Nina Zilka and best-friend-slash-cofounder David Krause are design lovers who also care about looking and feeling good. The pair launched Alder New York in 2016 in response to a gap they saw in the market: a distinct lack of skincare options that are both earth-friendly and gender inclusive. To solve for this particular issue, the two Pratt alums put their heads together and came up with a solution: Alder New York, a line of personal care goodies that are for design people, by design people. The product line features pretty packaging and plant-powered beauty products that are vegan, dermatologist-approved, and meet EWG (Environmental Working Group) and EU sustainability standards.
Zilka is still a designer at heart. In addition to Alder New York, you can find her sharing "little design things making me happy" on her TikTok, a fun series where she highlights everything from Baggu bath towels, to Swarovski crystal soda can art, to candles shaped like cannolis. We asked her to share some of her favorite home items that merge aesthetics with functional efficiency.
"I use this dish for so many things. It’s perfect as a tea light holder at dinner parties, scrunchies and clips on a vanity, or a vessel for dips at parties. Whichever way you use it, someone will compliment you on it."
"Everything about this laundry bin is genius for small spaces. The fact that it’s meant for corners is brilliant—laundry hampers take up so much dead space and you always want to tuck them in a corner. And the little wooden top you can use as a little table takes it to the next level. Now your laundry hamper is multipurpose, something I never thought I’d say.’
"I’m feeling Dada-ist vibes lately, and I love these weird, playful, wavy wooden serving spoons by Selena Liu for Areaware. I think the sophisticated materials of these strikes the perfect balance between chic and fun."
"I want everything in my life to be chic and functional- I’m a design junky. That’s why I am obsessed with our Cleansing Kit. The products are formulated just right so my skin glows and they look amazing in my bathroom, which is a tough needle to thread."
"As a cat person, I appreciate the brand Cat Person, and am super into their Jason Wu collab. The litter box is actually attractive, the hideaway scoop is brilliant, and it all comes in a matte black finish."
"I guess I have a thing for matte black accessories, because I am so pleased with the Fellow Stagg EKG electric kettle. I love the temperature control on it. While it’s ideal for coffee, I’ve gotten very into nice teas this year, and the exact temperature capabilities are a tea-making game changer."
"Did I mention I like matte black? If you are not an MB enthusiast like me, you’ll be happy to know Alder New York’s sophisticated soap dish also comes in white. Either color is a real bathroom upgrade: it looks like ceramic but is super durable yet completely plastic free (it’s made of plant fibers). I also love that I can easily remove the bamboo insert to clear out any water or soap residue, which is such a pain point with other soap dishes."
"Nothing elevates an iced coffee or tea in your own home like a glass straw. I usually need a mid-afternoon caffeine infusion, and these make my at-home summer caffeine intake much classier."
"I like to keep my black obsidian gua sha tool on a tray on my coffee-table. This way it functions as home decor and I remember to use it while binge-watching Hacks."
"I love a pool party in the summer, but I don’t like the associated kitschy pool floats. For an elevated float experience, I like The Nice Fleet, which has really lovely prints and uses a durable PVC so they’re less likely to puncture. I think these make an excellent thank you gift to friends who let you hang in their pools."
We love the products we feature and hope you do, too. If you buy something through a link on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
More Expert Recs:
Get the Shop Newsletter
Smart shopping for the design obsessed. Find what you love in our expertly curated selection of finely crafted home, office, travel, and lifestyle products.