You are currently browsing the archives for the DESIGN category.


As easily carried coolers are typically unattractive at every level, the Chinook cooler bag by DQM is a welcome addition to the market.

Inspired by duck hunting game bags, the insulated tote is designed to maintain hot or cold temperatures; it can accommodate a 12-pack of beer with ice, but is also perfect for camping, boating, or picnic fare. Constructed from waxed canvas, the bag is not only heavy-duty, but water-resistant.

Available at DQM New York, $128


Copenhagen-based design studio GamFratesi continues their working relationship with French manufacturer Ligne Roset by way of the “Picnic” side table. This straightforward design reintroduces a traditional, utilitarian sewing-style table as a bold piece of everyday furniture.

Constructed of black-stained ash, the practical table offers both storage and a support handle that allows it to be moved with ease; the gentle curves of the upper compartment and handle are balanced by the strictness of the frame on which the table stands.

Available by order at Ligne Roset stores, $1100


Spanish designer Enrique Romero de la Llana recycles newspaper by first turning it into a textural, wet pulp, and then shaping that preparation over inflatable molds to dry: resulting in his Pulp series of lighting. Each fixture is unique and carefully handmade, with subtleties in color, shape, and presence; especially interesting is the varied thickness of the paper, creating transparency through which light may pass.

The lamps read as modern, but their organic shapes and the material used suggest natural form, such as that of a paper wasp nest.

Pulp lamps (just over $600) are available for worldwide shipping through Folklore.


Designed by Masayuki Kurokawa, and Hand-blown by Shotoku Glass, a Japanese company that originally produced lightbulbs, these very thin, yet durable glass balloon shakers are the perfect home for salt and pepper, but look especially beautiful filled with the rich pigments of exotic spices.

Available at: Merchant No. 4, $68 (Set of 2)


From a long-forgotten reserve of army surplus in Switzerland, these official Swiss army flashlights are obviously of lasting quality, as well as a great icon of utilitarian design.

Made with a steel housing and a large clear lens, the flashlight also includes filter sliders for red or green light, as well as a Morse code setting.

The flashlights were made in Italy for the Swiss army, circa 1950-1960s; as they’ve already been around for decades, chances are they’ll last a few more, something you can’t say of today’s shoddily made counterparts.

Vintage Swiss army metal flashlights are available at Dijital Fix, $40. A new battery is included.


Jordan Castro, the man behind Culinarium, creates skillfully-casted, hand-burnished concrete kitchen and table accessories. The special blend he uses has taken years to perfect, and is composed of extremely small particulate, very little water, and reactive recycled pozzolans, a combination that results in very strong, smooth concrete that patinates beautifully, and actually becomes more durable with time.

Culinarium’s designs lean toward utilitarian, with simple form and straightforward-practicality, emphasizing the material used. Perhaps the most expert design is Culinarium’s salt cellar; available in multiple sizes, and fitted with an aluminum scoop, or simply lidded, this modest vessel is handsome beyond any decorative table piece.

Castro does experiment with variations in color, and sometimes he’ll employ simple, but striking decoration. His eye and hand with this often cold-in-appearance material make for strict designs that are also texturally organic, a combination that is not only stylish, but artful.

Culinarium designs are available at the Culinarium Store on Etsy.

Above: Small Salt Cellar, $34


In a small workshop in France, these charming, accurate bird calls are produced by hand. Each has taken many years to develop, and is overseen by François Morel, a gentleman that has been making bird calls since he was a child, growing up in the mountains of Southern France.

Aside from communication tools of the oiseaux variety, the calls are quite beautiful; made from such materials as beech, maple, leather, and brass, they are a fine example of craft with integrity.

The instruments are sold individually, or in boxed sets, with minimal packaging of a sliding-top wooden box, with a simplified graphic of the intended bird at one end, and usage instructions inside (as some of the calls require a certain finesse). Calls are made for a wide variety of birds: European, Asian, and many native to North America.

Though these calls are toys, of sorts, they’re not intended for children, nor for hunters or the disturbance of nesting birds, as the company responsible for the calls, Quelle est Belle, clearly states on their website: “We retain the right to refuse to supply people who cannot fully guarantee their respect for nature,” and, inside the bird call packaging is a small note: “We have put our whole heart into the conception of our nature toys and we hope that those who handle them will use them to good intent.”

Quelle est Belle bird calls are available internationally via their website, or in the United States from Canoe (with a selection of American birds).


The en&is Megaphone is a passive amplifier for the iPhone that works in a fashion similar to that of the horn on a traditional phonograph. The hand-sculpted ceramic form is made in the Italian town of Nove, famous for its local network of ceramic industries, and it sits on a thin, Italian walnut frame, which helps to increase vibration and maximize the emission of sound.

Initially, when using the Megaphone, I was a little concerned about its ability to project, but soon realized that too much was being expecting from something so candidly engineered; the device is not intended as a dock replacement or hi-fi system, and you certainly won’t get big, booming sound from it, but you will get an evocative output that works to almost revert the iPhone’s electronic complexity into something nostalgic and mellow, lending itself especially well to non-remastered recordings of 1940s and classical music.

The Italian design firm that developed Megaphone, en&is, consists of Enrico Bosa and Isabella Lovero, both accomplished designers that have worked on large-scale interior projects, as well as home furniture and accessories, making the company a natural evolution of their creative synergy.

The en&is Megaphone works with most iPhone generations, but is obviously best suited to iPhone4 or 4s. It is available in white, black, or gold finish, and the price is just over $500, available at the en&is website.


In the 1920s, Jerry Darling developed a paper that could withstand the moisture and wear and tear of logging in the Pacific Northwest. Since, Rite in the Rain paper has evolved into a full line of weatherproof journals, memo books, notebooks, and even paper for copy machines. These goods, which completely shed water and dirt, and can even be written on under water, have become a favorite of in-the-know outdoor enthusiasts and professionals around the world.

The line, made with wood-based, 100% recyclable paper, is still manufactured in Tacoma, Washington; additionally, the archival-grade paper is made to last several hundred years. The paper works best with a pencil or all-weather pen, and, to the touch, does not feel much different from regular writing paper.

Aside from being practical, Rite in the Rain journals are notably attractive, well-made, and include a (much appreciated by me) conversion chart in the back. You would be hard pressed to find a more purposeful gift for a gardener, camper, budding naturalist, or someone working in the field.

Shown: Journal Kit (includes Cordura cover, hardbound field book, and all-weather pen), $44.93

More at: Rite in the Rain


Iris Hantverk is a Swedish company that makes beautiful, traditional household tools and accessories, specializing in brushes and brooms. In addition to utilizing the production techniques the company started with toward the end of the 1800s, Iris Hantverk employs visually impaired craftspeople to assemble their brushes.

The construction process for brushes consists of each bundle of bristles being painstakingly hand-attached to a wooden handle, with precision and quality being paramount, just as they were for the company over 100 years ago.

The handmade brushes are made of almost entirely natural components: from the wooden handles, to bristles of horsehair, goat hair, Tampico (a cactus fiber unique to northern Mexico), or Piassava (also referred to as “African Bass”), depending on the brush’s intended use.

Also worthy of note are Hantverk’s knitted flax towels, as well as their minimal, concrete soap dishes.

Iris Hantverk has two stores in Stockholm; A large selection of their products can be purchased online at Fjorn Scandinavian.

Above, clockwise from top left: Washing-Up Whisk, $12; Horsehair Table Brush Set, $49; Broom and Dust Pan, $110; Knitted Flax Bath Towels (Set of 3), $120