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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last Minute Gifts

If you haven't quite managed to check everyone off your gift list, it's not too late. We are happy to help you find the perfect present for all. Here are a few more of our favorite things to consider as you finish up your shopping.

H. Tokyo handkerchiefs are perfect for the stylish gentleman on your list. These special hankies are hand-stitched with a smart little graphic in the corner. We love their motto: "Always carry two handkerchiefs: one to show and one to blow." This is one he will be proud to show.

H.Tokyo Hand-stitched Handkerchief - Airplane, $50

H.Tokyo Hand-stitched Handkerchief - Jaws, $50

H.Tokyo Hand-stitched Handkerchief - Motorcycle, $50

Tivoli Audio is known for making the best table radios on the market. The Model One speaker can really fill a room and Tivoli is known for superior clarity of reception. May also be used as a speaker for an iPod or phone.
Tivoli Audio Model One Radio, $150

It's not only cute, this wooden rechargeable mini speaker boasts surprising audio quality for its tiny size.  
Mini Wooden Speaker, $38

This analog wristwatch from Braun, designed by Dieter Rams and Deitrich Lubs, was originally produced in the 1970s. It's back and just as beautiful as ever.
Braun Wristwatch, $150

Fleet Objects' lovely handmade cribbage set is hand-made in Vancouver, Canada. At 6" x 4" x 2", it is easy to take along while traveling.
Fleet Objects Compact Cribbage, $47

Nuance's Wine Finer is a clever tool for the wine-lovers on your list. This streamlined piece aerates and filters wine by the glass with a no-drip spout. In case you don't finish the bottle, it also has a stopper.
Nuance Wine Finer, $29.95

When you do finish the bottle, turn it into a candle holder with the Toplight. A sturdy stainless steel rim keeps any wax from dripping onto your table.
Toplight by Lena Bergstrom, $35

Yumi Masuko's porcelain Hands Bowl is perfect for displaying any small treasures but is also food safe and looks lovely on the dining table.
Hands Bowl by Yumi Masuko, $58

And if you are heading out to holiday parties, remember Marimekko napkins make a great host/hostess gift. We have a nice selection of patterns.
Marimekko Paper Napkins (set of 20), $6.75

If you still have someone particularly tricky on your list, we'd love to help you find the perfect present. We are up to the challenge! In the meantime, a few things to keep in mind:
  • We are open until 8pm through this Friday. Christmas Eve we will be open until 4pm.
  • Parking is free downtown until December 26! Shop and dine without worrying about the meter and save those quarters for holiday treats.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gifts for Kids

Hello! The holidays bring lots of gifts for kids, many of which require batteries, make unpleasant noises, and are made from cold, hard plastic.  If you are partial to toys made of natural materials that do not flash, beep or talk, we have a good selection of gifts that are beautiful, fun, and foster creativity. We also have ideas for the older kids on your list.

Nearly every toddler who comes into the shop heads straight to the Soopsori wooden toys to play. The lovely range of colors in these sets is a result of the different varieties of wood used and all are finished using safe linseed oil. 
Soopsori Breakfast Set (17 pieces), $69
Soopsori Doctor Set (6 pieces), $38
Soopsori Musical Instruments (set of 3), $38
Soopsori Cement Mixer, $15

Cate and Levi toys are handmade in Toronto, Canada, using recycled sweaters. Each has its own unique personality since the materials used change from day-to-day:  
Cate & Levi Giraffe Puppet, $30

Cate and Levi Walrus Pencil Set (includes pencils and notebook), $30

Miller Goodman PlayShapes are not just for kids. A set of 74 blocks in an amazing array of shapes, PlayShapes allow you to build vertically, horizontally, stack, balance - you name it. Comes with a poster illustrating some suggested designs but your imagination is truly the only limit. This set will be enjoyed by generations.
Miller Goodman PlayShapes (74 pieces), $150

For the budding scientist, we have a pocket microscope, the opportunity to build your own kaleidoscope, and remember those Spirograph sets from a few decades back? We have a similar pocket-sized version that will be fun for parents, too.
Pocket Microscope, $12
Build Your Own Kaleidoscope, $12
Hypotrochoid Art Set, $10

 Fear not when faced with the mess of empty boxes, bows, and wrapping paper on Christmas morning. Before recycling boxes, bows, and wrapping paper, turn them into sculptures! Makedo Find & Make Sets include reusable connectors, hinges, and a kid-safe cardboard "saw" for constructing either a bouquet of flowers or a robot.  
Makedo Find and Make Robot Kit, $12

Mealtime is often a challenge for parents and kids alike. Modern Twist placemats can help. These food-grade silicone mats are silky smooth to the touch, easy to clean, and best of all they double as a coloring book when paired with Modern Twist's kid-friendly dry-erase markers.
Modern Twist Silicone Placemat, $18.95

Modern Twist Silicone Placemat, $18.95

A cheery Marimekko bib is lightweight and rinses quickly clean and our favorite snack set from notNeutral is now available in red/black.
Marimekko Bib, $11.95
notNeutral Snack Set (6 pieces) $26

Cuddly slugs? Kristin Loffer Theiss of kltworks accomplishes the impossible. These sweet pals are handmade in Mount Vernon, WA and are machine-washable.
kltworks Northwest Slug Lovey, $25

Zid Zid Kids make fair trade toys in Morocco. This airplane toddler backpack is perfect for the little adventurer.  And Zid Zid's sweet animal cushions make a snuggly friend as well as a pillow on which to rest a sleepy head. 
Zid Zid Toddler Backpack, $52
Zid Zid Crocodile Cushion, $40

Tegu magnetic wooden blocks are as much at home on a coffee table as in a toy room. Made from sustainably-harvested wood in Honduras, these sets allow sculptural constructions that defy gravity. We have the 22-piece Endeavor Set and the 8-piece Pocket Pouch (great for strollers and in the car). 
Tegu Endeavor Set (22 pieces) $62
Tegu Pocket Pouch (8 pieces), $32

We have a deep fondness for children's books and have a great selection of favorite titles, from beautifully illustrated picture books to clever activity books that will be cherished mementos one day. Here are just a few examples - we have many more in the shop:
My Listography, $12.95, prompts kids to make intriguing lists.
642 Things to Draw, $16.95
Tomi Ungerer's Adelaide, $14.95, tells of a brave kangaroo with wings. 
J.J. Sempe's Martin Pebble, $19.95, a sweet story about a boy who blushes uncontrollably.
Herve Tullet's Game of Light, $8.95. Use a flashlight to make patterns on the wall.
Herve Tullet's Doodle Cook, $14.95, gives "recipes" for drawing.

This clever Design Your Own Lamp can grow with your kid. Simply insert a drawing between the sheets of the shade to personalize. Easy to switch out, so the design can change with your child's interests.  
Design Your Own Lamp, $32

Chigo Playthings are handmade in Japan from local woods with an emphasis on artisinal craftsmanship. These beauties will be equally coveted by parents and children.
Chigo Playthings Wooden Bowling Set, $65
Chigo Playthings Wooden Yoyo, $15
Chigo Playthings Wooden Toy Camera, $68

If you have a budding photographer in your midst, the KOLA camera accessory is sure to be a hit. This set of pocket-sized color gels makes it easy to give your shots interesting optical effects.  
KOLA Camera Accessory, $14.50

These colorful Twelve Watches are as popular with middle-schoolers as college students (and beyond).  
Twelve Color Watches, $18 each

Here's a sweet deck of cards illustrated with various zoo animals on one side, and a curious boy peeking in the window on the other:
Zoo Playing Cards, $12

David Week's Cubebots are a challenging wooden puzzle (you try getting him back into a cube!), as well as just plain fun to play with and pose:  
Guthrie Cubebot by David Weeks, $32

 That's just a few ideas for kids - don't forget the $10 or less stocking stuffers we sent out two weeks ago. There is much more to see in the shop so please come by for a look or give us a call with any questions. 

We'll be in touch very soon with more gift ideas, but until then here are a few reminders: 
  • We have extended our hours this week and next to help with your holiday shopping. December 12-17 (Monday - Saturday) and December 19-23 (Monday - Friday) we will be open until 8pm. Christmas Eve we will be open until 4pm.    
  • Parking is free downtown until December 26! Shop and dine without worrying about the meter and save those quarters for holiday treats.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Great Design Made in the USA

Hello again! As you consider your holiday shopping, did you know that we carry over 30 designers who make their wares right here in the USA? From jewelry to birdhouses to messenger bags, we have lots of great ideas for American-made gifts.

Kristin Loffer Theiss is the smart woman behind kltworks. Working from her studio in Mount Vernon, WA, she makes meticulously-crafted plush toys. Our favorites are the Kiki Kitties (pictured below) and her Northwest Slug Lovey. Kristin is passionate about fabric and always finds special patterns to use in her work. Keep in mind these kitties aren't just for kids - they look great as accent pillows, too.
klt works Kiki Kitties, $40 each

Bauer Pottery's beautiful stoneware was a staple in many homes during the 1930s and 40s. Bauer has been reintroduced by a ceramics studio in Los Angeles, closely following the original forms and glazes. We have a wide selection of colors and sizes of vases. Check out the lovely salad bowl, as well, also available in white.
8" Bauer Pottery Madagascar Vase, $40

Bauer Pottery Salad Bowl, $60

Mother/daughter team Shelly and Mary Klein are the dynamic duo of k studio in Grand Rapids, MI. We love their embroidered pillows and pouches - Shelly's drawings are irresistible. She and Mary manage each product from start to finish using sustainable fabrics.
k studio Thoughts Pillow (10 x 18"), $98

k studio Everyday People Pouch (7.5 x 4"), $34

Alchemy Goods uses upcycled bike innertubes to make bags, belts, and wallets. Made in Seattle, all of their products are highly water-resistant, built to last, and just plain cool. Below is just a sampling of the many bags and wallets we currently have in stock: 
Alchemy Goods Belt, $44

Alchemy Goods Elliot Dopp Kit, $35

Alchemy Goods Madison Backpack, $140

Alchemy Goods Pine Bag, $110

Nearly all of the jewelry we carry is made in the USA. Here are just a few examples - stop by to see the full range of talent in the shop:

Lulu Smith (Seattle) hand-tints and pours resin to make her beautifully saturated necklaces and earrings. She's a true colorist and we love the way her work brightens our jewelry case.

Lulu Smith Prose Pendant, $162

Iris Guy Soffer (Seattle) works in sterling and oxidized sterling. Her sophisticated designs hint at organic forms such as rocks and branches.
Iris Guy Soffer Branch Necklace, $175

Grain Design (Bainbridge Island, WA) - Chelsea Green uses hand-knotted, reclaimed electrical wire to make her striking Electric Love bangles and rings.
Grain Design Electric Love Bangle, $30 each

Mon Bijou has been a shop favorite since we opened. Made in Los Angeles, these pewter pieces are silver plated and then varnished so you never need to polish or clean them. 
Mon Bijou Maite Cuff, $130

Fruitsuper Design (Seattle) has a ring you can't ignore. The SBiR (So Big it's Ridiculous) is brightly-colored silicone in a scale fit for a superhero! Comfortable to wear and a fun pop of color. 
Fruitsuper Design SBiR Ring, $32

How about something made right here in Bellingham? Western Washington University Industrial Design students recently designed and produced the Path Series of jewelry. A limited edition of each piece was made using a 3-D plastic printer. 100% of proceeds go to WWUIDSA to help fund scholarships, travel expenses and other student needs. 
Path 1 Ring, $12; Path 3 Necklace, $28

Know someone (or yourself) who needs a hand keeping her jewelery drawer tidy? Steph Mantis (Brooklyn, NY) has a witty solution. Her Pack Rack keeps necklaces tangle-free. Also works great for keys by the front door.
Steph Mantis Pack Rack, $58

Ladies and Gentlemen Studios (Seattle) make beautiful, clever designs with a touch of nostalgia. Their Superior Servers are stainless utensils with coated handles, inspired by the dipped ends of hand tools. The Homestead Candlesticks are made from solid hemlock with copper tube.
Ladies and Gentlemen Studios (set of two), $60

Ladies and Gentlemen Studios Superior Servers, $40

Chelsea Heffner of PlainMADE screenprints these beautiful Unwound Wraps in her Portland, OR studio. This piece features imagery of thread and tangled yarn - a tribute to the creative process and scraps left behind in her studio.

PlainMADE Unwound Wrap, $78

A favorite or architects and designers for decades, the Stendig Calendar (published in Nashville, TN) has been in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art since 1966. Designed by Massimo Vignelli, the large-scale black and white pages become an exploration of positive and negative space. 
Stendig Calendar, $34.95

This minimal wooden chess set was designed by Lanier Graham in 1966. Graham later became curator in the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Architecture and Design. We love how the pieces interlock for compact storage.
Lanier Graham Chess Set, $67

Vital Industries (Denver, CO) screen prints these colorful bicycle glasses. Perfect for sipping whiskey or dipping cookies in milk.
Vital Industries Old Fashioned Glasses, $11 each

If you are planning on using the Old Fashioned glasses for whiskey, be sure to also grab a set of Whiskey Stones from Teroforma. Stash the stones in your freezer and add them to whiskey for a chill without watering down your drink. Made of Vermont soapstone.
Teroforma Whiskey Stones (set of 9), $20

Iacoli and McAllister (Seattle) recently introduced this bottle opener fashioned from hex bar. A lovely little sculpture when not in use.
Iacoli McAllister Hex Opener, $48

Loll Designs (Duluth, MN) uses recycled #2 plastic milk jugs to make super-sturdy and stylish birdhouses. These beauties will not fade or weather over time, so the house will retain its vivid color for years and years.  
Loll Designs Pitch Birdhouse, $60

The Soda Bottle Bird Feeder (Rhode Island) is a versatile gift that appeals to a wide range of people. Simply fill an empty 2-liter bottle with seed, attach the zinc adapter and hang to feed your feathered friends.
Soda Bottle Bird Feeder, $12

So there you have just a quick sampling of American-made designs - there's even more to see in the shop. And don't forget a number of the under $10 gifts we wrote about last week, such as Audubon Bird Calls, Chocolate Editions bars, Holiday Surprise Balls, and Sunprints. All made in USA as well!

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

  • We will be extending our hours starting next week. December 12-17 (Monday - Saturday) and December 14-23 (Monday - Friday) we will be open until 8pm. Christmas Eve, December 24 we will be open until 4pm. 
  • Free parking downtown all day Dec 12 - Dec 26! Enjoy shopping and dining without worrying about meters. Save those quarters for holiday treats.