ZARA FLORA | Don’t Call It Ikebana

ZARA FLORA | Don’t Call It Ikebana

One thing that has come to save all of us is this great urge to get back to nature. Whether your current conditions are open to dine out with your pod or stuck at home with hours of Clubhouse/ Tik Tok, this push and pull of our social habits has led to a surging culture around plants and vegetation aka a major plant selling boom. A desire and affinity for a sense of being grounded amidst the endless isolation has come with an added side effect of grounding people and understanding the might of greenery. Central to QooA’s philosophy of slowing down while still indulging, writer Janelle Zara found her path with her latest creative endeavor ZARA FLORA a project which fuses her lush floral devotions with that of her extensive art/architechtural background.

For Zara, an accomplished writer whose critiques of art, culture, and architecture can be seen in T, WSJ, and Architectural Digest, early quarantine strolls through Hollywood’s Beachwood Canyon and roadtrips with her boyfriend to Lake Arrowhead and Big Sur informed her needs to delve into nature. This biophilic desire coupled with her artistic and architectural background has well informed her design aesthetic. We got to discuss this floral venture as well as learned why you mustn’t call Zara’s gravity defying designs ikebana.

 

How did you get into floral arrangements, I feel like I’ve known you for ages and had no idea that you were so naturey.

Oh yes and road trips with my boyfriend, I look at trees and see how I could make them out of flowers. A friend of mine introduced me to this flower shop where you pick your own flowers. When he gave a bouquet to his friend I saw how his face lit up, It was full of so many unusual flowers. Doing this I realized we’re exposed to such a limited variety. The kinds of flowers you see in the grocery story isn’t even the half of it, I like working with the weird stuff. The really unusual creatures.

 

Would you consider this work consider this going in with the Ikebana trend that is so diffinitive right now? How did you learn to compose your arrangements?

It’s not ikebana. That’s a real art form with rules. I’m just putting flowers in a pot. I taught myself on instagram, really. Not by copying other people but studying their mechanics. It took me a while to understand the way that flowers work. You need to build up an arrangement with different depths and levels. Working in 3D is a lot different from looking at pictures.

I know you began this as a hobby but at what point did this become a business?

My friends were all really jazzed and supportive of what I was doing. They were the ones who convinced me to start an instagram, and then the interest started to grow from there. I was surprised that anyone would ever want to pay me for what I was doing for fun. It was a pandemic hobby!

 

Why do you think the art world has embraced you so much?

They’re my friends, a lot of them. In real life I’m an art critic/journalist. But also I’m really designing for certain graphic qualities—motion, contrast, etc… After I make an arrangement, I spend a lot of time trying to get a photo that captures that.

I love the full dimensionality of the arrangements, has your career in art and architecture inform some of your designs?

I think about it a lot like architecture; it’s about structure and problem solving

It used to take me days to figure out a floral arrangement. Lately I’ve gotten a lot faster, It still takes over an hour

 

What are some of your favorite flowers?

I like to mix high/low; really high end statement flowers with your grocery story basics. I have a secret spot where I get secondhand vases, and it’s a gold mine. They feel like the way we treat people; we treat the most delicate flowers like they’re the most precious But I live for a big fluffy bunch of carnations.

Do you Use a lot of flowers with fragrance?

I use a lot of allium, which literally smells like onion, I almost feel bad sending them to people, but they look so damn good. Otherwise not really. I don’t use a lot of “flower” flowers.

 

If you were to personify the plants and flowers you use who are they?

Flowers are challenging. They’re a lot harder than you’d think. They each kind of do their own thing in their own way, and the longer I do this, the better I get to know their individual temperaments.

Tulips: so underrated!

Anthurium: easy crowd pleaser!

Roses: just getting into them now. I thought they were really traditional but they can do a lot.

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Murmurs | Valentine’s Day S

Murmurs | Valentine’s Day S

Love is love is life, either way a desire for sweets and blooming florets is a must. LA multipurpose artspace/ café MurMurs has taken on the almighty task of infusing a delicate dose of wabi sabi indulgence via a pairing of QooA fave zehra zehra and the ikebana decor of Tomato Story. The zehra zehra bay leaf bunt olive oil and ricotta confection covered in mascarpone, is there anything possibly more sexual enticing than whipped mascarpone?

The Valentine’s day special pairing is available for PREORDER from the website as well as at the café and shop which is open for take-out and browsing. Coming in two sizes the florals are ever more expressive in their movements and poses offering an exquisite exploration into an asymetrical declaration of what life and love is.

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Animal Crackers | Space Talk

Animal Crackers | Space Talk

From 60s Rudi Gernreich and Peggy Moffitt with their mod swagger to 80s era postmodernism and post punk well filtered through MTV, Hollywood has had a rich culture of bold design, color, and experimentation. This torch is carried on with the retro futurist work of LA based Animal Crackers. A label which makes you think what would Judy Jetson wear to a gallery opening, dinatoire and warehouse party. Helmed by Candice Molayem, who previously ran cult favorite Flamingo Vintage, the label just dropped their latest collection “Space Talk” which offers up galactic princess wear in Italian leather structured, dynamic colors, and with Latinx Songstress Avalon Lurks fronting the look book. We spoke to Candice about retrofuturism, LA, and building a sustainable label.

What is the background you have in getting into clothing? I know you had a very successful vintage store.

Countless friends and family members predicted I would work in fashion over the years, and out of a desire to rebel I immersed myself in other creative pursuits, only to be led back to my original calling. Animal Crackers is an amalgamation of my time as a tattoo artist, vintage store owner, painter, and stylist. My Persian immigrant upbringing also fueled my love for fashion – entertaining and dressing up is culturally ingrained in me.

 

What designers or art movements have informed the way which you are creating your own stylistic identity?

I draw inspiration from Pierre Cardin, retrofuturism, Pedro Almodovar films, the 1960s, 70s and 80s, travels to Paris and London, vintage interiors, bold colors, mid century homes, the desert, disco/house music, old Americana architecture, vintage signage and labels. 

 

What has the design process been like, starting a label and forming the identity, during this period of time? 

The Animal Crackers design identity was formally developed in 2019, but was really informed by my entire life up to that point. There were a few delays in launching due to the pandemic, but aside from that I stayed true to my vision, although I do wish there were more opportunities to wear Animal Crackers in the wild. Luckily, there seems to be a demand for “slow fashion” – pieces that are versatile and made to last. I have also felt supported as an independent, POC designer who produces locally in Los Angeles.

I know you have had a long running relationship with textiles. What was your process in picking up fabrications?

My years of vintage collecting and work as a vintage store owner provided me with a wonderful education and wide exposure to fabrics and textiles. Quality fabrics are essential to the life cycle of a garment, so I was relentless in my pursuit. I have been lucky to work with suppliers from Japan, Italy, Spain and Downtown Los Angeles.

 

How has your time been in quarantine? What skills have you picked up? (if you have any recipes, we can also place them at the end)

My time in quarantine has been 100% dedicated to the launch of Animal Crackers this past July and designing my second collection for Animal Crackers, Space Talk, available January 28. Running a small business is all-consuming, but it has been incredibly rewarding.

 

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Kid Hastings | Movement and Selfcare

Kid Hastings | Movement and Selfcare

Serving up major Luca Guadagnino muse vibes, Kid Hastings aka Jake McEvoy, the budding indie pop prince took his jazz roots and infused it with a major dose of synthy gestures. Following his debut EP Golden, Kid Hastings offers up an impressive vision for pop which captures the stylings of dreamy bed sounds, with a sophisticated flair for jazz greats Thelonius Monk and Wes Montgomery, albeit for the Tik Tok era. Below he tell us just how much the dance fervor of the social media app he and his creative collaborator Ava Doorley took upon themselves to produce “Call Me Up.” 

Like most people, I haven’t really been able to shake the feeling that I’ve been trapped these last few months. In my art I’ve been wanting to do something to create a world where It would be appropriate and even necessary to express myself in an entirely different medium in addition to music – increasingly that medium has been movement and dance. In the “Call Me Up” video, ava and I wanted to create two entirely different characters that are both borne from parts of my identity and personality but are completely at odds with one another. The way these characters interacted with the world was mainly through their bodies ; through dancing, seduction, intimidation and even violence we wanted to tell a story of personal turmoil. It was a a challenge but ultimately euphoric to step into these characters that represent different parts of myself and tell their stories through movement.

 

In addition to this video, I’ve found such a great outlet in Tik Tok to explore dance, skits and other characters – sometimes they’re to complement my music but most of the time its just for fun. It’s been yet another world where I get to express myself through any medium I could think of. Self care wise, I think expanding my artistic outlets has been really good because it never allows me to feel stagnant in just one.

Regarding self care in general, I’ve been picking up new hobbies every few months or so and getting 100% into them until I can’t stand them anymore – right now its chess, a few months ago it was reading old sci fi books, and I have no idea what it’ll be next – but I’m excited to find it.”

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Chess, Mon Amor | Amor Services

Chess, Mon Amor | Amor Services

Marcel Duchamp once said, “I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art — and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position.” Though one can disagree as to see how widely successful The Queen’s Gambit brought to an example of the ultimate in commercial successes, a surge of 273% on searching platforms within 10 days of the shows release can totally attest to the fact that chess has had a comeback as the it girl of gaming… Take that backgammon. Now that we are all up for a game that meets up with the stylized demands of our inside lives and the proposition to preserve our brains from the streaming wasteland, Amor Services have come to deliver, with their latest project CHESS, MON AMOR.

Abandoning the black and white traditions the board, this remix is envisioned in red and blue as a direct reference to current sociopolitical unrest and also raises the emotional stakes. Chess pieces by Alake Shilling (king), Tremaine Emory (queen), Bernhard Willhelm (bishop), Yves Tumor (knight) , Gaetano Pesce (rook) , Ser Serpas (pawn), Mandy Harris Williams (didactics) round out an ecclectic and brilliant crew of creatives. See more below.

King

Alake Shilling (b. 1993, Los Angeles, CA) is the creator of all things deep and magical – she is a painter and sculptor of creatures, in a gelatinous rainbow style in debt to Lisa Frank as much as Peter Saul, bearing carefully coded emotions and driving rich narratives about companionship, risk and reward. Shilling has exhibited at countless galleries and fairs worldwide and has an upcoming traveling exhibition with Jeffrey Deitch. For Chess, Mon Amor, Shilling has scaled one of her sought-after, infamous ladybug ceramics to the pocket-size of the King.

L’King, 2021, Glazed Ceramic, 3 ½ x 2 x 2 inches each

Queen

Tremaine Emory a.k.a Denim Tears (b. 1979, Atlanta, GA) has been releasing products featuring the iconography of Mother Mary since 2014. Regarding his designs he has said “I’m recontextualizing the black image across as many mediums as possible to get this story told…” Emory – a.k.a Denim Tears – is a creative luminary & legend in fashion, music, and culture producing radio shows, podcasts, and envisioning crossovers between contemporary art and creative outlets, Emory works as a leader of the cultural provocateur. Here, Emory has adapted his Mother Mary design as the Queen of the chess set.

L’ Queen, 2021, Casted resin and printed glass 4 ½ x 2 x 1 ½ inches each

Bishop

Trailblazer to all things tableau vivant and avant garde in modern day fashion, Bernhard Willhelm (b. 1972, Ulm, DE) is the entrusted Simon Cowell of fashion, the litmus test of significance, a light on the road ahead, the godfather of anything worthwhile in fashion today, in Chess, Mon Amor, he is our anointed bishop. Willhelm designed the Bishop based off of his classic pumpkin-head model made in collaboration with artist Geoffrey Lillemon, that has been used on some of his most sought-after garments.

L’ Bishop, 2021, Glazed thermoplastic polyurethane 4 x 1 ½ x 1 ¼ inches each

Knight

While all futures are unknown, we do know that 21st century experimental music would look a lot differently without musician and artist Yves Tumor (b. 1989, Knoxville, TN) Genre-bending Tumor is among the most interesting artists working today; with each new record, embodying a genre—its history, its texture, its tropes. Signed by Warped Records and written about countless times in publications like the NY Times, Pitchfork, the Guardian, Paper Mag and countless more. For Chess, Mon Amor, Tumor becomes embodied as the Knight itself, marking his first move into the fine art world.

L’Knight, 2021, Clay and human hair 4 x 1 ½ x 1 ¼ inches each

Rook

Guided by a constant drive towards innovation and experimentation, Gaetano Pesce (b. 1939, La Spezia, IT), architect, artist and designer, has created public and private projects in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia, in the fields of architecture, town planning, interior design, and industrial and exhibition design. In Pesce’s production, the borders between art, design and industry become irrelevant because art is also a product, it is the creative reply to the needs of the times we are living in.

Needless to say, Pesce one of the most iconic designers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Pioneer of all things important in design, Pesce has created a classic interpretation of the Rook, imbued with the radical energy of an innovative career spanning over five decades.

L’Rooks, 2021, Casted resin, 6 x 2 ½ x 1 ¼ inches each

Pawns

The pawn is represented by artist Ser Serpas (b. 1995, Los Angeles, CA). Primarily interested in death and legacy, her work is preoccupied with its own urgency in the face of fossilization. Precarious assemblages of disparate objects found in the street constitute her most well known series to date. Serpas has translated that practice into the form of the Pawn, which are archived parts of a discarded dollhouse left on the curb outside of AMOR’s office.

Serpas has had solo shows at the LUMA Foundation in Zurich and Ludlow 38 in New York. She took part in the 2020 Made in LA biennial at the Hammer Museum and the Huntington. She was featured in shows at the Pinault Collection, Punta Della Dogana, Venice and the Swiss Institute, New York.

L’ Pawn, 2021, Epoxy resin and found objects, 1 ½ x 1 ½ inches each

Board

The sides and compartments of the board are engraved with a commissioned text by artist and cultural theorist Mandy Harris Williams – aka idealblackfemale (b. 1988, New York, NY). Williams, having coined the popular term #brownupyourfeed and recently named as one of Cultured Magazines “Young Artists 2021,” stands as one of the most important voices in our contemporary moment. For Chess, Mon Amor, Williams created the poetic didactics for the board itself, exploring timeless concepts such a love, power and beauty.

L’Didactics, 2021, Engraved text on stainless steal

For Inquiries contact office@amorservices.com

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There is a certain sense of purity in the amount of matter of factness that is taken into clothing, fashion, and shopping habits. We do live in the age where sensory deprivation and Internet shopping reign supreme an era where whimsy can come off as trite and ugly can...

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Every blonde deserves a fortifying treatment that will keep you brassless and malleable

Bertie Body | Back To Bath Rituals

Get to know the Australian brand brings sexy bath, with soul, scent, and marine collagen.

Bitcoin For Creatives | Angelina Dreem

Bitcoin For Creatives | Angelina Dreem

Bitcoin, Blockchain, Cockblock All the Same Right?

We take on the majestic world of bitcoin through a demonstration by art world darling Angelina Dreem, and while you’re at it check out some of the items you might need to pretend that Robinhood is the Matrix.

“As a child of the recession, the banks got the bail out and we didn’t, I got out of college with nothing. I want to help people understand money more as I am understanding it and learning it. I think the only way we will be getting back the power from these stupid billionaires is by understanding their tactics. I just want to help everybody understand this silly world of money.”

A self-described artist freak who loves information and revolutionary systems, bitcoin being all the above. Her interest began in 2011 when bitcoin first came onto the scene. She started seriously investing in 2016 buying and selling most around 2018 during the peak. Now we are at the point where the institutions and technology has caught up with what is possible: the potential to fuck big banks. Below she provides  Tips to confidently open Robinhood and break the simulatrix *shout out @signepierce. 

The Brief History

In 2008/2009 this open-source software came on the web and promised to decentralize Digital currency based on a peer-to-peer network, meaning no middle man. Blocks are stacked with two parties witnessing the transaction then it is time stamped and locked into the cryptographic box. That block adds to the block of all the histories staying connected and ensuring tight security, that is why it is cryptographic making it so no one can edit an old block eliminating the need for oversight organizations like banks. The information locked in can be anything. Also, why it is called crypto for short. From this technology other coins have emerged such as Ether or Lightcoin.   

The coins are the product of “mining” which is essentially when computers are crunching the algorithm and when they solve it the outcome is a coin. That is why it is held under the revolutionary umbrella of Fintech (Financial technology is the technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services.) The fintech revolution started with PayPal revolutionizing the fact that you don’t need a bank, Venmo as well. Basically, not relying on centralized system, kind of anarchist. The people that know and the financial institutions are catching up to this tech as a means of securing and sharing information.

Right now, it is being treated like an asset, like a stock, bond or a house. Something you ‘hold’ and hope gains in value. It is exciting! For broke creatives, it is not too late to invest as no one really knows the true potential of where it is going. Projections have remarked that the price of a coin may reach $50,000 by 2021. A lot of work since 2016 has been in legitimizing this new paradigm. 

In the buying and selling there has been a lot of controversy. What are you buying and selling? Bitcoin is assigned to an address called a KEY. Apps like Coinbase, Gemini, Binance, or hard case keys, will create a private key for you as your address. A string of 17 numbers and letters. If you are purchasing into the 1000s a key is a must for the ownership. If the web goes out it has stopped people from cashing out. 

In total the amount of bitcoin produced by miners 18.5 million mined right now. With 20% lost to various happenings like people losing their keys creating obsolete bitcoins. We are potentially close to cap mining, creating scarcity which drives up the cost. There are risks, the future is unwritten. There could be changes in FCC rules, but the reward is to least have some skin in the future that we all wish to see and believing that future is worth the effort of learning how to buy bitcoin.  

How to buy Bitcoin

I don’t have 30k how can I buy bitcoin? You can buy fractions, which is cool. The 3 options I would like to discuss are assuming you aren’t day trading bitcoin and are on a more casual path involving buying and holding.

Robinhood is a free app and has no commission, but you actually don’t own it because you don’t get a private key, the 17 number and letters. You can’t send bitcoin, essentially can’t use it, it is only an investment portfolio set up. Which is fine if you treat it like an asset. It’s really easy and has a great graphic design, so you kind of feel like futuristic dystopic bitcoin seller hacker chick, which makes it fun. Money should be fun. Easy and sexy looking, you can sell it for dollars.

The second way to buy bitcoin which just launched is through PayPal you can buy sell and hold on PayPal. They have a fee structure based on the percentage of how much you buy. If you buy $101 it is a penny less than if you but $100 of bitcoin. The risk as with Robinhood is what if you get hacked since PayPal would be an excellent target but, but PayPal is also really secure, more so than Robinhood. You cannot send any of your coins to the Key. If you are actually going to invest some real money, this wouldn’t be the recommended way. By real money I mean $1000 or more.

If you just want to buy bitcoin to hold it within the $1000 range, I will just go with Robinhood, it’s just so easy, sexy, and cool. PayPal is corny, PayPal is Peter Thiel, PayPal is trying to be the cool kid, but they are not, but its PayPal, they are integrated with everything. They don’t allow you to buy items with it yet. But I think they are probably just working out some FCC stuff.

Lastly the most popular way to buy bitcoin is using Coinbase App. They are really cool they used to be janky in 2016. It’s great for learning about other coins. Finding out what is next. It’s cheapest if you use you ACH transfer, similar to the accounting and routing number. You get a private key and are able to buy, sell and convert coin to other coins. They also have a lot of educational information on their app and are the OG’s of online trading. The downside is logging in with their two-step authentication system can be confusing and many people panic getting locked out. Their support system is NOT helpful so try to write every password and system down before hand.

 

The Feelist | Shea Marie Get to Know the Business Woman and Social Media Trailblazer

We took a moment of the HBIC’s time to check in all the ways she organically took on this project, plant-based skin care, and her own regimen.

Pendry West Hollywood | Back to the Sunset Strip

As the world reopens a new offering from the Pendry West Hollywood offers up the glory days of Sunset Blvd.

The Solo Journey Experience | Ojai

If you’re itching to get out of L.A. alone for 24 hours, here are firsthand tips on how to plan a solo overnight trip (if you’re looking for a zen recharge)

Rico Starr | Gogo’s Entrepreneur

From the closet to the bar get to know more about the creative multi tasking the gay clubs

Dana Boulos | Talk By Brainfreeze

The hidden entrepreneur gets vocal with her latest podcast Talk by BRAINFREEZE.

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There is a certain sense of purity in the amount of matter of factness that is taken into clothing, fashion, and shopping habits. We do live in the age where sensory deprivation and Internet shopping reign supreme an era where whimsy can come off as trite and ugly can...

Ty Joseph | Social Connecting

An Ode to LA Night Life built on paintings, photographs, installations and film

Sage Willows | NFT Works “Doesn’t Even Exist”

Chatting up the young artist as he interacts with the modern NFT market on his own terms

Natura | Lumina

Every blonde deserves a fortifying treatment that will keep you brassless and malleable

Bertie Body | Back To Bath Rituals

Get to know the Australian brand brings sexy bath, with soul, scent, and marine collagen.