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Design

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Lydia Henkel-Moellmann

September 19, 2016

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.

resizedombrerothkoscarf

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Lydia Henkel-Moellmann, creator of our new Ombre Rothko Scarf.

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Design

The Aurora Light: A Brilliant Addition to our Assortment

September 12, 2016

 

Aurora Light Blue Office

Photo courtesy of Nanoleaf

If you search for the definition of “aurora,” you’ll see it described simply as “a natural electrical phenomenon.” A bit of historical research will find you Aurora with a capital “A,” a glowing, celestial goddess from ancient Roman mythology who announces the sun’s arrival each morning. You’re also likely to call up images of the aurora borealis (commonly known as the Northern Lights), a stunning natural wonder that some people spend their whole lives hoping to see.

When you get your first glance at a set of the Aurora Smart Lighting Panels, a shining newcomer to our assortment, its name seems exceedingly appropriate. It’s an ecodesign enthusiast’s dream, in that it’s both highly efficient and really nice to look at. It’s like a mini Northern Lights right up on your wall. It’s versatile, too. You can use it as an aesthetically pleasing alternative to an alarm clock, programming a soft glow to greet you in the morning a la Aurora the goddess. Or, once night-time hits, you can dance till dawn using the Aurora for ambiance. Just click onto your saved Party Time setting and you’re good to go.

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Maker Stories

Thinking Outside the Jewelry Box: Marion Cage McCollam’s Walnut and Steel Magnetic Jewelry Holder

July 21, 2016

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 Cage McCollam | UncommonGoods

Marion Cage McCollam reflected in a row of mirrors while working in her New Orleans studio

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.

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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Who Invented the Cubicle?

January 25, 2016

Personality Desk Signs | UncommonGoodsThe short answer is Robert Probst (1921 – 2000). But Bob was quick to point out that the cubicle and cubicle “farm” as we know them are a far cry from his original intent. Probst, a designer, inventor, and former college art professor, developed the Action Office system in 1960 as head of R&D for Herman Miller. The system was influenced by the German concept of Bürolandschaft or “office landscape,” a way of making open office plans more organic and hospitable through various desk configurations, partitions, and potted plants. Probst’s Action Office was a modular system that could be configured in various ways to suit different corporate environments, but its open angles (not 90 degrees) didn’t box workers in, and its mix of private and common spaces encouraged employees to move around throughout the day. And lest you think that the “standing desk” craze is a recent development, Probst incorporated the concept into his system as a way to improve blood flow. It was only decades later when office floor space costs soared that Probst’s office system was corrupted into the dreaded cubicle farm by large corporations looking to squeeze in as many people per square foot as possible. But however boxy and generic your workspace might be, remember: things could be worse…

Personality Desk Signs | $28

Maker Resources

Jewelry Designer Jacqueline Stone Talks Design Inspiration and Tackling To-do Lists

December 9, 2015

We caught up with JCK Design Ambassador Jacqueline Stone to learn why she believes it is important to support other designers. Jacqueline is one of several members on the JCK Events team made up of industry insiders that have come together to ensure that each JCK event is flawlessly executed. She is also the lead designer and founder of Brooklyn-based fine jewelry company, Salt + Stone, so we tapped her to share her perspective as a designer with us. In part two of our interview, Jacqueline talks about where her design inspiration comes from and her secret to tackling a never-ending to-do list.

Missed the first part of our interview? Check it out here.

saltandstoneig_Fotor_Collage

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Design

Jewelry Designer Jacqueline Stone on Designing for the Millennial Audience and the Unique Challenges of Emerging Designers

December 9, 2015

Our decision to partner with JCK on the first-ever “UncommonGoods Design Challenge” for JCK Tucson was driven by our passion for supporting emerging jewelry designers. Also new to the larger JCK Events team is the appointment of Design Ambassador Jacqueline Stone. Jacqueline is one of several members on the JCK Events team made up of industry insiders that have come together to ensure that each JCK event is flawlessly executed. She is also the lead designer and founder of Brooklyn-based fine jewelry company, Salt + Stone.  As soon as we learned about Jacqueline’s new role on the JCK Events team and her diverse background in the jewelry industry we were eager to chat with her to get a designer’s perspective on the event.  In part one of this two-part interview series, Jacqueline talks about what it means to be the JCK Event team’s first Design Ambassador and why jewelers should operate with positive energy instead of fear.

Learn more about the “UncommonGoods Design Challenge” at JCK Tucson here.

saltandstone

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Design

The People Feeder: A Charming New Way to Serve Snacks in Style

November 24, 2015

People Feeder | UncommonGoods

The People Feeder

Colorful feeders dot the landscape below as you soar above; you swoop down for a quick bite. A passing bird, you need just perch and eat, with gravity doing the work as you nibble to your heart’s content. The snacking freedom birds enjoy with bird feeders inspired us when we first considered Francine Zajac’s design, intended to facilitate a similar fly-by snacking with her glass and ceramic concept.

Francine is a potter of over 30 years, and had been producing her own feeder snacker with a ceramic base and repurposed mason jar. The design was simple but effective, employing gravity to direct candy down through the mason jar, the ceramic chimney, and out through the arched opening, filling the dish with just enough to enjoy a handful while ensuring an even flow after each sampling.

People Feeder - Zajac original design | UncommonGoodsWe sought to re-imagine Francine’s design by incorporating sleek and clean lines and components, and providing enough capacity for even the most ravenous snackers. In doing so we needed to identify the attributes important in making the original design functional and effective. As Production Manager, I was tasked with working as a liaison between our design team and our manufacturer of the item, to ensure that our design was both appealing and executable.

With such a unique item, both in form and function, much thought went into balancing the impact and function of the item with how it is made and the capabilities and limitations of ceramic, a medium that can be notoriously tricky to predict after it goes into a kiln.

We started the design process from the top down with the glass cylinder. Its selection was important, as we needed something lightweight that showcased the snack. The separate glass cylinder also allows for a simple and straightforward way to fill and clean the feeder. From there, we considered how the base would be shaped and how it would function in conjunction with the glass piece.

People Feeder base | UncommonGoods
The base would employ a ceramic chimney similar to Francine’s but provide a deep shelf to adequately hold and maintain the clear cylinder. The base of our Feeder also took into consideration the need to manage the amount of snacks fed at any given point, so as not to drain the cylinder and flood the saucer. We originally conceived the bottom saucer as having a vertical, 90 degree angle lip to keep the snacks from flowing over the edge when entering the saucer. However in testing the sloped edge saucer, we found that it wasn’t necessary. The snacks did not flow over, yet were easier to grasp at then they would be with a vertical lip.

Our first prototype worked fairly well. We found the capacity ideal and the gravity fed the M&Ms we tested nicely, providing just enough of a handful at a time. But things were complicated when we tried other snacks. Peanut M&Ms, for example, were easily crowded at the exit point of the chimney, bottlenecking to the point that none were able to escape. A wider opening was the clear solution, but not too wide that a smaller candy would completely pour out.

People Feeder prototype bases | UncommonGoods

Our revision worked very well, allowing for candies both large and small to successfully pass through while collecting in the dish. With a design successfully worked out, our final step was selecting the right color. We chose a warm, white glaze that would fit well in most decors, as well as a bold red, reminiscent of a similar, nostalgic dispenser of candies: the gumball machine.

Fill and enjoy!

People Feeder | UncommonGoods

See the Collection | UncommonGoods

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