When you eat Parisian, you hear American

Croissants at Loustic

This was a random detail I noticed as we ate and drank our way around Paris. I would estimate that nearly 95% of the places we stopped in were playing American oldies. There was Neil Young at Palais de Tokyo, Don McLean at Le Mary Celeste, or Stevie Wonder at Andy Wahloo. I (stereotypically) expected to hear French classics, like the Serge Gainsbourg or Jane Birkin, but it was *mostly* American hits from the the 60’s to the 80’s, maybe the 90’s. I suppose I didn’t realize the amount of influence American music had on French culture until visiting.

Candamill crafts bags with strong geometry and hard materials

Candamill - Untitled Clutch

Cindy and Cristian Candamil, brother and sister duo behind the label Candamill (read: not Canada Mill) are heading into their sixth season with some impressive work. Born to Colombian parents and raised in Queens, New York, Candamill interprets their aesthetic as “New Mid-Century” with a lens that finds opulence in simplicity.

I never post about woman’s bags but the form of their Untitled clutch (above) caught my eye with it’s striking design. I enjoy the duality of the bag, a soft, Cathedral Blue Italian leather that’s guarded by a brutalist, hand-crafted brass frame. This clutch quite literally stands on it’s own.

Zaha Hadid designs a museum fit for a Bond villain

Zaha Hadid Architects - MMM Corones
©San Vigilio – Associazione Turistica

What better way to celebrate the life and achievements of a mountain climber than to build a museum into a mountain? That was the approach Zaha Hadid Architects took for the recently completed MMM Corones, an institution in the Italian alps dedicated to climber Reinhold Messner. For me it feels like a hidden lair of an evil genius, or perhaps the buried wreckage of an alien spacecraft? That’s exactly why I enjoy this building so much as it’s form is traditionally unexpected (although not necessarily surprising that it came from Hadid). It’ll be even more beautiful once the vegetation covers more of it, further blending it into the landscape.

Zaha Hadid Architects - MMM Corones
© MMM Corones
Zaha Hadid Architects - MMM Corones
© Wisthaler

Andy Wahloo crafts spirits into masterpieces

The neon sign at Andy Wahloo

If I had to recommned one bar to haunt in Paris, and this is a serious decision for me, I would choose Andy Wahloo. A kitschy, hole-in-the-wall kind of place, it’s lit with neon, adorned with a leopard print carpet and boasts an impressive selection of Japanese whisky. The bar was recommended to me by my source of truth, Hamish Robertson, who’s tastes align with my own so very perfectly.

Kyle and I visited AW on a Friday night and it was relatively chill, we assumed the locals had already left on holiday, so we bellied up to the bar and chatted up the bartenders. Kyle started out with a French 75 and I a Manhattan. As we drank we asked the younger bartender what the specialty of the house was, to which the immediate response was, “the Old Fashioned, but I’m not allowed to make it, only Kaled,” pointing to the other, more seasoned bartender. Obviously I needed to experience this for myself. The seasoned bartender was named Kaled and he spent the next 15 minutes (time escaped me) making the most exquisite Old Fashioned for me, and me alone.

He set out a glass, filled it with ice, then covered it with a napkin. Gently, he placed three sugar cubes onto the napkin and then dashed bitters and some other concoction over the top, letting it slowly filter into the glass. Repeatedly he filled the glass with ice, then a bit of Bulleit Bourbon, then removed the ice just as it started to melt, then add more cubes and more bourbon. I marvelled in a drunken stupor at his process, the artistry and the experience that was being poured into the glass bit by bit. His eyes never left his work, and he barely spoke a word as he worked. I felt like this process couldn’t be more magical until he needed proper ice for the drink. Out the bar manager came with infant sized chunks of ice, clear as glass, which he carved by hand. From a cabinet behind him came an old Japanese knife with which he sliced and sheared till it was a perfect sphere that sat cozily in it’s bath of bourbon. As if that wasn’t enough he topped it with a peel of orange rind (of course) but also a custom made chocolate spoon which was spray painted with gold. It’s purpose was to hold the cherry, that way the customer wouldn’t stick their hands in their drink to eat it.

The Old Fashioned at Andy Wahloo

Kaled handed this holy grail over to me and I was nervous to drink it. I asked, “How do you recommend drinking this?” to which he responded, “Well, it’s your drink, whatever you want.” Humility at it’s finest. I placed it to my lips and felt as if I was supping a work of art. In my mind I compared what he had done to the artisans I met in Waterford, Ireland, the master glass blowers who transformed molten hunks of glass into fragile wonders. Clearly he was a master of this drink and it was a sight to behold. I think my honest (and probably over-enthusiastic) admiration was evident though. As we paid our l’addition Kaled asked the junior bartender to set up a line of shots, and myself, Kyle, and Kaled drank together.

Aventure: My thoughts and understanding of Paris

The view from our window in Paris

For the last week and a half or so I’ve been traveling around Paris with Kyle, soaking in the sights, eating and drinking all the city has to offer. It’s been a thrilling adventure and I feel like we explored a great deal of the city in a short amount of time, overall walking/biking in excess of 80 miles. During that time I also wrote quite a bit, mostly about our experiences in the city as well as recommendations for anyone interested in visiting this dazzling city.

In all honesty I’m still reeling from the experience, even while perched in a dingy, ill-lit airport lounge where I’m writing this, waiting for my connecting flight to Los Angeles. I miss the culture, I miss the tall, old buildings, I miss the people who bustle up and down the street on bikes or who quietly whisper on outdoor patios, cigarettes in hand. I miss the colors, I miss the sky staying bright so late, I miss awkwardly ordering in French. Suddenly confronted with the banal, middle American “normalcy” of this airport feels like a punch to the gut. I understand this makes me a sensitive, privileged individual, but it’s who I am. I crave the new, the beautiful, the challenges of the unknown and questioning why, why, why?

Hopefully over the next few days my stories will inspire the same feelings in you.

Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2015 Collection makes fashion into art… literally

Fashion is art: Viktor & Rolf Fall 2015 Collection

There’s a division between art, and well, every other creative field. Is design art? Is cooking an art? Is fashion art? Viktor & Rolf tackled this conundrum with their Fall 2015 Couture Collection by creating what appeared to be works of art hanging on a wall that transformed into wearable pieces of fashion. I love this conceptually because it’s so ridiculous, something that few designers would try and tackle.

Nigel Evan Dennis’ digital organisms

Nigel Evan Dennis

I have a problem with buying art. My problem is, I don’t have enough room on my walls anymore. That’s why coming across the fine art pieces of Nigel Evan Dennis was additionally problematic. His work, a sort of juxtaposition between organic shapes in a digital landscape, is immensely beautiful and captivating. The lovely gradients and the particles floating above them are like a petri dish on an acid trip, and I want them all. He has 12 prints currently available for $100 each, go check them out.

Nigel Evan Dennis

Visiting Paris, recommendations welcome

Visiting Paris

To celebrate our 5th anniversary Kyle and I are traveling to Paris from July 24 to August 3 for amazing food, lots of champagne, and some wonderful shopping. The thing is, I’ve never visited before and Kyle hasn’t been for over 10 years. We’re hoping to get some interesting tips on places that are unique, exclusive, off the beaten path, etc. Or if you run a cool design studio, make some cool products, or want us to drink at your secret bar, let us know. We’re looking for experiences that only people in the know would be privy to. Also, we may do a TFIB drinks night as well, so if you’re interested please let me know! Thanks in advance for the advice.

‘The Beach’, an interactive architectural installation by Snarkitecture

'The Beach', an interactive architectural installation by Snarkitecture

Last week I wrote about Daniel Arsham, one half of design/artist duo Snarkitecture, who this week have debuted their interactive installation The Beach at the National Building Museum. Instead of sand, you’re confronted with thousands and thousands of white balls with deck chairs set along the perimeter.

To me, the concept explores the space of art which is a public, mutually enjoyable experience. Rather than limiting art to sculpture or painting you get to be a part of a grander piece of work, much like what Tom Sachs did at The Armory or Urs Fischer at MOCA. The physical nature of the project is something that people can connect with and be a part of which might make a more meaningful impact on a person. You can see the manifestation of this on Instagram, with #thebeachdc having over 1,000 photos taken in 5 days, a very modern day metric of success. The art world can be so stuffy and staid and ideas like this will hopefully get more average people into museums and piss of the purist snobs.

Arsham summed up the project in a few words on his Instagram, simply stating “Reinvent the everyday,” which is a lovely way to think. On a side note, how great are these photos by Noah Kalina? He’s so good.

'The Beach', an interactive architectural installation by Snarkitecture

'The Beach', an interactive architectural installation by Snarkitecture

'The Beach', an interactive architectural installation by Snarkitecture