Through intense treatment, two-time cancer survivor Casey Benjamin surrounded herself with objects that inspired hope and reminded her to stay optimistic. Now, she’s paying it forward with her radiant, positivity-provoking designs. We visited her studio to learn more about her beautiful charms!
“These symbols were chosen for their power and purpose. Each charm is meant to tell the wearer’s personal story. They represent past experiences and accomplishments, as well as future hopes and dreams.“
“I want to create jewelry loaded with good juju to help people rally hope and power through life’s difficult moments.”
“I wear charms to protect me and to remind me to live for today.”
“You don’t choose to be a cartoonist, cartooning chooses you,” says Mort Gerberg. And it certainly made a good choice, considering that Mort’s been at it for more than 50 years.
We’re excited to announce that we’re offering an exclusive collection of framed art prints–12 illustrations, each a limited edition of 10–signed by the legendary cartoonist. We had the honor of visiting him in his New York City home, where he’s created pieces for The New Yorker, Life magazine, and numerous other publications. Watch our video to find out why Mort says cartoonists are like oysters and to see inside his creative space. For a behind-the-scenes look into the artist’s inspiration and a peek at each limited edition print, check out some highlights from our chat with Mort below.
Skillfully cutting found aluminum cans into sequin-like disks and positioning them in beautiful art doesn’t sound easy. Make that art about four feet wide and construct it in the back of a van, and you’ve got yourself a whole new challenge. That’s what Hannah Dreiss and Nemo do when they create their Recycled Aluminum Moving Mosaics. When they’re not using their van as a studio, they’re literally taking the show on the road. They travel with their pieces from art show to art show, calling their van/studio home sweet home along the way. Read on to find out how cans became their main medium, how cancer brought them closer together, and how their favorite things about #vanlife.
Industry City is a strange place. Just one stop north of our headquarters in the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, it’s the closest thing New York has to an office park: a 40-acre expanse of old warehouses filled with artists’ studios, chocolate factories, and cafes where a cup of coffee could set you back a cool $14.75 (yes, really). Somewhere in those six million square feet of space, designer Danielle Trofe is hard at work. Or at least we imagine she is. She certainly was when we arrived to tour her studio, a sunlit space filled with pothos and other plants and objects made from her signature material, mycelium.
If you’re browsing our blog and you’ve heard the word “mycelium” before, chances are you already know that Danielle is the creator of the Mushroom Lamp, an eco-friendly answer to high-end lighting. If you haven’t, you might be interested to know that Danielle’s lamp is made with a shade grown—yes, grown—from mushrooms’ roots and a base handcrafted with salvaged ash wood. It’s sleek, sophisticated, and makes planet Earth happy, too. But of course, it’s not the only thing Danielle makes. In her studio, you’ll find everything from hanging lamps shaped by hand over time to a large sign that says “grow” in playful cursive script. And that one word kinda sums it up, doesn’t it? Danielle’s a designer whose objects really, truly grow, changing shape, size, and texture over time until they’re juuuust right.
On a gorgeous, unseasonably balmy May day, we visited Danielle in Industry City and asked all about the stuff she makes—whether it’s safe for folks with mushroom allergies (yes), whether it’ll fall apart if you get water on it (not right away, but don’t pour water on a lamp, please), whether you can eat it (technically you could, but again, please don’t), and more. Read on for our full Q&A, plus more photos of Danielle’s stunning space.
If you had no sunlight, dirt, water, or seeds, could you create a bed of flowers? Scott Johnson can. He’s the master behind our popular Glass Flower Garden Centerpiece, a stunning sculpture with multi-colored flowers “sprouting” out from the base. Scott has always loved sculpting. It stems back to his childhood, watching his father mold clay in their home. Naturally, Scott started crafting with clay, but the more he experimented with new materials, the more inspired he became. That’s when he discovered glass. He was mesmerized by the way a solid could turn to a liquid and finally into a work of art. Once he found his medium (or his medium found him), he began creating one-of-a-kind pieces to decorate your home.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Scott about his process, inspiration, and “bendy,” a trusty makeshift tool he can’t live without. Read on for more.
Three women, three companies, and three uncommon goods that represent the food we grew up loving, by Debbie Mullin
Two years ago, in the infancy of our businesses, the three of us—Sashee Chandran, Lori Sandoval, and me, Debbie Mullin—kept running into each other. We were handing out samples at the same market, renting time at the same commercial kitchen, and neighbors at the same gigantic trade shows. When the three of us finally sat down to chat about our LA-based companies, we realized they all faced the same exciting but daunting challenges with growth—expensive LA real estate, setting up distribution, finding good employees, etc.—all on top of being women and minority-owned businesses. Each of our companies needed so much to keep growing, but we didn’t know how to afford it all at once.
Enter: WomenMadeLA. The three of us joined together a year ago to form our collective and formally support one another through shared resources for our quickly growing small businesses. Since then, WomenMadeLA has moved to a large downtown office to accommodate growth, and has even added new companies. The collective now employs three full-time staff for all our photography/video, graphic design, and social media needs and to keep all WomenMadeLA products looking as good to their customers as they taste at home.
Back in 2015, we first spoke with artist Spring Hofeldt, who then remarked that she hoped her paintings would make others “chuckle, giggle, snort, laugh out loud, or smile on the inside.” Two years and one full collection later, the chortles keep on coming. This time, Spring is back with a series of suitably playful (and ever-so-slightly surreal) works riffing on four familiar phrases: “Listen Up,” “Take Your Time,” “Stay Sharp,” and “Remember Your Strengths,” each shown clockwise from top left below.
To honor the induction of this new group of works into our assortment here at UncommonGoods, we spoke with Spring a second time—about what inspires her, how she creates, and what she finds most rewarding about her career. Read on for more, complete with gorgeous views of the interior of her Brooklyn studio.