Evan Nicole Brown
Originally from Los Angeles, Evan is a Brooklyn-based writer, reporter, and editor. She has covered art, culture, design, and politics for various outlets, including
AIGA Eye on Design, Atlas Obscura, Bustle, Fast Company, Gothamist, and The Creative Independent. She is currently a reporting fellow at The New York Times. Evan Nicole Brown's Articles Stüssy and Tekla’s New Capsule Collection Offers Pared-Down Pieces for Surf and Sleep The spareness of Scandinavian design is a school of thought—and a way of life—that’s responsible for the popularity of several household names, Ikea and Bang & Olufsen among them. For four-year-old Copenhagen textile studio Tekla, the aesthetic approach means creating everyday pieces for the bed and bath that are high-quality and low-fuss, informed by references from architecture and the natural world. How to Break the Cycle of a Throwaway Society Jonathan Chapman, a professor and director of doctoral studies at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, is intrigued and dismayed by the swiftness with which new possessions often lose their value in the minds of contemporary consumers. In his forthcoming book, Meaningful Stuff: Design That Lasts (M.I.T. Press), out next month, Chapman shows how unhealthy patterns of consumption can be disrupted by creating fewer, longer-lasting products, services, and systems—an “experience heavy/material light” design sensibility, as he puts it—that can facilitate a deeper relationship between people and objects while simultaneously preserving the planet. We recently spoke with Chapman about the allure of newfangled things, why they tend to become obsolete, and how to build healthier relationships with the items in our lives.
Why, psychologically, are we excited by new designs? And how can we establish better connections with the things we already own? How Serendipity Helps Omer Arbel Materialize the Unseen Omer Arbel, an Israeli-born, Vancouver-based artist and designer who creates boundary-defying objects and architecture, gives shape to abstract intangibles—such as light or a magnetic field—by incorporating them into artfully manipulated, often volatile matter, including glass, wax, and concrete. Each form begins with material research, in which he makes space for the intrinsic qualities of a substance (instead of a preconceived idea for it) to inform its appearance, resulting in work that’s conceptual, but not inaccessible: Recognizable pieces, such as sand-cast brass coat hangers or lampshades made from randomly rolled pieces of raw porcelain, are enhanced by Arbel’s experimental strategy for materializing the unseen.
A new monograph, Omer Arbel (Phaidon), edited by Stephanie Rebick, an associate curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery, celebrates the depth and breadth of the polymath’s work. It spans from his debut design, 14.0, a cascading chandelier of clear, cast-glass spheres that was introduced in 2005, to 94.0, a forthcoming series of residences, built using cedar burl offcuts from the local logging industry, on a cliff in Governor’s Point, British Columbia. (Arbel, who presents work through his design studio, OAO Works, and Bocci, a lighting brand he co-founded, titles all of his projects with a number that indicates the order in which it was conceptualized.) Here, he speaks with us about the role serendipity plays in his practice. In “Social Works,” Antwaun Sargent Explores the Connections Between Space and Black Social Practice “Social Works,” a group exhibition that opened this week at New York’s Gagosian gallery on West 24th Street, explores space—and the myriad ways it can be used to build and strengthen communities—through the lens of art. On view through August 13, the show marks critic and curator Antwaun Sargent’s first presentation for the global art conglomerate (which added him to its roster of directors earlier this year), and features 12 Black artists, including Zalika Azim, Linda Goode Bryant, Theaster Gates, and Carrie Mae Weems, who engage with their respective locales through humanitarian projects such as food banks, mentorship programs, and neighborhood revitalization efforts. “We live with this notion of land art, and we’ve established a sort of canon around a certain type of land artist,” Sargent says. “This show tries to help us rethink that notion, and [consider] how [other] artists have used land and are thinking about space,” be it public, institutional, metaphysical, or otherwise. Dave Chappelle’s New Podcast In West Africa, legendary tales have been passed down for centuries by griots, storytellers who are also poets, historians, genealogists, and musicians. A deeply respected speaker, the griot is tasked with memorizing and retelling—sometimes with the addition of new details that relate to the lives of a modern audience—the histories of a tribe and the specific families within it. It’s a means to not only control the narrative, but to share the wisdom of the past, in the hopes that it bears some fruit of understanding for the next generation. This Incubator Is Helping Black- and Latinx-Owned Brands Break Into the Beauty Industry One year ago, entrepreneur Jaé Joseph and creative director Brianna Wise released a survey that doubled as an application for an incubator they were developing called the Black Apothecary Office (BAO): a three-month-long accelerator program designed to help Black- and Latinx-owned beauty and wellness start-ups refine their concepts, pitch to investors, and bring their brands to market, under the guidance of industry professionals. In September, the inaugural cohort graduated and marked the official launch of BAO, led by Joseph with Wise as its CEO. Together, the two aim to foster relationships between stakeholders and small-business owners in industries that have historically overlooked or undervalued concepts and products borne by creatives of color. (They plan to work with five brands at a time, and develop 100 businesses over the next decade.) Last week, the company launched BAO Universe, a digital marketplace offering goods such as velvety face oils, silky moisturizers, and hydrating shampoo from some of the brands it has worked with, as well as a namesake skin care collection anchored by papaya enzyme, a trusty exfoliant, as its main ingredient.
Joseph, a seasoned cultural producer who works across art, fashion, and film, understands the distinctive relationship women of color have with self-care: He was raised by a Caribbean American family in the Midwest, surrounded by Black and brown mothers, sisters, and cousins whose beauty regimens were both a power and a pastime. We recently spoke with Joseph about the value of a wellness practice and the need for the industry to genuinely reflect the diverse communities it serves. A New Exhibition Explores the Omnipresence of Black Grief Blackness as a color and, in some ways, as a culture often finds itself in close proximity to death. Despite the vivid brilliance of Black creativity and expression, the richness innate to Blackness (a quality associated with a shade so powerful it absorbs the energy from all other hues into its depths) has been diluted by an omnipresence of grief. In the Western imagination, black is the color of funeral attire, a simple shorthand for mourning. And for the people it’s used to describe, the association becomes even more charged: Black is coded as a threat, as a burden, and yet somehow invisible, too. This Olfactory Expert Is Amassing a Vocabulary for Smells Catherine Haley Epstein, author of Nose Dive: A Book For The Curious Seeking Potential Through Their Noses, is an artist and curator who specializes in scent and the ways our brains register it. Last year, with olfactory historian Caro Verbeek, she founded Odorbet, an ever-growing online database of terms they collect from various sources to describe smells. It also includes invented expressions submitted by Odorbet contributors, such as “doppelspritzer” (a person wearing your perfume) and “silfage” (the act of admiring one’s own scent). Taken together, the project’s vocabulary gives form to fragrance while drawing attention to the lack of words in the English lexicon to detail what our noses detect. We recently spoke with Epstein about the importance of defining scents, and why doing so helps us better understand the world, and ourselves.
Why should we describe smells in nuanced, specific ways? In “Small Axe,” Steve McQueen Exposes Nuanced Truths of Black Life in Britain If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, better to be held in the warm focus of Steve McQueen’s gaze than one more narrow and uninterested in defining beauty anew. The British filmmaker, born to Grenadian and Trinidadian parents who immigrated to the United Kingdom as part of the Carribean’s Windrush generation in the late 1940s, explores life in London’s West Indian community from the late 1960s to the early ’80s in Small Axe, his enthralling new five-film anthology now streaming in the U.S. on Amazon Prime Video (and available in the U.K. on BBC One).