plates or your dress! I followed the instructions for using the drip stick, it was as simple as dripping the dripstick in paint
and dripping/splashing it on the canvas. However, the drip stick tends to hold a lot of paint so it started to drip big blots of paint
on the canvas. If you want to get thin lines on the canvas, drip the paint on a paper before dripping it on the canvas a few times until the lines start getting as thin as you want. I did not seem to realize this until I had finished one of the squares, but my loss is your gain.

Action Art Kits

The canvas squares are not that big, so it won’t take very long to finish your drip painting. In less than 30 minutes, I had two painted squares finished. Though I did not use the sand (since I did not figure how to use it, and forgot all about it until I finished the paintings) and did not make any specific patterns, I had twp vibrant little pieces for my wall!

6) Conclusion: The action painting set makes for a quick way to get creative and have fun with paint.

Action Art Kits
Maker Stories

Designer Harry Allen in NYC

June 9, 2010

Live in New York? Like interesting design? Like wine and cheese?

Then swing by the Apartment Therapy Meetup tonight at Knoll and listen to a Q/A with designer Harry Allen!

Harry Allen is an award-winning interior and industrial designer. His work is highly imaginative and surprising. He often casts unexpected everyday items into functional pieces of modern art. Here are a few of the items we sell at UncommonGoods.

Nut Bowl by Harry Allen

Walnut and Peanut Bowls cast in white resin.

brush vase by harry allen

Paint brush vase hand cast from real brushes in resin and marble.

Hand hook by Harry Allen

Slightly creepy, but I can’t deny that it is interesting! Harry cast this wall hook from his own hand.

Apartment Therapy is one of my favorite blogs. And Maxwell, who runs the Meetup does an awesome job of asking artists/designers/creative types interesting and probing questions. It’s really informative, fun and free! Plus, there’s wine and cheese and a drawing to win a piece by the designer!

Hope to see you there!


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…


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…

The Uncommon Life

I’m on Cloud 9

April 26, 2010

In third grade, I was the last person to pick a topic for the science fair. While my classmates got the more glamorous projects – lizards! exploding volcanoes! mold & bacteria! – I got clouds. Clouds! Can you believe it?  My project consisted of me going outside taking pictures of the sky and taping them onto a sky blue poster board. I was virtually ignored at the science fair, “Please!!!! Let me tell you about cirrus clouds!!!” “No thanks, going to see the lizards.”

If only I had had these cute paper clouds back in third grade – nobody would have been able to resist my report!

Clouds from Catalog

These happy, little (and, if memory serves me right, cumulus) clouds were leftover from our recent catalog, and since it would be a crime to throw a cloud away, they now live up in the atmosphere of the creative studio.

Missy Cloud

They make me smile whenever I come into work – I just find them so darn cute! And not only do they make lovely office decor, but they also would look darling in a kid’s room or (on a smaller scale) above a crib in place of a mobile.

Want to make your own paper clouds? It’s easy!

Continue Reading…

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