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An Ayurvedic spa along the California coast
When the Proper Hotel opened in Santa Monica, California in 2019, Los Angeles-based interior designer Kelly Wearstler’s mix-and-match furnishings and earth tones added a sense of relaxed sophistication. In collaboration with Martha Soffer, founder of the wellness brand Surya, the property has now presented its 3,000 square meter Ayurvedic flagship spa. The addition includes six serene treatment rooms, each decorated in tones that correspond to the three doshas (or energies) of the body: there are vata (yellow), which are believed to control the physical and mental activity of the body; Pitta (blue), digestion and metabolism; and Kapha (red), the immune system. Appointments begin with a pulse measurement to determine a client’s dominant dosha. Thereafter, treatment plans – including massages, meditation sessions, and other therapeutic practices – aim to restore harmony to the mind, body, and spirit. The spa’s many offerings include Panchakarma, a series of detoxifying meals and treatments, the latter of which last four hours a day and can be booked for up to 28 consecutive days. The package includes Abhyanga, a hot oil massage in which four hands work in perfect choreography to relieve tension and make the skin look youthful, and Shirodara, in which herbal oil infusions are poured over the forehead in a gentle stream. Ayurvedic scrubs, vapors, and deep tissue massages are also available for guests who may have less time. “This is part of my dharma,” says Soffer. “It’s what I like to do.” Properhotel.com.
Two years ago I wrote about Diaspora Co., an Oakland, California-based direct-to-consumer company founded by Sana Javeri Kadri that wanted to shake up the spice trade after realizing that spices could be the only source Treat like coffee or chocolate. Their first offering – a strong, earthy turmeric – was a hit. Today, the Diaspora carries over 15 different spices that are ethically sourced from India or Sri Lanka, and offer their farmers at least double to six times the price of raw materials (and also strive for health insurance for all of their agricultural partners by the end of the year). Three new spices are being launched today, including a wild Heimang sumac discovered by Javeri Kadri through Hill Wild, who sourced the berries from farmers in the Manipuri village of Ningthi, east of the Burmese border. “It has those black tea notes,” says Javeri Kadri. “It’s sour, a little bitter, and wonderfully complex.” Sumac is great for everything from mussakhan, a Palestinian-style fried chicken with caramelized onions, to dusting it on your avocado toast. Meanwhile, try Diaspora’s new wild ajwain (also known as caramel seeds, which have known health benefits) or byadgi chilli, which is “more for color or sweetness than heat,” says Javeri Kadri, who suggests a treatment that’s almost like paprika . And if you need more inspiration, Diaspora now also offers recipes, from massaman curry to strawberry crumble cardamom bars. From $ 12 at diasporaco.com.
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The work of Phoebe Boswell, Made in Lockdown
Before the pandemic, London-based Kenyan artist Phoebe Boswell spent much of her time drawing portraits of fishermen whose work depicts the fictional ancestors of a futuristic utopia off the coast of Zanzibar, once the largest eastern slave port in Africa . “I’ve been thinking about how difficult it is to imagine the future,” she says, “to imagine freedom. We are so limited to our own lived experience. “When the world stalled last year, Boswell – who is at risk of serious illness from Covid-19 – faced an uncertain and unrecognizable future. To cope with this, she began drawing self-portraits and other work based on pictures she either posted or seen on social media, as well as painting vignettes of scenes captured from her walks to and from her studio to document their time in isolation. “Still Life: A Taxonomy of Being”, which is on view at Sapar Contemporary in New York until June 12, brings together all 49 of these works. In one, Boswell sketches a picture originally posted on Instagram by art critic Jerry Saltz of two people embracing with the words “I just want to be touched again.” In another case, a yellow switch box painted in watercolor has a label that says “Ever Present Danger”. And a video titled “Notes on a Pandemic” (2021) shows noises of heavy breathing and coughing, another marker for this long, harrowing year. “Still Life: A Taxonomy of Being” is on view through June 12 at Sapar Contemporary, 9 North Moore Street, New York, NY 10013, saparcontemporary.com.
Ulla Johnson’s debut swimwear collection
This week, New York-based fashion designer Ulla Johnson brings her signature earthy prints and breezy bohemian vibe to the beach with the launch of her first line of swimwear, cover-ups and warm weather accessories. Among other things, there is a suit in the maillot style with wafer-thin straps that delicately cross at the back, a flowery bikini and a two-piece single-strap with high-waisted bottoms. All pieces are available in a range of batik and in-house prints, taken from the designer’s ready-to-wear collection, which is inspired by Japanese Komon kimono fabrics known for their fine patterns. There are matching saron skirts and light cotton covers as well as naturally tinted platform espadrilles, a straw cover with hand-woven leather handles and a bottle-shaped basket bag for the sundowner of your choice. Starts at $ 110 at ullajohnson.com.
Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Diana Ryu came up with the idea for Namu Home Goods, a new line selling handcrafted woodwork by artisans in Korea, while lying on an acupuncturist bed with needles strewn across her face and body. “The art world in America is a Eurocentric space,” she says, “and so is home decor.” Determined to change that, Ryu launched Namu, which means “tree” in Korean, late last month with a range of elegant, one-of-a-kind offerings from moon glasses to charred oak plates to tiny two-pronged forks. Notable pieces include artist Choi Sung Woo’s delicate ginkgo leaf servers, a pair of hand-carved spoons made from Korean birch with spindle-shaped handles leading to a wider surface resembling the plant of the same name. Then there is Kim Min Wook’s sculptural fluted vase, the shape of a vessel made from the wood of a persimmon tree. A number of small dishes with feet, which the craftsman Heum Namkung carved out of black walnut wood, are minimalist, strict, but also playful. Although wood remains a core tenet of the brand, Ryu’s next project, a collaboration with her husband, artist and actor Joseph Lee, is a limited edition print of a single branch in umber and putty. namuhomegoods.com.
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