Gift Guides

What’s New?
22 Fresh Holiday Gifts for 2018

October 19, 2018

When the holiday season starts creeping up on us, so does that nagging feeling that it’s time to get out the ol’ gift list. This year, spend more time drinking eggnog while streaming holiday classics and less time wondering, “Does [friend or family member] already have this?” If you pick up a gift from this list of our newest goods, you’re sure to steer clear of an accidental double-up.

 

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Luke Hobbs Sheds Light on Industrial Design

October 5, 2018

Industrial designer Luke Hobbs in his Hollywood, California, studio, photos by Emily Hodges

Knowing that Luke Hobbs’ handcrafted lamps carry a mix of industrial-vintage flair, it wasn’t a surprise that his space held the same allure. Luke’s Hollywood studio is the perfect spot for a scavenger hunt if marquee signs, tiny brass animals, and posed mannequins are on your list. A corner display mimicking an old-timey parlor—charming bookshelf wallpaper, steel cocktail shakers, and antique encyclopedias—was revealed right when I walked through the garage entrance.

A few steps away from what Luke calls “the whiskey lounge,” lamps were placed in sections that were in different stages of production: wooden block bases being cut, bases ready-to-be stained, and tiny sculptures about to get polished. “How did you come up with this hand-touch concept?” I asked as I placed my index finger on and off the Mr. Owl Touch Lamp, watching the light bulb flicker. “It’s honestly not a brand new concept, it’s the design that makes it different.”

When I continued to check out the rest of Luke’s garage space, alongside several of his tools and machinery, dozens of spray paint cans and paint buckets were lined up against the wall shelves. In the very back, I noticed piles and piles of sculptures ranging from airplanes to cats—waiting to be selected for his next lamp design. In awe of Luke’s organized chaos, I decided to challenge him a bit by asking if he had my favorite animal, a whale, swimming in these piles. Challenge accepted! He disappeared and returned in two minutes with a little brass whale sitting on his palm. He went on to tell me why he can’t complete one lamp in one day, how Mack Trucks inspired his first design, and why a getaway car might be needed when it’s time recharge his creative juices.

 

What are your most essential tools?

Hands. My hands definitely qualify for the most essential. Nothing would get done without them.

Where do you find inspiration within your space?

I’ve created different areas within my workspace, including the “whiskey lounge” which is generally used as a finished display of product staging, but also for inspiration. And maybe some whiskey.

Mr. Owl Touch Lamp, photo by UncommonGoods’ creative team

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The Uncommon Life

Why We Joined the TurboVote Challenge

September 17, 2018

On November 6, Americans will choose every single member of the US House of Representatives, a third of the US Senate, and many of the state and local officials who influence how our communities function daily.

Sounds important, right? Unfortunately, it’s pretty uncommon to see strong voter turnout during midterm elections.  Only 36% of the voting-eligible population cast ballots in the 2014 midterm election, according to the US Elections Project. Voter turnout among women between 18 and 24 was just 18% during the last midterm election.

We’ve joined the TurboVote Challenge, powered by the non-partisan non-profit Democracy Works, to help the US achieve 80% voter turnout by 2024. Democracy Works develops technology to help Americans overcome process barriers related to voting,  including registration problems, lack of time, or inconvenient polling places. Through their TurboVote tool, you can register to vote, request an absentee ballot, and receive reminders about local, state, and federal elections.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Candle Queen Tamara Mayne

September 10, 2018

Tamara sneaks a sniff in her Brooklyn, New York, studio; photos by Theresa Hensley

Some 20 blocks from our own offices in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Tamara Mayne and her staff of candle experts toil in Industry City. Tamara’s studio is filled with smells: pear, bergamot, jasmine, gardenia, lemongrass—the list goes on. She’s a new mom, and it’s a rare treat to catch her at work in her Sunset Park outpost. “My home studio [is] where I do most of my work,” she tells us, adding, “in true New York fashion, it’s half of our bedroom.” But if her apartment’s where much of the behind-the-scenes, creative-director-y magic happens, Industry City is where it all comes together. After all, that’s where her Sunday Morning and Love Potion candles come to life—where soy wax is heated, mixed with fragrance, and poured into sleek, stylish tins and jars, topped off with stickers Tamara designs herself.

It’s no surprise that a candle-making studio might be a relaxing place, but Tamara’s workspace, with its vast wall of windows and tiny “shop” where you can smell every candle she makes, is especially calming. Dressed in jeans and a casually knotted button-up, she’s nothing if not approachable. That unstuffiness makes its way into her creations, too: they’re well crafted, beautifully designed, and smell great, but they’re not too self-serious. Made from soy wax, a sustainable, clean-burning alternative to traditional paraffin wax, each is perfumed and packaged with a care that shows… and they’re usually named something fun. You know, like “Love Potion.”

Watch our video to learn how Tamara bottles that “lazy Sunday” mood

We visited Tamara’s studio to see her goods crafted in the flesh—er, wax?—and spoke with her about where inspiration strikes (the subway), how long it takes to develop a new candle (longer than you’d think), and more. Read on for our Q&A.

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The Uncommon Life

Fashion Designer Arzu Huseynova Wins UncommonGoods’ Fall 2018 Scholarship

September 6, 2018
Arzu Huseynova 2018 UncommonGoods design scholarship winner

Photo by Alexandra Fedotova

We’re always on the lookout for the next great design. Of course, great designs don’t create themselves. Learning to craft something beautiful takes patience, time, and willingness to learn. We’re proud of all the dedicated folks out there committed to learning to do what they love. That’s part of the reason we started our UncommonGoods Scholarship program.

This time around, our scholarship team was wowed by the beauty of winner Arzu Huseynova’s fashion design. Arzu, who’s collection was inspired by Burning Man, received $1,000 to use toward continuing her education at The New School in New York, where she’s currently enrolled as a fashion design major.

We asked Arzu, who speaks four languages, to share a little more about her career aspirations, her love of fashion, and how her mom’s tailor shop inspired the collection that earned her this award. Check out our Q&A below to learn more.

"Mirage" design collection by Arzu Huseynova

Model Ianina Burnaeva. Photo by Sana Nodelman

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