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.

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.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Good Design for $10 or Less!

Happy December! Did you know we have dozens of well-designed, creative, and interesting gift ideas for $10 or less? These great picks will provide enjoyment long after the holiday decorations have been put away. Here are some ideas for stockings and beyond...
Worldwide Co origami and bobble-head kits make creative fun for kids and adults alike. The origami sets come with 100 sheets of paper and a 28-page instruction booklet. Bobble-head kits include 16 full color sheets plus detailed instructions.

Paper Robot Bobble-Head Kit, $10

5 Minute Origami Set, $10
Hungry Animal Stencil Set, $7

If you loved the boxed stencil sets we had last year from Worldwide Co, we have a few of those back in stock as well  - Facebox, Zoobox, Hypotrochoid (like a mini-Spirograph), and Fingerprint Art Box as well as the Hungry Animals set pictured above.

Traditional coloring books can sometimes be a drag, having to stay inside the lines and all that. Not so with Roz Streeten's Rosie Flo and Johnny Joe Coloring Books. Now your budding artist can customize the costumes and scenes with characters of their choosing.    

Rosie Flo Coloring Book, $8.99

Johnny Joe Coloring Book, $8.99
Sample Pages of Rosie Flo

Sunprints are popular with both scientific and artistic types. Place any object on the paper (leaves, flowers, small toys), briefly expose to sunlight, rinse with water and watch intriguing compositions appear in shades of blue. As the set comes with 12 sheets of paper, you have many opportunities to experiment. 
Sunprint Kit, $6

Nippon Work Gloves from Japan protect your hands in style while gardening, tinkering, or heavy lifting.  We have several vivid patterns to choose from.
Nippon Work Gloves, $6

 These Japanese Wooden Tops are like lovely little sculptures, and spin really well. Also from Japan, 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.

Wooden Tops, $8 each
Tawashi Scrubber, $8

The original Audubon Bird Call makes a sweet little gift that we've found appeals to everyone from baby to grandpa. Handmade in New England by the Eddy family for over fifty years, the bird call's sound is produced by twisting the cast zinc plug against the wooden cylinder. You'll be surprised by the wide range of chirps and tweets this classic call produces.
Audubon Bird Call, $8

These handy Flip and Tumble bags have long been a shop favorite because they tuck so compactly into their own little pocket. Stash a present inside the bag and the recipient will be grateful for "wrapping paper" they don't need to recycle.
Flip and Tumble Bags, $10 each

Field Notes are the perfect notebook to have on hand for making lists or when creative inspiration strikes. Made in the USA, these slim little books have quite a following. We have the original 3-packs (one of each notebook with ruled, graph, and blank pages) or the newest limited edition set - The Northerly Edition - which features a coated, embossed cover and interior pages of light blue/grey with white grid.
Set of Three Field Notes, $10

Unwind the colorful crepe paper ribbon on these Holiday Surprise Balls to discover five fun holiday trinkets hidden between the festive layers. These make great table favors, as well. Made in Oregon.
Holiday Surprise Ball, $10 each

Hooray! A new sweet treat from Chocolate Editions! Salted Dark Chocolate Bars from Chocolate Editions by Mary and Matt. As always, these two chocolatiers have a very visual approach to their work and we love the beautiful marbleized paper on these bars almost as much as the tasty chocolate inside. Handmade in Brooklyn, NY.
Salted Dark Bar (1.5 oz), $5

The iStand is like a handy kickstand for your iPod or iPhone. Suction this to the back and prop it up to watch a video hands-free. Available in orange, green, and black.
iStand, $6

These clever X-Shaped Rubber Bands from Museum of Modern Art go far beyond the humble bands you may be using. These not only help organize your desk, but also work beautifully to wrap a small box. Each set contains an assortment of four different colors and sizes.
Rubber X-Bands, $6 for set of 16

Sandy Chilewich's pressed vinyl Dahlia Circles not only function as a stylish placemat, they also look festive under a centerpiece or vase on an entry table. Best part of all...simply wipe clean.
Chilewich Dahlia Round Placemat, $8

Alchemy Goods business card holder made from upcycled bicycle innertubes is great for cards and also works as a mini-wallet. 99% recycled material and made in Seattle.
Alchemy Goods Business Card Holder, $10

Also from Alchemy, set of two zipper pulls made from pressure valves:
Alchemy Goods Zipper Pulls, set of two $8

Marimekko paper napkins are available in several patterns and sizes. $5.25 for cocktail size; $6.75 for dinner size.These are perfect hostess gifts and also fit nicely in a stocking.
Marimekko Paper Napkins, $5.25 or $6.75

We are stocked up on Japanese "mt" washi masking tape in many different patterns. Great for wrapping packages, sealing envelopes, and any creative project. 
Japanese masking tape, set of two rolls $9

There you have over 20 ideas for $10 or under and that's not all - we also have a selection of stocking-worthy children's books for less than $10. Stop by for a look!

We'll be in touch again soon with more gift ideas!