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Design

Design

What’s Mycelium Got to Do With It? Inside a Lamp Made from Mushrooms

April 5, 2018

*Editor’s note: The Mushroom Lamp is coming soon to our assortment. Get it first by pre-ordering here.

The Mushroom Lamp | pre-order now, only at UncommonGoods

Imagine, if you will, a mushroom. What do you see in your mind’s eye? A red cap, flecked with bits of white? Or the spongier look of the prized morel? We’d bet anything you don’t picture a lamp, but maybe—just maybe—you should. And along with designer Danielle Trofe, we’re here to tell you why.

It may seem like there’s somewhat of a leap from mushrooms to your living room decor, but we swear, the connection’s relatively linear. The key? Mycelium, otherwise known as the network of subterranean “roots” that helps petite ’shrooms gather nutrients from their surroundings. In 2007, Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre—co-founders of a company called Ecovative—set out to expose mycelium’s potential by using it to craft eco-friendly alternatives to stuff like polystyrene foam (yuck). It didn’t take long for Danielle to take advantage of Ecovative’s fun(gal) creation, incorporating mycelium into the design of an object you can now get only at UncommonGoods. You guessed it: It’s a lamp. The Mushroom Lamp, to be exact.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Brian Giniewski

March 6, 2018

Brian in his studio; photos by Royce Brown

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—home of the cheesesteak (and its vegan offshoots), the Liberty Bell, and fellow marketing team member Morgan. I’d only been once, in middle school, when all I cared about was seeing the house where “The Real World: Philadelphia” was filmed, before my trip down in December to tour the studio of ceramic artist Brian Giniewski. In a far-off corner of the city once known as a center for textile production, Brian makes delightfully drippy vessels perfect for housing fully-loaded scoops of ice cream, each glazed in tantalizing shades like “pop rox,” “creamsicle,” “saffron,” and “peach.” I know they’re made of clay, but I’ve gotta be honest: they made me hungry—and actually, they still do. But I digress.

Drippy Ice Cream Bowls | UncommonGoods

 Accompanied by my trusty companion, Royce, I followed Brian through the halls of Globe Dye Works, a yarn-dying factory-turned-artistic community that houses tenants like the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, Rival Bros. Coffee (I had some, and it was quite good), and, of course, the artist himself. Remnants of the building’s industrial days lined the path to Brian’s workspace, where a seemingly endless supply of shiny, textured mugs, plates, and planters mingled with tools of the trade. After a tour of his sunny studio, Brian threw a quick piece for us—an act that may as well have been magic to me—and invited us both to indulge in “Cake Time,” a staff tradition that pretty much speaks for itself. One slice of chocolaty cheesecake and a good old-fashioned sit-down later, Royce and I took our leave, equipped with a handwritten list of must-try Philly lunch spots (tehina milkshake, anyone?) and a directive to stop by Field, a plant-centric pop-up in Philly’s hip Fishtown neighborhood, for First Friday.

Itching to know more about the guy behind our Drippy Ice Cream Bowls? Read on for our Q&A with Brian, plus a selection of photos from our visit to his space.

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Design

Give Your Favorite Fruits a Boost with the Just Ripe Fruit Bowl

February 12, 2018

Just Ripe Fruit Bowl | available only at UncommonGoods

Thousands of years—that’s how old the concept of a fruit bowl is. In Pompeiian frescoes and the Met’s collections (and many places in between), you’ll find evidence of the delightfully basic vessel’s time-honored place in our kitchens. When something’s been around so long, though, why tweak it? We’ll let you in on a secret: Your beloved fruit bowl could be better. We’re talking way, way better. And with a little help from designer Myles Geyman, our Product Development team set out to make it so.

First, if you’ll permit the indulgence, allow us to set the scene. It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and you’ve just hit the farmer’s market in search of your favorite summer fruits (hey, it’s February—we can dream): peaches, cherries, plums, and nectarines. You arrive home with your tasty, tasty spoils, plop them all in your favorite fruit bowl, and wait for each to achieve maximum ripeness. But you’re foiled when one of your peaches turns mushy, unleashing a sea of sticky peach slop, and when you attempt to lift your spirits, you reach for a plum—only to find it’s neither soft nor sweet! If only you had some way of organizing your fruits, pushing the tough, unripe ones along, and keeping such disappointment at bay…

Enter the Just Ripe Fruit Bowl and its partner in crime, a little thing called ethylene.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Carolyn Gavin

February 6, 2018

Artist Carolyn Gavin and her puppy Eggroll, photos by Jen Coleman

If you deconstruct the most inspiring quotes throughout history, you’ll find that they all have a few things in common: great wordsmithing, flawless pacing, memorable messaging. So when I asked artist Carolyn Gavin what inspires her to illustrate quotes, I thought she might say she enjoyed experimenting with fonts in watercolor, or that wanted her art to honor influential leaders or her favorite musicians. I quickly learned that these assumptions were too surface level for an artist who uses color like Carolyn. When describing her design process for our “World is Full of Magic” print, she simply said, “it’s just a feeling. I knew that quote would need flowers.”

After visiting Carolyn’s home studio in downtown Toronto, it is evident that this beautiful, gentle approach to her art manifests in every aspect of her life. Where the average person sees words or objects, Carolyn envisions bouquets, nature, and exotic shapes. Every corner inside of the 120-year-old Victorian house that she shares with her husband, her daughter Lily, and their English Bulldog Eggroll, is drenched in her signature color palette. From the quaint garden that she maintains in her off time, to the walls decorated with bright patterns that would make Justina Blakeney pause, every detail embodies the same joy that we find so captivating about her prints.

Carolyn is an artist who truly lives the words penned by writer Khalil Gibran, “Work is love made visible.” As I made my way around her sun-drenched studio, it was hard to distinguish which of her projects would be defined as work or “play.” She approaches every opportunity to create as a chance to learn and explore. Whether it’s sharing watercolors with her enthusiastic Instagram followers, or experimenting with new graphic design techniques for a commissioned project. Her creative perspective is always evolving.  

Read on to discover how Carolyn finds inspiration in her travels, how she maintains balance between her family’s business and her own artistic goals, and why she believes that the world is always full of magic. 

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Maker Resources

Submit Your Work to the 2018 JCK Tucson Design Challenge

January 12, 2018

For two years, we’ve partnered with jewelry industry authority JCK to honor designers whose work ticks the boxes we value most, like “out of the box” (no pun intended) and “masterfully crafted.” We’re doing it again this year, and we’re calling on you—yes, you, assuming you’re a jewelry designer!—to submit your work to the 2018 design challenge for JCK Tucson, a curated destination for emerging artists and makers of finished jewelry and loose gemstones. This year, JCK Tucson will take place from January 31–February 3 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, AZ.

Judging of the challenge, which is open to all Arizona Ballroom exhibitors, will take place on Friday, February 2 at 1pm. Judges will include representatives from UncommonGoods (hey, that’s us) and Overstock.com. The winner will receive a cash prize and a vendor contract with UncommonGoods.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet
Jonathan Bobrow

January 9, 2018

Here at UncommonGoods, we’re always on the lookout for newcomers to our assortment of artists whose creations make us smile, think, or say “wow” when we glance at our homepage (a daily activity here). The latest in this parade of intriguing creators? One Jonathan Bobrow, a self-described “artist, designer, programmer, math lover, and constantly curious individual.” A former student at the MIT Media Lab, Jonathan is best known ’round these parts for his Troxes: Origami Building Blocks—toys that fold together to create intricate shapes without the aid of glue, tape, or any other sticky substance… excepting a little elbow grease.

For someone (wink, nudge) whose favorite part of their job often involves interviewing new artists, Jonathan was an ideal study. Talkative, open, and excited to share the story behind his Origami Building Blocks, Jonathan provided us with more fascinating material than we could possibly pack into a single quick-and-dirty blog post. That didn’t stop us from trying, though. Read on for a full account of our attempt, including an explanation of what A League of Their Own has to do with designing laser-cut toys.

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Design

An Unfolding Story: The Shape-Shifting Ollie Chair

October 26, 2017

*Editor’s note: The Shape-Shifting Ollie Chair is coming soon to our assortment. Be the first to get it by pre-ordering here.

“I like creating objects that move and change and don’t always stay what they seem to be,” says Ollie chair designer Jess Banks. Transformation is everywhere you turn at her studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It starts with the building itself. The jaw-dropping space of the New Lab, where Jess and her team develop their kinetic designs, was once part of a shipbuilding mecca. The space is now a high-tech entrepreneurial hub. “It’s really amazing to think of how we’re based in a place that was running because of war, and I’m allowed the freedom and luxury to create new ideas,” she reflected. This is just the sort of place you’d expect to find a chair that unfurls from a two-inch-thick rectangle of aluminum and wood tambour—and transforms back again with a gentle pull.

We visited Jess to discuss design inspirations for her shape-shifting chair, the personalities behind it, and why she doesn’t call it a “folding chair.” Along the way, we learned more about tambour and discovered why the former Comedy Central employee looks forward to buying toothpaste. Continue Reading…

Maker Stories

Meet Lee Ann Jones, Winner of the 2017 JCK Tucson Design Challenge

August 9, 2017

Photo by Josh Huskin

Back in February, UncommonGoods partnered with jewelry industry authority JCK on the second annual JCK Tucson design challenge, pitting emerging jewelry designers against one another in (fun, friendly) competition. After much deliberation, our panel of judges—which included UncommonGoods Jewelry Buyer Sharon Hitchcock and Paula Lee, Accessories Editor for O, the Oprah Magazine—settled upon a winner whose designs embodied the spirit of creativity and fine craftsmanship we value here at UG. Jewelry lovers, meet Lee Ann Jones, winner of the 2017 design challenge and founder of the Lee Jones Collection.

Lee Ann’s winning design.

A former lawyer turned full-time jewelry designer based in San Antonio, Texas, Lee Ann blew us away with her Diamond Fairy Dust Necklace. (Trust us, there’s been a whole lot of ooh-ing and ahh-ing over her samples here at the office.) Masterfully crafted from 14k gold, Lee Ann’s winning adjustable necklace incorporates two tiny cylinders “dusted” with diamonds, one hidden discreetly at the nape of the neck. Elegant, subtle, and—best of all—sparkly, Lee Ann’s winning piece is now available for purchase at UncommonGoods, along with her equally stunning Double Heart Diamond Necklace, which features diamond-studded hearts in place of her winning work’s cylinders.

To celebrate her win and welcome her to the UncommonGoods family, we spoke with Lee Ann about her history as a jewelry designer, what inspires her, and more. Read on for her answers to our questions, and—as a bonus—some pictures of her very cute dog.

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