2021年4月14日 星期三

The T List: Five things we recommend this week

Yayoi Kusama at the New York Botanical Garden, ethically sourced housewares from Mali — and more.

Welcome to the T List, a newsletter from the editors of T Magazine. Each week, we share things we're eating, wearing, listening to or coveting now. Sign up here to find us in your inbox every Wednesday. And you can always reach us at tlist@nytimes.com.

BOOK THIS

A California Retreat With Scandinavian Charm

A deluxe king room at White Water in Cambria, Calif.Shade Degges

By Michaela Trimble

T Contributor

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Set on Moonstone Beach in Cambria, one of the most serene stretches of California's Central Coast, White Water is a boutique-style lodge and the first hotel project from the Los Angeles-based interior designer Nina Freudenberger, known for her modern, beachy décor. The only luxury-minded property in the area, the estate was once two cottages that have since been combined into one, with a charcoal wood-lap-siding exterior that features olive accents reminiscent of the region's native Monterey pines, and whitewashed interiors that reflect the town's relaxed seaside vibe. The lobby and common area — whose design is inspired by 1970s Scandinavia and bohemian California culture — includes a library stocked with antique board games and vintage National Geographics, while the cabin-style rooms and suites feature Baltic birch desks and coffee tables, along with artwork by the design studio Block Shop Textiles. During their stay, guests can cozy up beside their in-room fireplace while enjoying sunlit views of the Pacific Ocean. Rooms start at $299, whitewatercambria.com.

BUY THIS

Ethically Sourced Artisan Wares

A bowl and spoons hand-carved in Mali and available at Obakki.Courtesy of Obakki

By Thessaly La Force

Last year, before the pandemic, Treana Peake visited Aboubakar Fofana, an indigo farmer in Mali. Peake is the founder of Obakki, a lifestyle brand that sells homewares, skin-care items and design goods made by artisans from around the world out of its Vancouver, British Columbia, shop and website. Mali's tourist market had been wrecked by the destabilization caused by Islamist rebel groups active in the region; Peake and Fofana traveled discreetly around the country to meet other local artisans and makers. There, Peake encountered a man named Amadou, from the Dogon tribe, who had been "forced to earn a living from the scraps of materials left behind by Western logging companies who considered them to be 'unsuitable' for their high-end mass production furniture," she explains. As a result, Obakki began a partnership with Amadou to sell his hand-carved bowls and spoons to a broader market. Peake, who has over 30 years of experience in international development, works thoughtfully to ensure that such partnerships are not only sustainable but ethically set up to allow for the craftspeople's long-term success. There's much to browse on Obakki's site, from a newly launched set of earthenware from Akiliba, in northern Uganda, where a group of artisans support their entire community with their pottery, to a beautiful collection of cold-pressed shea-butter soaps made in collaboration with communities of women in various regions throughout Africa. "Ultimately, we want to bring beautiful, handmade products into people's homes so we can create more tangible change," Peake tells me. "For me, sitting behind a desk in the Western world and claiming you are being sustainable simply isn't enough. It's important to dig deeper so that we're part of a solution, not creating more problems." obakki.com.

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VISIT THIS

Yayoi Kusama at New York's Botanical Garden

From left: Yayoi Kusama's "My Soul Blooms Forever" (2019) and "Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees" (2002-21) at the New York Botanical Garden.Left: Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner. Right: collection of the artist. Photos: Robert Benson.

By Elaine YJ Lee

T Contributor

The Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama grew up among the greenhouses and fields of her family's nursery in the mountainous city of Matsumoto. Now, "Kusama: Cosmic Nature," a new show at the New York Botanical Garden, explores her relationship with the natural world. Visitors will find themselves transported to a fantastical outdoor scene, complete with multiple flora-inspired installations that are on display across the grounds' 250 acres. Included are Kusama's famous spotted "Starry Pumpkin" (2015), which sits in the Haupt Conservatory, and the artist's oversize fiberglass tulips, "Hymn of Life — Tulips" (2007), which are placed alongside real ones at the Conservatory Courtyard Hardy Pool — both works creating an intriguing juxtaposition of the natural and the synthetic. In another greenhouse, visitors are encouraged to plaster the furniture and walls with stick-on flowers as part of her ongoing interactive "Obliteration Room" series. Among the other highlights of the show, which took three years to come together, are a series of new bronze and aluminum sculptures created exclusively for the NYBG, as well as sketches of tree peonies the artist created in her teenage years, on view in the institution's LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building. Of course, a Kusama exhibition wouldn't be complete without a walk-in "Infinity Mirrored Room" installation. This one, "Infinity Mirrored Room — Illusion Inside the Heart" (2020), is slated to open in the summer, when C.D.C. guidelines allow, and reflects the tranquil scenery of the surrounding gardens. "Kusama: Cosmic Nature" is on view through Oct. 31 at the New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, N.Y., nybg.org.

COVET THIS

The Toylike Ceramics of Daniel Mandelbaum

Some of the 25 works by the artist Daniel Mandelbaum that are available for purchase this week through the online design platform Open Source.Nicole Cohen

By Camille Okhio

T Contributor

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It's no surprise that the Brooklyn-based ceramist Daniel Mandelbaum's clay characters caught the attention of the New York curator and collector Raquel Cayre. The three-dimensional squiggles and abstract figures share a certain irreverence with the work of the Italian designer Ettore Sottsass, who founded the influential Memphis Group in 1980 and who has loomed large in Cayre's own career: She got her start sharing vintage images of colorful interiors through an Instagram account named in his honor while working as an independent furniture adviser. Like Sottsass, Mandelbaum has fun with his work. "There are figures I go back to because they make me smile or laugh," he says. "Some of the sculptures could almost be toys." He and Cayre met in 2019, when he was assisting the New York-based ceramist Bruce Sherman, and stayed in touch. This week, their two-year-long dialogue culminates in a series of 25 pottery pieces that Mandelbaum made last year and that Cayre will exhibit through Open Source, the online showroom-cum-store she launched in November of last year as a platform for selling design objects in a transparent, direct-to-consumer format. Ranging from "Lemonade Hamsters," a pair of vaguely Cubist 5-by-7-inch renderings of furry creatures glazed in pastel pink and yellow, to "Phillip," a 20-by-19-inch robotlike figure with a quizzical face and an array of irregularly shaped appendages in sky blue, chartreuse and emerald green, the sculptures demonstrate Mandelbaum's sense of play and his wide variety of influences, which include pre-Columbian art and modern masters such as Constantin Brancusi and Isamu Noguchi. "Dan is an artist's artist," says Cayre, but what excites her most is his ability to "turn lifeless clay into something animated." raquelcayre.com.

SEE THIS

In Atlanta, an Exhibition of Photography Made Exclusively by Women

Mickalene Thomas's "Les Trois Femmes Deux" (2018).Courtesy of the High Museum of Art

By Nancy Coleman

Opening this week at the High Museum in Atlanta is "Underexposed," an expansive exhibition that highlights female photographers from the past century. Arranged roughly in chronological order, the show, which was curated by Sarah Kennel, features over 100 works and illustrates the ways women have advanced the discipline — in fashion and documentary photography, advertising and journalism, and experimentations with the technological aspects of the medium itself, including Anna Atkins's mid-19th-century cyanotypes as well as Meghann Riepenhoff's more modern iterations of the same sun-printing technique. The first half of the exhibition looks at the practitioners who emerged as pioneers (Dorothea Lange, Ilse Bing), while the second reckons with the ways women have turned to photography not only as a medium of documentation or self-expression but also as one that directly interrogates issues of race and gender (as with Mickalene Thomas's "Les Trois Femmes Deux," from 2018) and dismantles stereotypes around femininity and domestic life (see Sandy Skoglund's "Gathering Paradise," from 1991). Alongside women who are only just getting their due, like Marion Palfi, an early portraitist and German immigrant who documented segregation in the South beginning in the 1940s, are contemporary makers such as Nan Goldin, Carrie Mae Weems and Sheila Pree Bright. And yet all the artists featured in the exhibition are, in their way, examining "the complexity not just of identity but of the whole act of power relations behind photography," says Kennel. "Underexposed: Women Photographers From the Collection" is on view from April 17 through Aug. 1 at the High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, 30309, high.org.

FROM T'S INSTAGRAM

Patricia Highsmith's Adaptation-Friendly Novels

Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1999 film "The Talented Mr. Ripley."© Miramax/Everett Collection

Toward the end of her life, in a 1987 interview with Terry Gross, Patricia Highsmith denied what a biography of Alfred Hitchcock claimed the director had once said to her about his 1951 adaptation of her novel "Strangers on a Train" — namely, that she should pay him for making the film, since it would have a great effect on her career. "No," Highsmith scoffed, her voice husky from the many cigarettes and martinis to which she was partial. "I never had such a personal conversation with Mr. Hitchcock." Still, Hitchcock's film catapulted Highsmith to new heights. It also kicked off a long tradition of her work being adapted for the screen that would continue well after her death in 1995. Today, there are at least 20 adaptations for film and television based on Highsmith's novels and stories — not including Showtime's forthcoming "Ripley" series, starring Andrew Scott and Dakota Fanning. There are many reasons these stories lend themselves so well to cinema: They are suspenseful and dramatic, often set in glamorous locations and they usually possess a strong current of sexual tension. What's more, Highsmith granted her characters charm, uncanny intelligence and first-rate seduction skills, as well as murderous urges, rendering them as villainous as they are entrancing. For an examination of four cinematic interpretations of Highsmith's books, written by Kerry Manders as part of T's Book Club — and to R.S.V.P. to a virtual conversation about "The Talented Mr. Ripley" that will be led by Edmund White and held on April 22 — visit tmagazine.com, and follow us on Instagram.

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On Tech: We don’t need tech infomercials

Technology has moved beyond staged product events. We should, too.

We don't need tech infomercials

Kiel Mutschelknaus

It's time to end the elaborate staged events that are essentially infomercials for new technology products.

You probably know the ones I'm talking about. Steve Jobs or the current Apple boss, Tim Cook, paces a dark stage and holds up a shiny slab of circuits to an enthralled audience. Apple on Tuesday teased a planned (virtual) event next week to do the stage-pacing thing for the latest iPads.

Mary Kay-style demonstrations for the 400th edition of an iPad are clearly not the most serious problem in technology or the world. Most people will never even watch these things, thank goodness. But they are an example of how we and tech companies don't stop enough and ask: Why does it have to be this way?

Apple's influence has spread these staged product launches — and they are mostly overhyped and unnecessary. Elon Musk does them for Tesla cars and brain implants. Media companies have borrowed this trick for hourslong presentations for their plus-sign video streaming services. An infomercial about a website is really a step too far.

The Jobs-esque product demonstrations are also an unintentional signal of how tech companies see their customers. To them, we are blobs with wallets that can be persuaded by the Silicon Valley equivalents of a fast-talking guy on TV hawking a mop.

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My biggest beef with these elaborate infomercials is that they're at odds with what technology is now. It's no longer confined to a shiny thing in a cardboard box. Technology now is the stuff that we don't necessarily notice — smarter software that alerts us to hazards while we drive or tech that gives small businesses the power of Amazon. It worms its way into our homes and lives, for better or worse.

Technology is also one of the most powerful forces in the world. And yet tech companies continue to hold product launches with the manic energy of an industry desperate to get noticed.

What's the alternative? Well, Microsoft on Tuesday published a blog post that described the latest model of its Surface laptop and other products. Spotify also posted on its website about its new experimental gadget that's like a modernized car stereo remote.

The posts explained what the products were, and that was it. Maybe you've heard the line, "This meeting should have been an email?" Microsoft and Spotify showed that most product launches should be a blog post and a two-minute video.

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I'm not the first person to write that the staged tech product events that Apple spread everywhere need to go. Even I've written about it before.

This is old hat for Apple, too. And on Tuesday it did what it has done forever: It released an intentionally vague message about what is expected to be a canned webcast presentation. This achieved its goal. People who care about technology talked about it.

And of course, that's one reason these tech Tupperware parties endure: They get attention. (At least they do for Apple.) Journalists like me are a big part of the problem, too.

But we can just quit doing this. The Microsoft and Spotify products seemed to get noticed and written about on Tuesday even without a two-hour hype machine.

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These product launches are a stale habit festering long after it's ceased being useful. It shows a lack of imagination from companies that are supposed to be imaginative and a disrespect for us, the customers. It doesn't have to be this way.

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Before we go …

  • Bitcoin is real now. Congrats/I'm sorry: Coinbase, which lets people buy and sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is listing its stock publicly on Wednesday. My colleague Erin Griffith explained what Coinbase is, and why its stock listing is a validation for cryptocurrency believers. (I'll have a conversation with Erin about Coinbase in Thursday's newsletter.)
  • Is Facebook doing more harm than good? The Guardian has been publishing a series of articles about the ways that Facebook is abused by world leaders in countries such as Honduras, Mongolia and Azerbaijan to mislead and manipulate their own citizens. It's a familiar tale of Facebook both giving citizens a voice and silencing them.
  • Planning vacations is going to be exhausting: My colleague Brian X. Chen has a special pandemic edition of how to use tech to prepare for a trip. You'll probably have to navigate the virus testing rules of your destination and digital documentation for vaccinations.

Hugs to this

Let's all look at some pretty fish on the Monterey Bay Aquarium kelp forest video feed.

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