Covet: Gifts from Cognitive/Surplus

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I’ve attended several holiday gift markets in the New York City over the past two weekends, and in addition to sampling local edibles and picking up a few treats for myself, I did manage to accomplish some Christmas shopping. One of the stand-out vendors that I encountered, whose products will still appeal to me even when the gift-giving season has ended, was Cognitive/Surplus.

Cognitive/Surplus is a NYC-based team of artisans whose witty, lively products and consistent brand aesthetic really impressed me. I also enjoyed meeting the C/S founders, Geoff and Kristen Zephyrus, whose combined backgrounds in science and design have inspired them to create “smart, sustainable, snazzy” gifts that bring out the beauty of science in every day life.

For example?


If you’re the kind of person who still writes in real, paper notebooks (and if you are not that kind of person, you are most likely NOT MY FRIEND), I don’t see how you could resist one of these “graphic ecojournals”: their covers are printed with medical illustrations, technical diagrams, and photographs of natural wonders like lightning and a river delta.


Here we have the Milky Way and the moon. If neither of these inspires you, you’re a lost cause. Also, each notebook is sold with a pencil crafted from newsprint. Newsprint!


I know that phrenology is considered a pseudo-science, but it really did give us some wonderful visuals in its heyday. This brainy tote makes me smile. (I wish it were also offered in black with white printing, since white totes tend to turn grimy so quickly; but that’s just a personal preference.)

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I would feel instantly more clever (and more domestic at the same time) if I could dip into these scientifically accurate salt and sugar jars whenever I wanted to add a little flavor to my dinner or a little sweetness to my coffee. Kind of Walter White meets Martha Stewart, no?

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Despite my advanced degrees in the humanities, I can still remember enough of my junior-high biology class to appreciate in-jokes like this “mitosis” infant onesie. Get it? (Cell division! Growing!)

When I browsed at the Cognitive/Surplus table at two different markets last weekend, I also admired a selection of wax seal stamps with designs of scientific symbols, brains, and so on. I hope that they’ll eventually be offered online. I’ve bookmarked the Cognitive/Surplus website, in the meantime, just to keep an eye on their latest activities. I hope their first holiday season has been a success for them.

Have you come across any interesting “indie” craftspeople or gift companies lately? Do share!

Prices and more information are available at the Cognitive/Surplus website.

All images via Cognitive/Surplus’s Etsy shop and website.


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