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Chocolates You’ll Want for the Packaging Alone
If you know where to look, a Valentine’s Day gift of chocolates is anything but uninspired. This year, I’ve already dropped multiple hints for my significant other to check out the refreshing assortment — both in flavor and design — of bars and truffles from Flair Chocolatier, a two-year-old New York City-based brand. The bars, made from dark or ruby chocolate (the latter derived from rare, naturally pink cacao beans), feature ingredients that reflect the culinary traditions of the cities for which they are named. For example, the Tokyo bar is topped with Japanese Emperor’s Genmai rice and the Paris bar with French figs. But what I most hope to unwrap on the Hallmarkiest of holidays are the Belgian dark-chocolate truffles. Offered in three flavors — pecan praline, caramel crunch and espresso orange — they resemble colorful marble domes and come in a limited-edition marble box too pretty to be covered with wrapping paper. flairchocolatier.com.
One-of-a-Kind Vases From a Fabled Design Duo
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec are known for their wide-ranging design projects, from sculptural chairs made of galvanized steel to crystal-covered fountains. Now, the French brothers have applied their talents to flower vases with a new collection for the Finnish housewares brand Iittala. The pieces come in two styles and sizes: hand-casted ceramic versions of the Bouroullecs’ signature Ruutu (“diamond” in Finnish) shape and just-introduced trapezoid models formed from mouth-blown glass; they look best grouped together like children’s building blocks. The Bouroullecs worked alongside glass masters at Iittala’s furnaces and used wooden molds that, when they come in contact with the glass, generate a vibration like a “soft wind on the lake,” Ronan said, which creates a rippled texture. For Stockholm Design Week — where Wetterling Gallery will debut the vases — the designers also made abstract glass flowers that sit on lean iron stems and recall the statuesque plants they saw in their family garden as children in Brittany. From $2,800, iittala.com.
Like many children of the ’90s, I have fond memories of Lancôme’s vanilla-scented Juicy Tubes — my first luxury beauty purchase, as I saw it — which gave my lips a glass-like shine. Now, to my delight, several beauty brands have developed shiny but nonsticky lip products that mimic that nostalgic look without trapping hair whenever the wind blows. Amy Liu, the founder of clean beauty brand Tower 28, wanted to make a modern version of Juicy Tubes that was “good for you, made with nontoxic ingredients and nourishing oils that actually treat lips,” she told me. Her ShineOn Lip Jelly — a blend of apricot kernel, avocado and raspberry seed oils — is hydrating enough to replace your lip balm. The Wet Lip Oil Gloss from the Los Angeles-based brand Kosas, meanwhile, includes hyaluronic acid and evening primrose oil to moisturize and plump lips; the five shades look great on their own or can be layered over lipstick. And, for a softer option, Rodin Olio Lusso’s Luxury Lip & Cheek Oil comes in five sheer tints that can also be dabbed on cheeks for a dewy wash of color.
One Man’s Old Flip Phone Is an Artist’s Treasure
I’ve long admired how the Brooklyn-based artist Jean Shin can transform piles of refuse — empty Mountain Dew bottles, weather-beaten umbrellas — into meaningful and elegantly simple sculptural installations. For her latest project, which goes on view today at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, Shin worked her magic on a particularly charmless scourge: electronic waste. Using more than 3,000 old mobile phones, seven computers and nine miles’ worth of Ethernet cables, the artist constructed a landscape inspired by East Asian rock gardens. The large-scale installation, titled “Pause,” features three boulder-like forms, or, as Shin calls them, “scholar’s rocks,” encrusted with well-worn Nokias, Blackberries and smartphones that glitter like granite. Nearby, she has installed cushy podlike seats, created by bundling personal computers in vividly colored Ethernet cables. She hopes that visitors will sit down and ponder the ecological costs of e-waste — the poisoning of landfills, for instance. “The other takeaway,” she told me, “is to consider our own relationship to technology, weighing the benefits over, say, the increasing amount of screen time that it consumes from our lives.” “Pause” is on view from Feb. 6 to May 24 at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., San Francisco, asianart.org.
As a fashion editor, I eat a certain amount of my meals while standing at industry events. Thankfully, designers know good catering, which is how I became familiar with one of my now-favorites chefs, Woldy Reyes of Woldy Kusina. And for the next two months, I even have the opportunity to enjoy his cooking sitting down: Every other Tuesday evening, he and the pastry chef Lani Halliday (of Brutus Bakeshop) are hosting their own version of a Kamayan feast at the New York restaurant Ferris. A Kamayan is a traditional Filipino meal where an abundant amount of food is laid out on banana leaves and consumed by hand. Reyes’s take includes kabocha squash lumpia (spring rolls), Bicol Express stew — traditionally a hearty soup made with pork, but his iteration is made with cauliflower — and thick, peanut-based kare-kare stew, with winter squash, fish sauce caramel and garlic chives. Like traditional Kamayans, the dinner will be held at a long table that seats 20 guests. As Reyes told me, “I love the idea of strangers coming together and uniting through a meal.” Tickets are $100 each and still available for 7 p.m. on March 10 and March 24.
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