Clay what?

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Originally hailing from Queensland, Australia, ceramicist Chela Edmunds was working as a textile designer in NYC when she began to feel the persistent call of her homeland and a career-swap to ceramics. Fast forward to present-day Melbourne and Edmunds is at the helm of Takeawei – her own line of beautiful, functional and playful handmade pieces

that includes planters, mugs and soy candle holders. Inspired by a swoonsome mix of nature, her native beach culture and good ol’ fashion, Edmunds’s work is simple, elegant and playful, and we’re pretty much coveting one of everything. Minimalism to the max! Race you to the online shop.

Yellow Leaf

Chillin' out maxin' relaxin' all cool

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What’s better than lazing in a hammock? Not a hell of a whole lot. Whether you’re at the park, beach or just in your backyard – we all know hammocks are where dreams come true. So when we heard about Yellow Leaf – a social enterprise that produces hammocks handwoven by artisans in rural Thailand – we were excited to say the least.

The team behind Yellow Leaf are dedicated to creating sustainable jobs in rural hill-tribe communities, so they partnered with the Mlabri people and employed them to weave supersoft yarn hammocks from their homes in Thailand. Not only are the hammocks designed to be portable and taken any/everywhere, they also boast anti-flip qualities – neatly eliminating our one and only hammock-induced fear. Now, we can rest easy.

826 Valencia

Pieces of great

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We don’t really know where to start with 826 Valencia – the literacy project founded by author Dave Eggers and teacher Nínive Calegari way back in 2002. Not to get all fangirl or anything (alright, disclaimer – total fangirl right here), the amount of goodness 826 crams into one non-profit cannot be overestimated. On a gung-ho mission to help out overstretched teachers and improve youth literacy, 826’s crack team of over 1,400 volunteers run free high school writing sessions, workshops, field trips, after-school tutoring and totally awesome, totally empowering student publishing. Delightful, hey? BUT THAT’S NOT ALL. In need of their own premises and turned down by local community venues, 826 finally found a home in a retail-zoned area of the city.

Not actually being a retailer, they did what any sensible literacy project would do in their situation – they started up a Pirate Supply storefront that went on to be so wildly successful it funds the rent on the building. Ever keen to spread their message across the States and beyond, 826 is now an umbrella organization that takes care of off-shoots including the projects behind Brooklyn’s Superhero Supply Store and Seattle’s Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company, as well as providing inspiration for global greatness including London’s Hoxton Street Monster Supplies (a front for the enigmatic Ministry of Stories). If you’re passionate about literacy, you could do worse than setting up an 826 all of your own. No retail experience necessary.

Conflict Kitchen

Food for thought

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We love food. And what we love even more is food that makes us think. Conflict Kitchen is a Pittsburgh-based restaurant that actually serves up something worth talking about – cuisine from countries the United States is in conflict with. Having already covered Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran and North Korea, this socially-aware kitchen is currently plating up dishes from Venezuela. The restaurant not only provides patrons with meaty conversation but also encourages them to get informed and get involved.

Founded by Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski, Conflict Kitchen is truly giving Pittsburgh locals a taste of another culture’s food and political climate. For each focus country (and it changes every four months), Conflict Kitchen conducts interviews – both locally and abroad – to get a better idea of the chosen country’s situation. The eatery then collates these thoughts and opinions, before printing them on the wrappers they pack their delicious bites in. Whoever’s next, we love that Conflict Kitchen changes its storefront, menu and perspective in order to get the local community talking.

Pedras Salgadas

Slice of heaven

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Picture yourself in Portugal’s hinterland – a vast lush landscape that engulfs all of your senses. Here nature keeps you company and here you can now stay in crazy-luxurious comfort. Pedras Salgadas is a hotel/heaven amongst the trees that was innovatively designed by the very clever architect Luis Rebelo de Andrade.

Developed with respect, concern and care for the existing environment, Pedras Salgadas is a beautiful example of designing for your surroundings. Made up of 12 modular eco-houses, two tree-houses and one main house that’s scattered throughout the nature park, it’s more wonderland than hotel. We can only hope to stay in this paradise one day soon.