10/30/13 4:56pm
Designer Harry Allen's take on the popular piggy bank is much more realistic than older variations. Photo: Areaware

Designer Harry Allen’s take on the popular piggy bank is much more realistic than older variations. Photo: Areaware

Piggy banks have been popular places to stash spare change since the 18th century, but designer Harry Allen’s modern take on this traditional still bank is a far cry from its earlier incarnations.

“I knew I wanted a piggy bank that looked exactly like a real pig,” Allen says. “I wanted it to be lifelike and I wanted it to be based on a real pig, so I had a little piglet stuffed and cast off of the taxidermy. This was in 2003 or so when reality television had just started. There was this moment when people were really borrowing from the world around them, and I thought I’d try and do that in the design world.” (more…)

10/23/13 4:00pm
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The craftsmanship of Kika’s hand-cut leather bags, like its signature Postal BackPack No. 1, sells itself, though having a shirtless model show them off never hurts. Photo: Kika NY

When Kika Vliegenthart and her partner Sabine Spanjer started their own leather goods company a few years ago, they were hand-cutting and stitching bags together in their Clinton Hill kitchen. Today, the couple, who designs under the label Kika NY, are about to outgrow their third studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as their collection of handmade leather and canvas bags, small leather goods, shoes and accessories has finally hit its growth spurt.

“We started out at the beginning of the hall in a very, very, tiny, tiny space, but we keep on growing. Work keeps getting bigger and bigger,” says Spanjer.

Partners in life and in work, both women moved to New York from the Netherlands–Spanjer arrived in the city just five years ago, but Vliegenthart has been here for over 20 years. A former documentary filmmaker, Vliegenthart got her start making leather goods by apprenticing for Barbara Shaum, whose East Village leather goods shop is the stuff of legend. How does a Dutch documentary filmmaker convince a master craftsman like Shaum, an industry icon with over 50 years experience, to show them the tricks of her trade? (more…)

10/16/13 4:44pm
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This Vintage Media Cabinet is a signature piece by furniture designer Katy Skelton, who recently opened an online shop to sell her wares. Photo: Katy Skelton

Yesterday we discussed the struggle local makers face when it comes to showcasing their designs in our story about Floor Factory–a new furniture design market, opening this weekend in Industry City, that puts locally designed furniture more in reach than ever–but more frequently today, indie designers like Katy Skelton, looking for something more permanent than a pop-up but with less overheard than an actual store, are finding better luck connecting with customers by opening online shops.

“Having an online-only store keeps my overhead low and allows me to offer my furniture at competitive prices,” says Skelton who lives in Crown Heights and moved to Brooklyn two years ago from Georgia. “I also sell directly to the end consumer, cutting out the middleman, which also takes out an unnecessary markup from a third party.” (more…)

08/07/13 4:00pm
Cassidy Brush grew her business out of her Battery Park bathroom before moving her operation over the East River to a studio by the Brooklyn Navy Yards. Photo: Urban Chandy

Cassidy Brush grew her business out of her Battery Park bathroom before moving her operation over the East River to a studio by the Brooklyn Navy Yards. Photo: Urban Chandy

Brooklyn is full of makers and designers responsible for creating more than a few objects that have caught our attention as of late. Some are obscure, others ingenious–all are definitely awesome and left us wondering: Who made that? We’ve decided to start finding out the back story behind some of these inventions, and to share the tales of how they came to be, in a new series on BB. Last week we talked to Cassidy Brush, the creator of Urban Chandy, who’s sparked something big with her chandelier business. 

Cassidy Brush is originally from outside Dallas, but her Texas twang was barely audible on a recent afternoon at her design-build studio near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Her enthusiasm for electrical wiring, however, was effusive from the start.

Brush is the owner of Urban Chandy, a chandelier company that specializes in pendant light fixtures, which she started almost two years ago after a customer at a different business venture in DUMBO made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. “I had an office over at 10 Jay St., and I was pedaling independent designer goods–I’d come from the apparel industry, doing wholesale sales and business development–my office had all florescent lighting and I thought ‘This is terrible,’ so I made my own light from plywood I found in the trash–DUMBO has really good trash–people would come in to shop all the time and ask ‘How much is this light?’ It took this very pushy lady from Brooklyn Heights that was like ‘I’m going to send my husband over..money is no object,’ for me to be like, ‘OK, I can make another light.’ I decided to put it on Etsy, and before I knew it, I was only making chandeliers.” (more…)

07/18/13 11:28am

An invention by Greenpoint resident Jonathan Sabutis has the potential to be a bikers new best friend. Photo: Jonathan Sabutis

An invention by Greenpoint resident Jonathan Sabutis has the potential to be a bikers new best friend. Photo: Jonathan Sabutis

 

Brooklyn is full of makers and designers responsible for creating more than a few objects that have caught our attention as of late. Some are obscure, others ingenious, all are definitely awesome and left us wondering: Who made that? Here are three items from Brooklyn designers and inventors–a must-have bike tool, removable wallpaper, and an old school, audiophile-approved pair of headphones.

One Tool to Rule Them All

Given the popularity of the platform and the direct access it affords inventors to investors, it’s no wonder Kickstarter, and its contemporaries like Indiegogo, are the first place creative people turn when they’re trying to get a project (or object) off the ground. Jonathan Sabutis is one such designer. The 26-year-old Greenpoint resident is the inventor of Ringtool, which has the potential to be the most practical addition to your key chain since the Swiss Army Knife was invented in 1891.

(more…)

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