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KIOSK's Gift Guide: Finding Beauty in Everyday Objects From Around the World

KIOSK is a gallery and store in New York that curates everyday objects from around the world. This is their selection of 10 favorite designs from 2012

Seven years ago, we founded KIOSK, a gallery/store in SoHo, New York. We offer a curated range of products from all over the world in an exhibition format. Everything is sourced during our travels; we build our collections while away, and then feature what we find at KIOSK for four to six months.
Our current show is THE NETHERLANDS. We also have an ongoing collection of objects from previous exhibitions.
KIOSK is a travel story depicted through objects, a collection of things that interest us, a study in material culture, a shop, and several peoples' efforts to preserve uniqueness in the world. It's also an installation, idealistic, and maybe just something other than what we are all used to.
At KIOSK, we present things that generally go unnoticed—products that are the result of local aesthetics and needs. Our motivation is to give attention to these anonymous objects and support independent producers.
Below is a collection of ten favorites we discovered this year. We hope you enjoy them. We also hope that what we share encourages you to go out and meet, talk, learn, see, and show. You don’t have to travel far. Look all around you: beauty is everywhere.

1. Delta Vase


Designed in 1981 by Mart van Schijndel, a Dutch design icon, the vase was made in three sizes: small, medium and large. However, the small is all that remains from the original production. Consisting of three sheets of glass held together with three perfect silicone joints, things don't get more minimal than this. Made by hand, this is not art pottery, but a glass extravaganza. The Delta vase is included in the permanent collection of New York's MoMA, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. You can read about Mart van Schijndel here. It's one of my all-time favorite objects.


2. Orange Grater


My friend Chris is a pretty good cook. When he went down to Colombia on an artists' residency, he was excited to do his work and make a collection for Kiosk, but also to explore the local food. Chris is not one for strictly dining out, however, he likes to cook, and as I mentioned, he's really good at it, too. When he got to the beautiful house in Colombia—a 19th century coffee plantation that he was going to be living in for three months—he got down to setting up a home, including the kitchen. I'm not sure how many of you have been on artist residencies, but the accommodations really vary. I have been to one where I called the kitchen "the galley kitchen" not because it was so small, but because it was filled with cast-offs. Marco and I were in Belgium and I would talk about going to the "galley" and people would correct me or misunderstand and think I said "gallery," given that we were in the world of art. The whole thing got very messy. The kitchen where Chris stayed was nice, really nice, and really well-set except for one thing: a grater. So he set out looking for one, and this grater is the result of Chris combing Medellin to find the best grater made in Colombia. I think we better visit that factory when I go to Colombia. It's sharp enough for everything from lemon zest to cheese.

3. Terracotta Building Blocks


Chris sent me a second package from Colombia and a set of bricks, plus the following note was inside:

Who would have thought!—Miniature terracotta building bricks. When I saw these I almost lost it. The most noticeable element of architecture here in Medellin is the terracotta brick. Need a wall, a roof, a staircase? Anything you can imagine, structural or not, can be built out of terracotta bricks. I first came across these miniatures in a market off of Parque Bolivar and then started noticing them for sale everywhere. They come in a range of sizes, getting as small as the nail on my pinky finger. Forget Lincoln Logs, good-bye LEGO, these toy building blocks can be used for pretty much anything. My friend Aurelie placed a small one in a jar of cream the other night and shook it until she had a jar of butter. Having a blast, when you come to Colombia I am going to show you around. —Chris

4. Anisblocks


Lullaby me to sleep with some anisblocks. These little dream pellets are a bridge to the sandman or sandlady, whomever you find you are looking for late at night. Most bedtimes I take half a tab in a decent mug of hot milk. Be sure to stir it up or all of that yummy fennel taste sits on the bottom and the sugar at the end gives you a jolt rather than a cuddle with a snuggle. Anisblocks are made for children and adults alike, much like a surrogate teddybear. I find it strange when adults have stuffed animals on their beds. Is it worse when the person is single or with someone? You got me. Where does the bear go in the more intimate moments? A warm tummy at night does wonders for the sleep and the dreams.

5. Bike Tire Repair Kit


Psssss, thump, thump thump. Whoops, you have a flat. People like us get flat tires all the time. It's ok, it's normal, it's something we can all talk about, openly. Riders on the Tour de France—do they get flats? I wondered, so I did a little research and found an interesting story from this year. During the 14th leg of the race, 30 riders got tire punctures (not flats, as I like to say). I was stunned! How can this be? A race plagued with doping issues and now punctures en masse. The culprit was not found, but tacks were discovered spread along one kilometer of the race. Amazing, no? So limp along over the Williamsburg Bridge with a flat no longer, my friend, with your trusty Simson repair kit. No instructions, but everything else you need.

6. Ruler Stick


Inches on one side, centimeters on the other: we live in a global economy. It's not that hard, a meter is roughly a yard, a decimeter is like a tenth of a yard, a centimeter is like a tenth of a tenth of a yard, and a millimeter? Yep, like a tenth of a tenth of a tenth of that yard. Easy-peasy! Made by hand in the Netherlands—truthfully, how many things still are? The stick fits in your back pocket and the brass looks like gold. There are handy conversions on the side too. It folds once, and then again. It's the holy grail of measuring sticks.

7. Grey Notebook


A notebook that is a hoot. My friend brought me one when he was in Amsterdam for Queen's Day in 2009, and I kept it on my desk for three years until we made the Dutch collection. It was purchased from our favorite office supply store in the Netherlands, and we bought what stock was left. Sadly, this is it. I don't understand why they finished the production, it's our most popular notebook to date. One centimeter grid paper. Good grey, red and white color combination.

8. Fineliner Brunzeel


While visiting Provence, France, we found this pen in a Dutch household when we had to transcribe a phone number, and thus began our entire Dutch collection. A star was born: a stellar pen. Two-tones outside, black, monochrome inside. A fine point, as the name suggests. I find I am losing my hand writing skills. Is it true they don't teach script in school any longer? Someone said to me the other day, "When you were in school, they were still teaching script, right?" What is that about? I recall early memories of handwriting practice (I had horrible handwriting thanks to my parents), and script meant long, fluid emotional stories in English class and print meant math. Will we be left with a bunch of squares in the world sometime soon? Preserve your script while you can. I just wrote the word "sugar" over and over again and again with different variations of script and one print version. The cursive is emotive—perhaps even an old-fashioned emoticon?

9. Snelbinders


Oh, tired of riding your bike around town and having things flying off? Get Snelbinders and never again lose, say, a box of things you cherish highly. Travel at a high velocity and never have fear about the bumps to come. Fixed to your wheel axle Snelbinders bind almost anything to a rat trap, as long as it's cherished that is. "Snel" means quick in Dutch, so we are talking the opposite of snails pace here. And yum, it looks like licorice. The Duimdrop is, in a way, similar in texture.

10. Noisemaker From Hell

We did not conjure up the product's name; this is its proper name. It's the perfect thing to give someone, and the item of envy on New Years, with one caveat: the noise it makes is pitiful. Yes, indeed, it is. I was surprised, with such a big, brassy look, that the sound from the "Noisemaker from Hell" would make such a tiny squeak. In fact, its bark is not worse than its bite or vice versa. Soon after I put the thing together, I was excited to blow. Taking a big puff I managed to inflate about half of the streamers (bravo!), only to hear a tiny little whine. I tried again thinking the low volume was due to my weak lung capacity and with practice I was able to inflate all of the streamers. But, to my chagrin, the volume simply never increased. Then it dawned on me, this is a Japanese noisemaker. Ah, Japanese modesty issues. Then I wondered, oh, perhaps in Japan this whistle is really loud, I am American, after all. So, choose this "Noisemaker from Hell" if you like a modest noise and a lot of flash. You will find its peacock feathers will get you the most amount of attention without the brassy finish which in reality can make you the annoyance of the party. Very Japanese in some ways. Happy 2013!

Photos courtesy of Kiosk


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