By Diane Small
In 1999, Dave Bolotsky visited a Smithsonian Museum craft show in Washington D.C. and was blown away by the variety of unique handmade goods and the talented people behind them. He saw how the artists working to make those pieces were often traveling great distances (and burning carbon!) in order to sell their wares at the show. Suddenly, Dave had an idea: what if these artisans could sell their stuff at an online marketplace instead? And Uncommon Goods was born.
Bringing handmade and recycled sustainable homeware, jewellery and gifts to an international clientele, the shop also aims to minimize its environmental impact by choosing environmentally friendlier packing materials and ensuring any printed material is on Forest Stewardship Council [FSC] certified and recycled paper. They’re also building relationships with non-profit organizations through Better to Give, a program that allows customers to choose a partner for them to donate $1 to with every order.
But above all, they’re dedicated to continually seeking out the coolest sustainable stuff for your home. Here are 12 home decor ideas we think you’ll love.
Don’t toss the torn tee! These can easily be recycled into lovely braided rugs, such as these by Laurine Seymour. The textile artist took her inspiration from Industrial Revolution-era woven textiles and recreates the ‘rag rugs’ that were common at the time with tee shirts she acquires at local charity shops. Place a rug in your kitchen or living room to center the space, or warm up any hallway with a bit of texture.
When Brooklyn-based designer Orlando Dominguez found a box of records being discarded by a radio station in his neighbourhood, a new homeware concept was born. His resulting stacked record table lamp reminds us a bit of how old jukeboxes used to stack the records up for play, and we love the ‘ripple effect’ this creates.
Adam Barron makes his seatbelt chairs from belts he salvaged from a local junkyard. Modern, unexpected and a lot of fun, the seatbelt chair uses 53 belts and features a steel rod frame that is bent to form, welded and then powder coated. It’s comfortable, practical, and adjustable–just loosen or tighten the tension of the belt buckles at the back to suit your needs.
Whether you’d like to feature Rock & Roll, Showtunes, Crooner, Diva, 80’s, R&B, Disco, Jazz, Hip Hop, or Folk music in your home, artist Jeff Davis has the bowl for you. Each one comes as either a smooth or stepped design to create a decorative bowl that’s perfect for any music-lover’s home.
Reclaimed French-made oak barrels discarded by California wineries retain the rich patina of their past lives. The natural curves of the staves provide the perfect arc for the seat and back of this inviting two-seater. It makes a warm, welcoming bench for a covered porch, foyer or bar–a relaxing spot to sit and sip your favorite wine.
Artist Mira Woodworth collects upcycled glass fragments and uses the annealing process to apply a vibrant layer of copper leaf to the exterior to create wonderfully unique, geological looking bowls, which can act as dramatic centrepieces and decorative focal points in your home.
When silica-laden groundwater passes through air pockets in cooling lava, gorgeous agate is formed. These aren’t really recycled as much as they are rescued from rocks–oddly enough, the exterior of agate is dull and grey, but slice through a rock, and this is what you get! These are 100% natural and can be used to serve food on. Added bonus: agate has the power to protect owners from evil and danger, or so said the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks.
On the hunt for an eye-catching home accent? This recycled cardboard rhino will bring the thrill of the savanna to your home. This cruelty-free cardboard rhino comes flat-packed with numbered laser-cut cardboard sheets and detailed directions, so assembly is easy and kinda fun, too!
For some reason, bicycle parts have intrigued homeware designers recently. We’ve seen lamps made from bike parts, tables chairs and now bowls, thanks to Graham Bergh. Begh loves making things out of found objects, and says this bike chain bowl is perfect for keys, change and more.
Saris are one of the oldest means of dress known to mankind, and are renowned for their bright colours and interesting patterns. So beautiful is sari fabric, it seems a terrible shame to discard old saris, so we think the concept of quilting them together to create eclectic shower curtains is a super one! It brings a vibrant touch of worldly style to your home and each curtain is completely one of a kind.
Rows of Edison light bulbs hang from whitewashed, reclaimed barn wood in this intriguing, rustic light piece, bringing depth and soft light to your home. Perfect for over the kitchen table, this can be customised to fit any space.
Artist VonChandler makes his creations from recycled heavy plate steel, using welding, grinding and other techniques to bring it to life. Unlike its ocean bound cousins, this fierce shark can live indoors as a sculpture or in your garden, mounted on the wall or standing on its fins.