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Buying, Design, Designers, Gifts, Guide  |  22 November 2019

Not another gift guide?!

Selection of brushes — Wild Minimalist
Kokeshi dolls — Ecobella
Velvet cushions — Madam Stolz
Bag — M-24
St Davids blanket in indigo — Melin Tregwynt
Glazed mugs — SGW Lab
Seed Magazeen
String of Hearts plant
Apron — Risdon and Risdon

Not another gift guide we hear you groan! We feel your pain. But…

It’s that perennial issue — how to square conflicting thoughts on consumption with the joy of Christmas and wanting to give, when many people don’t really “need” anything.

A friend recently told me about the 4 Christmas gifts concept: Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. This got me thinking and led to a discussion in the Kiss House office about gift buying criteria — whether any of us apply criteria to the gifts we give, and what those criteria are.

We felt that the starting point was seeking to “buy less and buy better.” We then started to consider other factors that feel important, practicality and longevity came up again and again. Would something last? Not only the test of time but would it also remain something we’d love, which in turn begs the question what makes something special? What makes us feel good about a purchase long term? Great looks and great design that anticipates and fulfils our needs, a sense of satisfaction that we made a good choice and not one that makes us feel uneasy or worse still guilty. This led to consideration of other factors such as single use plastics / use of sustainable or recycled materials.

The result is two short lists below

1) four great sustainable shops (based in California, England, Australia and Denmark — with details of where each ships to)

2) six great gift ideas

Four great zero waste / sustainable shops

Wild Minimalist

Shop San Anselmo, California. Ships Internationally (free shipping US).

Reusable, zero waste household essentials so you can ditch plastic waste

Why we like them:

Wild Minimalist is a California based cornucopia of household goods dedicated to helping people live and transition towards a waste free life. It was established by Lily and Max a newly engaged couple who during 3 months of world travel lived minimally and were inspired to eliminate unnecessary waste from our lives.

Wild Minimalist now offers a gorgeous range of timeless alternatives to disposable products. Think metal safety razors and blades instead of plastic and wooden toilet brushes and stand. Our favourites include the tiffin style, stacked, stainless steel lunch boxes at $34.99, their extensive range of wooden brushes (for every application) with natural bristles from $6.99, and the makeup tins including 70’s bombshell style, dusk lip paint at $29.99.

They also have a great blog and newsletter full of tips.

Visit their website at this link or take a look at their Instagram.

Objects of Use

Shop Oxford, UK. Online shop ships internationally.

A shop full of enduring household tools and functional items.

Why we like them:

Objects of Use is a beautiful shop in the heart of Oxford, walking in makes you feel good and we’re always reminded of William Morris’s words:

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

They sell quality homewares and traditional English pottery, Japanese brooms, Bauhaus inspired children’s games and recycled glass tableware from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Many of the items sold are highly practical, think scrubbing brushes so beautiful that cleaning the sink will be a pleasurable experience (well maybe — at least it might not feel such a chore). All are carefully considered and sourced direct from the maker. Favourites include classic Duralex Picardie tumblers, first designed in 1927.

Also, the raw un-lacquered, brass wall mounted Porte savon soap holders of a type seen since the 1950s throughout France; in public buildings, cafes, restaurants, and campsites. The soap seems to last forever as it is never left to soak, soften, or dissolve away unnecessarily, yet is always on hand when required. Supplied with olive oil Savon de Marseille.

Visit their website at this link or take a look at their Instagram.

Ecobella

Based Bulimba, Queensland, Australia. Ships Australia only.

Lifestyle store for people who want to make environmentally mindful choices in their daily life.

Why we like them:

Founded by three friends who describe themselves as mothers, daughters, friends, career women and creatives, Ecobella sets out to combine sustainability and beautiful design in one gorgeous package. The team have curated a collection that spans homewares, jewellery, gifts, baby and child, which is made locally, ethically, sustainably or from organic, natural or recycled materials. We’re instinctively drawn to their incredibly cute and colourful wooden toys starting from $14 and their adorable Japanese Kokeshi dolls from $15.

Visit their website or take a look at their Instagram.

Madam Stolz

HQ Bornholm, Denmark. Sold in shops across Europe.

Danish lifestyle brand selling interior goods inspired by a fusion between Denmark and India.

Why we like them:

Madam Stolz many of the goods are made in India and combine a cool Danish design ethic with colours, crafts and prints from the Indian continent. The company gives back to India via the Nai Disha project, which supports children and young people in New Delhi and has 450 children and young people in its care. Founder Pernille Stolz says, “by supporting the wonderful Nai Disha project I’m so pleased to give just a little bit back to the country that has given me so much.”

We love their sumptuous velvet cushions in a range of colours and block printed bags and accessories.

Visit their website or take a look at their Instagram.

Gift ideas from our team

M-24 Bags and Panniers

Based Somerset, UK. Ships internationally.

M-24 salvage lorry tarpaulins from all over the UK and bring them back to their recycling HQ in Somerset to make good looking back packs and pannier bags. 

Why we like them:

They are highly practical, look good, are hardwearing and waterproof so you can carry a laptop and other precious cargo, particularly handy if you cycle to work. Their story is great: Designer Mat Dusting frustrated with bags breaking and having to be replaced annually began experimenting with recycled materials, spotted an old trap and the rest as they say is history. In fact lorry tarpaulins can’t be recycled into much else.

Other reasons to love them are each bag or pannier is unique as a result of the way they’re cut and designed. They’re all handmade and the website has a handy countdown when a new “drop” of bags is on its way. New bags are released on their online shop once a month.

Visit their website at this link or take a look at their Instagram.

Melin Tregwynt

Mill in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Ships internationally.

Woven in Wales — beautiful Welsh blankets and throws plus homewares and clothing.

Why we like them:

Melin Tregwynt are keeping traditional weaving skills alive. In fact they’ve been passed down through three generations of this special family business. They weave traditional patterns in modern colour ways. A particular favourite is the St David’s Cross pattern in Indigo from £115.50 which is simply stunning.

There has been a mill on their site since the 17th century, when local farmers would take their fleeces to be spun into yarn and woven into sturdy Welsh wool blankets. Weathering wars, recessions and the passing of time, the looms have continued to work their magic at Melin Tregwynt since making fabrics that are simple in spirit, satisfying in quality and timeless in design. There’s no more beautiful way to keep warm.

Visit their website at this link or take a look at their Instagram.

SGW Lab

Studio London, England. Ships internationally.

SGW Lab is a ceramic studio founded by artist Yuta Segawa in 2018.

Why we like them:

They produce original ceramics with strikingly coloured glaze combinations. Each design is unique, so no two mugs are ever the same and the intense colour extends to the inside of each mug making them all the more eye catching. We were immediately drawn to their riot of exuberant colour when we first spotted them at the London Design Fair. SGW not only produce beautiful mugs but they also support progressive artists plus work and information in the field of contemporary craft.

Visit their website at this link or take a look at their Instagram.

Seed Magazeen

Based in London, England. Ships internationally.

A magazine for kids aged 4 to 8, who care about the environment.

Why we like it:

Seed Magazeen is a delightful 16 page zine dedicated to encouraging the next generation to love and care for their surroundings and the environment. It encourages learning about the environment and understanding of green ideas through play. The magazine is full of ideas, interviews with interesting folk and make your own activities. Contributors include illustrators Michael Driver (@michaeldriver on Instagram) and Olivia Waller (@owaller on Instagram). It looks so good the small people it’s aimed at might not get a look in!

The team who created it also run kids workshops at festivals and venues, but you don’t have to be local to them to take part as they ship “Seed Magazeen” just about everywhere. £5 for zine and postage varies.

Visit their website at this link or take a look at their Instagram.

We’ll be talking more about house plants in the next Kiss Life.

String of hearts plant

Available from many good plant stores.

A beautiful and durable, easy care house plant.

Why we love them:

The String of Hearts or Rosary Vine is an easy to care for trailing house plant considered to be a succulent vine. It has gorgeous delicately trailing, heart-shaped patterned leaves which give it its name. It’s durable and as a semi-succulent is more tolerant of dry than wet soil (it’s prone to rotting in wet soil and should be watered sparingly).

House plants do a wonderful job of helping to reduce stress and boost mood and purifying the air including reducing airborne carcinogens so when they look as pretty as this what’s not to love.

To buy one check out your local house plant emporium and for more images look at the hashtag #stringofhearts on Instagram.

We’ll be talking more about house plants in the next Kiss Life.

Risdon and Risdon

Based Shropshire, England. Ships internationally.

Luxury denim, canvas and leather bags and accessories, plus beautiful aprons. Prices from £22.50

Why we like them:

A family Business – two generations bring together their creative strengths and ideas. Mother and company founder Carla and her sons Alex and James each have a clear design perspective. Carla’s background is textiles, sewing and making and her passion is for traditional craftsmanship and modern design. Alex is the leather worker with a natural talent for working raw materials into beautiful pieces and James guides the branding, web design and photography. They all believe in quality that not only lasts but looks good, the epitome of “buy well buy once.”

We (and creatives everywhere) love their artist rolls and studio brush rolls which come in a gorgeous range of colours. As for their aprons — see for yourself, they’re stunning.

Visit their website or take a look at their Instagram.

We hope you found something of interest in our selection.

Members of the Kiss House Team
Curated by Emma Bradbury and Carli Jordan

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