Wooden toys for the boys, skin treats and feel the Sap rising with some Scandinavian fizz.
Rodolfo Grillo handcrafts wooden toys that are designed for intelligent play. The Milan-based woodcarver works solo and in seven years has produced over 1,500 pieces. Made from birch, maple and walnut, the toys come in 13 models – including the Maronda wave machine – each with an educational aim.
It’s safe to say that Swedes will drink anything alcoholic – but tree sap? Environmental engineer Peter Mosten stumbled upon a page torn from a Swedish book printed in 1785 while sorting through an archive of ecological literature. The page was titled “Birch Champagne” and the article contained the recipe. Mosten’s first attempts were “revolting”, but after 10 years of developing the birch-sap derivative he has managed to create something far more pleasant.
Borrowing technology from the US military, Stanford graduates Alex Asseily and Hosain Rahman have invented a Bluetooth headset with what they call Noise Shield. A Jawbone headset will eliminate virtually all background sound and automatically adjust the speaker output to improve clarity as your surroundings change. We’ve always considered Bluetooth headsets to be the tool of choice for travelling salespeople and IT contractors, but Swiss designer Yves Behar’s perforated earpiece is fast convincing us otherwise. Comfort is the order of the day and its packaging is an admirable nod to the Apple design studio.
Askul is Japan’s superior answer to the UK’s Argos, delivering 18,000 everyday products directly to its customers’ doors. Charging up Nippon-Swedish relations, Askul commissioned Stockholm Design Lab to create the packaging for some stationery items including printer paper, tape and batteries. Björn Kusoffsky’s designs are destined for our shelves.
No task is more tedious than removing essential products from our wash-bags to meet airline restrictions. French designer Ora Ito has designed a solution in Arthes’s Happy Therapy emergency kit. All products are under 50ml and a refreshing scent of orange and bergamot is billed to trigger feelings of joy. Finally something to smile about through airport security.
How do you solve the old problem of loose change bulking up your streamlined wallet? Florence-based brothers Piero and Roberto Peroni hand-make each of these beautifully crafted calf-skin leather coin purses. They started up in 1956 and come from a line of leather-workers dating back more than a century. Ideal for popping in your pocket when hopping to the shops.
Based near Lake Geneva, Swiss cosmetics company Cellap claims to have developed the first skincare brand that integrates live cell cultures into products, creating an anti-ageing beauty regime “cell therapy”. There are two lines, Cellcosmet and Cellmen, for women and men. And you can’t buy them just anywhere – only “elegantly presented” shops. Cellcosmet and Cellman are not only reassuringly expensive but also comfortingly snobby.
Israel’s ongoing retail revolution is at its best in downtown Tel Aviv, where Monocle sourced the best of the country’s latest consumer greats from a variety of outlets. There’s the oregano-like spice za’atar, sleekly packaged by Olia, the nation’s newest high-end olive oil brand; and Ahava’s Essential Dead Sea spa range makes a great gift for friends or family. The latest issue of business magazine, The Marker, is how the local corporate class keep up on Israel’s booming economy.
Chewing gum from Must and a packet of the popular Turkish coffee by Elite are newly branded versions of Israeli staples, while the crispy, fried, chick-pea sticks are the best late-summer snack. No trip to Tel Aviv would be complete without a Bauhaus map from the Bauhaus Store at 99 Dizgenoff Street – the walkers’ guide to Tel Aviv’s iconic architecture. And after-dinner mints from Cafe Joe will keep your breath fresh while discussing Tel Aviv finds.