RAD AND HUNGRY supplies lo-fi office goodies from around the world

rad and hungry

When travel meets design meets a geeky-cool love for office supplies, you get RAD AND HUNGRY, a Seattle-based start-up that curates limited-edition collections of pencils, notebooks, and other goodies sourced from travels around the globe. I’ve never gotten quite as excited about a gum eraser as I did when recently browsing their collections.

The concept for RAD AND HUNGRY was born from founder Hen Chung’s love for travel and office supplies, as well as her appreciation for everyday design.

“The common thread was design, but unrefined design – ‘local’ in the sense that it’s so basic and part of the everyday landscape that people in that country find it unremarkable,” she says. “The kitschy outdated postcard, the shoes people wear when cleaning house, the cheapest brew, the #2 pencil. We’re taken by the concept that simple, daily items are given new meaning through travel. It transforms the mundane into something inspired.”


RAD AND HUNGRY’s first product line is The Something Mighty Collection, which has been released in monthly limited-edition installments since December 2010. Each collection is available on the RAH website for $16 until it sells out and generally includes a writing instrument, a notebook, and a country-specific mystery item. You can also get the “Low Down” on each collection, a travel blog-esque account of each sourcing trip in Chung’s refreshingly spunky voice. Take, for instance, this blurb from STMT x Spain:

I shuffled through the entire rainbow display of goods but nothing grabbed me. Turned around and then I saw them. Ballpoint pens with so many beautiful details I couldn’t stop jumping! Tested all four colors and couldn’t believe how smooth they wrote. And love, love the rubber body. Turns out the very Italian-sounding company, Milan, is a Spanish company known for their rubber erasers. The curved clip, the raised pinstriping on the back end of the tube, the grooved front tip… a lo-fi ballpoint pen totally tricked out and pimpin’. What’s not to love??

At the moment, only the Spain, Turkey, and Canada collections are in stock, but fans need not fret. Chung has plenty of new projects on the pipeline for 2012, including Rad Bags, blind grab bags filled with leftover stock, and Pencil Pouches, locally-made pencil cases to accompany their existing collections. That, and many more sourcing trips, of course.

[ images via RAD AND HUNGRY ]

The Obama pen: weirdest African souvenir ever?

Obama, Ethiopia
Obama is big in Africa. There are Obama shops, Obama hotels, Obama t-shirts, even Obama: The Musical. A craze of naming babies Obama hit the continent when he was elected. Even better, the proud parents could fill out the birth certificate with an Obama ballpoint pen.

I came across these in a shop in Harar, Ethiopia. A friend of mine worked for his campaign, so it seemed the perfect gift. The box proudly proclaims the virtues of “Quality+Econmy”, promises “maximum writing pleasure and comfort”, and offers a one-year money-back guarantee. How CAN´T you buy this amazing item?

So why is Obama so big in Africa? There’s more to the craze than the fact that his father is African. Many Africans told me they see him as an inspiration, that no matter where your family is from you can make it big. Some also see his election as a hopeful sign that the U.S. is getting beyond its racist past. There was some serious Obamamania in Africa when he got elected but, like in the U.S., that initial enthusiasm has cooled off somewhat. Now Africans are questioning his policies, asking why he hasn’t created closer ties with Africa and why he’s helped some Muslim nations in their struggle for democracy and not others.

It looks like no president’s honeymoon lasts forever.

[Note for the easily offended: the crack about the birth certificate was a joke. I am not a birther. You can tell because all the words in this post are spelled correctly]


Small gifts go a long way in making friends – International travel tip

Whenever I travel internationally, I always carry a few small gifts from my hometown that other people might be interested in — things like chocolates, pens, dress shirts and basic housewares like vegetable peelers. These kinds of gifts are appreciated in many developing nations.

Even though India, for example, exports many of the clothes we purchase in developed countries, those clothes are not available for sale domestically.

High-quality, everyday items provided to your host family or helpers or service workers will ensure you get a personal touch, and they mean as much or more than a generous tip.