Out Of The Millions Of Products On Etsy, These 4 Are The Best Of 2021

Photo: Courtesy of Etsy.
If you thought the Olympics were the only international competition to watch this summer, let us direct you towards a little corner of the internet where a different kind of global award program is going on: The Etsies. For the third year in a row, the online marketplace has gathered a panel of esteemed judges for the impossible task of identifying some of the coolest creators and top talent in the game. And trust us when we tell you that Tom Daley's knitting has nothing on this year's winners.

Etsy is beloved by both artisans and shoppers alike, and the Design Awards exist to honor that global community of artists and entrepreneurs. To identify the best of the best, Etsy assembled a roster of judges: designer Joseph Altuzarra, author and activist Meena Harris, interior designer and HGTV host Leanne Ford, and Etsy's own trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson, who is also a judge on NBC’s Making It.

For Altuzarra, being involved in the competition marked a new phase in an already-established relationship with the marketplace. Altuzarra was an “early adopter” of the site, using the marketplace to find vintage pieces, home decor items and, more recently, clothes for his daughter. He was also one of the first designers to collaborate with the company to launch an exclusive collection of his own. As his industry evolves, he sees Etsy at the forefront of that change.

“Fashion was a very insular industry for a really long time, and it’s slowly starting to connect with other industries and with other platforms beyond just wholesale and traditional retail, and that was actually my initial interest with Etsy,” Altuzarra tells Refinery29. “It’s so exciting to see how platforms like these are able to really shift the conversation away from mass-produced, disposable products, towards more handmade, sustainable, responsibly produced products.” 
Altuzarra admits that it was tough narrowing it down to four winners, pointing out that one of his favorite finalists, a wooded flower cat tree by KBSPETS which "looks like it’s right out of an anime or a manga cartoon," didn't make the cut. The process did provide him with potential future inspiration for his own work as well.
"Everything I saw I was like, oh my gosh this is so inspiring and this is such a great piece and I could totally imagine this as a dress or I could imagine this as an embellishment," he says. "That’s the beauty of going on Etsy for me, I just find so many things that are different and that I haven’t thought about, so yea, you might see little references [in future collections]."

Ahead, discover which Etsy seller is taking home the Gold, along with Silver, Bronze, and People's Pick winners selected by Altuzarra and his fellow judges.

Grand Prize

Photo: Courtesy of Etsy.
Candace Luter is an artist based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa offering a collection of custom furniture and idiosyncratic home accents. She started producing her one-of-a-kind designs, like this striking abstract mirror, using remnant scraps of wood and fabric from her home studio. As the grand prize winner, she’ll receive $20,000 and inclusion in an upcoming Etsy TV ad. "All the finalists were worthy. I was annotating my document and grading things and putting my notes together, and I thought all of them were incredible," Altuzarra says of the judging process, adding: "The gilded mirror was just so chic, so unique."

Shop Candice Luter on Etsy.com

Silver Prize

Foldable Clutch by Lara Kazis

Photo: Courtesy of Etsy.
Munich-based designer Larissa Hildmann takes the silver prize of $15,000 for her geometrical foldable clutch inspired by the ancient art of paper folding. “After making a prototype of the bag out of paper I started to fold the paper, like origami, that is when the unexpected happened and this is how this bag originated,” she wrote about the design. This unusual method stood out to Altuzarra, who is familiar with challenge of conceptualizing a handbag design that looks and feels fresh. “It’s really hard to design a bag that feels just like completely unique and totally different from anything that’s on the market and I think that she created something really special,” he says. 

Shop Lara Kazis on Etsy.com

Bronze Prize

Terje Ekstrom Chairs by Catch My Drift Vintage

Photo: Courtesy of Etsy.
Catch My Drift Vintage specializes in finding high-quality, cutting-edge furniture, lighting, art, and home decor that's hand-selected from the Midwestern United States as well as Central and Northern Europe. As one of Etsy's seasoned vintage furniture shoppers himself, Altuzarra has a special appreciation for this craft and was excited to see Catch My Drift Vintage take home the Bronze prize of $10,000. He says, "Being a vintage dealer is an art. You have to have a point of view, sourcing is really difficult, creating a really sophisticated selection is rare, so I loved that they were picked as a winner."

Shop Catch My Drift Vintage on Etsy.com

Klarna People’s Pick

Photo: Courtesy of Etsy.
The Klarna People's Pick was given to the top-voted finalist as determined by a community vote. This year, Etsy shoppers awarded the $5,000 prize to Noor Springael, a Belgium-based glazier who creates contemporary stained glass art and decor items inspired by nature and geometry. Her made-to-order wild flower bouquets are hand-painted and fashioned from recycled glass, adding a delicate pop of color their surroundings that will never fade.

Shop GLASenGLAS on Etsy.com
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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