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FEATURES

Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better

fairweather enterprises

Peter Fischli David Weiss, How to Work Better (1991) Houston and Mott Streets NYC, January 2016 / Photo: Jason Wyche, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Peter Fischli David Weiss, How to Work Better (1991) Houston and Mott Streets NYC, January 2016 / Photo: Jason Wyche, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Have you seen Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better in Lower Manhattan? Organized by the Public Art Fund, it is the first presentation in the United States of the artists’ iconic wall mural. In 1991, the work was originally painted on an office building in Zurich.

Coinciding with the Guggenheim’s retrospective exhibition of the same name, How to Work Better (1991) is a six-story painted mural of an enlarged motivational ten-point list for the workplace that the artists found on a bulletin board in a factory in Thailand. The simple statements —“Distinguish sense from nonsense”, “Accept change as inevitable”, “Learn to Listen”, “Smile”—propose a code of behavior that extends well beyond the workplace. This tongue-in-cheek bulletin suggests that “working better” is as much about an approach to everyday life as it is about productivity.

At approximately 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide, it was hand painted on the south face of a building on Houston Street at the corner of Mott Street. The mural is intentionally placed nearby billboards and advertisements. In contrast to the commercial backdrop, How to Work Better (1991) catches your eye, selling nothing beyond a simple code of conduct.

“How to Work Better points to an ethos that has deeply informed the artists’ collaborative practice and their approach to making work. Over the years, the piece has become an analogue meme, with small copies taped to the walls of countless studios and desks, advocating a practice of thoughtfulness and caring in the way art is made and presented,” said Andria Hickey, Public Art Fund Curator.  “On Houston Street, the piece is quite literally tacked to the wall of New York City, asking us to consider how we can all work better in our own lives—our work, commutes, personal interactions—and reminding us that it’s not always what we do, but how we choose to do it that matters.”

Public Art Fund’s presentation of Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better is on view until May 1, 2016 at Houston and Mott Streets.

The Leadership Committee for How to Work Better is gratefully acknowledged, including Jill & Peter Kraus, Maja Oeri & Hans Bodenmann, Donald A. Capoccia, Elizabeth Fearon Pepperman & Richard C. Pepperman II, Sprueth Magers, and Molly Duffy Burns & Hugh Burns. Additional support is provided by Matthew Marks Gallery, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. Special assistance has been provided by Overall Murals. Public Art Fund exhibitions are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Isa Genzken: Two Orchids

fairweather enterprises

Get ready New York City for something special. On March 1, the Public Art Fund will be exhibiting acclaimed artist Isa Genzken’s Two Orchids in New York City. Initially presented at the 56th Venice Biennale’s All the World’s Futures exhibition in the spring of 2015, this is the second time the artwork has been exhibited publicly. The two flowers will be 34 and 28 feet in height and will greet visitors entering Central Park from its southeast corner.

“More than twenty years after first making her famous outdoor ‘Rose’ sculpture, Genzken has again borrowed from the natural world to create an imposing new public installation. Whereas the red rose has long been a rather clichéd symbol of love, the orchid, once a more obscure and exotic bloom, has become increasingly ubiquitous. For Genzken, the decorative neutrality of the orchid makes it the quintessential flower of our period – global and porous to meaning,” said Nicholas Baume, Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator.

The artist’s orchids are stylized and cartoon-like. More subtly, through the choice of the orchid, Genzken references a frequent topic in her body of work: sexual identity. The feminine shapes of the blooms contrast with the nature of the orchid’s root, a reference to the Ancient Greek origins of the flower’s name (Orchis referring to the male sexual organs).

Isa Genzken: Two Orchids will be on view March 1 – August 21, 2016 in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park.

Lead support for Two Orchids is provided by the Fuhrman Family Foundation and The FLAG Art Foundation, along with generous support from Galerie Buchholz. Additional support is provided by David Zwirner, New York/London; Elizabeth Fearon Pepperman & Richard C. Pepperman II; Agnes Gund; Sarah & Eric Lane; Andrew & Linda R. Safran; and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V. This exhibition is also supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Public Art Fund Talks at The New School are organized by the Public Art Fund in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School. This program is made possible in part by Con Edison and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, as well as by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Brooklyn Diamond Coffee

fairweather enterprises

It was amazing to sit down with Lottie Terzi, the founder of the delicious cold brew coffee shops, Brooklyn Diamond Coffee. At the age of 21, Terzi opened her first store in Brooklyn in 2013 and she is excited to share that she just launched a new shop on 54th street right next to Soul Cycle. How did it all begin? "I just loved coffee," smiles Terzi. "But I was also very particular about my coffee and I would never settle. I'm very picky," laughs the gorgeous entrepreneur. So when she started making her own cold brew coffee at home, it quickly became a hit among friends. And word spread that she had something beyond your regular cup of joe. And that is certainly the case as it takes 18-20 hours to brew her yummy cold brew.

In the spring of 2013, she started to do door-to-door deliveries of cold brew coffee and by the summer, she was asked to open a summer pop up in South Street Seaport. The budding entrepreneur generously donated the summer’s proceeds to the victims of Hurricane Sandy and by the fall of 2013 bottled Brooklyn Diamond Cold Brew was available at local grocery stores and health food markets throughout the tri-state area. Next, Terzi decided to open her first location in Gravesend, Brooklyn. And she found that the stores are more than just coffee shops. As Terzi put it, “It has almost become a culture,” a community that is expanding with her new location in midtown as well as a popup shop during the summer at the Jersey Shore. In 2016, Terzi plans to open 2 more locations in NY as well as to expand her wholesale business of cold brew coffee.

What advice does she have for entrepreneurs? “Today you need hard work but it has to be strategic work and smart work,” reflects Terzi. “You need to constantly educate yourself. Always read. Read about CEOs and entrepreneurs. It’s very important to have role models.” And after seeing Terzi’s success, I’m sure she will become an incredible role model for others. So, if you are looking for a role model or an insanely delicious cup of cold brew, make sure to visit one of Brooklyn Diamond Coffee’s shops.

Michele Wiles, BalletNext

Mable Yiu

Former principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater, and now Founder, artistic director, and dancer at BalletNext, Michele Wiles has an impressive resume to say the least. Before that, she trained and lived at the Kirov Academy in D.C. from the age of ten, and competed in numerous ballet competitions in places like Bulgaria, Japan, and France. See my interview with the lovely and ambitious Wiles below.

By Mable Yiu

Wiles' visit to the YMCA in Bed-Stuy, December 2015. Photo courtesy of the YMCA of Greater New York.

Wiles' visit to the YMCA in Bed-Stuy, December 2015. Photo courtesy of the YMCA of Greater New York.

I remember seeing you perform with American Ballet Theater years ago in Orange County, but I never knew about your training. What was it like moving to D.C. to train at the Kirov Academy when you were only ten?

This was a life changing event and a big decision for a family to make. Originally, I received a full scholarship from the Royal Ballet in London. My parents would have had to sign legal guardianship over to them- a bit extreme! Luckily, the Kirov Academy opened in 1990 and that was a car ride away. We made the huge decision that I would board at the school full time. I was there for six years training in classical Vaganova technique, character dance, and historical court dance. There were academics in the morning, and at night, I had to maintain other kinds of dance for local dance competitions I would compete in... there was no time for anything else. I lived for dance!

Did you take academic classes at Kirov as well, or did you have to go to a different school in addition to the ballet academy?

I skipped 5th grade to go there. The first two years we went to a public school in the area. It was a crazy adjustment. The kids were older… it was overwhelming at first. I wasn’t living at home during the week, it was my first time living at a boarding school, and I was eleven. I had home on my mind a lot. It was a different social scene... It was a public school and it was hard to fit to find people to fit in with. But by eighth grade, I made a really good friend, Lisa, and we still keep in touch. By the third year I was there, they started to have in-house schooling, so I could do my schooling within the Kirov Academy.

Since you started training at such a young age, was ballet always a career you were aiming for, or did you ever think about going to college or doing something else?

I started young in tap and jazz and [participated in] a local dance competition then. At that point, the goal was to be a Rockette. To improve my jazz technique, they suggested that I take ballet. I started watching videos and became completely hooked and knew that was what I wanted to do. So I set out with this one goal in mind.

You moved pretty quickly through the ranks at American Ballet Theater (ABT); it took you two years to become a soloist, and then five years to become a principal. Can you share more about your experience at ABT?

This was like going to college. There was a whole new set of people and challenges to experience. Like the big leagues. The Kirov was a place to concentrate on creating my technical foundation. ABT was about carving out a space in the world of dance as a great dancer. I went through several phases, which ultimately led me to BalletNext. 

Phase 1 was the Kirov training for 6 years, and winning the gold medal in Varna, Bulgaria.

Phase 2 was company life. I was dancing through the ranks: studio company, Apprentice, Soloist, and Principal. My Kirov training carried me through becoming soloist, the Princess Grace Award in 2000, the Eric Bruhn prize in 2002, and my first principal roles in Le Corsaire, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. In 2005, I sustained a back injury which sidelined me for 7 months. Ironically, I was just promoted to principal when this happened.

Phase 3: emotional life begins. I met David Howard [one of the most sought-after ballet coaches], and worked on rethinking how I approached my work. The first thing he said was "Let go!" I had spent so many years examining myself in the mirror; it was time to go inside and figure out what was going on. A whole new emotional side was added to my work. I learned a new way of working with ballet mistress Georgina Parkinson. She would always ask, "What do you want to do today"? 

Phase 4: emotional life continues to build. I had a lot of success with more dramatic roles, which require an emotional understanding of the character. Ultimately, I came to the decision to leave American Ballet Theatre to expand and experience a new way of creating art. BalletNext was born out of a desire and need to have a more process/experimental type environment. Then I started choreographing myself and collaborating with unlikely artists such as Jay Donn and Tom Harrell.

Dancers at BalletNext, in costume for Wiles' Ushuaia. Photo by Albert Ayzenberg

Dancers at BalletNext, in costume for Wiles' Ushuaia. Photo by Albert Ayzenberg

So did you start BalletNext while you were still at ABT, or was it something that came about afterwards?

I started thinking about BalletNext the last year I was there. It was just a conversation and I was just wrapping my head around the idea of creating a new company. It was definitely a risk, but a risk worth taking. You know, you come from a ballet company and a ballet school, and your main job is to dance. I had to break those walls and learn about it.

I love how BalletNext works to, in your words, "pair classically trained dancers and live musicians in a collaborative setting that encourages risk taking and a focus on process." What was your inspiration for founding BalletNext and what do you hope to achieve with it? 

My inspiration is finding new energies to pair with the strong foundation of classical technique and to bring the style into the future. This is also helping me find out how I really want to dance. I hope to achieve a bi-coastal presence and show other ballerinas who leave a company that there is another way and to bring up the next generation.

How have you selected your company members, choreographers, composers, and musicians? Did they have to audition, or did you reach out to them?

It's been a little bit of both. I have auditions in the summer- mostly for the dancers. [For] choreographers, musicians, etc., I reach out to them.

You mentioned that your husband, James, is a chairman on the board. Is he a dancer as well?

No, he is on the business side of cancer research. He develops companies - young and entrepreneurial biotech companies.

How did you guys meet?

It’s a funny story. I call it the “Chinese-Arranged Marriage.” It was all Irene Shen, who’s on the board for YAGP [Youth America Grand Prix competition] and ABT. James was on the board for YAGP. She kept telling James that she had the perfect woman for him and to not get married, and wouldn’t tell him who it was. I was dating someone at the time, but Irene took me to dinner and told me, “I have this very tall man for you. When you are done [dating], let me know.” This went on for two years. One spring I told Irene that I was ready, and she tells James. Then three weeks later, he calls me, but I’m busy and didn’t call him back for another three weeks. But Irene was persistent and said I have to call him back. Finally, I do, to satisfy her, and we met up and had a blast. It's sort of history from there.

You've also taken on choreography, and recently debuted Ushuaia, with music by Heinrich Biber, last February. How has that process been? Do you tend to choreograph works on specific dancers or simply to the music? 

I tend to choreograph to the situation. Ushuaia began with a male dancer and three females. Then there were four female dancers and I adapted the piece to that. It was like three different ballets all in one. By the end, everyone was like “I like it better with four girls now.” I liked the process and I don’t necessarily want to make the dancers to do the same choreography. Choreography is alive, too, and it always has to be changing, especially if you are doing the same work with the same music. It's never done, but you have to move on.

Wiles' visit to the YMCA in Bed-Stuy, December 2015. Photo courtesy of the YMCA of Greater New York.

Wiles' visit to the YMCA in Bed-Stuy, December 2015. Photo courtesy of the YMCA of Greater New York.

I saw that you regularly work with YMCA to teach some of their young members ballet. What has been some of the most meaningful charity work you've done? 

YMCA has been my heart for the past 5 years. I fell in love with the dancers from PS 54 and with the Tiny Toes [program], it doesn't get any better. I've recently taught at 51st Academy for the COMPASS after school program. One of the boys said, "I thought dance was only for girls, but l was wrong," which melted my heart! You realize in those moments that you are changing lives.

How did your partnership with the YMCA come about?

In 2010, I was given an Arts and Letter award at the YMCA Gala at the Time Warner building. They were honoring me for my work, and it was amazing. Then I was introduced to the program, Tiny Toes, and I taught the class out there and we decided in 2011 to do a joint collaborative performance with the Y and Ballet Next. There were high school kids that they invited to watch the performance, and I danced the White Swan pas de deux, where the guy comes out in white tights. They were all laughing! But the moment he lifted me over his head, they were like “Wow, this is amazing.” So I’ve been teaching there and doing the gala in Brooklyn. This will be the fifth year.

Andrew Laffoon, Mixbook.com

Mable Yiu

Andrew_Headshot_Hi-res_1_4_20.jpg

Andrew Laffoon is an innovative entrepreneur changing the way we tell our personal stories and preserve special memories. He is the CEO and Founder of Mixbook.com, a photo service site offering completely customizable, aesthetically beautiful, and high quality products. Easy to use, yet with limitless possibilities, Mixbook is the place to create an absolutely gorgeous, personal, and unique gift that will be treasured for years to come (especially as Valentine’s day is coming up!). Here, you can see our interview with the man himself, where we talked about inspirations and the future of photos.

By Camilla Misiaszek


What was the inspiration behind Mixbook.com? 

I had made a couple of photo books before: a photo book as a going away gift for a friend who was moving away and a book of my honeymoon for my wife. The books were really cool, but the creation process was so painful. We had a very different way of approaching the market, and we knew we could make the process easier and more fun, so we built Mixbook to solve our personal pain.

In an age where photos are stored on the computer and shared online, why do you think having physical photos is important? 

No matter how much I interact with photos on my phone, it's still not the same as holding them in your hand or seeing them on your wall. In an age when many things are moving digital, the physical things you have left will have more value, and you'll want them to say something about you. The regular books you keep on your bookshelf will be to show friends and family the things you care about. Nothing shows that more than a photo book of your life, brimming with stories that you want to share.

What makes Mixbook unique from other photo services?

Mixbook is all about creating the best user experience for making photo books and telling stories with your photos. The experience is fundamentally different: you can customize every aspect of your product, more than anywhere else. At the same time, it's intuitive and easy, the designs are gorgeous and the quality of service is unparalleled. We all use Mixbook often, so we care more than anybody that it's the best photo service in the world.

Between the prints, calendars, photo books, and cards that Mixbook offers, do you have a favorite?

Photo books. I am a storyteller at heart, and a photo book is the best format for telling the stories I want to share. 

Over the past ten years, smartphones and social media have revolutionized the world of photography—how do you think photos will be different in the future? 

For one thing, all your photos will be organized, easily searchable and synced across all your devices. That will be the bare minimum. On top of that, I think you'll find people engage with their photos a lot more, from printing and sharing to just enjoying them in moments of downtime.

Launching a company comes with many uncertainties and obstacles—what advice would you share with aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Don't give up. Most entrepreneurs give up way too early. Every entrepreneur will have moments of despair, days when you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, when you want to give up. Keep going - the winning entrepreneurs stick it out far longer than their peers, and position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that inevitably present themselves along the way.

Any fun Valentine's plans?

My wife and I have a date with our 1 month old son!


All photos courtesy of Mixbook.com.

Trio of Islands, Poised for Grand Legacy, Hit the Market for $100 Million

fairweather enterprises

A rare trio of islands off the coast of Panama offering 50 pristine beaches stretching along more than 19 miles of the islands’ coastline and encompassing approximately 1800 acres will be introduced to the market for the first time in 35+ years for $100 Million.


 
The islands are the premiere flagship of Pangea World, a landmark new transnational sustainable development endeavor that will offer the buyer instant status as a global player on the world stage, with access to work directly with heads of state and leading institutions of the highest caliber. Top officials at the United Nations, the National Academy of Sciences, the Smithsonian, heads of state, and business leaders have all endorsed Pangea World.
 
If you are the lucky owner of the islands, you might build a stunning new private residence and a few luxury, eco-friendly beachfront resorts and use the revenue to fund scientific exploration. This might include exploring the coral off the islands to see if they have medicinal value or scientists surveying the islands and surrounding waters for new species and natural resources. Perhaps it’s looking at how diverse animals have migrated across the Pacific Ocean.
 
“We aren’t selling a property, we’re selling a legacy,” says Dr. Hana Ayala, who is the visionary and co-seller on the deal.  “The new owner will leave a lasting benefit to the environment and to humanity.”
 
There’s a precedent for wealthy individuals investing in real estate with ambitious environmental objectives. Oracle founder Larry Ellison spent an estimated $300 to $500 million on a Hawaiian island in 2014 with plans to turn it into “the first economically viable 100% green community.” Ellison envisions a form of sustainable utopia with renewable energy, electric cars and desalination. Leonardo DiCaprio also acquired an island off the coast of Belize, and is now planning to open an eco-resort there.
 
“It’s very beautiful, it’s applaudable,” says Ayala of these efforts. “What we are doing is in a totally different league.”

As Ayala sees it, the economic development model she is championing can be introduced across the Pacific Island region, as a way of raking in tourism dollars while also protecting unique natural resources and spearheading basic research. 

Her vision and strategy, which have already gained the support of heads of state in the region, are to explore and value the islands' geological and ecological connections with various distant parts of the Pacific Island nations as a foundation for building a transnational knowledge economy.

While Ayala is co-seller and face of the project, the islands are actually owned by German businessman Claus Mittermayer, 57, whose family bought them in the 1970s. A mutual friend connected Ayala with Mittermayer in 2006, at her request. “I sort of intended to have a ten-minute courtesy call, but several hours later we were still talking.” He was so taken with Ayala’s vision he rejected a $30 million offer for one of the islands several years ago, saying he didn’t want it to be turned into an overdeveloped tourist spot. ”The islands are uniquely suited for what Hana has in mind,” says Mittermayer. “It’s the highest and best use of the real estate.”

The islands are being introduced to the market by two exclusive Christie’s International affiliates, the Beverly Hills-based Hilton & Hyland and Christie’s Panamanian-based Panama Premier Estates. To learn more about the islands and Pangea World, please click here

Chloe Coscarelli

Mable Yiu

A lifelong vegetarian and vegan for ten years, Chef Chloe Coscarelli is an award-winning chef and best-selling cookbook author. The first-ever vegan chef to win Food Network's hit show Cupcake Wars, she demonstrated how eating vegan doesn't mean giving up your favorite treats and flavors. Having committed herself to bringing delicious, meat-free dishes to a mainstream audience, Chef Chloe recently made a splash in NYC's dining scene with her popular fast-casual spot, by CHLOE.

Chloe Coscarelli 3.JPG

by Minnie Kim

Minnie Kim: You were the first vegan chef to win a culinary competition on national television - what first got you into cooking?

Chloe Coscarelli: I grew up cooking with my mom, and once I went vegan, we had so much fun veganizing all of our family recipes.  It showed me that food can still be flavorful, satisfying and delicious. I took that passion to the Natural Gourmet Institute and it just grew from there! 

MK: What made you transition from being a vegetarian to being vegan?

CC: I was a lifelong vegetarian, once I tried the vegan lifestyle, I realized there were so many options to make vegan cooking just as delicious, but without all of the cheese and dairy. My family was beyond supportive in my decision and made the transition that much easier.

MK: Most memorable moment from "Cupcake Wars"?

CC: Aside from winning, it would have to be when I left my audition and realized that I had forgotten to tell the casting directors that my cupcakes were vegan.  When they followed up I filled them in and they said “we don’t care, they are delicious!” That as a really exciting moment where I realized that my sweets had a real shot. 

MK: By CHLOE has been a huge hit since its recent opening - any plans for expansion?

CC: It’s been incredible to see everyone’s excitement and support for the restaurant – we'll ever not be excited to see the lines out the door. We currently have two additional New York City locations planned for 2016 – in Flatiron and Soho. We are excited to see the brand grow!

MK: Will you be adding any holiday specials at by CHLOE?

CC: We will be! We just wrapped our Thanksgiving special but still have our pumpkin latte and pumpkin cupcakes with maple frosting through the end of December.  We also recently launched a No-Egg Nog for December that you can enjoy as is or spiked for an extra treat!

MK: What is your go-to dish to bring to a holiday pot luck?

CC: The Stuffed Shells from my latest cookbook, Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, is a solid holiday stand by. Whenever I’m hosting a dinner party at home, it’s usually the first recipe I decide on for the menu.  It’s a crowd pleaser, super easy to make ahead of time, and tastes great as leftovers.

MK: Baking or cooking?

CC: That’s like asking someone who their favorite child is! I love them both! The science behind baking is really exciting – you can get into the zone in that kitchen and perfect the details, while cooking I feel like you can toss in a little kale, a sprinkle of paprika, and just watch a dish meld together as you go along.

MK: Do you have any festive holiday traditions?

CC: Vegan cinnamon rolls all season long. My mom and I make them and are popping them out of the oven for breakfast lunch and dinner during the holidays. Nothing like the smell of cinnamon and yeast filing your home!

MK: Favorite holiday cocktail?

CC: I say keep it simple – I love a glass of rose' champagne, something a little on the sweeter side but still dry enough to enjoy alongside appetizers.

MK: Dream client to cook for?

CC: Kate Middleton! I'd make her vegan sticky toffee pudding.

MK: What are you giving this holiday season?

CC: Fresh baked vegan chocolate chip cookies! The perfect gift on a budget that everyone loves. I just pick out some cute tins and gift tags at the Container Store.

 

Minnie Kim works as a social media marketing coordinator in NYC. An avid foodie, you will often find her shamelessly standing on chairs to photograph for her food Instagram @eatingwithminnie.

Photos courtesy of by CHLOE.

Alex Devol

Mira Dayal

Alex Devol is the master hand behind Wooden & Woven, a "100% Homemade" source for your new favorite home, kitchen, and art pieces. Here he talks about his relationships with materials, tools, and other makers.

By Mira Dayal

Fairweather Magazine: How did you get into woodworking? Who or what were some of your early influences?

Alex Devol: My grandfather got me my first workbench and tools when I was about 5; I don't suppose that really counts, but I do remember quite vividly being in his garage and inspecting each tool with immense fascination. Since then I have taken on a variety of roles and worked with more materials than I could list, and I'm not sure exactly how or why wood seems to have won my affection over all the rest, but It has. It’s not just the material that’s responsible for me becoming a craftsman, though. I have a love of ceramics and sometimes think it could have just as easily been clay in my hands. I think it’s just always been important to me that I’m making things.

FM: From a cooking standpoint, how does using wood products differ from using alternative material products— metal, plastic, and glass, for example?

AD: As a designer, I am fascinated by synthetic and engineered materials. I love learning about new technology. I have a background in sportswear and one of the most fascinating aspects of that industry was the research & development. It’s interesting to see how design can push the performance of material to new places, but despite that my personal preference is always the natural one--cotton & wood over polyester & plastic. Most well-stocked kitchens will have a wooden spoon or spatula. It isn’t as strong as stainless steel, it wont wipe clean as easily as ceramic, but it just feels right to use when you’re making a stir fry! Not that long ago, all the utensils in a kitchen would have been wooden. I see why convenience and ease of production has led us away from it, but for pure aesthetics and pleasure in use there is no comparison for me between wood and metal. There is just something inexplicably warm and soothing about wood which can’t be replicated.

FM: How do you choose your woods? Do you have preferred types for different products?

AD: It’s important to me that all the materials I use are responsibly sourced. Most of the green wood I use comes from local trees in controlled areas which needed to be felled. The timber I use comes from local suppliers I trust to ensure that the process is the most ethical and sustainable it can be from woodland, to sawmill, to me.  Different trees bear wood with different properties, and that makes them most suitable for different products. Sycamore is particularly antibacterial which makes it great for chopping boards which come into contact with raw foods and meat. As with any design, to make a good product, you have to consider the properties of the material you’re going to use--the durability, strength, and weight... It’s no different with wood, but there are some idiosyncratic properties like the grain type and smell. Some woods actually retain a lot of flavour even when dried out and so would affect the taste of a hot drink if used in a cup or one of my coffee cones. 

FM: What are some of your most trusted carving tools? Have you been trying out any new techniques or materials recently?

AD: Most of my tools are either hand-me-downs or things I picked up second hand. I’m about 45 minutes from Sheffield, which is famous for crafting some of the world's best steel. While unfortunately most of that industry has vanished in the past half century, there are a lot of great tools floating around. There are still some incredible artists out there smithing tools, though. I’d say my best carving kit is either made by Nic Westermann, who is still independently making incredible tools, or a set of Japanese Oire Nomi chisels which are so beautifully made that it’s sometimes hard to bring myself to use them.

FM: I love the look of the coffee cones. What other designers or art movements inspire your aesthetic eye?

AD: Most of the makers who inform my own work are ceramicists. I struggle to think of a craft that forms a better relationship between art and utility than pottery. It seems to have always held a perfect balance of functionality and ornamentation, and at the moment that’s the same balance my work sits within. Designers are very fortunate these days since we can just look to a screen for ideas, but the people around you provide your best inspiration and I have been fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented potters this past year: Romy Northover, Clair Catillaz, Takashi Endoh, Jono Smart… There were actually a lot this year, too many to name, and some have since become good friends. To give a nod to a few master woodworkers, though, I admired the work of George Nakashima and the writings of David Pye, both of whom should be remembered for a very long time.

FM: How long do these handmade pieces take to carve? An Italian Olive Eating Spoon, for example?

AD: The quickest thing I make takes several hours, and the longest can take weeks!

FM: How much do you depend upon the internal qualities of the wood? It seems like, by making each piece from hand, you have relative flexibility in terms of tailoring each piece to the wood you are working with, rather than having a single template you impose on each section.

AD: Yeah, wood is a very active material. As a rule of thumb, the more figure and beauty you can see, the more it will want to have a say in what you can and can’t do with it. Of course, you can disregard that and just wrestle with it with hand tools all day until it does what you want, or you can overpower it with machine tools, but I find it’s much more enjoyable and generally gives better results when you learn to cooperate with it. With dried timber, that could simply be selecting your piece of wood to make a particular item based on what you see in the grain, but when working with a fresh log, a lot of that information is hidden inside and so the process becomes much more collaborative as you chop away to reveal new knots and figure. The grain will often try to guide your axe a little as you make cuts. I really enjoy this; you feel like there is a dialogue between your tools and your material, and while I’ve often wondered if this can be noticed by my customers, I can definitely tell when and where the wood had a say in the design.

FM: What's next? Have you considered expanding the business to partner with other stores or businesses? Will you move more into art, as you have begun to do?

AD: I work with a very select few companies who I have believed in and admired for a long time. I try to keep partnerships with stores and other brands to a couple at a time and chose the projects I’m most interested in that have the most creative and honest intentions. If a store's values are the same as mine then I’ll try to work with them, but as only one pair of hands I have to keep it to a few at a time.

As for the future, for the first time I’m trying not to think about it. I’ve been inclined to think too far ahead in the past and start myself on very long journeys with my career and my personal goals. In retrospect, I think being so focused and specific with my plans may have placed a lot of obstacles in my way which might have been otherwise avoided if I had been more fluid. Wooden & Woven, in contrast, has been completely organic and unplanned. I’m enjoying just seeing where things go and am trying not to chase after anything if it doesn’t come naturally. At the moment, opportunities are finding me and it makes for a nice change for me to just loosen my grip off the steering wheel and see how things develop.

Daniil Simkin

Mable Yiu

Photo courtesy of NYC Dance Project

Photo courtesy of NYC Dance Project

by Mable Yiu

You could say that Daniil Simkin was born into a ballet family. Born in Russia, to two ballet dancers, you could often find Daniil Simkin performing on stage alongside his father, Dmitrij Simkin, in Wiesbaden, Germany from the age of six. By nine years old, Simkin started training directly under his mother, and soon after, started competing and performing in galas around the world. 

Now a principal dancer at American Ballet Theater, Simkin sat down with us to discuss his “normal” childhood, unique Youtube story, and what’s on his holiday wish list.

Mable Yiu: What was your childhood like? What was your experience like privately training under your mother in Germany without any other peers?

Daniil Simkin: I was very lucky because my ballet education was very compact. If you went to a normal ballet school, you would train the whole day basically. My parents wanted to make sure I had a normal education and a normal childhood, with a regular way of life besides ballet. That’s why they wanted me to finish high school in Germany. It gave me a certain grounding experience, because I knew there was a life outside of ballet.

For me, becoming a dancer was an option and not a necessity. Academic school was fun for me, and I also enjoyed other subjects…such as art, psychology, and neuroscience. Only at around the age of sixteen, I decided to be a dancer. We went to all of these competitions not to compete and win, but to be surrounded by all these other dancers my age. So when I was sixteen, I was like ‘Let’s give this a try, I can also go back to University in case it doesn’t work out.’ My parents wanted to give me the opportunity to decide myself, if I wanted to become a dancer, because they didn’t have the possibility. 

MY: What was it like dancing with your father?

DS: It was very special. The audience appreciated it a lot, since you had this intergenerational factor as well. It was funny and I still treasure my moments and memories with my father on stage.

Daniil Simkin performing in "Till Eulenspiegel" with his father, Dmitrij Simkin in Wiesbaden, Germany

Daniil Simkin performing in "Till Eulenspiegel" with his father, Dmitrij Simkin in Wiesbaden, Germany

MY: I actually first found out about you through Youtube, from that SIMKIN vs. Simkin video with your father. How did you end up on Youtube, and how did that impact your career?

DS: Before Myspace and all of that, I learned html, coded my website myself, and uploaded my own videos. When Youtube came along [in 2005], I found out I was already on Youtube. Someone had downloaded my videos and uploaded them and was selling DVDs of my performances. I tried to comment on Youtube, and they would actually remove my comments because they wanted the monopoly to sell the DVDs. So I wrote a copyright infringement notice to Youtube, and they took down the videos. Then I put my videos up there, because I thought if I didn’t, someone else would. 

For whatever reason, I was one of the first people on Youtube, so if you typed in “ballet,” I would pretty much be on the first page. [My videos] sort of became viral, and when I competed [at the USA International Ballet Competition] in Jackson in 2006, a lot of people knew who I was. In a way, I was lucky that someone stole my videos and put them on Youtube.

Looking back, it aided my career in a big way. Someone that saw me on Youtube invited me perform in Paris, and then because they liked my dancing, they invited me to New York, and that’s where I got my contract with ABT. Of course, you still have to prove yourself and back up your reputation. Both New York and the ballet world are really competitive, but nevertheless, it gave me a certain ignition.

MY: Similarly, you have a great following on Instagram, where you post a variety of content from behind-the-scenes shots of fellow dancers to funny videos. What role does social media play in your career? 

DS: Instagram and social media…it’s my way of giving. It enriches my life to see the world through other people’s eyes. Each photo I put out there, I am trying to tell a story. In my opinion, it’s not about self-publication and it’s not an egocentric thing to do, but it’s more about sharing your life with someone else…It helps [me develop] my photographic eye, and I use it as a motivation to improve my dancing and to practice my video editing skills. It’s a school in itself. 

MY: Please tell us about INTENSIO. What was your source of inspiration for starting this project?

DS: We premiered this summer in Jacobs Pillow [known as the oldest internationally-acclaimed summer dance festival in the United States]. It has been four new creations of contemporary dance and it stemmed from the fact that I grew up in Europe, with a European aesthetic of contemporary dance. Then I came to New York, and I am very thankful for dancing the more American modern dance choreography, but I missed the European aesthetic, and I wanted to explore that. One way was to to spearhead a project like this and take my friends from ABT on this journey because I thought they would benefit from this experience as well.

It’s a win-win situation because we get to dance works that have been created on us. And that is one of the most beautiful things you can have as a dancer…to have something be originally created on you, with your particular skill set. At the same time, it adds a bit of European choreography to the New York landscape. 

MY: What have you learned from guest performing with other companies and at different galas around the world?

DS: You build yourself a network of friends. I basically have friends in every major city of the world. It gives me great satisfaction to see other people’s life paths and to be able to reconnect with them every few years. Also, every culture is different and every audience is different, so it’s fascinating and broadens your mind to see how other people think and how other cultures work. I am thankful to be able to be so lucky in having that life experience.

It’s also difficult, because I travel four to six months a year, and sometimes I just miss being home and having a night off playing PlayStation. I love routine. I love having my coffee and my breakfast at home. When you are on the road, you have no choice but be exposed to these other routines, people, and places. But because the upside is so high, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Hopefully in the future, I’ll be able to calm that side of my life down little bit. 

MY: What do you do to relax and get away from the ballet world?

DS: I love hanging out with friends, but I do need some time for myself. I’m actually more of a shy person, but life forces me to be more social because of all the traveling. I like to stay home, cook myself dinner, play video games, and watch a movie.

MY: Because this is our holiday issue, what is on your holiday wish list?

DS: I just moved into my apartment last January so I’m still finishing it all. There’s this design chair from Artek, and this digital art frame I would like to hang on my wall. It’s a Kickstarter project, and it’s a frame specifically for digital art. Other than that, I love video games, photography, and traveling (to a certain extent).

 

Photos courtesy of Daniil Simkin

Julie and Dan Resnick

Mable Yiu

Photo courtesy of @lindsaymorrisphoto

Photo courtesy of @lindsaymorrisphoto

by Christine Wong

In two short years, feedfeed, a crowd-sourced highly curated digital cooking website, developed by Julie and Dan Resnick, a husband and wife team based in Amagansett, NY, has become one of the biggest influencers in social media's global food community of home cooks, chefs, bloggers, and food organizations/suppliers. This ecosystem of food/cooking enthusiasts share thousands of images/recipes with feedfeed each day on one of the most prominent hashtags (#feedfeed) on Instagram, which after careful curation, fuels feedfeed’s publication, offering the most dynamic insight into what the world is cooking today. feedfeed’s website was developed as a comprehensive online recipe share platform offering inspiration to anyone who cooks. 

Dedicated to the notion of crowdsourcing, Dan and Julie are helped by 100 community editors, experts in their culinary fields, to curate a growing list of over 200 specialty ingredient/occasion/lifestyle feeds, ranging from Black Sesame to Healthy Athlete to Dinner Parties to Pie Crust Inspiration and more on their website. Complimentary to their global outreach, Julie and Dan are also strong supporters of small, local farms, and partner with GrowNYC. It was here, when they were distributing their autumn-inspired recipe cards at Union Square Greenmarket, that I got the chance to speak to them. 

Christine Wong: How did feedfeed start?

Julie Resnick: Since moving out of NYC to a small coastal farming and fishing community on Eastern Long Island, Dan and I have been cooking and eating local, seasonal food almost exclusively. We are constantly seeking inspiration for what to make with what we have on hand, and often wondered what other like-minded people with the same ingredients were making at that moment; both in our local area and around the world.  That is when we decided to try to connect with people on social media around the topic of cooking, which quickly evolved into growing a community. 

Photo courtesy of @dan_resnick

Photo courtesy of @dan_resnick

CW: What do you love most about the feedfeed community that you've created and inspire every day?

JR: From the beginning, the value of this community for us personally has been the ability to have a lens into kitchens around the world, to see what people are making with similar products, how they create unique flavors and beautiful photography, and a chance to play a role in connecting people and organizaitons from around the world. 

CW: What is unique about the feedfeed community as compared to other communities or publications?

DR: The democratic nature of the feedfeed community has alway been a major source of gratification and differentiation for us; the way people with 100 followers connect and inspire others that may have 10s of thousands and still gain an equal voice, judged only by the creativity of their recipes and photography. 

CW: What is your favorite "go to" meal to cook, or to eat, and to stay healthy particularly in the cold winter months?

JR:  Root veggies in a coconut curry!

Photo courtesy of @dan_resnick

Photo courtesy of @dan_resnick

Q: The holidays are here, how are you preparing for them? What's on your Holiday Table?

JR: As always, I turn to the feedfeed community for inspiration...when making latkes, I go to the Latkes feed and find kimchi latkes, or when thinking of holiday gifts I find myself gravitating towards making a Gingerbread Granola on our DIY Holiday feed. For Christmas Cookies, I will be making the Rose Pistachio Shortbread Cookies. 

CW: In the spirit of the holiday season, what are you giving? 

JR:  We have been excited to put together a great gift package for our tireless supporters and community editors.  

DR: From a philanthropic standpoint, we have made several small donations to our local farms, which has always been a part of our mission, in addition to the supportive promotional and community building work we do for the Grow NYC Greenmarkets in New York City. 

 

Christine Wong is a proud member of the feedfeed community and editor of the Healthy Kids and Fermented Food feeds. She empowers people to take charge of their well-being with plant-based clean eating through coaching, detoxes, cooking workshops, and cookbooks and can be found at www.yommme.com and @conscious_cooking on Instagram.