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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

This Just In-spiration: Meet Marylène Chauveau

September 26, 2017

Far, far away from UncommonGoods’ historic headquarters in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Marylène Chauveau manipulates glass in her home studio in Wotton, Québec. A native of the French-speaking Canadian province, Marylène lives where she works, tracing, cutting, sanding, and assembling striking pieces of finely colored glass into jewelry, mobiles, and suncatchers, all while tending to her two school-aged boys.

When we first saw Marylène’s Night Sky Mobile—a new addition to our assortment—in the flesh, we found ourselves struck by its delicate, masterful construction and by Marylène’s own background as a STEM worker-turned-glass artist. Intrigued, we set out to welcome her as we do all of our most exciting new makers: with her very own spot in our This Just In-spiration series. (As you can see, she accepted the offer. And we’re so glad.)

Read on for a glimpse into Marylène’s studio, complete with the rundown on her morning ritual and a suite of pretty pictures of her fine vitraux. (That’s French for “stained glass,” FYI. And the cat above? That’s un chat.)

Continue Reading…

The Uncommon Life

Material Matters: The Beauty of Brass

May 2, 2017

From prized carousel rings to shiny Sousaphones, brass is a storied substance with many contributions to material culture. This alloy of copper and zinc combined in 60 official formulas has a long history. The Chinese may have made it by accident in the 5th century BCE. They melted down zinc-rich copper ores and—presto—brass. More deliberately, the Greeks and Romans combined the two elements to form brass through a process that remained the industry standard through the late 19th century. Continue Reading…

Design

3 Unique Ways to Style Your Nightstand

March 30, 2017

Your nightstand—it’s just the utilitarian bedside spot for stashing your alarm clock or phone, some tissues, and your latest nighttime read, right? Maybe, but it should be a whole lot more. Think about it. What’s the last thing you see at night when you reach over to turn off the light? What’s your waking sight when you reach for your alarm each morning?

Since your nightstand is the closest thing to your bed, it’s your first and last visual cue of the day—so why not give a little attention to this overlooked spot? Add some thoughtful, personalized touches that are both functional and decorative for calming your mood at night and adding some energetic pep to your morning.

Aquatic Vibes

According to Carl Jung, the sea symbolizes our collective unconscious, spilling forth each night with dreams concealed by day. The swirling waves of this bedside lantern will be just the thing for your nightstand. Made from recycled paper, the wave-printed shade casts a warm glow perfect for cozy bedtime lighting and even adjusts for brightness. | Glowing Wave Paper Lantern

Continue Reading…

Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studio with Anne Johnson and Arra David

January 10, 2017

Anne Johnson and Arra David outside of the Sea Stones Studio in Windham, NH, photos by Cassie Tweten Delaney

Canopies of colorful leaves. Air so fresh it actually feels different when you breathe it in. Wide open spaces and dewy blades of grass. These are things I don’t get to enjoy all that often in Brooklyn, but New Hampshire is another story. I experienced the natural beauty of “The Granite State” firsthand last fall, when I also got a full tour of Arra David and Anne Johnson’s bustling studio.

The state’s nickname is certainly fitting, given the extensive quarries in New Hampshire. It’s also fitting that Anne and Arra make their designs there, considering that their one-of-a-kind creations are made with wood, natural stones, metal, and–you guessed it–granite.

Curious about just how the designers are able to turn solid rock into functional home designs, our Tabletop Buyer NéQuana and I made the five-hour road trip from Brooklyn to Windham, NH to get an inside look.

Anne and Arra welcomed us in, offered us some of the homemade hard cider mentioned below, walked us through the studio and workshop, and let us take some tools for a test drive. With Arra’s guidance, NéQuana even built her own Sea Stone Splash Sponge Holder!

Arra, an engineer, talked to us about designing special tools to tackle heavy-duty work. He also shared thoughts on taking hold of inspiration when it “ambushes,” advice on the importance of collaboration, and a perfectly pertinent Thoreau quote.

Continue Reading…

Gift Guides

Dream Designs for the Home Decorator

November 28, 2016

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They were into reclaimed wood before it was cool. They can cruise through the Craigslist “free” page and wind up with a charming vintage coffee table that would probably cost thousands brand new. Stepping foot into their not-trying-too-hard-yet-still-dripping-with-effortless-style apartment strikes visitors with envy. It’s hard having a dream home decorator for a friend, whether they do it for a living or it’s just the way they live. Don’t fret, though – we’ve put together a guide of some of our choicest home design finds so you can give them a gift worthy of their already carefully curated collection.

Continue Reading…

The Uncommon Life

10 Easy to Grow Succulents for Every Home [Infographic]

October 6, 2016

Indoor Succulent Advice | UncommonGoods

With spring on the way it’s time to spruce up your gardening game. If you’re hoping for an easy and beautiful indoor garden sanctuary try succulents. Succulent plants come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, suitable to all kinds of interior spaces. Easily identified by their juicy leaves and stems, these plants aren’t just pretty—they’re designed to hold water during droughts. Good news for the forgetful gardener: succulents are resilient, hardy, and versatile.

But with thousands of varieties to choose from, it’s hard to know which types of succulents are right for your indoor space. Low levels of natural light and cooler temperatures mean you’ll need to adjust how much water and fertilizer you use. Some adapt to hanging planters and terrariums better than others and some indoor succulents can even be toxic to your pets. When you get right down to it, there is a lot to know about succulent care! That’s why we’ve researched and compiled a list of 10 favorite indoor succulents to brighten up your home as the spring sunshine begins to brighten our days.

The 10 Best Indoor Succulents | Indoor Plant Tips | UncommonGoods

Thanksgiving Catcus | UncommonGoods Continue Reading…

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).

Continue Reading…

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