Move Over Adult Coloring Books — Cool Puzzles Are the Latest in Trending Screen-Free Activities

Need a meditative pastime that doesn't involve a screen? Puzzles are hot now, and they're way cooler than you remember from your childhood.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.
January 29, 2020
By: Kassondra Cloos

The busier our worlds get, the more time we need to step back and find some peace and quiet — or should we say, piece and quiet. (We couldn't resist.) It can be hard to realize how much we need that until we stumble into it, as did the founders of a new puzzle company called Inner Piece, which was founded by husband-and-wife Amanda and Chris Kahle after they got a few puzzles as holiday gifts in 2018.

They really got lost in them, Amanda Kahle says, and found them to be a great way to spend quality time together away from technology.

“People are totally inundated with screens and we're starting to feel the effects and take stock,” Amanda Kahle says. “We're seeing this boom in the wellness and mindfulness spaces as a result. While those spaces offer many solutions that are cost-prohibitive or inaccessible to the average person, puzzles are this simple, fun way to embrace quiet time, whether you're alone or with a crew.”

Each of Inner Piece’s 500-piece jigsaw puzzles is designed by a different artist, and you’ll definitely want to frame them when you’re done. The company also has a unique guarantee: they’ll replace any missing pieces for the life of the puzzle.

They’re not the only art-forward, mindful-striving puzzle company to pop up recently. Piecework also pegs itself as an answer to the noise. The company started after one of its founders, Rachel Hochhauser, booked a cabin in Yosemite after a few stressful weeks at work. She had been hoping to spend a weekend hiking, but a major thunderstorm kept her inside. She stumbled upon a stash of old jigsaw puzzles in the cabin and started working on them by the fire with a glass of wine.

"I ended up spending the whole weekend working on puzzles and was so surprised to find it was super meditative," she says. "It was a lightbulb moment, reminding me of the feeling you get after a good yoga class — the activity was somehow both stimulating and calming simultaneously."

She and co-founder Jena Wolfe, who's also her business partner at a creative agency they run together, started Piecework in an effort to create more aesthetically pleasing puzzles and to inspire people to slow down. Piecework sells 500- and 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles made in the U.S., which come in boxes reminiscent of classic old games. Each features a funky scene fit for framing, like a super-meta, mind-bending puzzle of a puzzle. But to Hochhauser and Wolfe, it's all about the process, not the end result.

"There’s a haptic response of placing a puzzle piece into the right spot," Hochhauser says. "It literally feels good to do a puzzle. There’s also a common goal — unlike some board games, you’re not playing against anyone else. There’s no shouting at someone or getting upset or trying to compete. You’re always on the same team, which brings people together. It slows down time, and there’s no better feeling than placing that last piece into the final spot."

Here are a handful of beautiful jigsaw puzzles we love that are ideal for a weekend by the fire or winding down after a busy day at work.

This puzzle within a puzzle is sure to be a challenge to work on. We love how utterly frame-worthy it is, and we also love Piecework's suggestion to bring a puzzle as a hostess gift next time you're a guest in someone's home.

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Inner Piece's first set of puzzles is all inspired by the feeling of home. We love the calming color scheme of this one by artist Ray Oranges.

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We highly suggest you park yourself in front of a fire with a mug of hot chocolate and some cozy wool slippers to create the classic winter scenes on this two-sided puzzle. Yep, you read that right—two-sided. But don’t worry; one side is glossy and the other is matte, so you won’t have to constantly guess whether you’re working on the right puzzle.

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The subtle and smooth color changes in this puzzle will certainly make it quite a challenging one — all the better for truly focusing on something manual and analog.

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This two-sided puzzle from photographer Gray Malin features a beach scene on one side and a dreamy aerial ocean shot on the other.

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We love these colorful origami cranes, which might just inspire you to try another meditative, analog hobby once you've finished the puzzle.

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These deep purple succulents are sure to be a challenge to piece together. Once you're done, frame the puzzle for a rich color pop in a neutral room.

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Dream of wine and pasta as you put together this 1500-piece puzzle of colorful Cinque Terre from Ravensburger, a company that's been making puzzles since 1891.

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We love this compilation of unique windows photographed in Portugal, which just might inspire you to dream up a new home DIY project while you're working on it.

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Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night" painting is timeless. Instead of framing a print of his art, put the work into finishing this one so it earns a spot on your wall.

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