bläanks | Urbanized Cottagecore

bläanks | Urbanized Cottagecore

The time now to buckle down on our own terms is ever vital as we do shelter in and define our own version of “sweater weather”. As of late a merging of the tactile and nude has defined this new vision of comfort and lounge, nothing hits like the combo of heat tech synthetics and the tried and tested fluidity of a good knit. But must we not forget that our full looks of SSENSE sale items are getting to peak fatigue as a stroll or hike around the neighborhood is the new cruising ground for who is cute and the dictation of what’s hot.

Fortunately, LA based interior design company bläanks has broken through from the hospitality range to get the goods direct to consumers. With their highly textural knits and bold to subdued colors, the brand gives a slight nod to its Scandinavian roots as well as the embrace of Los Angeles’ rock n roll traditions. We spoke to Judy Pokonosky and Suss Cousins to discuss sustainability, the emotions of knits, and defining the current culture of comfort.

What is the story on how you met each other, your style and vision are a great shift from the usual knitting traditions?

We met in the apparel industry about 25 years ago and re-connected roughly 4 years ago and started bläanks.

We were inspired and saw a great opportunity in the Hospitality and A+D Space for amazing textured knits that we applied to throws and pillows. We feel our unique background and experience brought something different to this market.

I notice that you shot at the Arroyo Seco, what was the significance to shooting there and in general this type of urban adjacent nature?

Being a California and specifically a Los Angeles based company we are very inspired by the amazing nature and outdoor spaces that are in literally in our backyards!

We love the history of California-the energy and possibilities of expanded space that the west coast provides-Southern California loves it’s outdoor living spaces.

With the worlds condition, how do you see the work you have done in homewares and interior life being part of a greater discussion on the way things are shifting?

We pride ourselves as a company with sustainable product and practices. 

With a custom made to order in the USA machine washable yarn strategy we keep our carbon footprint light and provide unique product for each client and project with competitive pricing. Our research shows that no one was checking all these boxes in this market.

How did this new venture into DTC and the patchwork pattern come together?

We were really excited to offer something unique that we ourselves wanted to design-definitely knitted throws and pillows that were limited editions.

 

What trends do you see coming up in knitwear and how have you participated or feel like you are pushing the culture forward? 

We have had a great response to the unique textures and color combos that we have designed. Knits are very emotional, and our clients really love the feel and energy of knitted goods vs. the usual woven product in the market. We research and are inspired by history of stitches from all over the world -bringing new twists to them into the 21st century with a definite eye on marketplace trend.

How do you see the brand differentiating from other knit oriented interior companies?

We want to highlight we are a custom resource; this is very important as people really respond to ordering and having unique product made for them. Suss has written 7 books about technical knitting, giving bläanks an incredible advantage in developing amazing knitted pillows and throws.

For more information on bläanks

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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.

 

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Spiritual Tools | In Times of Transformation

Spiritual Tools | In Times of Transformation

Spiritual Tools for Times of Transformation. 

A conversation with Astara founder, Crystal Healer & Herbalist Mariah K Lyons and Energetic Healer & Herbalist Julie Hovsepian

2020!?! Why is transformation so important at this time?

M – This has been a year of old systems and structures crumbling to be rebuilt and restructured in a new way. It’s been a root chakra year so on a very foundational level we are re-creating from the ground up (immune system!) and it’s been a massive year of systems in play and structures crumbling in order to rebuild a new.

J – I led a full moon event November 2019 and just saw this was the theme for that month that I had read somewhere “It’s a Moon to remind us of why we chose to incarnate at this tumultuous time and all the support available to us as we undertake huge transformation” and it’s incredible how timely that still feels for us today, and this conversation. To me, it’s so important for us to take this energy that’s building and essentially shouting at us with the turbulence of this past year and use it as opportunities for growth and expansion.  It’s so easy to resist change and stay numb to what’s happening around us, but we all have a fire within us that’s being lit right now to speak up, to change what’s not serving us individually, and to work together globally to help really shift us forward collectively.

What does transformation mean to you?

M: Changing form from one thing into another – energy is never destroyed it’s simply transmuted into something different – alchemically changes into something new. When we are transforming into new versions of ourselves there are certain ways of being that change over to create the new. Energy is shifted and alchemically changed to create something new. Nature teaches us about transformation – Winter transforming into Spring, leaves falling and becoming compost in the soil, and regenerating itself back up. We also learn it from the cycles of the moon, and transforming into different forms of ourselves as energetic beings.

J: Physical and energetic shedding of the old to step into an elevated space of being. It takes a lot of courage and trust to allow transformation to take place. It’s about letting go of the (un)comfortable state we are currently at by really leaning into that trust to leap into the unknown – because of that feeling deep inside of us that whatever is on the other side is soooo worth it.  For some it’s one small step in a unfamiliar direction that calls you – and then one day you look back and realize you are miles away from where you started and so much happier, and for others it’s a swift deep leap and taking the time you need to acclimate to your new grounds. The best part is there is no wrong way to do it, it’s always going to be in divine timing so it’s just about using your intuition and awareness that a change is needed and coming and having the courage to fly.

When you think of the word transformation – what’s the visual you get for yourself?

M: Butterfly – literally changes shape from caterpillar form to completely different version of itself and transforms into something new.

J: There is a visual that I got in one of my meditations of this other worldly version of me flying above – confident, at peace and assured – and it’s what I quickly connect to when I feel like I need to step into something that challenges and scares me.

What’s biggest fear for most people when it comes to transformation?

M: Safety – our brains understand certain ways of being and doing things and when we transform into something different some of the safety structures that we have created by habits, thought forms, ways of relating to other people and self – those change and can be scary and uncomfortable. By nature the reptilian brain wants to create safety and structure based on things it knows and is comfortable with which it then equates to survival – this part of our brain is not comfortable in the unknown or in a new form because it doesn’t have any previous information to base off of and “keep you safe.”

J: Control is another big one and if there is anything that 2020 has shown us over and over again is that we aren’t in control. As humans, we have a hard time feeling like we don’t have control of our present and our future. There’s a huge gift in the practice of being aware of who/what we are trying to control in our lives, and for what we think our future needs to look like and trusting that what’s coming our way is to help us transform, get stronger, and continue to align us on our path.

Moonstone

Best advice/support for people navigating transformation?

M: Finding a space of grounding and connecting with self and earth helps to remind oneself that they are always at home within their body regardless of what’s changing in their lives, relationships and the world. Always at home in their body and deep connection with the earth.

Working with minerals/crystals/herbs to ground the body but work on a subtler energetic system of helping to support stabilization and harmonization within one energetic field.

J: Meditation is one of the biggest practices that we all have access to, that’s free and the more we do it, the more we are able to create space to allow clarity to come through during times of so much uncertainty. As we commit to a daily practice (of even just 3 mins to start), our bodies begin to feel safe and grounded and our intuition/inner compass strengthens tremendously.  We also have incredible herbs, available globally, that are here to help us during times transformation.

Mariah’s Crystal Recommends for Times of Transformation

Malachite – This crystal helps transmute grief, sadness and past traumas held in the heart and helps create open space for the new

Moonstone – This is the stone of new beginnings and helps us attune to energies of the lunar cycle, our own cycles of life and moving through transition and transformation into the next cycle

Herkimer Diamond – A crown chakra stone – very high frequency that helps us imagine and re- envision/visualize our new way of being so we can create that in our physical reality

Smoky Quartz – helps to keep one grounded in times of change and helps transmute and transform dense energies thought forms and ways of being into new expressions of being.

Julie’s Herbal Recommends for Times of Transformation*

(among many other scientific and energetic qualities for each herb listed, here are some highlights specific to this topic):

Ginger – this is one we should all have easy access to in dried or raw form – it’s grounding but really opening, brings more chi/energy to the body, helps with emotional stagnation – really moves energy in the body, opens the breath and the heart (and is also incredible for immune support and migraines) – this herb is great support for the solar plexus

Shisandra – this super herb is made for times of transformation –  an energizing adaptogen (helps your body adapt to stress), great for motivation and helping positive change take place in your life, anti-depressant, playful energy that helps build chi in your body, cleansing, helps with clearer communication and creative expression, great for helping the visionary – this herb is great support for the sacral chakra

Rhodiola – this is a very bitter herb that’s very stimulating and uplifting, also great anti-depressant, it moves a lot of energy, great for mental clarity and focus, great for helping us get unstuck, great for resilience during transformation – this herb is great support for the root chakra

Blue Lotus – very sacred herb that’s a great spiritual ally for transformation and rebirth, very euphoric, crown and 3rd eye opener and also a great heart tonic – this herb is great support for the crown chakra

*Herbs: Ideal to infuse/decoct the tea leaves or roots for at least 20 mins before consuming.

All are available as organic tinctures as well.
You can click here to check out some of Julie’s custom tincture blends:

Please contact Julie if you have any specific questions about these herbs and their usage and would like further herbal support – julie@inagoldenstate.com

Top to bottom: Ginger, Shisandra, Rhodiola, Blue Lotus, Julie’s Herbal Tinctures

More on Mariah K Lyons:

www.astara.com

IG: https://www.instagram.com/mariahklyons/

MARIAH’S BOOK: CRYSTAL HEALING FOR WOMEN

More on Julie Hovsepian:

www.inagoldenstate.com

IG: https://www.instagram.com/juliehov/

+More meditations, including a 9 min guided and 30 min guided meditations: https://www.inagoldenstate.com/downloads

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Black Friday | The Health Edit

Black Friday | The Health Edit

This weekend while the rest of America is spending time binging on leftover goodness and attempting to replicate the consumerist high of waiting in line for the deals, we implore you to take the other route. Juicing, working out and manifesting a sexy bod to wear the barely there looks on the street. Coachella may be canceled til next fall but at least we have a hopeful start to the new year. See our picks below to keep you sound right and body tight!
First things first lets get your body right! And let’s all be honest you are more than likely a few weeks into a Thanksgiving meal that has included every single restaurant there was before lockdown. With that in mind let’s get rid of that pooch with a much needed and intensive work out with AARMY’s founders: Angela Davis, Trey Laird, and Akin Akman and their team. Take advantage of off their Aarmy gear with its cult like appeal and also have offered up a deal on their work out subscriptions that will be sure to whip that ass into shape  
In the grand tradition of sybarites, what gets lit must calm down… in a decadent bath please. Brazilian skin care company Natura has been fully plugged in with the most substantial of South American hydration. Maracuja oil, which contains all the must has fatty acids and is loaded with vitamin C and phosphorus. Quite possibly the secret behind every Brazilian party girls ageless skin. From November 1st to the 30th, consumers will be prompted to select one of the charities at check out and Natura will make a $3 donation on their behalf. In addition to the donation, the brand will be offering 35% from November 23rd to 29th. This applies to all product offerings including their holiday sets

The Feelist is celebrating the black/cyber sale 30% off their line of facial must haves. The Radiant Face Oil which is composed of Jojoba Seed, Marula, Rosehip, Evening Primrose and a touch of CBD oil is a face melt for the sense, a lovely way to loosen up those stress induced zooms. With other products like their Please Do Not Disturb Extra Body Cream which also contains our beloved canabiandnoidal properties, lavender and vanilla oils as well as Himalayan Maris salts are a calming taste of heaven. A perfect way to prim the skin for some leather.

Zana Bayne is celebrating her annual black Friday sample sale with deals on leather staples chokers, cuffs, and her highly covetable harnesses. The best part of her sample sales beyond obtaining her artisanal crafted leather goods is the rare pieces that will be popping up from her extensive archive as well as who knows which pieces just came in from the latest Beyonce, Chloe and Halle, Doja Cat, or Megan Thee Stallion shoot

ZARA FLORA | Don’t Call It Ikebana

Get to know the journalist who took on a quarantine hobby and launched a successful side gig in floral arrangements informed by architecture, art, and getting back to nature

Murmurs | Valentine’s Day S

The beloved DTLA art space and cafe offers up a gift for all the senses this Valentine’s Day

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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...

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Ice Cube ~ "It Was a Good Day" (L)Today's mood, courtesy of Ice Cube back in 1992.  Samples: The Isley Brothers ~ "Footsteps in the Dark" Such a great slow jam from the same guys that made "Shout" and other hits like "Twist and Shout" during their 7 decade...

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Dr. Dre ~ "Let Me Ride" (L) So on and so on, why don't you let me roll on?I remember back in the days when I used to have to get my stroll onDidn't nobody wanna speakNow everybody peepin' out they window when they hear me beatin' up the streetIs it Dre? Is it...

bläanks | Urbanized Cottagecore

Get to know the LA based interior knit brand merging tradition, craft and modern living

Old School Wednesday: 3rd Bass – Gas Face

3rd Bass ~ “Gas Face” (L)"A Gas Face can either be a smile or a smirk When appears, a monkey wrench to work one's clockwork Perkin his brim to the rim of my cup Don't tempt me, you're empty, so fill'er up! Is I'm talkin coffee or cocoa, is you loco? Cash or credit for...

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New year? Time to hustle your 2021. With an all time high, let Angelina Dreem guide you into the fun, cool, and sexy world of Bitcoin.

London Love | Frankie’s Guide to Food + Culture

London Love | Frankie’s Guide to Food + Culture

Francesca (‘Frankie’) Reddin is the Communicator // Founder of A+F Creative and Black Book. Frankie is a media consultant with a background in restaurant PR- she weaves cultural histories travels the world via ingredients, dishes and voices. She is focused on a ‘smart lifestyle’ which sits at the intersection of food, design and literature and searches for projects that share diverse stories and champion the personalities. She thrives on connecting the dots between people and the audiences craving to hear about them and mapping the journey a campaign will take. She is dedicated to engaging both traditional and digital media platforms to make the lesser-known voices heard. This is her guide to eating, drinking and being part of a cultural movement in London and beyond. 

1. Island Social Club (London, UK)

Marie Mitchell and Joseph Pilgrim have become very dear friends since I pushed my way into their lives after reading about Island Social Club online. Their restaurant and bar is part of a wider concept which centers on a space aimed at filling the void left by the erosion of London’s once thriving Caribbean social scene. As a Londoner – yes I am a rare breed, there are only few of us left – who works predominantly within the food and drink world in London, it was refreshing to see myself presented in such a culturally intelligent way that was both exciting, engaging and delicious. They brought the London vibes with a Caribbean twist, not from my parents generation, but mine. A generation that lived and breathed the capital city and by way of life experience, formed our own genre and era, if I am to be that bold. ISC hosts great parties, a supperclub series, Nyamming, that explores the diasporic community further through poetry, arts, music and collaboration, and will be popping up in the next few months with various events. If you ever get to experience ISC, make sure you order Marie’s rotis and her aubergine curry and ask Joe for something rude and naughty – usually a Scotch Bonnet Margarita or Ti’Punch. Cheeky.

2. Ombra (London, UK)

For four years running, about the same time that Head Chef Mitshel Ibrahim has been at the helm, Ombra has been my favourite Italian restaurant in London. To the naked eye, it can look a little dive bar-esque, especially in winter, which to me makes it even more precious. The Venetian bacaro and outside terrace sits alongside the Regents Canal in Hackney and serves up super sexy plates of pasta amongst other wonders. It’s the kind of sexy that is cerebral, stimulates your tasetbuds, and keeps you up until the early hours delving deeper into the wonders of textures and flavours. Mitshel cures all of his meat in house, forages for herbs locally, curates the wine list – all natural, and always greets me with a gnocchi fritto & mortadella which melts in the mouth, just like it did when I was kid.

3. Singburi (London, UK)

I was introduced to Singburi by a friend. It’s a tiny Thai restaurant and takeaway in Leytonstone – a far away ungentrified place in East London. Family run but now taken over by the son of the family who’s culinary intelligence is phenomenal. I honestly haven’t had Thai food like this in London before. The dishes are chalked on the blackboard everyday and there are some staples like the Moo Krob – bitesize crispy pork belly tossed in fresh chillies, garlic and coriander which are so so naughty and moreish – and a whole bunch of specials depending on chef Siri’s ingredient list that day. There’s no holding back with spices, flavours or ingredients. The last time I was there, it was the baked glass noodles with smoked eel and foie gras that tipped me over the edge. It’s BYOB and on Monday’s the restaurant fills with all of East London’s hot young chefs and their teams who muse over the dishes in between gulps of natty wine.

4. La Buvette (Paris, France)

I have a silly tradition when I travel: my last meal should always be a McDonald’s. I love trying each country’s ‘own’ burger and put it down to anthropological research. A few years back when I was in Paris, a city I visit at least once a year, I decided to mix things up and go to La Buvette. Long story short, I missed my Eurostar back to London. The reason? The smallest wine bar offering a list of low-intervention wines, intimate hues of soft pinks and mirrored glass, plates of bergamot-zested giant white beans doused in new-harvest Sicilian olive oil, charcuterie and wine, wine, wine. I stayed in Paris an extra night.

5. Aux deux Amis (Paris, France)

I’ve had some great nights here, the first of which I ended up meeting two household names (in France), a French rockstar and a French actor who I then had a whirlwind Parisian love affair with. It’s a great bar. 70’s décor, formica tables, crazy wine list, amazing cheeses and charcuterie if you want to enjoy your apero there. The clientele is super cool, the kind of place the people who don’t want to be seen are seen and hang out undercover in plain sight. This is perfect place to go to after dinner too as it’s usually a launch pad for the next party…

6. Mei Mei Market & Deli (London, UK)

Borough Market is one of the most iconic places in London and within it is a Singaporean food stall specialising in Hainanese chicken rice and Singaporean Nanyang Kopi – Mei Mei. Mei Mei means ‘little sister’ in Chinese, and is an ode to the chef, Elizabeth Haigh’s, Southeast Asian heritage, as well as her home of London, and brings to life the hustle and bustle of Singapore’s Kopi Tiams of her childhood memories. Elizabeth has a Michelin background, earning the restaurant Pidgin Hackney, a couple of years back, so you already know what you’re going to have is something above and beyond. There are two things on the menu here that I literally salivate over (and also have to curb my cravings and limiting myself to only one monthly visit): the Kaya Toast and the Fried Chicken. The Kaya Toast is traditionally a breakfast dish and consists of a thick layer of Kaya spread in between two thickly cut slices of sourdough, lightly toasted with wads of salted butter lathered on each side, served with a soft boiled egg that you can then dip the toast into. Honestly, I can’t explain the euphoria you feel when you have it in the morning as the first thing inside your mouth! It has a cult following of its own – cue endless reels of Instagram photos. The great news is, throughout lockdown, Elizabeth pivoted and now you can BUY KAYA JAM ONLINE. So you can feel euphoria without anyone watching.

7. Diogenes The Dog (London, UK)

Diogenes The Dog is a new-wave wine bar and shop in Elephant & Castle inspired by the infamous Greek philosopher who founded the philosophy of Cynicism. This guy Diogenes apparently questioned everything, lived his life in a huge amphorea, drank wine constantly, ate raw meat with his bare hands, while stumbling around the village naked and taunting people. Quite a guy. Of course, I had to check it out. Sunny Hodges, the owner, is perhaps not as uncouth as Diogenes but definitely has a character to match. (He’s the son of an

Olympian and Commonwealth Games Silver medallist, Graduate of Mechanical Engineering

from UCL, author, survivor, explorer, award-winning Front of House professional, and drives a motorcycle). Sunny shares the same challenging and inquisitive nature of Diogenes, questioning what we know about wine, discarding common trends and bringing to the table lesser known and better drunk alternatives. It’s here that I tasted a Hibernal 2017 from Winnica Turnau from Poland, Messina Hofs Blanc du Bois from Texas, and an Ixe Tempranillo, a grape usually found in Spain, from Tuscany.

8. Other places to visit:

CAM (Paris, France)

Au Passage (Paris, France)

La Prosciutteria (Bologna, Italy)

9. PROJECTS & COMMUNITIES

Sourced Journey’s (London, UK)

SOURCED is a public research project founded by Dr Anna Sulan Masing (my work wife) and Chloe-Rose Crabtree, both of whom are writers and academics with experience in the restaurant industry. They believe that food and drink are biological and cultural rights and want the global food and drink systems to reflect that through empathetic, transparent and inclusive practices; and they’re seeking to decolonise culinary experiences. They are dividing the year up into ‘seasons’ to focus research on specific ingredients, with reading lists, monthly tutorials, articles and commissioned research so others can have access to the learning. You can support their project and the research through their paid for newsletters at £3.50 a month. 

www.sourcedjourneys.com // @sourcedjourneys  // www.sourcedjourneys.substack.com

10. Black Book (London, UK)

At the end of June 2020, myself, Zoe Adjonyoh and Dr Anna Sulan Masing founded Black Book: a global representation platform for Black and non-white people working within hospitality and food media. With a mission to inspire and empower through enhancing visibility, equality, equity and wealth creation worldwide within these communities, Black Book will raise global consciousness of the issues affecting their ability to thrive in these industries. As a team, we will do this through representing emerging talent; offering consultancy services to companies and brands wanting to align better with a vision for a more inclusive industry; securing brand partnerships around Black Book content; and building a holistic mentorship programme.

 

We’re about to host our second series of events celebrating Black History Month, which will take place every Tuesday throughout October. There’ll be a full day of workshops, masterclasses, cook-a-longs and discussions that explore the four pillars of Black Book in meaningful and dynamic ways. You can see the full line up and grab tickets here. We’ve also signed our first client within the representation arm of Black Book – the wonderful, Elainea Emmott who is a chef and photographer. Her website is here. We’ll be launching our Crowdfunder campaign at the end of the year that will act as a springboard for our mentorship programme launching in 2021. Plus there’s talks of Black Book memberships, podcasts and global outposts… you’ll have to sign up to our newsletter to keep abreast of all the news!

www.blackbook-global.com // @blackbook_2020 // Patreon

11. Flock Together (London,UK)

I found this group on Instagram, like most things these days. But Flock Together isn’t like most things. A bird-watching collective founded in London which serves the BIPOC community, it is as much about the actual past time of bird-watching as it is about making a statement about reclaiming space. There is a destructive narrative and assumption that PoC are not meant to be seen in public and if they are, they are automatically deemed a threat. There are so many examples in the past 6 months alone that validate that. As a closet birdwatcher myself, Flock Together is a thing of beauty and a symbol of progression and power. I joined a walk in Epping Forest and after 5 months of lockdown and hardly seeing a soul (IRL), cycling up to the edge of the forest to be greeted by 50+ brown smiling faces, binoculars in tow, still fills me with all the sensations of overwhelming pride and joy. The two pioneers/founders, Nadeem and Ollie, are in the process of launching chapters globally so give them a follow on IG and read up about them here:

https://hypebeast.com/2020/8/urban-birdwatching-flock-together-london 

https://www.vogue.com/article/meet-flock-together-london-birdwatching-collective 

 

12. PRODUCTS

Liha Beauty (London, UK)

I have bought so many of the Queen Idia candles I’ve lost count. For myself, girlfriends, family, they’re beautifully scented. It’s made with a coconut wax blend with base notes of Geranium and Frankincense, top notes of Lavender and hibiscus invoking the fragrance of soft African Moss. I’m yet to try the Idan Oil which is cold-pressed coconut oil into which a Tuberose flower has been immersed, so that you have the wonderful scent of the night-blooming flower, naturally absorbed naturally into the oil, all over your body. Ultimately an aphrodisiac!  Idan is the Yoruba word for magic, and amongst the other products that Liha Beauty sells, I think their whole offering is simply ethereal. 

Golden Editions (Ghana + France) 

This is my sisters company and I am super proud of what she has created. The aim of GOLDEN is to work closely with makers to create contemporary pieces that pay tribute to timeless craft in Ghana and beyond. Sara has always wanted to create something that resonated with her childhood and her mother’s passion for crafts, who was born in Ghana. Sara’s light collection, which was the first to launch, is made by skilled weavers based in Bolgatanga in the North of Ghana. A team of which she found on her many personal travels and research trips across the country. The Lamps are carefully hand-woven using Elephant Grass grown in Ghana, dyed naturally and then hand-twisted. The shapes are evocative of colours and forms seen on road trips through Ghana; the rich red colour of the earth, pots stacked along the roadside, traditional houses with thatched roofs. Sara’s always had an eye, and her Golden Editions perfectly encapsulates her admiration for subtly, gentleness and elegance offset by her practical and grounded character.

 

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Nolwen Cifuentes has had a booming career as a photographer, capturing a diverse array of subjects from Kamala Harris on the cover of Time to decorated portraits of auteurs like Floria Sigismondi posed in an expressionist lament. It was her touching and docu-stylied images of her friends which focused and illuminated a sense of beautiful humanity that really had us all becoming devotees. Implementing a sense of rigger and release the broad spectrum of her subjects was sure enough a great segway back to her initial passions of film making.

Having dived into the process of shooting on her spare time with little to know budgets, her quarantine has helped to inform and reflect on her previous works. She took a step back and re-incorporated her initial love of cinema and narrative film making. The results include a diverse and intimate portrait of every day life from 3 different vantage points each with its well framed understandings grounded in family and friends. A quick chat with Cifuentes strengthens the genuine response and interactions with her subjects.

A collaborative effort the depictions were made in a way which cultivates a free spirited improvisational manor which doesn’t impose but rather highlights the characters developments. Here we ask the newly minted director on her process and moves to highlight compassion. 

Congrats on this new project, I had no idea you were into film as well! Tell me more, how did you get into this project it is so different from your editorial work.

I know!!! So I actually was really into filmmaking like back when I was 16 and made a few shorts. When I went to college, I ended up studying graphic design and the whole filmmaking thing took a back seat. When I found my love for photography I just went full force into that. Then last year I watched this Netflix show Easy, by Joe Swanberg, it’s all improvised and it just reminded me so much of the type of filmmaking I had wanted to do. Simple, human stories that felt very real.

I started watching a lot of his interviews and how he made films, he just shot whole feature films in like a week, it didn’t have to be great, and he didn’t even write a script for them. So I was like wait I could probably do that too.

That improvised aspect is so interesting as I do know that you are incorporating that performative aspect into the biographical aspect of it. Did you put together a script for each short?

Each story is really based on the people, they’re all friends of mine, it’s fictional stories but yeah all improv. No script, just like an outline of where I wanted the story to go.

So when we’re shooting, I’d direct them, like “ok I need you to get to this beat, how can we get there?” It was all super collaborative

I absolutely also love the contrasting cast of characters in each short from what I have seen so far how did you go about choosing them that really complement each other?

Yeah the cast is so good!!! They’re all real relationships. The first one, Born in a Chevy, they were both actual best friends who lived together. I met them a few years back and just was so charmed by their energy and their friendship. The story was based on something from my own life, but I just knew I wanted to make something with Ezra and Ruth (who star in that film) and they ended up being perfect. The other one, Sixty and Fabulous, I had photographed Khalif for a personal project and knew his mom was Vietnamese and deaf and just felt like that would be a really interesting story to see. I didn’t know she’d be SO amazing on camera though, in that one she didn’t really “act,” it was just them interacting how they would normally and I was just there capturing it and putting them in the setting of the market.

And the last one I just posted, The Waltz, I met those brothers at a party and instantly was like oh my gosh I need to make something with you.

Their whole vibe was amazing. We met for lunch and I learned all three of them were super into ballroom dancing so I was like ok perfect that’s the movie.

Is there also something you feel you are showcasing by framing these people life through your perspective, how do you see your visual language interacting with them?

It’s definitely interesting, especially with the first one, Born in a Chevy, because that story is just something that happened to me. I had this visceral need to express how I felt about something. So it’s like I’m melding my own experiences with the very real relationships of other people. I think especially with the improv aspect of it, it makes the whole story feel so real and defined. Like here I am baring a vulnerable side of myself along with the actors who are doing the same by sharing their real relationships.

I also really liked the way you shot these, was it all iphone ?

Technically they’re all shot on my iPhone, there was literally zero dollars for it, but I think it gives them all an even more doc/cinema verite feel.

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