Minimalism – and a touch of tradition
Curated by Carrie Brophy
Text by Alice Thorson
For our 2021 gift guide — back after a year off due to the pandemic — we asked KC Studio’s designer, Carrie Brophy, to indulge her eye for minimalism, offering a reprieve from the holiday glitz and a collection of beautifully designed items that can pretty much fit in anywhere. After scouring local shops carrying both locally and internationally made wares, Brophy whittled things down to this baker’s dozen of great minimalist finds and a few surprises.
Danish designer Simon Legald created a set of five of these small decorative figures called “Normies.” Sad, sleepy, vigilant or shy, you can choose the one that speaks to you — or your gift recipient — be it Normfred, Normus, NormNorm, Norma or Norm. Made of painted concrete, they’re a family, each with a different expression, pattern and color. Available in-store at Museo, 3021 Main St.; for additional items, visit museousa.com.
Price range: $15 to $35
Menu’s Wine Breather Carafe
Designed in Denmark, this carafe is made to be placed over an open bottle of wine and inverted, allowing the wine to aerate — in fact, it adds 10 times more oxygen. Buyers have a choice of a clear steel or smoke brass lid topping the cylindrical neck of the bulbous, 48 oz. carafe. Available at Kanso, 115 W. 18th St. #106, www.shopkanso.com.
Ohgita Katsuya Glass Houses
Asiatica owner and co-founder Elizabeth Wilson has spent the better part of a lifetime honing her connoisseurship of all things Japanese, from textiles and furniture to ceramics and glass, including these glass houses in multiple sizes and colors by Ohgita Katsuya — among the shop’s best sellers. The artist uses the cold cast technique developed by ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia with the aim to “(make) the viewer realize afresh the existence of light.” Available
at Asiatica, 4824 Rainbow Blvd., or www.asiaticakc.com.
Price range: $65 to $2,200
Paul McCobb note cards and poster
The Johnson County Museum, 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, is in design mode this season with a revelatory exhibition of works by leading post-war designer, Paul McCobb. In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum’s newly renovated shop is stocking several McCobb-themed items, including note cards emblazoned with silhouetted images of his furniture and a poster of his “Christmas Gift 1960” screen print.
Price: Note cards, $6.95; poster $95
Blomus Soap Dispenser
We’ve been in constant contact with soap and sanitizer dispensers since the onset of the pandemic. This one, created from ceramic and silicone, is something special, with its clean lines, beautifully integrated minimalist design, and a minimum of crevices to catch buildup and grime. Available in three colors at Kanso, 115 W. 18th St. #106, www.shopkanso.com.
There is a sculptural quality to these steel floral shears that will provide a little aesthetic rush every time you deadhead or trim up a bouquet. You can find them in three sizes at Verdant, 128 W. 18th St., along with many other unique home and plant-related items. Visit the shop or order online, shopverdant.com.
Price range: $12 to $18; set of three, $45
Perforated Tongs by Sori Yanagi
Kitchen utensils as works of art? These “Perforated Tongs” by Sori Yanagi certainly qualify. Made in Japan from a single sheet of stainless steel, the design is minimal to a fault, and won the 1998 Good Design Award. Available at Kanso, 115 W. 18 St. #106, www.shopkanso.com.
Bo Hubbard pillows
Kansas City artist Bo Hubbard is known for his rug paintings, vibrant abstractions made with a tufting gun that converse with the genre’s history from Minimalism to the slashing strokes and amorphous shapes of Abstract Expressionism. If your budget can’t run to a large piece, you can find the equivalent of a mini painting in the artist’s selection of tufted pillows at Museo, 3021 Main St. For more information, bohubbard.com/pillows.
Price range: $165 to $295; custom orders available, $215 to $350
This is how to spoil a friend. The presentation is as beautiful as the fine-grained soap within, known for its subtle scent. The soap is custom-made for Tawaraya, a famous ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), in Kyoto, and available at Asiatica, 4824 Rainbow Blvd. or www.asiaticakc.com.
Price: $48 for box of 6
Belger Crane Yard Studios mug pairings
Since 2013, Belger Crane Yard Studios has been a treasure trove for Kansas City gift givers, and this year is no exception. There are finds aplenty at the annual Belger Holiday Open House and Studio Sale (see p. 46 for details), and don’t miss the red-beribboned boxes featuring specially selected pairings of mugs by contributing artists Amanda Bury, Elaine Buss, Saj Issa, Sarah Jewell Olsen and Lilly Powell. It’s a perfect gift for your favorite couple. Available at Belger Crane Yard Studios, 2011 Tracy Ave., or belgerarts.org/belger-crane-yard-studios.
2021 Mayor’s Christmas Tree Ornament
It’s a tradition entering its fifth decade. The 2021 Mayor’s Christmas Tree Ornament is the 41st in the series, created from the wood of the previous year’s Christmas tree that stood on Crown Center Square, with proceeds from sales going to benefit the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund and assist the people of Kansas City during the holidays. This year’s design, “Festive Friends,” was created by Hallmark artist Crista Couch and goes on sale the day after Thanksgiving at Crown Center Customer Service on Level 2 of the Crown Center Shops. For more information and corporate gift orders, call 816-274-7251.
Price: $15.95, plus tax
Woolen shawl by Epice
Textile aficionados will swoon at the sight of the expertly curated selection of goods at Asiatica, including clothing, pillows and various-sized jewelry bags made from vintage kimonos, as well as unique items like this 36 x 78” woolen shawl or scarfru made by a French company called Epice. You could wear it or frame it! There are three different shawls at Asiatica, 4824 Rainbow Blvd. or www.asiaticakc.com.
Peter Pincus ceramics
An interpretation of Op Art in three dimensions, the slip cast porcelain vessels of Rochester, New York-based ceramic artist Peter Pincus have been wowing visitors to Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, 2012 Baltimore Ave., for more than five years now. This 8 x 11” “Large colorful pleated bowl (B)” is part of “Inset,” an exhibit of his new work on view at the gallery through Jan. 22, sherryleedy.com.
Price range: $300 to $4,500