From primeval mezcal to a primate-themed panacea, we bring you a menagerie of little wonders from around the globe.
Matsunami saké brewery has been making Japan’s national drink on the Noto Peninsula of Ishikawa Prefecture since 1868. The firm, now in its sixth generation, has just seven employees engaged in the painstaking process of making its product. Its latest offering is this slick monochromatic bottle, designed by Tokyo-based Daigo Daikoku.
Having studied textiles then furniture design at Bergen’s National Academy of Art and Design, Silje Nesdal turned her hand to a sterner medium. These granite bookends, conceived to cater for her collection of weighty tomes, are made from the off-cuts of rock destined for tombstones. “I work with the grain of each piece to produce the shape,” says Nesdal. “Each one is different.”
Founded in May by architects Luís Leite and Ana Ferreira, Portuguese manufacturer Bleebla’s origins lie in its founders’ experiments with toys for Leite’s young nephew. Despite its naïve origins the charming Silhouette Jungle Set is painstakingly hand-finished and made only from sustainably sourced cork and sycamore from Europe. “The name Bleebla has no objective meaning but it has amusing phonetics; it’s a babbling of unintelligible sounds. The word connects to a world of fun,” says Leite of the inspiration behind this playful collection.
Sanna Kantola and Bruno Beaugrand started producing Finnish-made bags in 2000. Now its range includes fragrances made with Swedish firm Klockargårdens. This Koivu candle is made from 100 per cent vegetable wax and its cotton wick can burn for 35 hours.
When the first edition of Martin Usborne’s self-published book sold out, the photographer realised there might be still be an appetite for the printed page in east London. Along with his co-founder Ann Waldvogel he started Hoxton Mini Press to make tactile titles that chronicle the rapidly changing area.
Vitamins are rarely at the vanguard of envelope-pushing product design but Brazilian Bruno Ahualli has taken a healthy interest in changing all that. Launched in the spring, the nine-product line from the São Paulo-based firm Nano Labs is colour-coordinated and each packet features detailed diagrams explaining the supplement’s key ingredient.
Designers Nicholas Karlovasitis and Sarah Gibson created their firm DesignByThem in 2006 as a platform for considered and sustainably minded Australian creations. This sturdy magazine rack from industrial designer Seaton McKeon shows its creators’ penchant for metalwork and is made from 4mm-thick powder-coated aluminium.
Local lore tells of a meteorite that fell to earth in Oaxaca, Mexico and created a roaring firepit over which the area’s finest mezcal (a local spirit) was first cooked. Meteoro takes its name from this cosmic tale and, having launched this year, the brand is adding its own chapter to the enjoyment of this storied beverage. Handpicked Espadín agave hearts are cooked in traditional stone pits, then crushed by a mule-drawn tahona (large stone).
After a nine-year stint in the PR industry, North Carolina-native Jenny Bonchak began cold-brewing coffee in 2012. Made from single-origin beans, the concoction is created by seasonally rotating suppliers, all of whom ensure their coffee is harvested at its ripest. This summer expect beans from the Idio co-operative in Yirgacheffe, southern Ethiopia.
Inspired by a cherished humidor owned by her grandfather, journalist Tonje Skjervold teamed up with designers Christian Bielke, Martin Yang and the product designer Vibeke Skar to create another box worthy of adoration. The result of their collaboration is the Oslo-based brand Byvist, creator of minimally designed jewellery holders that are made from hardwearing Corian (an acrylic material known for its strength) with a Norwegian wool lining.
Osaka-based product designer Yukitoshi Toda, of Kurasuhito Kurasutokoro studio, has teamed up with craftsman Arata Emi to create this reassuringly hefty vessel. Its light walnut lid sits snugly atop the box’s thick brass body, which can accommodate anything from paper clips to potpourri.
Taking their cue from time-tested recipes, entrepreneurs Narae Kim and Elie Nehme have created a series of cosmetic masks to help you face each day afresh. Made with Tahitian vanilla and Rhassoul clay from the Atlas Mountains, the exotic compounds come in a range of hues created by the brand’s in-house designers.
Japanese confectionery buffs have long had a sweet tooth for mitarashi dango: light rice dumplings covered in a salty-sweet soy glaze. Now, benefitting from a packaging overhaul by Osaka-based designers UMA Design Farm, the veteran sweet-maker Takayamado (an industry name since 1887) has produced this tasty treat.
Berlin’s Michelberger Hotel has tapped into the coconut-water boom with this distinctive drink adorned with a playful red-and-blue monkey. Designed by the hotel’s creative director Azar Kazimir, the colourful simian (who has supernatural powers) is a visual metaphor for the drink’s energy-boosting benefits.