We heard from Kristen Lavelett from Local First Utah that if Utahns bought their Valentine's Day gifts locally, $74 million would stay in our local economy! You don't even have to splurge to make a big impact locally; Kristen says even spending an average of $20 per gift would keep upwards of $7 million in-state.
So where do we go for one-of-a-kind local gifts? Eric Jacoby is a local designer who was actually trained as an architect but was always fascinated with product development.
"Each of my products starts with a need or an idea for something I'd like in my own home," Eric said. "Something that I can't find anywhere else. Something unique, useful, and sculptural. Then I find a concept, or system to use for making decisions, or to drive a sketch. I move on to develop lots of drawings, studies,and prototypes. The fun part is that I never know how the product is going to end up, or whether it will even work. I just follow the process knowing that it is an experiment."
Eric's playful process results in light-hearted, high-design toys and furniture. His Strata Lounge Chair and Ottoman were inspired by the geology of Southern Utah, while his Tectonic Folding Chair is a "hot rod" version of the traditional patio mainstay.
Then there's the toys, which are made with natural materials and aim to educate kids in biology and engineering, as well as wow them with fun. Take the Tectonic Bison, which was "inspired by a Star Wars AT-AT toy that my son had sketched, and I was helping him build," said Eric. "I loved the moving parts, and the chunky proportions. I translated the toy design to a more regional counterpart that has strong architectural form."
The toys just don't entertain the little ones, but they also help protect Mother Earth. Eric says the toys are built with scraps from the furniture design process. Eric says he feels a sense of responsiblity to counter today's overuse of disposable products.
He says his furniture and toys will stand the test of time, and be able to be passed down from generations to generations.
And a happy side effect of using natural materials: They don't seem to age, or get grimy and dirty!
You can find his toys at the Natural History Museum of Utah, and his products and furniture at ericjacobydesign.com.