What is Ideal?

Ideal is a carefully curated shop composed of unique, design-conscious gifts and accessories. The objects we choose are creative, authentic, and refined. They are inspired by the vision of talented artists and designers from around the world.

Our store was formed with our own ideal in mind: that shopping should always be a personal and thoughtful experience.

Enjoy our blog and please come visit our shop in beautiful, downtown Bellingham. If you can't make it in, we take orders over the phone - just call (360-752-5522) or e-mail info@anidealshop.com.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stocking Stuffers for $10 and Under!

Did you know we have over 20 well-designed, creative, and interesting stocking stuffer ideas for $10 or less? These great picks will provide enjoyment long after the holiday decorations have been put away. Check out this list for everyone on yours:

Worldwide Co Art Boxes - these great tins include stencil templates and pens so you can choose head shape, hairstyles, and other features for thousands of different creations! We've got Facebox, Zoobox, Robobox, Dinobox, Hypotrochoid, and Fingerprint Art Boxes.

Facebox Stencil Set, $10

Japanese Wooden Tops - these are like lovely little sculptures, and spin really well. Handmade in Japan.

Japanese Wooden Tops, $6.50 each

Audubon Bird Calls - The original Audubon Bird Call, made in New England by the Eddy family for over fifty years. The call consists of a birchwood roller and a zinc plug. $9.00 each.

Hand-knit, fair trade rattles from Bangladesh:

Ball Rattles, $10 each

Hanging photo strips. We have horizontal or vertical orientation, plus a new mini photo booth size:

Hanging Photo Strips, $9.75; mini size $3.75

Spin Optical Toys. Spin one of these discs between your fingers and magically watch the two sides merge into a single curious image. An old-fashioned optical toy with a modern twist. Several illustrations available.

Spin Optical Disc, $5

Holiday Surprise Balls - Unwind the colorful crepe paper ribbon to discover five fun holiday gifts hidden between the festive layers. Prizes include an interactive toy, fortune, candy, charm, confetti popper/bubbles. These make great table favors, as well. Made in Oregon.

Surprise Balls, $10 each

Neapolitan Chocolate Bars from Chocolate Editions by Mary and Matt. As lovely as a little painting and very delicious, too! We have samples at the shop so come by for a taste. Made in Brooklyn, NY.
Neapolitan Chocolate Bar from Chocolate Editions, 3 oz, $10

The iStand is like a kickstand for your iPod or iPhone. Suction this to the back and prop it up to watch a video.
iStand, available in white, blue, or orange, $6

Bicycle spoke bookmark, made by hand in Switzerland. Can also be used as a money clip.

Bicycle Spoke Bookmark, $8

Lasercut stainless-steel bookmark from Stewart/Stand. Several patterns available.
Stainless Steel Bookmarks, $9.50 each

Rubber bands from recycled bicycle innertubes, made in Switzerland.
Plattfuss Rubber Bands, pack of 70 assorted sizes, $6.50

Alchemy Goods business card holder made from upcycled bicycle innertubes. 99% recycled material and made in Seattle.

Business Card Holder, $10

Also from Alchemy, set of two zipper pulls made from pressure valves:

Zipper Pulls, set of two, $8

Marimekko paper napkins available in several patterns and sizes. $5.25 for cocktail size; $6.75 for dinner size.

Marmekko Cocktail Napkins, $5.25

Kamenoko Tawashi scrubber, made of 100% natural palm fibers. Designed in 1907 and still widely used, this scrubber has stood the test of time. Perfect for cleaning root vegetables, washing pots and pans, and more.
Kamenoko Tawashi Scrubber, $7.25

Also from Japan, "mt" washi masking tape in many different patterns:
Washi Masking Tape, set of two rolls, $9

Expandable plastic vases in several patterns. These store flat when not in use to save space.

Expandable plastic vase, $7.95

There you have 18 ideas for $10 or under and that's not all - we also have a good selection of stocking-worthy books for less than $10. Stop by for a look!

We'll be in touch soon with more gift ideas, but until then here are a few reminders:

*This coming Friday, December 3 is Downtown Art Walk and we'll be featuring a celebration of Finnish Design from Marimekko. Enjoy 20% off Marimekko handbags that evening! Spend over $50 in the shop and receive a Marimekko gift. Also enjoy the Window Walk, organized by Downtown Bellingham Partnership to highlight downtown businesses' festive holiday windows.

*Monday, November 29 through Saturday, December 4 is Sustainable Connections Buy Local Week. Shop locally first and help keep Bellingham the vibrant community we love! As a member, on December 4 we will be offering a free stainless steel Marimekko cookie cutter with purchase of $50.

*We will also be extending our hours December 13 - 24 to help with your holiday shopping needs. You can visit us until 8pm Monday - Saturday and until 7pm on Sundays.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chair Seat Pads from Dale Gottlieb

We're very happy to introduce the work of Dale Gottlieb into the shop. She's made a limited edition of four seat pads just for us which are currently featured in our store window. You can use these beautiful mini-rugs as cushions for your favorite chairs or hang them on the wall. 
Seat Pads by Dale Gottlieb, $120 each

Dale Gottlieb’s limited edition Story Rugs® have earned her both national and international recognition over the last nineteen years, when she began her collaboration with Tibetan master carpet maker Lobsang Tensing. Through this steadfast relationship, Dale has consistently been able to produce and deliver unique and exquisite art rugs of all sizes for clients all over the world, using the traditional Tibetan hand knotted rug technique. Tensing’s factory is based in Kathmandu, Nepal, and is child-labor free.
Seat Pads, $120 each

Gottlieb’s paintings, as well as her rugs, have been exhibited in galleries and museums across the country. She has also been a children’s book author and artist since 1989 and has published twenty-eight books.

Please join us in welcoming Dale to the shop!

More updates soon - until then, a few reminders:

  • We will be open until 7pm this Black Friday, November 26 ready to help you find the perfect holiday gifts for everyone on your list. Stop by for a cup of hot cider and to see what's new.
  • Next Friday, December 3, is Downtown Art Walk. We will be open until 9pm and celebrating Finnish design from Marimekko. Enjoy 20% off all Marimekko handbags this evening. Spend $50 in the shop tonight and receive a complimentary Marimekko holiday gift!
  • Next Saturday, December 4 as part of Sustainable Connections "Buy Local Week," we will be offering a free stainless steel Marimekko cookie cutter with purchase of $50. Thank you for supporting Bellingham's one-of-a-kind local businesses this holiday season!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chocolate and Toys

This week brought an array of tempting designs into the shop. From chocolate and jewelry to children's blocks, more great gift ideas - or maybe a treat for yourself!  Here are two of our favorites this week.

We're happy to introduce Chocolate Editions by Mary & Matt. Based in Brooklyn, Mary Matson and Matt Even met in high school and began a lifelong artistic collaboration. While studying painting, they developed a love for design, food, and culinary arts. They believe in modernism with a smile, and we wholeheartedly agree. Not much in life guarantees a smile more easily than chocolate and Mary & Matt make delicious bars inspired by everything from Sol LeWitt paintings to rugby shirts. We love the ease with which they integrate sweets, pop culture and fine art. They use the highest quality ingredients and craft their chocolate bars in small, handmade batches.

Neapolitan Chocolate Bar, 3 oz. - $10
We now have their delicious Neapolitan chocolate bar in stock. A re-imagining of the classic Neapolitan ice cream, this bar has something for everyone. Dark (72% cacao), white (36%) and natural strawberry ingredients side-by-side make this as tasty as it is beautiful. A miniature, edible painting!

Also in this week are these clever sets of magnetic wooden blocks from Tegu. A mini-set of eight blocks comes in a felt pouch to keep handy in your bag, stroller, or car. These are seriously addictive once you start fiddling with them, so we foresee sets ending up on grown-up desks as well. But they are not only beautiful and fun to play with - Tegu has an inspiring story, as well.

Tegu Pocket Pouch, $30

Brothers Chris and Will Haughey didn't start Tegu with toys on their mind. The company began with the simple notion that Honduras needed businesses which offered living-wage jobs. Home to beautiful hardwoods, the country could have been the perfect spot for sustainably manufacturing any number of wooden products. However, Chris and Will were inspired by classic European wooden toys and embarked on a quest to breathe new life into an old industry.

Today, Tegu blocks inspire children while addressing unemployment, neglected natural and human resources and the need for entrepreneurship in Honduras. The wood used at Tegu is sourced from small-scale, FSC-certified woodcutting cooperatives supported by international NGOs focused on sustainable forestry. All this good and they're fun to play with, too!

That's it for now. We'll give you more updates next week. A few reminders until next time:

  • We love to help you find the perfect gift! We believe that the stories behind our objects make for more meaningful giving and we're passionate and knowledgeable about all of the designs we carry. From new baby to grandma, we can share unique suggestions for thoughtful gifts.
  • Friday, December 3 is Downtown Art Walk and we'll be featuring a celebration of Finnish Design from Marimekko. Enjoy 20% off Marimekko handbags that evening! Also enjoy the Window Walk, organized by Downtown Bellingham Partnership to highlight downtown businesses' festive holiday windows. Stay tuned for more details.
  •  We will extend our hours until 8pm starting on December 13 to help with your holiday shopping needs.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Downtown Art Walk - Tonight, November 5 - 20% off Alchemy Goods!

Tonight we are spotlighting Alchemy Goods as our featured designer during Downtown Art Walk. Enjoy 20% off all Alchemy Goods designs from 6-9pm!

This wonderful company, based in Seattle, has been a shop favorite since we opened and we're thrilled to feature a number of new designs that were just released this week.

Alchemy Goods practices "upcycling" in creating their designs, taking discarded materials such as bicycle inner tubes and car seat belts and transforming them into highly functional products such as bags, wallets, and belts. The company got its start when the founder's bag was stolen and he began a search for the perfect messenger bag. Disappointed in what he found, he made his own. Friends loved it so he made more...and the rest is history. The bags are practically indestructible, waterproof, and just look really cool.

Here are a few of the newest designs from Eli and company at Alchemy:

The Pine is a smaller-sized messenger bag, distilled down to its essential functions. A zippered outside pocket holds your cell phone and it protected from the elements by a rain flap. Inside, there's enough room for your commute or day trip supplies. 68% upcycled materials.

Pine Bag, $110
The Mercer is a sweet little shoulder bag with a slightly retro look. Slip an iPad into the inside sleeve and zip your valuables into the large interior zippered pocket. Outside pockets accommodate a cell phone, journal or other accessories. 75% upcycled materials.
Mercer Bag, $120

The Westlake laptop bag cradles your computer inside layers of inner tube and foam. It features a shoulder strap and briefcase handle for easy transport. Elastic straps and a wraparound zipper allow you to quickly open the case and your laptop at the same time. 68% upcycled materials.

Westlake Laptop Bag, $75

The Elliot dopp kit is a sophisticated travel companion for carrying essential grooming tools. Exterior is constructed from truck inner tube, so any spills can be quickly cleaned up. The zipper features a shiny bicycle valve zipper pull. 92% upcycled materials.

Elliot Dopp Kit, $35

The Ad Bag is tote made from recycled advertising banners with seatbelt straps. 95% upcycled materials.

Ad Bag, $37

The Schrader bicycle valve, while being an excellent device to maintain your tire pressure, doubles remarkably well as a zipper pull. $8.00 for a set of two!

Zipper Pulls, $8.00 for two

We also have our usual selection of the Haversack, Pike, Union, and Magnolia bags, as well as Georgetown, Franklin, Night Out wallets and belts! Stop by to see us tonight - we'll be open until 9pm.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Shipments This Week - Chilewich and Marimekko

With more and more new things arriving daily, it's hard to choose what to write about! Today we'll focus on two of our major designers with an eye toward holiday entertaining: Sandy Chilewich and Marimekko.

From Chilewich, we have new placemats in Kono, Mini-Basketweave, and Croc patterns in woven vinyl, as well as the circular Dahlia pattern in pressed vinyl.

Kono, a new dimensional over-and-under weave, grabs the eye thanks to the heft and light-reflectivity of the yarns used in its construction:
Kono Placemats, $15 each

Croc features a reptile-inspired pattern. Woven on a jacquard loom, the two-tone design is reversible:
Croc Placemats, $15 each

Pressed Dahlia, the latest of Chilewich’s “pressed” technique, features a lace-like openwork that works beautifully as a placemat or charger.

Dahlia Placemats, $8 each

We also have the Pressed Cubic runner, which incidentally was recently selected by Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel as a garment textile during Paris Fashion Week.
Pressed Cubic Runner (14 x 72"), $28

Just for fun, here's that Chanel dress...

Also just in is Sandy's iconic Ray Tray, first introduced in 1997. The design, which features a metal frame covered with stretch netting, incorporates a simple, inventive mechanism to hold the fabric in a concave plane. Machine washable and breatheable, this piece is an ingenious solution to displaying and storing produce on your countertop.
Chilewich Ray Tray, $125
We received another shipment from Marimekko this week as well, with some lovely patterns for holiday entertaining. This white Lumimarja pattern tray is beautiful loaded with appetizers and drinks or festive votive candles.
Lumimarja Tray (18"diam.), $74
Tea towels are a quick way to add a splash of color to your kitchen and Marimekko is known for their vibrant patterns. We have two patterns in for holiday - the Lumimarja and the Kantaleen Kutsu, a limited edition linen towel. Pair tea towels with a cookie cutter and tray or mugs for a thoughtful holiday gift.

Lumimarja Tea Towels, set of two - $25

Kantaleen Kutsu Linen Tea Towel - $19
Gingerbread Cutter, $6.75

Kantaleen Kutsu Tray (10.75 x 8"), $28

Keep in mind as well that Marimekko patterns are meant to be mixed and matched. You'll find that new patterns pair very well with classics, such as the Unikko poppy pattern or the Pirput Parput polka dot pattern. We are well stocked with lots of different options, so stop by to experiment.

We also received several new bags, which are always a treat from Marimekko. For example, this Tilkka bag features a wonderful raindrop-motif pattern for fall/winter and is generously sized. As always, Marimekko bags are made to last of superior quality, washable cotton.
Tilkka Bag, $125

Finally, for those upcoming rainy days, we have lots of cheery umbrellas ($42 each).

Don't forget that Friday, November 5 (that's tomorrow!)  is Downtown Art Walk. We will be open until 9pm, featuring 20% off all designs from Alchemy Goods. A new shipment has arrived and we'll be unveiling several of their newest designs. More details tomorrow!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Danish Designs of the Week

It's been another exciting week in the shop with great new designs arriving daily. Here's a taste of the latest, which coincidentally all happen to come from Denmark.

Based in Denmark, AIAIAI designs headphones and other electronics accessories. Their Tracks Headphones bring you not only great audio quality, but also the chance to sport a nice splash of color while enjoying your favorite tunes. These headphones give a nod to the classic design of the Sony Walkman headphones from the 1980s. But while they are retro-styled, the sound quality is absolutely 21st-century. Available in black, cream, or peach. Stop by the shop with your iPod to test them out.
Tracks Headphones, $60

The A-Stand uses simple plumbing-type tubes as structural elements. Designed to make your workstation more ergonomic, this stand is lightweight, portable, and easy to put together. Available in yellow and black.

A-Stand, $60

Also in from Denmark this week - the stunning Krenit Bowl, first designed in 1953 by Herbert Krenchel, is once again being produced by Normann Copenhagen. The Krenit's matte-black exterior, characteristic sharp edge and contrasting enamel interior creates a balance between material and form. For a metal object, it's surprisingly delicate.

Krenit Salad Bowl - iron w/enamel interior, $109

Krenit Salad Servers - melamine, $30

As Krenchel himself explains, “In 1953 the idea was to make a beautiful bowl, preferably so functional and delicate that it was equally suited for use in the kitchen, on the dining table and as a decoration in the sitting room. As a material researcher I really concentrated on getting the different materials to match and look good together as well as making them equally compatible to use together. Enamel is a fantastic material, and even today my heart yearns for an enamel bowl. It is fantastic that the Krenit bowl is coming into production once more.” Pair it with Krenchel's complimentary melamine salad servers for a lovely set. We love the way the white interior contrasts visually with a bright green salad.

The beautiful True Feelings votives are designed by the Claydies, a Danish duo working in clay with often conceptual results. They designed True Feelings while blindfolded, focusing their attention on touch rather than visual stimulation. As they put it, "True Feelings is designed by our fingers and our fingers only. Often the looks of our designs are thoroughly thought through. The idea of True Feelings is to do the opposite and let the hands take control – while being blindfolded. This allows us to lose the sense of proportion and our focus is transferred from our sight to the fingers.”
True Feelings porcelain votives...

...set of two, $26

And here's yet another clever object from Denmark - the Wine Breather from Menu. Need to aerate your wine but don't have hours to wait? This multi-tasking design aerates a bottle of wine in less than two minutes, which can then be served either from the elegant carafe or from the original bottle. Comes with a stopper, as well, in case you don't quite finish the bottle in one sitting.

That's it for today's update, but keep in mind that next Friday, November 5 is Downtown Art Walk, for which we will feature a special trunk show from Alchemy Goods. Enjoy 20% off all Alchemy Goods for the evening! We will be receiving a shipment of their newly released designs next week, so there will be lots to choose from.

In the meantime, stay tuned for news about new designs from Sandy Chilewich, Teroforma, and more. Marimekko is en route from Finland as I type this! We will keep you posted on new arrivals. As always, check our Facebook Page for the latest news.

Friday, October 15, 2010

New and Notable from the Pacific Northwest

We're pleased to welcome both Grain Design and Iacoli and McAllister to Ideal. We came across both while in New York last August and are honored to bring their smart designs into the shop.

We love Grain's matter-of-fact outlook on design and sustainability. Add to that great-looking, clever product design and we were hooked. Based in Bainbridge Island, Washington, Grain was founded in 2007 at Rhode Island School of Design. As founder James Minola states, "We are driven by the belief that social values and good business are not mutually exclusive but are, in fact, partners."

Their Ty DIY Shower Curtain is a perfect example of their clever approach to design. Ty is a simple #2 plastic shower curtain. Unlike other shower curtains made of vinyl, Ty will not off-gas in your home. Also unlike vinyl, Ty breathes – making it less likely to grow mold and mildew. Ty is stronger than vinyl and will last a very long time, then it can be recycled. It's even machine washable! Best of all, you can draw your own customized design with the marker included.
Ty DIY Shower Curtain, $34
Draw your design...

...and voila! Instant art! Bonus - it's machine washable.

Also from Grain, these great Electric Love rings, made from hand-knotted, reclaimed electrical wire. Available in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and white so you can have a rainbow at your fingertips.
Electric Love Ring, $19.50

Seattle-based duo Jamie Iacoli and Brian McAllister use industrial processes and materials to make their pieces, yet their work exudes a warmth and humor that we couldn't resist. Their Frame Lights feature a powder-coated steel "shade," which casts lovely shadows. We currently have the small version (8 x 8 x 8") in either yellow or white but can special order in black or aqua, as well.
Small Frame Light, $345
In November we should have some of their amazing Mini-Pedestals in stock. Jamie and Brian take vintage brass candlestick holders, sandblast and powder-coat them, then affix a Corian top. Because every piece uses a different vintage base, each is one-of-a-kind. Jamie is currently sourcing the bases and we'll let you know as soon as we have them in stock.
Mini-Pedestals - coming soon!

Stop by soon to take a look at these and many other new designs, arriving daily!