Civil Objects: 5 Things to Buy

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Photo: Courtesy of Civilian Objects /

Whenever Ksenia Kagner and Nicko Elliott, founders of the New York architecture firm Civil projectsWhen traveling abroad, they usually go to design shops and specialist studios. The sweet spot? A shop that sells everyday items that you could pass on to your grandchildren. It is in Rome Poignee, a custom hardware store used by all local architects working on historical projects. In Berlin it is the department store Manufactorywhere they found an olive oil cruet that just works very, very well. They always come by in London Work and wait, a place where traditional British brands and everyday items are sold. (Your favorite is an earthenware salt cellar that was common in kitchens in the 1960s and 1970s.) “I had to buy a larger suitcase so I could stock up on supplies every time I went to London,” says Kagner. “There is no such thing here. Either Amazon or Europe. “

While this dichotomy is a bit of an exaggeration, Kagner and Elliott’s observation is true: there isn’t really a store like Labor and Wait in New York for beautiful, durable, well-made, and versatile homeware that sells everything from a just-right wall hook a minimalist stoneware slab without having to think about it for a long time. And online searches for such items can be tarnished by algorithms and pay-for-play reviews. The architects saw an opportunity to fill in the missing center Civil objects, their new online homeware store that launched today.

Ksenia Kagner and Nicko Elliott from the architecture firm Civilian Projects have launched a new online shop for housewares called Civilian Objects.
Photo: Brian W. Ferry, Courtesy Civilian Objects

“The shop is for people who have a very specific style or no style at all because everything we offer will ultimately take a back seat,” says Elliott. “You could be as Memphis-y as you want and nothing would clash with our collection. Or you’re just starting out and want to develop your own collection and everything will fit together. “

Architects are known for working out the smallest details that make products special or clever, and Kagner and Elliott are no different. They came across the products they sell when specifying items for their architectural projects – they recently did at Newlab. worked Co-working space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Dormitories for Bard College Berlin Outposts and theirs own very stylish home in Bed-Stuy – and word of mouth. The Kaymet trays and Riess dustpans they found while sourcing styling items for the Bard dormitories will be coming to the shop in the near future. Most of the products with which Civilian Objects comes onto the market are traditional brands such as Manufacture de Digoin, the oldest stoneware company in the French Loire Valley, which previously ceased operations for a short time new owners brought it back in 2015, and Reiss, an Austrian email company that has existed since 1550. Kagner and Elliott also work with local artisans on special editions like pottery candlesticks Jessie Lazar, a broom from the sculptor Erin Rouse, a work coat from the Italian tailor Atelier Bomba, and an apron with the chef Kia Damon and the cookware brand Manhattan Tilit.

Inspired by the philosophy of the architect Dieter Rams “less but better”, Kagner and Elliott hope that people who shop at Civilian Objects will appreciate the usefulness and the quiet details of their items as much as they do. “We test things on ourselves, before we vouch for it, ”says Kagner. “None of this stuff is cheap. We don’t expect people to buy a lot of these things, but we do expect people to use and care for them. “

Photo: Courtesy of Civilian Objects

“We were all at home during the pandemic, and all of these categories of life – what is work, what is fun – overlapped. The overarching idea for us is that in the future we will simply have to accept the confusion of work, relaxation and rest at home. We thought, We will have to enjoy this overlap as much as possible. So we divided the shop into these activity categories. “Rest” includes bath products that we have in stock Waive. It’s a consumer brand by Swedish designer Form Us With Love that sells glass dispensers and dried soaps. The idea is that shipping soaps and detergents mostly uses water, so you can just add water yourself. ”-Nicko Elliott

Photo: Courtesy of Civilian Objects

“We’re bringing the urn back with us in this collaboration Andrew Iannazzi, a studio glass maker in Boston. It is inspired by the Vienna Secession, which uses many trumpet shapes. Andrew uses a Venetian technique that allows us to get very thin but strong glass by having a slightly thicker rim. ”-Ksenia Kagner

Photo: Courtesy of Civilian Objects

Custodian is directed by Erin Rouse, a sculptor who turned broom maker and has a studio in East New York. She’s just a rabbit hole of information, studying the history of brooms. She describes this style as “clearly American design”. It is made from sorghum, and African plant brought to North America during the slave trade. It is held together with cotton grown in the south. The fabric shows traces of African American and Indian techniques. I was amazed at how beautiful and sturdy this design was, and how it bears traces of iterative techniques over time. For our collaboration, she tinted the broom with indigo and gallo colors and changed the shape a little. “-NE

Photo: Courtesy of Civilian Objects

“We have ceramics from Manufacture de Digoin, a revival of a traditional brand that is owned by women. The factory is located in France’s former ceramic valley, but over time all shops have closed. A few years ago a woman from Paris with a financial background bought the factory and started production there again. Much of what they make is traditional water jugs and salad bowls, but they have only just started making dishes and we are the only ones selling it in the US. ”-KK

Photo: Courtesy of Civilian Objects

“Trendglas Jena manufactures laboratory equipment, so everything is incredibly precise. This dispenser never leaks and whatever drips it is caught by the lip in the jar. It’s so perfect, simple and not messy. We got ours about four years ago at Manufactum in Berlin and have always wondered why it is not available in the USA. It’s the best product. “-KK


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