The Book of Taste is a blog & online store curated by Darrin banks. Based in Los Angeles, he offers design services & his posts explore art, entertainment, food, fitness, and fashion.

Five TBOT Favorites From Unique LA!

Five TBOT Favorites From Unique LA!

Darrin's Unique LA collage

Confession time: I grew up drinking every last drop of the Oprah Winfrey kool-aid. Some critics have been known to cast a pejorative light on Oprah fans labeling us as sheep being blindly led by our Black messiah of a shepherd. I suppose if learning about self-care, emotional maturity, spiritual wisdom, arts and entertainment, and a multitude of healthy ways to live your best life from world-renowned experts makes me a sheep, then I gladly say baaaaaaa and keep it moving!  Although I didn’t do everything Oprah told me to do the suggestions her show made that ultimately improved the quality of my life I will always be grateful for. It’s hard to argue with the sound relationship advice of Iyanla Vanzant, or the spiritual teachings of Eckhart Tolle’s Power Of Now and A New Earth. Pledging to refrain from texting and driving or picking up the latest page-turner of a book are objectively good things no matter what source they come from.

One particular Oprah show tradition I miss especially around this time of year is Oprah’s Favorite Things. Whether she was telling us about the latest and greatest in skincare, hair care, electronics or do-gooder fashion I always looked forward to what was going to make the cut. I can only imagine the amount of people the show employed to search the globe for the best of the best researching for probably the better part of a year to generate that favorite things list. At the heart of it was optimal living—a principal at the foundation of TBOT’s mission statement.

Unique LA 2016

Now that I’m a blogger and an owner of an online store (TBOT Bazaar soon to launch in 2017) I’ve been working very diligently behind the scenes to curate a smorgasbord of noteworthy products that aim to enhance quality of life.  Because I am constantly on the hunt for cutting edge merchandise possessing an innovative “cool factor” and firmly believe in supporting local artisans, I’ve come to depend on events like Unique LA. Over 350 vendors gather twice a year at the California Market Center to showcase their original handcrafted wares. Below are 5 TBOT favorites from last weekend’s Unique LA Event.


Urb Apothecary
Urb Apothercary logo

As we all know, not all skincare lines are created equal. This particular one is a cut above the rest. Derived from the healing properties found in herbs and plants, Urb Apothecary products are free of chemicals, preservatives, parabens, and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) as well as cruelty to animals. With a degree in Food and Nutrition, Leyna Allred’s “interest in the medicinal qualities of plants was eventually ignited and [she] bought every herbal book [she] could find and was totally engrossed in the simple recipes for liver tonics, healing ointments, and cleansing teas.” I especially loved the wide selection of products she offers for men including beard hair tonics and pomades! Her Matcha Sugar Scrub with coconut and lime is exceptional and may have dethroned my favorite bamboo lemongrass foaming body scrub from Lather. With so many innovative recipes featuring atypical herbs and plant extracts, this skincare line is sure to impress while effectively getting the job done!

Beard Oil
Matcha Sugar Scrub


Cork & Leather 1
Artisan-Collage logo

Takuya Ichinose is an artist of many talents spanning the disciplines of sculpture, ink drawings and fashion. This past weekend he was promoting his line of Native American tribal inspired handbags. Eager shoppers were eyeballing natural leather straps attached to handcrafted bags made of hand woven fabrics in various sizes. But the Artisan-Collage merchandise that caught my eye was the cork and leather wallets and purses. The familiar look and feel of corkboard tastefully embellished with gold metallic accents was combined with soft high quality leather on the reverse side. These creative and highly functional wallets and purses are very well made and would make excellent gifts for anyone on your list that loves the unexpected.

Cork & Leather 2
Cork & Leather 3

Robert Siegel Studio

Dame- Robert Siegel Studio
Robert Siegel Logo

If you love one-of-a-kind handcrafted porcelain Robert Siegel is the artisan for you. His contemporary design aesthetic is heavily influenced from his time of studying the art of porcelain making in China. All of the ceramics are made to order from small batches created right here in Los Angeles. There is a practicality to the work indicative of his minimalistic approach to design but at the same time there is whimsy in his creations like in the tongue and cheek “Fuck Shit Bitch” collection that features candles and milk vases. His “Dame” collection is quite elegant—the type of plates, bowls and platters that allow the food to be the star while still managing to convey its own singular sophistication. He also makes gorgeous cutting boards and food trays made of wood and metal frames. While chatting with Siegel at the expo, he shared a new design idea another shopper gave him—a cutting board long and wide enough to go over the sink! Keep your eye out for that new item on his website and in the meantime purchase the gorgeous porcelain already in production.

FSB Collection

Pink Midnight Jewelry

Polka Dot Ring
Pink Midnight logo

Out of all the jewelry designers I came across this year at Unique LA I was very taken with Natasha Ryan’s Pink Midnight line. Drawing inspiration from sculpture, science-fiction and desert sunsets, in a little over a year Ryan has managed to create some truly distinctive pieces that blur the lines of hard and soft, representing both masculine and feminine aesthetics. Her limited edition jewelry showcases raw angular shaped rings made in brass and silver and weighty cuffs. These pieces are juxtaposed with beaded necklaces and bracelets featuring precious stones. “We love jewelry that makes a unique statement with ethereal, minimalist designs,” says Ryan. “Each piece is carefully crafted with semi-precious stones, brass, and gold fill components into geometrically inspired arrangements, giving the designs an elegant yet bold presence.” I was enthralled with the Polka Dot Ring that looked like craters in the Moon. Definitely worthy gift options for men and women who love great jewelry design.

Pink Midnight Cuff
Pink Midnight Necklace
Pink Midnight Bracelet

The Wicked Boheme

The Wicked Boheme
Wicked Boheme Logo

Nowadays it seems like everywhere you turn there’s another artisanal candle maker pushing their wax! Like any market that becomes saturated the cream always rises to the top and in the case of aromatic therapy it doesn’t get better than The Wicked Boheme. These candles, room mists, and linen sprays are the epitome of luxury with their internationally inspired scents and designs. Gorgeous rose copper receptacles featuring candles crafted in coconut wax capture the scents of iconic travel destinations like Paris, Tulum, Joshua Tree and the Amalfi Coast. Familiar smells are one of the strongest scientific links to memory. Unlike other candles, these scents transport those of us who’ve traveled to these places right back to our vacations, as if looking at a favorite photograph. I’m absolutely in love with my Tulum and Paris/Jardin Luxury Room Mists and the Wanderlust/Gypsy candle is fantastic. The scents last and last—pleasantly lingering in my apartment for longer than I ever expect them to. Having become a great discerner when it comes to candle and room spray buying, I highly recommend The Wicked Boheme as a gift to give yourself! 

WB- Paris/Jardin room spray



Five Tbot Favorites From Renegade LA: There's Still Time!

Five Tbot Favorites From Renegade LA: There's Still Time!

Wall Planters that Pop with Succulent Sophistication

Wall Planters that Pop with Succulent Sophistication