Alice in Wonderland fans and Harry Potter fans both have Oxford in common, since much of the inspiration from both directly originated from this educational institution. And the timeless insanity provoked by Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass as well as the mystery behind his relationship with Alice Liddell have fascinated many for years on end… So one of the not to miss little parts of Oxford is the Sheep Shop. This was the little shop that Alice used to go buy her sweets at, and it is said that it was run by an old woman who’s voice used to sound like a sheep. The Sheep Shop in the book was a curio shop where everything you try to look at begins to float away, and the original shop was even used as the model for the first Looking Glass illustrations. Above is the “Drink Me” pendant set i couldn’t resist.
Everywhere here seems to be dripping with tradition and secrets of the past… last pub stop in Oxford was Turf Tavern, a very hidden little hangout that might as well have “local’s only” scribbled in the passageways heading in to it. After the last week of horrid weather and most kids finishing exams, today was the sunniest Sunday of happy people everywhere, and Turf Tavern was the nicest way to spend the afternoon sitting out in the patio. Also how adorable is the label for Stonehenge Ale’s “Sign of Spring” pint of neon green - we had to give it a try, seeing as it was possibly the most perfect spring day i’ve seen here yet.
I found these Shots Mint bottles in a little village outside Boras, and it was such a pretty looking gift idea. Love the bottle, and it looks somewhat like baby snakes curled up in the bottoms… but it is infact Polkagris. Basically you add your favorite vodka/liquer or choice, let it sit for an hours, and *poof* minty shots are ready to go! I wonder what this looks like color wise as well - will have to test it out soon. As for the Polkagris, it is like giant sticks of candy cane goodness, but SO much better and in so many different flavors, stopped by the town of Granna on the way to Stockholm and checked out the original Polkagris store - more pics below.
“The Swiss Spice Company is a young and dynamic firm that is internationally active. The manufacture under the label “Made in Switzerland” and the marketing of quality products lie at the core of our business.” This great little salt and pepper shaker is ideal for on-the-go spicing - 6 x 6 cm and 1.7 cm thick. It is robust and even humidity proof. From the country that brought you the swiss army knife, they claim that this was designed with the same amount of thought and precision, and what is most interesting is that it is not only made solely in Switzerland but it utilizes sustainable production - via the Job Factory [an interesting description of how this project helps to give jobs to youth who have trouble finding apprenticeships/etc and have had a rough life]. Also brandable as schwag!
Beer label art? This is making reference to the tendency for people to pick at the labels on their beers when nervous. I personally think this is just a great way of always having origami paper handy. No more floppy cranes from napkins. I would love to see some crazy unit origami work with this somehow integrating the bottles instead of just a basic flower fold, but maybe that’s for when you graduate to the hard liquor.
Wow the Absolut family sure has grown - they just announced Absolut Ruby Red a few days ago in NY, and it sohuld be available around June. On a more designer note - they always manage to have such incredible graphics - their current Absolut.com interface remines me a lot of Apple’s Front Row and their web slideshows (slick rotation/nice mirrored floor? painfully beautifully clean?) Their music campaign with 11 artists’ tracks and videos you can download are slick - as are the downloads for wallpapers in the “Find Your Flavor” section. - but about the Ruby Red and the ever growing family - it should make for a good Greyhound?
Ok - how did NONE OF YOU tell me about this? I feel slightly ashamed for having found it so late, even though i absolutely love Suck UK. [remember the old post? It was one of the very first!] It is perfect, the one missing component i’ve been actively searching for to complete my purse/travel necessities - their key bottle opener has been a regular on my keychain since i moved back to the states and don’t have my enormous italian keys anymore - and my leatherman wave covers anything else i could possibly need. So this folds up nice and sleek with no sharp bits to destroy your wallet/pockets/suitcases - has a little lock even, and hangs on your keychain! Someday i ought to post all my “purse” essentials - perhaps it will be a feature/discussion to come.
“The mysterious Johnny Cupcakes creates & pushes all sorts of limited edition/exclusive clothing & accessories for both ladies & gents, all with cupcakes encoded within his designs. Johnny makes a living of traveling all over, throwing his coined “Cupperwear Parties” at random galleries, colleges, boutiques, apartments, & so forth. Everyone likes cupcakes.” —- yes that’s right, he doesn’t even make the cupcakes, you make them, for your party. Everyone has a gimmick? And this one is a fun line of cupcake branded merch - very fun! And mix in some of that tupperware party style fun that seems to be IN again [been invited to passion parties - jewlery parties - spa parties - its like the new way of selling again?]… and there you go! But really, how much DO you love cupcakes?
What is it about alcohol putting so much effort into design and stories? Well newest one i found - is Hendrick’s Gin - and i must admit reading about the infusion of “a lovely hint of Bulgarian Rose, which is extracted by gently pressing essential oils from the petals. Next comes the coup de grace — Cucumber, the essence of which is obtained by mashing the fresh fruit, then mixing the pulp with cold water.” just makes me want to try it. Not to mention the way the site sucks you into this old school time with music and playful imagery (that is a bit over the top, but fun none the less)… and then to top it off - you can check out their hilarious newsletter… with old pictures and silly stories. Oh, and i nearly forgot to mention the bottle - very medicinal like - but it works - and certainly has a distinct look. I found this from an ad in BusinessWeek.
SF - got here - found my friend an incredible top floor apt in Hayes Valley with a great view and freshly remodeled - but the relocation people are slow with the furniture… so we’ve been living with next to nothing out of suitcases for almost a week now. That being said - i was dying of thirst and in a very ghetto Safeway just before closing the other night and finally found some POM Tea! They only had the black tea, and the packaging was too enticing not to pass up - so it has been christened the first real glass to drink from here. So yes, i promote the Pom tea, it tastes good and serves as a cool glass.
Also the Pom Wonderful ads crack me up - check them out at the gallery.
I mashed my first mash potatoes this Thanksgiving… with a FORK. and they ended up a wee bit on the chunky side. It is hard work! So for a mere 10$ this piece of art - the Simply Mash from Chef’s Planet - is a neccessity for any kitchen. It’s ergonomic design is supposedly easier on the hands and wrists, requires no pounding, and creates soft and fluffy mashed potatoes! It is also a 2006 finalist in the Housewares Design Awards.
Last night in NY, ended up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn [artsy/funky/warehouse-y]… also why i got back late, was packing and doing some last minute design edits, and a bit more organizing on the top secret projects… and that is my excuse for the post lull, but i have a backed up list of things coming up this week! Anyhow, we start it off with the BARCADE. That’s right, a BAR thats an ARCADE… and not any arcade but an old school upright machine styled arcade with a great selection of beer, a red pool table, and my favorite touch, the chalk boards with the all time high scores on games like Tapper, Centipede, Dig Dug, Super Mario Bros and far more to bring out that kid in you again. Other reason why you need to check it out - their “from warehouse to barcde” transformation photos are mesmerizing.
While content should matter, there are and will always be those items by the checkout that grab you based on flashy colors. So here we have Cocktails by Jenn, these pre-packaged party packs of Cosmos, Appletinis, Blue Lagoons, and Lemon Drops offer that nice hostess gift/fun party contribution for a girly night. I’m assuming stronger than wine coolers or those mixed fizzy things, but seriously it’s not that hard to make your own of these, so its all about the packaging… and with the cute plastic hat box like casing and the charms dangling on the straps, why not give it a try. A bit oriented towards that Sex in the City like crowd, and the site does feel oftly LA Sample Sale-like… interesting concept.
Ever wonder what it would be like if graphic designers made food? Well here you go. The packaging and marketing of this crazy Lesser Evil Popcorn (found it at Whole Foods today) is brilliant, and extremely well thought out (down to the logo faces lining up on the tabs when you open the box). But best of all is really this pattern of graphics they designed which is on the foil/plastic wrap in the box, as well as a desktop wallpaper available on the site. The kettle corn wasn’t bad, but not spectacular, but its definitely worth checking out for the fab packaging. Perhaps i will need to try the cinammon, peanut butter/choc, choc, and bbq flavors as well. My favorite graphics - the Shark saying “High in Crunchability”, the “High in Moral Fiber”, the “Kernels not intended for individual sale” with barcode, the “American Popcorn Growers Association” logo is priceless, and the “Aim contents directly into mouth”… not to mention the best logo ever.
Stumbled upon these beautiful colorful boxes of what looked like it could well be poupouri or confetti, but it turns out to be the playful sweets of The Cocoa Room. Their tagline is “Cool Chocolate, No Drama”, personally, i’m not accustomed to chocolate being dramatic, but quite the opposite to most. None the less, i’m impressed by the packaging/design of these chocolates which come in a range of colors, and then mixed to create themed collections appropriate for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, 4th of July, and other color coded holidays. Take this “Green Eclectic Dragee Mix” for example, it is an assortment of pistachios, almonds, and sunflower seeds all of which are coated in chocolate followed by a colorful candy coated shell. They remind me of M&M’s, but the various sizes of the pieces with well chosen color palletes makes for a prettier playful selection.