Shitaku Series

Designer: Koizumi Studio

Pestle and Mortar. Shitaku Series by Koizumi StudioShitaku Series by Koizumi Studio

The first thing that caught my eye about these products was the use of the horizontals in the pestle and mortar. They are cut right into the porcelain. The ridges form the basis for the aesthetic of the piece and the purpose of the mortar itself. Colour has been carefully avoided to bring out the lines in a subtle and calm way, through shadow.

Ladel Rest and Grater. Shitaku Series by Koizumi Studio

This is a series of kitchen tools that encourages taking your time, blending your own herbs and spices, and being mindful of what you are doing here and now. Japan has always had a culture of ceremony around tea and food preparation and presentation. I feel I would be inclined to prepare ingredients with more thoughtfulness when using these kitchen tools, in contrast to using European designed tools. Their design imparts the cultural heritage of Koizumi Studio’s home country. (Edit: I just found out in the fact checking for this post that “Shitaku” means ‘preparation’ in Japanese.)

Shitaku Series by Koizumi Studio from above

You can buy these items separately at An Astute Assembly. However you can also buy them as a whole set; a pestle and mortar, a grater for ingredients like ginger/radish/wasabi, a juicer, a lipped dish to rest your spoon/ladle in beside the oven, and a lid to bring the set together as a whole. At the time of writing the set itself is out of stock at An Astute Assembly but do check.

The pieces are made from porcelain in Arita, an area of Japan well known for its porcelain and the Arita Ceramic Fair.

Images from An Astute Assembly.
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Geo Vacuum Flask

Designer: Nicholai Wiig HansenGeo Vacuum Jug grey

Geo Vacuum Jug grey detail

This flask is one of my favourite recent product discoveries. Circles make me really happy… Concentric circles? Ooof, even better.

Geo Flask Blush Nude Group

The shapes in this flask are so crisp. Poul Madsen, Normann Copenhagen’s CEO sums the flask up perfectly, describing it as a…

“… flask that is sharp in its mode of expression, playful in its colouring, and unique in its function…” – Madsen

Nicholai Wiig Hansen, the bloody genius, has managed to design it with both fluid lines and sharp edges all in one design. I’m told it keeps a good coffee nice and hot too.

Geo Vacuum Jug grey divider from above

On the strength of winning a Red Dot award and a German Design Award ‘special mention’ in 2013, the flask has been joined by other ‘Geo’ table ware items, but the flask itself is still the belle of the ball.


Geo Flask Collection Pink Tea

Available at Normann Copenhagen.

Images from the Normann Copenhagen blog.
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Sophisticated potato print (yep!) wrapping paper

For a couple of years I’ve been printing my own wrapping paper for Christmas.

I know what you’re thinking, but its actually super quick! All you need to get is a roll of thin wallpaper or kraft paper, some bright children’s paint and a potato.

Lovingly my Mother Hero saved a bit of last year’s so I can show you that too!

The key is to choose an instantly recognisable, simple image. Last year I did oranges and lemons with a green leaf. This year its black holly leaves with gold berries.

To make the potato print

Cut the potato in two and carve the image from the flat side of the potato, cutting away and disposing of the edge pieces. Use a flat plate for your paint and print away! I’d advise using no more than three shapes and three colours otherwise the paper will look very busy. Keeping two colours complementary and the third colour contrasting works nicely. My oranges and lemons were orange and yellow (complementary) and the leaf was green (contrasting). If you just use two colours, contrast them e.g. black/gold.


This year I painted the gold holly berries on with a brush, as I wanted to be able to see the painterly brush strokes. The holly leaves are all printed from a single potato stamp, but angling it slightly makes it look like a whole new leaf.

Have you tried potato printing recently? The last time most of us did it was when we were five years old! If you can’t be a big kid at Christmas when can you be?!

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Christmas Cozyness

How my home feels at Christmas is important to me. No flashing multi-coloured lights (sorry Dad, I know they’re your fave). I love candlelight, soft cusions, and making sure that the house smells like an Alpine lodge in a Wham video.

Here is my edit of twelve products to help you feel snug this Christmas.

Get the candles out

Beeswax Candles Tall by Camphill Community as seen on The Product Edit

“Beeswax Candles Tall” by Camphill Community.

Irish dipped beeswax has a luxuriously rich colour to it. The gentle, natural taper that the traditional candle dipping method produces is reason enough to group these beauties all along the mantle. Special mention to the Irish shop that sells them, Makers and Brothers. They have keen eye for well made, timeless products. The shop resides in (purposely unpolished) converted stone outbuildings just up the road from where I grew up in Dublin.

“Christmas Candle” and “Heima Block Candle Holder” by Anne Lehmann and Francis Cayouette respectively as seen on The Product Edit

“Christmas Candle” and “Heima Block Candle Holder” by Anne Lehmann and Francis Cayouette respectively.

This candle will count down the days to Christmas with you. Much prettier than chocolate advent calendars… though i’m certainly using both. The holder designed specifically for the candle significantly improves the outline and balance of the product.

Christmas Decorations

Decorations, for me, work best with simple shapes and repetition to get the best effect in a room. Though ‘full on’ traditional does have appeal to me too.

“Christmas Decorations” by Sebastian Cox as seen on The Product Edit

“Christmas Decorations” by Sebastian Cox

Cox’s team have individually turned the British grown wood for these hanging ornaments meaning you don’t get to chose the shape when buying online, but you can specify a type of wood. Not knowing what you’re getting would be half fun I think, as they’re all stunning. It would be your very own christmas surprise from the Cox team.

“Origami Star Decs” by Deja Ooh as seen on The Product Edit

“Origami Star Decs” by Deja Ooh

These stars look easy enough to reproduce at home if you’re crafty, but who on earth has time for it the week before Christmas? Maybe set the kids on the task and put their adorable, tangley messes on the tree every year, like my parents still do. If no tiny helpers are available supporting a small business like this is always a good thing.

"Eleven Inch High Julbock" by Straw Shoppe as seen on The Product Edit

“Eleven Inch High Julbock” by Straw Shoppe

Swedish Santa is a goat don’t cha know?! Same beard, much cuter.

"Spanbaume" by The Erzgebirge Glaesser Factory as seen on The Product Edit

“Spanbaume” by The Erzgebirge Glaesser Factory

Traditional decorations have been made this way in Erzgebirge, east Germany, for centuries. This Spanbaume (Christmas tree) is being made by a worker in the Glaesser factory in Seiffen. Spanbaume are made from one piece of doweling, carved by hand, to produce remarkable uniformity. Photo Credit: Tobias Schwarz/Reuters.

“Metallic Ceramic Bauble” by Twenty Seven as seen on The Product Edit

“Metallic Ceramic Bauble” by Twenty Seven

The matte ceramic surface of Twenty-Seven’s baubles are fantastically tactile. And the unassuming bump that the decoration hangs from is a refreshing change from plastic cap style tops that eventually lose their grip on the bauble itself.

The Smelly Stuff

Here are a couple of things to entice that scamp George Michael into your imaginary log cabin with wafting aromas of Christmas.

“Log Cabin Incense Burner” by Paines as seen on The Product Edit

“Log Cabin Incense Burner” by Paines

A simple enough mini structure to be on just the right side of kitsch. The real ‘balsam fir’, condensed logs burning in this cabin will fool the noses of us folk not lucky enough to own a house with an open fire and rolling forest out the back.

“Dried Orange Slice Ornaments” Amanda at Small Home Big Start as seen on The Product Edit

“Dried Orange Slice Ornaments” Amanda at Small Home Big Start

How simple and beautiful can you get for a decoration? Homemade too, this is one I definatly will have time for. Pretty much slice the orange, leave it alone and you’re done. You could stick a few cloves around the edge for extra oomph. Space them out though as the fruit slices will shrink as they dry.

Year Round Comfort and Joy

Three things caught my attention will last year-round. Two of which I have long coveted. I’ll start with those two.

“Candle holder” by John Pawson as seen on The Product Edit

“Candle holder” by John Pawson

Holy Moley. This candle holder, from the When Objects Work collaberative, makes my heart skip a beat. I’ve been sneaking to Pawson’s site late at night since my university days, just to make sure its still for sale. It is. For €242. I’ll keep checking in…

“Crest Bottle Opener” by Fort Standard as seen on The Product Edit

“Crest Bottle Opener” by Fort Standard

Fort standard designed these handsome, solid brass bottle openers that got a lot of press recently, and for good reason. They are ultra glam and at the same time feel very industrial. No mean feat. They are made for casually waving around at drinks parties feeling like the king of the castle. (again!)

"FaLaLa Pillow" by Bright July as seen on The Product Edit

“FaLaLa Pillow” by Bright July

Caitlin Halberstadt’s new cushion seems obviously festive but if I saw it in June I would be thinking of running around singing, in a sun drenched field of wheat, not Christmas tunes. The script lettering is appliquéd, not printed, a good indication of quality.

Do you like the simple stuff or the traditional decorations? Will you buy me a €242 candle holder? You’ll be really, really glad you did. Promise.

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