Take 5: Leather Watermelon Bags, 3D-Printed Earrings, Vegan Sneakers + More

Every other week someone from the Design Milk team will share five personal favorites – an opportunity for each of us to reveal the sort of designs we use, like, and/or appreciate from a more personal perspective. Editorial Director Caroline Williamson is up for this edition of the Take 5 series…

Gregory’s Take 5 is a hard one to follow, but I’ll do my best! After bookmarking a variety of tabs in the last few weeks for this series, I realized two themes emerged – all things Japan and sustainability – both of which are important to me. Japan is my favorite place – it’s pure magic – and I have family there, and sustainability has been at the forefront of my mind for years, especially being in the design world and learning about how much waste is produced – it’s eye opening!

Ruth Asawa stamps

1. Ruth Asawa Stamps from the US Post Office
In addition to simply wanting to support the United States Post Office, these stamps featuring Japanese American artist Ruth Asawa were a must-have as I’ve always been a fan of her work (and sending mail). Along with being a fierce advocate for arts education, San Francisco-based Asawa spent her career experimenting with wire by weaving it into abstract biomorphic silhouettes that are nothing short of mesmerizing to see. During this time of social distancing, sending snail mail with cool stamps is the perfect way to stay connected to the people I haven’t seen since the beginning of what feels like a never-ending pandemic.

2. A Handmade Leather Bag for Carrying a Watermelon
If you’ve ever been to Japan, you know fruits are oftentimes considered a luxury as the prices are high making them more of a special gift item than a regularly consumed household staple. Watermelon is no exception, but if you’ve ever bitten into a Japanese watermelon, you know it’s worth every penny. I won’t even get into the shaped watermelons, which can sell for as much as $100! That said, what does one carry those precious watermelons around in? Luckily, Japanese luxury leather bag brand Tsuchiya Kaban released a bag to take care of that problem. Made by craftsman Yusuke Kadoi, this handmade leather bag (watch it being made here) will hold and protect a single round watermelon while it’s being toted around. Kadoi’s thoughts that led him to make the bag, “Delicious watermelon in the summer season with a blue sky. If you could carry a round and heavy watermelon easily and with peace of mind…” Our thoughts exactly! But if you can’t get your hands on a leather watermelon bag, bring one home from the store anyway, cue up ‘Watermelon Sugar‘ by Harry Styles, and devour it just like it deserves.

3. Leia Earrings I by Maison 203
These folded earrings remind me of origami and how much I loved doing it growing up! The folded design of these 3D printed earrings creates a geometric shape that’s meant to pay homage to Princess Leia Organa from Alderaan (from Star Wars, for any non-fans). Maison 203 makes some of the coolest 3D-printed jewelry and accessories, all lightweight and in fun colorways created through hand-dyeing techniques, like these earrings in Gunmetal + Silver. If you’re not a fan of this color palette, these earrings are available in four other color options: White Gold + Orange Gold, Metallic Black + Orange Gold, Metallic Burgundy + Orange Gold and Orange Gold + Rose Gold.

4. adidas Originals x Sean Wotherspoon SUPEREARTH Superstar Sneakers
Adidas and designer + sneakerhead Sean Wotherspoon recently announced a collaboration that reimagines the classic OG Superstar with an all vegan edition. One of just a few vegan sneakers from adidas, the SUPEREARTH model features Wotherspoon-sketched floral drawings that are embroidered in various colors with extra threads hanging down from the uppers. They’re also consciously made using a waste-minimizing production method, as well as using materials like renewable cork and recycled rubber. As someone who’s been building a mini sneaker (and shoe) collection full of adidas, Vans, Converse + more since birth, I’ve grown to appreciate how each pair are made and I’ve really been leaning towards brands that are considering their environmental impact and making changes for the better, like Cariuma, and now, adidas. The adidas Originals x Sean Wotherspoon SUPEREARTH Superstar sneakers will be available starting August 29th at adidas.com/superearth.

5. Gucci’s Off The Grid Sustainable Collection
It’s really inspiring seeing long-established brands rethinking the way their products are made, including Gucci, led by creative director Alessandro Michele, who recently launched their first sustainable collection, Off The Grid, marking a major step in the Italian luxury brand’s commitment to circular design. As the inaugural collection in the Gucci Circular Lines initiative, Off The Grid includes genderless ready-to-wear pieces, sneakers, bags and accessories that I’m obsessed with made from recycled, regenerated, organic, bio-based and sustainably sourced materials, including ECONYL® regenerated nylon that comes from pre-and post-consumer plastic waste, including reclaimed fishing nets and carpets. Literally, every single design detail was reimagined with a sustainable alternative, from the buckles on the backpacks to the laces in the sneakers. As if all of that wasn’t cool enough Gucci enlisted the help of icon Jane Fonda, King Princess (if you know, you know!), Lil Nas X, Miyavi, and David Mayer de Rothschild, who were all photographed by Harmony Korine within a rustic treehouse they built together surrounded by city buildings giving nod to Michele’s vision of everyone working together to build something new and to move towards a greener planet.

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