Undoboy, a talented NYC-based designer, sent us an email recently warning us he's unleashed his latest work: Super-Bastard Box Art Characters. 16 4-inch characters come in a box. The sturdy cardboard dolls have a character painted on each of their four sides and feature different pop-culture icons. The detachable heads and legs can be mixed and matched for added fun. Born Chean Wei Law and raised in Malaysia, Undoboy is rapidly making his presence felt with his off-the-wall creations that blend his artistic talent and wacky sense of humor. Super-Bastard Box Art is available for purchase online at Karmaloop.
Leni the Pug: The Comet Christmas Caper is a new illustrated holiday 'tail' chronicling the adventures of Leni (a female Pug), who leads a pack of pooches to help Santa find Comet the reindeer and deliver his Christmas presents after the magic sleigh crashes in a Central Park dog run. Written by Keith Fiore, Illustrated by Alex Sacui, and self-published by Keith and his wife Nicole, it is not only a tale for kids but also an inspiration for those who dream of bringing their own stories to life. The book features witty verse and a good narrative, accompanied by 30+ illustrations. Printed on Japanese art paper, it is housed in a special first edition case and limited to 5,000 copies. Available online for $34.50.
Richter Studio in Providence, RI has created these politically-charged American Gulag bracelets and necklaces. Realistic representations of barbed wire made out of rubber or sterling silver, the idea was inspired by Russian gulags and is intended to make a statement about certain practices of the Bush administration. Bracelets range from $14-$225 and a percentage of sales is donated to human rights organizations.
Flowers die and potted plants need maintenance, but the In Vitro Orchid is a nearly burden-free gift. In fact, this is a pretty clever idea: A nutrient-rich gel supplies all the flower needs to grow inside a sterilized test-tube, tube, which requiresâ€”unlike your partnerâ€”zero maintenance. When the flower outgrows the five-inch tube, simply transplant. It's surprisingly affordable ($30) and a surefire conversation starter.
Paul Smith, who decided on a career in fashion after a serious bicycle accident when he was 17 prevented him from pursuing his dream of being a professional cyclist, still rides his old Mercian bicycle. He loves his bicycle so much that he was inspired to design these serious new bikes. Announced a few months back, the Paul Smith x Mercian collaboration bikes are finally hitting Paul Smith stores. Available in either Track bike (above left, Â£2,800) or Touring bike (above right, Â£2,900) styles, these hand made bikes are more than just another pretty paint job. Handmade of the finest materials and craftsmanship in Derbyshire, U.K., these cycles aim to please the serious athlete and the aesthete. Technical details and photos of each of the colorways for both models can be found via the preceeding links. Also on CH: Paul Smith x Triumph
For multi-taskers who eschew the idea of showers as a time for quiet contemplation and would rather cram in a study session while lathering up, The Intuitive Learning Company's (TILCO) line of educational shower curtains brings learning to every room of the home. Striving to "educate by observation through the process of combining a stylistic display of simple educational topics on common products found in the home," TILCO currently offers shower curtains featuring SAT vocabulary, SAT math, english grammar, as well as French and Spanish Vocabulary. Available online for $20.
Harlem-based design house Maak Eebuh is launching their debut line of T-shirts "The War Series," aiming to provoke comment and build dialogue about the war in the Middle East. After working in costume design and high-end fashion at Yigal Azrouel, designer Jade Schulz started the line of limited edition tees earlier this year as "a brand whose artwork filters important issues of the moment in a different light." One of her designs, printed with the words "Welcome to the Empyre," uses old-world graphics to play on the concept of an American empire. (Pictured left, click for detail.) Available in various pigment-dyed colors the 100% cotton shirts are made in California, with a comfy and stylish low-cut neckline and are finished with an enzyme wash to make them extra-soft. Maak Eebuh T-Shirts retail at $59 with 10% of the proceeds going to online. Schulz is currently working on her second collection "The Travel Series" which will be available in Spring of 2007.
A traditional wrapping cloth used to carry goods, 9brand, the Tokyo-based design team Keita and Naoyo Seto. Made from lightweight 1/4-inch urethane fabric, their Furoshiki is a relatively inexpensive ($88) carry bag for notebook computers available in yellow, grey and black from Object Fetishâ€”unfortunately, it won't fit 17" models.
The latest from Mimoco.
A truly unprecedented endeavor, Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century, provides cutting-edge solutions and ideas for constructing a more livable future. With contributions from more than 60 acclaimed writers, including a forward by Al Gore and an introduction by Bruce Sterling, this volume has been likened to the hippie bible, The Whole Earth Catalog, but retooled for the iPod generation. Worldchanging contains 600 pages of novel ideas like urban farming, hydrogen cars, pop-apart cell phones, and plywood made from fast-growing bamboo as well as giving advice on whom to text to advocate international debt relief or how to build an iPod speaker from a recycled Altoid tin. Available from Amazon.
Former currency (in fact, the root of the word "salary"), invaluable preservative and the source of wars and conflict, salt's role in society dates back to ancient times. Mark Kurlansky, the author of "Salt: A World History"â€”the definitive book detailing the way salt has influenced civilizationâ€”explains that "before the age of petroleum, geology was largely dedicated to understanding and locating salt" and that the search for salt ultimately led to oil. A detail that perhaps had something to do with the book famously landing on George W. Bush's 2005 summer reading list. The recently-released children's book "The Story of Salt" explores all aspects of salt: its harvesting, history and social importance. Beautifully illustrated by S.D. Schindler, "The Story of Salt" also teaches ketchup-making and details Ghandi's historic Salt March. Perpetuating (in their small way) the rich history of salt, New York restaurant Per Se serves 30 million year-old "Jurassic" salt from Montana, and these days Fleur De Sel (named for its flower-shaped crystals) rolls off the tongues of home cooks as easily as Morton's. For CH's survey of the ever-popular mineral, we looked for the best and most unusual—from the suspicious-sounding Himalayan pink to the inventively vanilla-flavored. Fleur De Sel The undisputed salt of choice for chefs, connoisseurs and food snobs the world over, this French salt from the marshes of Guerande in Brittany is hand-harvested by "paludiers" (salt harvester craftsmen), who sweep the top of the evaporating sea water only on perfect rain-free days in July and August when the sea is calm. We were particularly impressed by Artisan's Fleur De Sel ($16), which had a flavor arc as smooth and complex as a fine Bordeaux. Even more colorful and nuanced was Le Tresor Fleur De Sel ($11), which is one of the only salts that has a government-regulated "appelation controlÃ©." 80 pounds of regular sel gris (grey salt) yields only one pound of these precious flakes we recommend it is as the finishing pinch for your favorite entrÃ©e, desert—or even better, serve it like the French do, on top of a buttered radish. Flavored SaltsFar better than Mrs. Dash, we came across several unique salts that, though they lean more toward an herbed rub than a pure salt, will add unconventional flavor to your next meal. Naturally smoked over Red Alderwood, Salish ($16), from Washington state gives the perfect accent to grilled meats or fish. Coastal Goods' Autumnberry salt ($6) is flavored with dried cranberries from Cape Cod and is a perfect seasoning for the holiday turkey or duck. Or for a fresh accent to pork and lamb, try their Lavender Salt ($6), which is infused with lavender oil and blossoms. Developed in collaboration with Kiwi chef Martin Bosley to cure Salmon, Equagold's Vanilla-flavored salt is made with vanilla from Papua New Guinea, comes in a convenient upside-down-grinder and also pairs well other seafood, pork, poultry and game. Contact Equagold to order. Pink Salts While dabbling in the realm of more ethereal salts we also fell in love with a couple of exotic pink varieties. The first was a delicate, apricot-colored salt from Australia called Murray River ($16), produced by the Artisan Salt Company. The soft flakes melt evenly and quickly and are perfect for vegetables, fish and even chocolate. A rose-colored salt called Himalania ($13) is harvested from a marine fossil formed during the Mesozoic era in the foothills of the Himalayas. With their unique mineral bouquet these robust crystals would be well-served on top of your favorite ice cream or soufflé. Available from Sur La Table. Hawaiian Salt Earthy and coarse, Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt ($15) gets its crimson red crystals from red clay and is one of the more well-balanced, rich and mild salts we tasted. It would be great as a rub for fish or meat and also as a ground finishing touch on cruditÃ©s or on the rim of a margarita glass. Black SaltThis striking black clay salt from Cyprus ($31) has a similar flavor structure to the Hawaiian red clay salt and is the perfect yin to balance out the yang of any post-modern presentation—try it on the rim surrounding a pomegranate margarita. Salt Accessories Unprocessed salt has chemical properties that will harm the metal gears in most pepper grinders, but a number of specially-designed mills will refine chunky salt to your liking. Long before they made cars Peugeot created the original pepper mill in 1842 and currently offers various models of high quality salt mills featuring a corrosion-resistant stainless steel grinding mechanism. Designed to work well with higher humidity salt, the innovative Peugeot Wet Salt Mill ($42). Perfect for those who cook on the fly, the Chef'n Salt Ball-Grinder ($15) has soft handles that enable one-handed grinding, five adjustments—from coarse to a fine grind—and who can resist that bunny face? The Kuhn Rikon vase grinder ($40) is designed with a ceramic grinding device positioned on top of the grinder so it won't leave dust on your counter or table. Available in seven colors, it also works well with a variety of spices, including rosemary, flax seeds, sesame seeds, chilies and even coffee. For those who want to bring artisanal salt wherever they dine, a pocket size salt box is the ultimate gastronomic accessory. The Round Cherrywood Salt Box ($90) from Napa Style slides open with one hand and comes with one pound of their delicious Gray Salt (which CH enjoyed for its balanced and subtle ocean-y appeal). A CH team effort by Ami, Edwin, Evan and Leti.
Using the same patented "cyclone" technology that made Dyson upright vacuums famous, the new Dyson Root 6 ($150) is a handheld tool that never looses suction, cleaning better and more hygienically by trapping dirt more effectively. With its molded plastic bodyâ€”looking something like a creature-trapping gun from the prop department of Alienâ€”it's ergonomic and easy to use, successfully negotiating the narrowest of nooks and hard-to-reach corners. In CH's tests, we were impressed by the Root's ability to clean the long hair of a sheepskin rug, the dust chamber's convenient design (a latch releases a flap to empty directly over a garbage can), and the fun of seeing the dirt whirl around in the clear plastic bin. Other features include LED indicator lights, washable filters that never need replacing, a brush tool (with a lint extension) and a separate narrow crevice accessory. Though at times we wished for an attached light to see what we were cleaning and the battery's charge didn't last quite as little long as we expected (its lithium ion battery does charge up to three times faster than others), overall it's an ideal device for cars, small rooms and spills where large vacuums would be inconvenient and overkill.
Spritzed under the tongue, Sprayology, a new oral supplement spray, promotes beauty and wellness from within by delivering vitamins and nutrients directly into the bloodstream. Bypassing the digestive tract, stomach and the standard metabolic process that interfere with tablets, liquids, and capsules, it's a more effective way to get your daily dose and the convienent slim design makes them perfect for on-the-go relief. Four product groupsâ€”rejuvenates, relieves, restores and rebuildsâ€”include 25 different blends that use ancient homeopathics and supplements to target common ailments that face both men and women. A hangover preventer and cure, Party Relief ($20), includes activated charcoal for headache, dandelion plant for upset stomach and nausea and St. Mary's thistle for abuse of alcoholic beverages and hot peppers for sluggish and feeble digestion. Stress Less ($24), a product to temporarily relieve feelings of stress, nervousness, mood swings and irritability with passion flower to calm nerves, oats to ease nervousness, cinchona plant to reduce mood swings and valerian root to treat irritability. Other tonics range from a Daily Multi Vitamin ($24) to a sexual vitality elixir for men and women respectively called Man Power and Woman Power, which are both $32.
Inspired by old crime TV, the Drop Dead Rug prototype by British designer Alex Carpenter was such a hit at the London Design Festival in 2005 that Alex will take it into production soon. Mimicking the shape "of an unfortunate soul which may have come to pass right there on your living room floor with their silhouette remaining as evidence," the throw will be a dark red felt with a light grey band running around the edge to depict the chalk line. Available in a selection of poses for about Â£150, Alex says he's currently considering incorporating the cause of death. To order, contact Alex through Udderstuff.
The BLT ring was created as a collaboration between jewelry designer Carrie Weston and The Grateful Palate the pork connoisseurs behind the Bacon of the Month Club we featured in our gift guide. A version inmulticolored 14k Gold for $750. See an image of the gold ring modeled on a hand after the jump.
Hut Up Berlin creates one of a kind raw wool creations using traditional felting and blocking methods. The Hut Up Flowerpot is wool container created to fit around a flowerpot, lending a soft feel with an organic stone-like shape. Perfect for creating an ethereal Science of Sleep-influenced cuddly rock garden, the Hut Up Flowerpot is available in three color combinations: chartreuse outside with olive inside, brown outside with red inside, and light grey outside with brown inside. Available from Rose and Radish for $67.