Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hat's Off: Sonja Rasula and State of UNIQUE

At the State of Unique festival this weekend, I saw a ton of smart, crafty small businesses making cool stuff stateside. Started by Sonja Rasula, the great brain behind Unique LA, State of Unique's mission is simple. According to Sonja “I want to bring modern Made-in-America design to the masses. My goals are to help designers and small businesses grow and become sustainable, to support the local economy, and to teach shoppers the value of conscious consumerism.” The etsy-generation at its best, with inventive jewelry, clothes, stationary, foods that make you go, "Man, I should have thought of that!" Design Patriot has tried to cover companies that employ at least five Americans, either themselves or through their manufacturing, so these smaller artisans are out of our usual purview. So, it was inspiring to see so many creative and talented people embracing the US manufacturing revolution. And I got a lot of holiday shopping done from vendors I can feel good about!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Modernism Lives

Vessel USA Inc. was founded in 1998 with the purpose of reviving "stunningly simple planters and other ceramic designs that brought acclaim to the Architectural Pottery Collection", a Los Angeles company founded in 1950 by Max and Rita Lawrence. The spare, geometric pottery was a favorite of local mid-century architects. It was so forward thinking, the pottery was exhibited in MOMA as early as 1951. Vessel USA produces modern planters, containers, sculpture and garden accessories from its studio in San Diego, with an eye on the past and one on the future.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Brooklyn Tradition

A couple in Brooklyn started Hammersmith Copper Cookware out of a love for cooking, an appreciation for the durability and efficiency of copper, and an interest in bringing the glory of what they considered the best cookware to the public. After searching for some time to find copper cookware made in the states, they found it "hasn't been made in America for over a generation, but the last of it was made right here in Brooklyn." A series of happy accidents lead them to Jeff Herkes and his Bushwick shop, who at that time was fabricating the parts needed to restore the HighLine elevated rail line turned public park. "Jeff had acquired all the old chucks and other tooling for the Waldow line of copper cookware when he bought his fabricating shop in the 1980s. It was all there, along with the metal-working talent, ready to be resurrected."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

HOLLA if you love Southern Style

Holler Design is a small furniture making company in Tennessee. (if the name is familiar you may have seen them recently featured on collaboration of husband and wife team Matt and Melissa Alexander, two southerners who "have left home and returned with an imperative of what it means to be southern, and a desire to share that view with others."  Inspired by rural forms and textures, their pieces are rustic, minimal, and pleasing in their simplicity and how the honor the wood. On their website they write, "Our objects exhibit a 'love of making,' retain a subsequent intrinsic value, and utilize a production process that is inherently sustainable, but which is grounded more in the tradition of craft than in the ‘green-washing’ of current systems of manufacturing."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Atomic Theory



If that retro look is your thing, have I got the company for you: Atomic Living Design by Detschermitsch located near Denver in Englewood, CO. Husband and wife team Lisa and Jesse Detschermitsch have always loved the look of mid-century modern architecture and furnishings that recall the homes they grew up in. They were inspired to design and build their own line of "modern furnishings for the mid-century minded." Environmentally conscientious, they use low and very low VOC water-based lacquers and eco-friendly sheet goods wherever possible. Available for purchase online here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Childhood Classics Still US-Made!


Big Wheels, Cedar Rapids, IA 

Jump Rope Store, Portland, OR 

Slinky, Plymouth, MI
 Louisville Slugger, Louisville, KY

Shrinky Dinks, North Lake, WI (vintage packaging shown)

Nok-Hockey from Carrom, Luddington, MI

Cabbage Patch Kids, Cleveland, GA
 Little Tikes Cozy Coupe,  Hudson, OH

 Vermont Teddy Bear, Shelburne, VT

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Customize An American Classic


Not all New Balance sneakers are made in the US, but they are the only major sneaker brand that still makes a good percentage here. With five factories in New England - three in Maine and two in Massachusetts, New Balance maintains a commitment to US manufacturing. According to their website: "With a high-quality labor force, unique modular teams that are continually challenged to offer creative alternatives to foreign competition, and the confidence to be different, New Balance is able to survive and thrive, and take a leadership position in an industry that has sent most of its production overseas." We say kudos.
Now, you can support this commitment in a really fun way. They have made their classic US574 style fully customizable: with up to eight different colors of leather, an option of a leather back tab, up to eight different colors for the tongue tag, eight stitched characters per shoe, and nine color choices of embroidery thread. The base “N” is available in White, Navy or Black, while the top “N” and the shoe’s laces are available in nine colors. You might think you have to wait 4 to 6 weeks to get your shoes, nope! Your pair is shipped out within four to eight business days of ordering. There are endless combinations, so you can have a unique personalized take on a true American shoe!

Monday, October 31, 2011

More Maine Beauties

From our research, I have come to know that Maine is the heart of beautiful blanket making in the US. I love that America still has regional specialties, we haven't all been flattened and "chain-stored" into being the same everywhere.  Joining the ranks of some of the most lovely handwoven textiles I've ever seen, are the ones made by Swans Island. In the early 1990’s John and Carolyn Grace moved to Swans Island off the coast of Acadia National Park and commenced a small weaving operation using local wool. Leaving a life of being lawyers in Boston, they came to live out their dreams: creating wool blankets by hand using time-honored and still-remembered traditions. Their products are timeless, handsome, and classic. Price-wise, they are definitely on the, ahem, high end. But these are truly an investment in something that will bring you joy and warmth for many, many years.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

For the Cowboy in All of Us

Even though Cowboy Cauldron founder Mike Bertelsen grew up in the high desert of the American West, where campfires were a part of life, it took a move to the DC area for him to fully understand his calling. When he began spending time in Virginia, Bertelsen became fascinated by colonial crafts and cooking, as well as the art of the blacksmith. This is where the first Cowboy Cauldron was born. Mike’s goal was to develop a fire pit that would not only function as a fire feature, but could be used as a portable cooking device, as well. The cauldron he made was a huge hit with friends and family both in DC and Utah, where he moved to raise his family. So much so that Bertelsen decided to start producing them in 2008. Now, there are three sizes available, each is handcrafted the old fashioned way, and totally made in America.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Better Belts

These lovely belts come from Wiley Brothers, a small company in Virginia founded in 1999 started by brothers Marcus and Peter Wiley. The vision was (and is) to "create artisanal leather goods, applying the aesthetic and craftsmanship of fine equestrian tack and harness to our own belt designs." Their clever buckles are cast locally using the lost-wax investment casting method. Their belts are truly the essence of elegance, quality and utilitarianism.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Top Priority

A lot of us know we should buy US made products to help support American manufacturing and to get a well-made product. We don't always do it. Just like we know we should protect our bodies and eat organically grown foods, but we don't always make that choice either. But when I had my son, suddenly I found myself buying only organic produce and hormone-free meat. It became clear to me that it is my responsibility to keep him as safe and healthy as I can. Well, the same goes for baby products. While we might not spring for a couch made in the US, we can certainly take the time to make sure that the teething ring we let our precious tots chew on is free from lead or mercury or other unknown dangers. Here are a couple companies in Southern California making great products you can trust for your little ones, all 100% made in the USA!

Phthalate-free, BPA-free, Lead-free, PVC-free teethers and Duckis from Dano Toys, Carlsbad, CA

Stuffed animals and lovees Moncalin, hand-stitched in Los Angeles