A Shape That Satisfies.

By: Jen Shoop

In the last call for shopping queries, a Magpie reader requested “Everyday items and experiences that bring joy to combat long hours of working from home.” I thought to myself, “This is my person.” This is the raison d’etre for Magpie, I think: to find the poetry in the everyday.

There is a fantastic poem by Marge Piercey called “To be of use” that runs me across a knife’s edge when I read it. It is, for me, a tonic against lethargy and the shrugging accumulation of junk and things-done-hastily and “that will just have to do.” It is yeoman-like, galvanizing talk that crescendos into taking artistic pride in one’s every exertion. She writes:

“But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.”

Today, then: how can I make my everyday poetic? How can I fashion the quotidian spaces and schedules in which I live with an eye for “shape that satisfies”?


+I drew similar conclusions on recognizing everything I do in my daily life — including the chores, the errands! — as part of the architecture of my day here.

+Thoughts on reimagining times of day that bring us trouble.

+On being present.

+Everyday items made great by wonderful design.

+More musings inspired by provocative poems here and here.

Shopping Break: Everyday Items with Shapes that Satisfy.

Today’s shopping finds ares especially geared towards interesting design in everyday objects.

everyday beautiful objects

+Absinthe match strike.

+Letter brush pot. Use this as a pen cup on your desk!

+Personalized key chain. Seeing this in my bag in a punchy color would bring a smile to my face.

+Blue velvet AND red piping?! Be still my heart.

+Red desk lamp! Andale! Also love this style from the same brand. It looks like a drooping flower to me!

+The calligraphy on this stationery is breath-taking. Comes in many sophisticated colors, too!

+A rainbow of pens!

+Mon cheri bud vase. For us Francophiles!

+These pajamas look like a ray of sunshine!

+Personalized phone case. Fun to put a number of special significance, or your initials!

+This Rachel Cusk book is towards the top of my tsundoku pile. She is a serious, inventive writer you should know about. I read her first novel two years ago and it really took me places. It made me angry, curious, frustrated, impressed — all responses that indicate the quality of her art.

+Valet trays — the set for $20! A great way to corral pocket change, keys, etc.

+Richard Ginori mug. Morning coffee never looked chicer.

+Would make me excited to use a stapler.

+Fluted vase (only $30!) — and there is this circular style in the same vein.

+Amy Heitman note card. Somehow a pretty card heightens the meaning of a handwritten letter.

+Colorblocked coupes. By no means necessary, but beautiful glassware makes happy hour a lot more fun. I also love these reasonably-priced high balls for Tom Collinses and those strawberry drinks I was into during year one of this pandemic.

+Thibaut pillow!

Not seen above, but a few other honorable mentions:

+A few years ago I randomly surprised Mr. Magpie with a bouquet of colorful chopsticks like these. We use them weekly (we eat a lot of Asian food in our home, especially for lunch) and they never fail to spark joy.

+A $30 scalloped bowl for — well, anything! Citrus! Candy! Nothing at all!

+Have been eyeing these Jono Pandolfi pasta bowls. They are spectacular! I just recently bought Mr. Magpie some of these gorgeous ones from Haand, too.

+Attractive notebooks.

+Elegant leather mouse pad.

+Adore these twirled taper candles. Can you imagine stacked on top of bunch of design-centric coffee table books?

+All of the whimsical pieces from Helle Mardahl are equal parts trippy and breathtaking.

+Spectacular drinking glasses, as are these!

+Dramatic (!) olive oil cruet.

+I have a few decoupage dishes from John Derian that I positively treasure.

+A zebra matchbox. Just because.

+Jonathan Adler candle holder.

+Stunning lampshades here, here, and here.

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8 thoughts on “A Shape That Satisfies.

  1. “To find poetry in the everyday”

    “But the thing worth doing well done
    has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.”

    Aaahhh I love your musings on this… It somewhat brings to mind Marie Kondo’s “does this spark joy” concept, but in a much more purposeful, thoughtful, and profound way. It does take time and commitment though, especially with little ones around!

    It reminds me of how my mother practices “use the good china everyday” (at least after we got a bit older). She loves a beautifully set table, even for a weekday breakfast.

    Excellent prompt, as always!

    1. I love both of these extensions of the thought (Marie Kondo / “use the good china”) — it’s all of a cloth, I think. All about being intentional and design-focused. Years ago, I worked with a design firm on a big project and while we were focused on developing a smartphone application, I noticed that the designers approached EVERYTHING with an eye for design. They would sometimes spend ten minutes at the beginning of the meeting *planning* the way the meeting should go. I bristled at this first (“let’s just talk!”) but found the results exceeded my expectations.


  2. Hi Jen- I asked this question and so appreciate that you dedicated an entire post to answering it. Can’t wait to go through all of the links and pick out a few favorites to purchase- eyeing the pink vase, valet trays, and pencil cup in particular! Thank you!

  3. I adored this post, Jen! I am a huge Rachel Cusk fan (the Outline trilogy probably makes my dessert island bookshelf list) and I loved Second Place. Provoking and high impact, with gorgeous prose. Also, I love my Bridie Hall paint pot! I lived in the same neighborhood as Pentreath and Hall when I lived in London and it was one of my favorite places to pop in for a pick me up. Mine is a cheery yellow and is one of my favorite things on my desk. I’ve given them as gifts, too!

    1. Hi Katherine – Wow, what an endorsement for the Cusk! Outline was unlike anything I’d read before and it really stuck with me. I will give Second Place a read soon! Thank you for the nudge.

      Love the idea of those brush pots as gifts! So cheery!


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