Wooden games, fine chocolate, olive oil and extra-slim soap bars are on the Monocle shopping list this month
Set up in 1962, Switzerland’s Alfaset is a toymaker that does good works on two fronts. The company employs disabled staff who team up with professional carpenters to make games from locally sourced beech wood. Pictured is the brand’s Kulling game, a miniature version of curling that lets players push red and black metal pucks across a board in their living room.
After seeing two old men playing the fast-paced board game “table à l'élastique” on a street in Aix-en-Provence, David Harvey decided to make his own version, call it Pucket and turn it into a business. Harvey and his partner Ben Lewis head one of only three companies in the world that still produce this game. While French artisans used catgut to fashion the elastic part of the game, Pucket games are handcrafted from a less gory sheesham and haldu wood.
- Team Impression/Process is Form/book
Somewhere between a coffee table art book and an almanac for graphic designers, this was made for those who love the feel of the printed page in an era of screens and digital tablets. Dissecting the obsession with printing processes, from thermography to laser-etching and de-bossing, Process is Form is beautifully illustrated with photographs of industrial objects removed from their usual context.
- Stelios Parliaros/Chocolate
Sweet-toothed residents of Athens flock to the patissier of Stelios Parliaros’ Kolonaki store, a pastry chef famed for his desserts made with Greek ingredients. Shelves are lined with slabs of fine chocolate in flavours including violet, rose, lime and mastic – a musky Greek spice and resin from the mastic tree.
Originally a silversmith by trade, the late Danish designer Kay Bojesen is perhaps best known for the family of wooden animals that he created over two decades from 1935. Among them is the much-loved pot-bellied wooden monkey, who will now be rejoined by some of his old friends, including the dachshund, hippo and rabbit, which are being relaunched. Crafted from polished oak and walnut, these wooden creatures are purely decorative, although the hippo’s mouth doubles as a pencil holder.
Enjoy guilt-free cooking with a new environmentally friendly range of pots and pans from the original purveyor of the non-stick pan, Tefal. Made from recycled aluminium, the Natura range, which includes an eye-catching cocotte, is designed by Sebastian Bergne. Each item is coated so you can cook without using fat.
- Frantoio Ulivi Di Liguria/Olive oil
Italy’s Frantoio Ulivi Di Liguria is run by the fourth generation of the Guasco family, who collect by hand Taggiasca olives from their centuries-old trees in the medieval hamlet of Torre Paponi. Cold pressed and unfiltered, the extra virgin olive oil has a delicate taste and low acidity.
Launched last year, Canadian brand Belmondo has developed all its organic cosmetics around a key ingredient – olive oil. Founder Daniela Belmondo says, “It mimics the natural oils in skin and helps protect, nourish, and enhance natural skin beauty.” Products such as “The Rain” cleanser and “After The Rain” toner, are made in small batches in British Columbia.
- Serene House/scent diffusers
This series of elegant room-scent diffusers was created in collaboration with veteran Swiss Danish designer Carsten Jörgensen. Jörgensen describes his minimal shapes as “silent designs which let the scent do the magic”. In 2011, Serene House is expanding into the UK, France and Germany with a US launch in April.
Launched last October, the name of Osaka-based cosmetics firm Inframince, is taken from the French word meaning “extremely thin”. Its launch products are a series of soap slivers that weigh a mere 6.5g. Made by soap specialists in Hyogo prefecture, each soap can be used to cleanse the face and the body. “We are aiming it at people who travel a lot as it is lightweight and extremely compact,” says designer Ryohei Yoshiyuki.
- Mute/wooden crockery
Japanese design firm Mute uses Yamanaka shikki, an unflashy type of lacquerware, in its “Soji” homewares. Handmade from Castor Aralia wood and manufactured by Unomatudo, the range is made up of plates, bowls and storage canisters carved by craftsmen on a “rokuro” carving wheel.
- 32 Via dei Birrai/beer
Despite being located in the Veneto near Italy’s prosecco vintners, 32 Via dei Birrai opts for grain over grapes. The artisan microbrewery uses a mix of local mountain spring water and Belgian hops for its beers. Its seven unfiltered and unpasteurised flavours come in 75cl bottles and are triple-sealed with a cork, crown and cap. Try the quaffable top-fermented Curmi ale.
- FZB/bottle opener
When it comes to wine-bottle openers, function trumps tricky design. Italian architect Giovanni Zanella finds a happy medium for demanding sommeliers with his seashell-shaped Nautilus. Made by Treviso-based FZB, the stainless steel spiral sits in a solid oak case and will quickly become a conversation piece at any dinner party.