Polderceramics-Atelier NL (01)ope

Atelier NL, Product Designers

Atelier NL’s Nadine Sterk and Lonny van Ryswyck keep a studio in the airy loft of a ’70s-style church in Eindhoven. They live there, too, but you wouldn’t exactly say that’s where they work. More often than not, the designers can be found doing fieldwork, whether that means scouring the area’s secondhand shops for mechanical knickknacks to inspire their more analog designs — like van Ryswyck’s hand-cranked radio — or digging up clay in the Noordoostpolder, an area of reclaimed farmland north of Amsterdam that until the 1940s was submerged under a shallow inlet of the North Sea.
More
“In a way, Best Made was actually a product of the recession,” says Buchanan-Smith. “I had to close my office and lay off my staff. I was living in New Jersey and I had this garage I’d always wanted to use as a workshop.” The first few prototypes were painted there; now the axes are forged in Maine by America’s oldest axe-maker then hand-painted here, in Buchanan-Smith’s Tribeca studio.

Peter Buchanan-Smith, Graphic Designer and Axe-Maker

Ah, the impotence of the urban dweller. Ever since the Best Made Company axe debuted this spring, you’d be hard-pressed to find a New Yorker who isn’t dying to snap open that wooden case and heave the Tennessee hickory–handled thing at… well, what, exactly? “At first I thought a lot of New Yorkers would buy them,” says Peter Buchanan-Smith, the New York–based graphic designer who founded the company along with his childhood pal Graeme Cameron. But it turns out the best audience for an axe — even one with a handle saturated in gorgeous shades of spray paint — is a person who actually might use an axe.
More
Some Kiosk products are the result of painstaking research or long drives on back roads in rented cars. And some are found totally by chance. “We were at this shop in Porto that sells only rubber goods, and I noticed this beautiful twine they were using for packaging,” says Grifo. “I asked where they’d gotten it, and they walked us over to a wholesale paper goods shop. That’s where we found the toilet paper.” Unfortunately the twine wasn’t meant to be — it’s not produced in Portugal — and neither was the TP: “With importing, you pay for volume. This would be like an $8 roll of toilet paper.”

Kiosk’s Portugal collection

It’s hard to put a finger on just how the New York store Kiosk — which peddles quirky housewares from around the world, one country at a time — vaulted from cherished destination of a few to the kind of place Jasper Morrison, London's best-known everyday-object apologist, feels obliged to check out when he’s rolling through town. But while the 4-year-old Soho shop has begun to shed its air of secrecy, it has never lost its charm. Climbing a set of graffiti-covered stairs to its second-floor entrance, you never know what you’re going to find at the top.
More
Sister-and-brother team Georgie and Alex Cleary founded Alpha60 in Melbourne in 2005. The label's unofficial tagline is "sophisticated quirk" — the pair likes each piece to have some point of difference, something that sets it apart from the fashion norm. Photo by Annevi Petersson

Alpha60, Clothing Designers

When you're a graphic designer and an aircraft engineer with zero fashion training, and yet you find yourself becoming the go-to clothing line of Melbourne — worn by the likes of Patti Smith, LCD Soundsystem, and Jamie Oliver — you learn to get really good at improvising. And trusting your instincts. So it goes for Alex and Georgie Cleary, the brother-and-sister duo behind Alpha60, who base its designs not on fashion trends but on whatever random pop-culture reference they happen to be into at any given moment.
More
Sandro Desii’s laminated pastas are made on machines nearly as old as the company itself. The dough — a mix of semolina flour and egg, plus high-quality ingredients that range from death trumpet mushrooms to fresh chives — is poured into metal tanks, then roller-pressed into thin sheets three times over to achieve the perfect texture and thickness.

Sandro Desii

In the mountains north of Barcelona, deep in the heart of Catalonia, a renowned gastronomer toils in an experimental food lab, researching and testing dozens of flavors each year. Beloved by his peers, he has thousands of loyal fans. But he is not Ferran Adrìa.
More
A look from Kovin's Spring/Summer 2010 collection, shot at her parents' house in Pennsylvania. The fireplace in the background was custom-designed by her mother, and the table is by Ettore Sottsass.

Lauren Kovin, Clothing Designer

Lauren Kovin had one of those creatively privileged childhoods we all dream about: Her father was a graphic designer, her mother an interior designer who stocked their New Hope, Pennsylvania, home with Memphis furniture and modern art. Kovin spent more time in galleries than in shopping malls. An Avedon portrait of a nude Nastassja Kinski hung over the family’s dining room table. Heaven, right? Wrong.
More
Zijlmans and Jongenelis photographed ten subjects (plus tables, port-a-pottys, and three potted conifers) ten times for ten consecutive afternoons during a hot summer month in 2006, each day moving the action closer to the horizon. “When we started the project, we didn’t expect such heavy shadows,” says Jongenelis. “To get the same light in each picture, we made a simple sundial. When the shadow hit one rock, we started, and when it hit another, we stopped.”

Ten to One, by Sylvie Zijlmans & Hewald Jongenelis

It’s not so inconceivable that a painting or sculpture would take years to complete, accumulating layers of meaning as the artist played with contour or color. But a photograph? Dutch husband-and-wife duo Sylvie Zijlmans and Hewald Jongenelis spent nearly four years on Ten to One, a large-scale photograph on view now at Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
More
Clothes Drying Rack 2006. With this, I had to go to the hardware store to buy the dowels. Ideally the things I build for Frances are made of the many pieces of scrap wood I keep in our garage. This was not actually a big hit — it ended up a bit too tall for her, but now it’s making a comeback as she gets taller.

Geoff McFetridge in Apartamento #04

The fourth and most recent issue of Apartamento, one of our very favorite publications, includes a special kids' supplement called Kinder, curated by Andy Beach, one of our very favorite bloggers. Apartamento bills itself as "an everyday life interiors magazine," and Kinder follows suit: There's an acid-trip of a coloring book illustrated by Andy Rementer; the Memphis-esque results of a furniture-building workshop for kids; and a story about a collection of objects that Los Angeles graphic designer Geoff McFetridge made for his daughter Frances, which is excerpted here in its entirety.
More
Gotham City Souvenir Belt by Brosmind Studio, Barcelona.
“A problem inherent to any journey is the annoying custom of taking home souvenirs for family and friends. Normally, this nuisance of a job is left to the last moment, with the result that the gifts are badly chosen or completely impersonal. The Souvenir Belt is a smart, patented solution that allows travelers to relax and enjoy their stay in the charming city of Gotham to the fullest. You won’t waste even one second of your valuable holiday time, because the Souvenir Belt is equipped with the perfect souvenirs for all those you love.”

The Souvenir Effect

Is it times of trouble that attract us so keenly to the nostalgia of souvenirs — the snow globes, the ticket stubs, the ubiquitous museum totes? At the end of a chaotic decade, a rash of exhibitions has popped up dedicated to the kitschy takeaways of travel. The largest of these, “The Souvenir Effect,” curated by Òscar Guayabero for Barcelona’s Disseny Hub design museum, opened at the height of Spanish tourist season in July and comes to a close this Sunday.
More
Photo by Ari Maldonado

Sebastian Errazuriz’s Hanging Piano

The piano — an upright, the kind you see in the back of saloons in Western movies — had been gathering dust at the antique shop for years. It sounded like hell, and its price had been marked down repeatedly. The tag said $300 the day Sebastian Errazuriz saw it, which struck him as a bargain considering he had zero intention of playing the thing: He would buy it, load it into a van with his brother, then string it up from the double-height ceiling of his Brooklyn design studio as a “constant reminder of the possibility of death — a kind of personal Post-It.”
More
Diaz's Ink Calendar, originally conceived for an exhibition around the theme “Gradually,” curated by his former RCA tutor Martino Gamper. “A huge amount of research went into this project,” says Diaz. “I think I went through 60 different paper stocks and inks to make it work the way I needed it to. But I had less than 30 days to make it, so I couldn’t test it for a whole month!”

Oscar Diaz, Product Designer

The scientific process behind many of life’s workaday phenomena is something called capillary action, which is the molecular attraction that makes liquid flow through a porous medium, for those in need of a high-school refresher. It’s what makes tears flow through your lachrymal ducts, what gives micro-fiber its super-absorbent properties, and why groundwater naturally spreads into areas of dry soil. It’s also what powers the Ink Calendar by Oscar Diaz.
More
Bec Brittain in her Bushwick, Brooklyn, home studio. Behind her is one of two knotted-rope "waterfalls" now on view in the Ramiken Crucible show, where they're continuously bathed with crystal solution and should eventually crust over.

Bec Brittain, Artist and Designer

When most of us get a package in the mail, it’s the book we ordered from Amazon, or a birthday gift from our parents. When Bec Brittain gets a package, it’s usually full of dead bugs. She orders them in bulk off the internet for a dollar a pop, then chops them into pieces and transforms them into hybrid bug-monsters.
More