“There are so many unnecessary things we produce, not only in the sector of consumer goods, but also in architecture, in advertising. We have too many unnecessary things everywhere. […] I would even go as far as to describe this as inhumane.”
– Dieter Rams (from an interview with Fast Co. Design)
For as long as people have been making things, the true aim of the best has been to design products that are beautiful, functional, and easy to use. But, as many consumers are squeezed by time and budget, beauty and function are often sacrificed at the altar of price, and the market meets customers’ demand with ill-designed and cheaply made products that end their short lives in landfills.
As such, consumer goods often fall into one of two camps: functional or stylish. While certain items may never meet the requirements for both (say, fanny packs) most products can and should be both. But it requires real effort to find such products. One must vet their functionality, the history of craftsmanship that supports ongoing quality control and, while subjective, their inherent beauty (often found at the intersection of aesthetic, function, and quality itself). Curation is time-consuming. And though the internet promises us curation in abundance, it rarely delivers.
Enter Kaufmann Mercantile. There are few purveyors of goods that have earned our complete trust like this shop. What began as a blog exploring the history and use of high quality products has expanded into an online shop that sells more than 300 makers from over 20 countries. Each maker is chosen because they produce what the KM team has determined are to be the finest products in their class. As stated under the logo on their website, Kaufmann Mercantile exists to help you “discover better products”.
A lot better. In many cases, hundreds of products are reviewed, used, and real-world tested to find just one that meets their criteria. And this dedication was not born of some precious desire to be hip or capitalize on trends. Founder Sebastian Kaufmann and his team are on a mission to better the environment, to lead simpler lives, and to fill their customers’ world with items that are of real value.
As explained by Sebastian in an interview with BLTD, “Value for money is what KM is really all about. We think that every item you buy should be a long term investment. For example, $59 for a pair of scissors might seem a lot. In fact, you’ll have a hard time finding scissors for more than $30 anywhere in this country, even at art supply stores. But the Dovo scissors we sell aren’t made with cheap plastic handles in a low-standards factory. You won’t have to replace them when they get wobbly because that will never happen. They are handmade in Germany and so sharp, it’s fun to cut. Your kids will still be using your Dovo scissors after they’ve buried you. That’s why $59 is a great value.”
Mr. Kaufmann is convincing. And so are the lengthy product pages dedicated to each item in the shop. While you can already trust the curation process that goes into selecting them, the KM team makes a substantial case for every product, diving deep into maker stories, materials, and manufacturing processes. And beyond the fantastic collection of products, the shop is elevated by a lengthy archive of blog posts on product value, interviews with craftsmen, and thought-leadership on commerce, supply chains, and consumer habits.
In light of wet weather and longer hours on the couch, we selected a few of our favorites items to better your home (seen pictured throughout). With that said, you really can’t go wrong with anything from Kaufmann Mercantile.
Browse the entire shop at kaufmann-mercantile.com.