Skip to main content

Tiffany Jow

Tiffany is a writer and editor who has contributed to publications including Architectural Digest, Art Review, Artsy, Dwell, New York Magazine, and Wallpaper.

Tiffany Jow's Articles

Cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Amazing Grace” album

A Playlist That Conjures the Ferocity and Flair of Detroit

How can we develop a deeper, more human and multifaceted understanding of the past? Economist Rob Johnson (who was the guest on Ep. 22 of our At a Distance podcast) knows all too well that studying data offers some answers—but that it doesn't represent the full picture. “Analysis of political economic dysfunction can help us understand the depth of the pain,” he says. “But it is only the arts that really penetrate our hearts with the essence and meaning of what the experiences entail, and what we can learn from them.” Johnson, who serves as the co-founder and president of the New York–based Institute for New Economic Thinking, an interdisciplinary collective of economists and thinkers who develop inventive methods to better serve communities around the world, firmly believes in the visceral power of art to color all that he does, whether activating global initiatives with some of the greatest economic scholars of our time or starting conversations via his podcast, Economics & Beyond, which draws on his extensive knowledge of everything from the climate crisis to the impact of music on public policy. The latter subject, and Johnson’s reverence of the arts more broadly, stems from his upbringing in early 1960s Detroit, where he was raised by a physician and jazz pianist father and a choral-singing mother who served as the development director for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. From an early age, he says, “I was exposed to the rawness of the city and the experiences of art, particularly music. The Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Art had a profound effect on me, too.” Johnson’s childhood also coincided with darker moments in the city’s history. “I experienced a haunted house of humanity,” he says. “A place that disintegrated into industrial decline and racial turmoil, including the 1967 riots, white flight to the suburbs, wicked discrimination, and the nation abandoning Detroit and blaming the victim in the aftermath of the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act.” Witnessing how artists, particularly musicians based in and around the city, grappled with these realities through song has served as an enduring source of healing, hope, and inspiration for Johnson. These songs remind him that pain can be an impetus for action, and can be used for the better. We recently asked Johnson to put together a heartfelt playlist for us that represents what Detroit means to him. “Detroit has been the seedbed of creation for so many songs,” he says. “This list could have been over a hundred songs, and still large quantities of brilliant music would be left aside.” Below, he explains his personal relationship to each song. Listen to Johnson’s Detroit “In Our Hearts” playlist on Spotify.

Photo: Carlo Banfi. (Courtesy Flos)

Milan Design Week 2022 Preview: Salone del Mobile Is Back, But Not (Yet) in Full Force

Emerging from the pandemic, the design industry, like most of us, has changed. The past two and a half years, which have involved an incalculable loss of life and calls for social-justice reform amidst an increasingly pressing climate crisis, have formed a solemn backdrop. In March 2020, almost at once, in the locked-down lives of many, the notion of “home” and the role of design shifted. As opposed to straight function or beauty, design came to represent a sense of greater comfort, healing, and care.

At a Distance book by Spencer Bailey and Andrew Zuckerman

Introducing The Slowdown’s First Book, “At a Distance: 100 Visionaries at Home in a Pandemic”

When experiencing a crisis, some people see opportunities—for reflection, change, or innovation—that they might not recognize otherwise. Our At a Distance podcast was created during (and as a result of) perhaps the widest-reaching calamity in human history—the Covid-19 pandemic—with the intention of capturing some of the most urgent and critical thinking to emerge out of it from a wide range of voices, including environmentalist and journalist Bill McKibben, psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, MoMA curator Paola Antonelli, biologist Merlin Sheldrake, artist Sanford Biggers, novelist Hari Kunzru, philosopher Kate Soper, and landscape architect Walter Hood. Now translated into book format, At a Distance: 100 Visionaries at Home in a Pandemic (Apartamento), out today, presents a selection of these conversations in physical form. The book’s introduction, written by our co-founders, Spencer Bailey and Andrew Zuckerman, and republished here, provides a window into how the effort came together, and why it transcends the current moment.

Moromi condiments

A Connecticut Condiment-Maker Combines Local Ingredients With Japanese Fermented-Food Traditions

Many of the condiments we know and love—including Tabasco sauce, crème fraîche, and Sriracha—are made using the plodding process of fermentation, in which microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast chemically break down substances to create a signature funk. Consequently, these foods’ flavors are typically more complex, and more interesting, than their vinegar-based counterparts.

Business consultant Holly Howard

To Be a Successful Entrepreneur, Follow Holly Howard’s Content Plan

According to business coach Holly Howard, those looking to run a flourishing enterprise should begin by taking a deeper look at themselves. “I always say there’s no business growth without personal growth first,” says Howard, who served as a professional ballet dancer, music therapist, medical researcher, and professor at Pratt Institute, among other roles, before starting her Brooklyn-based consultancy Ask Holly How, in 2012. Since then, she’s worked with more than 500 businesses and founders, guided by the belief that effective entrepreneurship requires self-evolution, company growth, and the pursuit of creativity—and that all three must be present for success. “I work with people who want to be self-reflective,” she says, noting that that desire is important because it questions intent. “When we think about what our motivations are—‘How will my vision impact the world?’—we start to break down the connections between our everyday actions, and the bigger picture we see.”

David Bowie shooting a video for the song “Rebel Rebel” in 1974. (Photo: AVRO)

David Bowie’s Music as a Navigational Portal to Our Inner Worlds

“David Bowie was the greatest artist in any medium from the 1970s onwards,” says philosopher Simon Critchley. His opinion is hardly unfounded: A Bowie fan since first glimpsing the artist on the British TV show Top of the Pops at age 12, Critchley, now in his 60s, often turns to him as a muse and a mirror. (Critchley makes music himself with his longtime collaborator, John Simmons.) In the midst of the pandemic this past January, five years after Bowie’s death, Critchely wrote a New York Times op-ed titled “What Would Bowie Do?,” searching for answers in the dystopian worlds of his songs.

Yoga teacher Eddie Stern during his punk years.

The Punk Music That Put Eddie Stern on a Spiritual Path

Before he began practicing and teaching Ashtanga yoga, New York native Eddie Stern searched for his identity in the city’s 1980s punk scene, playing in the scum-rock band Chop Shop. Wearing a theatrical mohawk, he frequented Manhattan’s clubs, including A7, CBGB, Danceteria, the Peppermint Lounge, and The World. “New York was dirty, dangerous, and on the edge of the insane music creativity of the late 1970s,” Stern says of the era. “Its songs filled me with a sense of freedom and possibility—and confirmed that I didn’t need to fit into the status quo in order to have fulfillment in my life.” (He describes his profound connection to music, and how it led him to yoga, on Ep. 43 of our Time Sensitive podcast. For even more, listen to him on Ep. 16 of At a Distance, as well.)

A man wearing gold ear jewelry underwater.

An Expressive Jewelry Line That Celebrates the Devices Worn by Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People

Brooklyn-based model, artist, and activist Chella Man received his first hearing aids when he was 4 years old. Eight years later, he received cochlear implants, an electronic device that partially restores hearing. It consists of a sound processor that cups the back half of the ear, and a receiver and stimulator that’s surgically implanted under the skin and delivers sound signals to the auditory nerve via electrodes that are threaded into the cochlea, a spiral cavity of the inner ear. Cochlear implants also feature an external unit, which is attached to the head behind the top part of the ear, that serves as a speech processor, microphone, or transmitter. While grateful for the implements, Man long felt a disconnect between their conspicuous appearance and his self. “I’ve always strived for the agency over the ways I present myself in this world,” he says. “But with my cochlear implants, I have no say in how they are designed or what they look like.” The quandary informed a jewelry collection that Man released earlier this year in collaboration with the New York fashion label Private Policy. Together with designers Siying Qu and Haoran Li, Man created eight gold-plated metal ear accessories that accentuate and embellish hearing devices or cochlear implants with expressive, abstract shapes. To mark the launch of the project, Man wrote and directed a short film that featured himself, alongside model Rayly Aquino and dancer Raven Sutton (who are both also deaf), wearing the jewelry while submerged in water. Half of the accessories’ profits will be donated to the San Francisco–based Deaf Queer Resource Center, a nonprofit that Man, who identifies as genderqueer and trans-masculine, sees as a much-needed source of community for people like him. Here, Man speaks about the jewelry line, and the stereotypes about deaf and hard-of-hearing communities that he’s working to combat.

Rolling clouds above a tree.

The Intrinsic Value of Cloudspotting

“Clouds are not something to moan about,” Gavin Pretor-Pinney says in a 2013 TED talk. “Far from it. They are, in fact, the most diverse, evocative, poetic aspect of nature.” Pretor-Pinney, a British author who co-founded The Idler, a magazine that extols the virtues of slowness, became fascinated with clouds after noticing them in the skies depicted in religious artworks he encountered in Rome. Upon returning to his home in London, he taught himself the scientific names of clouds and about the meteorological conditions that create them. In 2004, after giving a mock-serious talk in defense of clouds to a standing-room-only audience at a Cornwall literary festival, he realized that other people cared about clouds, too—or at least believed that looking up at them provided a useful form of meditation.

An arched white structure on a terrace

Ini Archibong Creates a Traveling Monument Devoted to the African Diaspora

To showcase the world’s most inventive designers, the London Design Biennale invites participants who represent their country, city, or territory to respond to a given subject with an original work, and installs them throughout the Somerset House arts center in the spring. The premise created an obstacle for designer Ini Archibong, who in 2019 was approached by artist and set designer Es Devlin, the artistic director for this year’s “Resonance”-themed iteration of the event (postponed from 2020, due to the pandemic). “I’m appreciative of celebrating culture, but the idea of representing a flag that covers so many people who are so diverse and different didn’t sit right with me,” Archibong says on Ep. 75 of our At a Distance podcast, recorded last September. “I thought, Well, who do I identify with?”

Model Nina Dobrev and fashion stylist Kate Young

The Met Gala’s Most Memorable Moments, According to Stylist Kate Young

The first Monday in May is synonymous with the Met Gala, a benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute where garments take center stage. “It isn’t about promoting a movie or playing a character—it’s all about the clothes,” says stylist Kate Young, who first experienced the event by working at it as part of her job at Vogue. “Designers live for it.” This year, the affair hasn’t happened yet—it may happen this fall—but to mark the annual occasion, Young decided to revisit some of her favorite moments from past Met Galas for the eighth episode of Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown.

Stylist Kate Young in her New York studio.

Kate Young’s Tips for Becoming a Celebrity Stylist

“A question I get asked a lot is, ‘How do I get your job?’” says stylist Kate Young. “That answer is complex, because people come to this from all different walks of life.” To illustrate her point, she FaceTimes with friends in the industry to learn about their wide-ranging paths to the trade—and the experiences that helped them along the way—on the 10th episode of Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown.

Stylist Kate Young with dresses she selected for the Golden Globes.

How Stylist Kate Young Selects Gowns for the Golden Globes

From a fashion perspective, the Golden Globes stands apart from other award shows for its timing: The event, during which the Hollywood Foreign Press Association honors film and television stars, typically takes place just after New Year’s Day. This makes procuring gowns a challenge, because designers haven’t shown new collections since the fall. “All the movies that are nominated have had premiers and press, they’ve been to film festivals—so there really aren’t that many dresses left at that point,” says stylist Kate Young in the ninth episode of Hello Fashion (created with The Slowdown), noting that she usually starts working on Globes outfits around Halloween. For the episode, Young describes her process of preparing her clients for the event, and shares some of her favorite gowns.

Stylist Kate Young with white suitcase

What Stylist Kate Young Packs in Her Fashion First-Aid Kit

Seasoned stylist Kate Young never arrives at any event unprepared. Whether it’s the red carpet, a shoot, or a press function, she always brings a strategically packed Rimowa suitcase (or, if sending a client to an event on her own, prepares one for her) that doubles as a fashion first-aid kit. On the seventh episode of Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, Young shares some of the essentials she places inside every travel bag, along with insider tips and tricks.

Fashion stylist Kate Young in her office in New York

Audience Q&A: Kate Young on Her Vogue Years, Style Tips, and Fashion

New York–based stylist Kate Young devotes her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, to explaining the ins and outs of celebrity styling. Her wide-ranging explorations about what it’s like to work inside the world of high fashion showcase her wealth of knowledge and experience—but leave little room for her to talk about an equally compelling subject: herself. On the series’ fifth episode, Young answers various audience questions, submitted in the comments section of her YouTube channel and on her Instagram.

Fashion stylist Kate Young in her studio.

How Stylist Kate Young Picks the Perfect Premiere Dress

When attending runway shows, stylist Kate Young keeps her eyes peeled for premiere dresses—gowns to be worn by actresses to openings and press events when they have a movie coming out. The moment Young sees one that could work for a client, she reserves it, sometimes by texting a photo of the look directly to the designer. That’s because there’s a constant, inconspicuous competition among stylists for gowns, which aren’t particularly common in collections. “There are only so few to go around,” Young says of the garments. “You need to claim the while you can.” On the sixth episode of her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, Young talks about her process for selecting and securing premiere dresses, and highlights four of her favorites worn by her clients.

Split screen of jewelry designer Elsa Peretti and fashion stylist Kate Young

The Distilled Splendor of Elsa Peretti’s Jewelry and Homewares

Italian jewelry designer Elsa Peretti, who passed away on March 18, is a constant inspiration to stylist Kate Young’s life and work. “She was incredibly stylish and sexy,” Young says of the visionary artisan. “Something about her was powerful, almost feline. When I look at  pictures of her, you can tell that when she walked into a room, everyone noticed. Everyone either wanted to sleep with her, or be her.” Young pays tribute to Peretti on the fourth episode of her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, surveying some of the brilliant things Peretti made in her lifetime. Young begins by discussing Peretti’s famous Bottle necklace, first created for the fashion designer Giorgio di Sant' Angelo, inspired by the vases found in the backs of the era’s chauffeured cars for single flower stems. Next, she explores her work with the fashion designer Halston, for whom Peretti was a muse, friend, and model, as well as a designer. She also details some of Peretti’s inspirations: Work by artist Constantin Brâncuși and architect Antoni Gaudíoften informed her creations.

Junaco's two members facing opposite directions while standing in desert foothills.

This Los Angeles Folk Duo’s New Single Was Inspired by an Episode of Our Time Sensitive Podcast

Last week, the emerging Los Angeles folk duo Junaco released its latest single, “Weight of the World,” which they wrote after listening to Ep. 20 of our Time Sensitive podcast featuring fashion designer Jesse Kamm. (Pakistani singer Shahana Jaffer, who started the band three years ago with drummer Joey LaRosa, met Kamm when the designer spotted Jaffer on the street from her car, and pulled over to ask if she’d model for her summer 2019 campaign.) Kamm’s perspective on community, art, and intentionality resonated with the pair, who used the ideas as the foundation for their new song. We recently phoned Jaffer and LaRosa to learn more about how they developed the track. The two will release their second EP, Blue Room, in June.

Stylist Kate Young with three red carpet dresses on mannequins

Stylist Kate Young on Her All-Time Favorite Awards Season Dresses

Isolating at home during the pandemic, New York–based stylist Kate Young longed for the hallmarks of awards season: fancy dresses, diamonds, travel, and even the stress. On the third episode of her new YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, she details three of her favorite awards looks: a saffron-colored Vera Wang dress, which Michelle Williams wore to the 78th Academy Awards on March 5, 2006, when she was nominated for Brokeback Mountain; a red Prada dress, which Selena Gomez wore to the American Music Awards on Nov. 20, 2016, when she won the Favorite Female Artist-Pop/Rock award; and a white Chanel couture dress, which Margot Robbie wore to the 90th Academy Awards on March 4, 2018, when she was nominated for I, Tonya.

Stylist Kate Young stands in front of a mood board

Why Mood Boards Are Key to Developing Personal Style

According to celebrity stylist Kate Young, anyone can figure out the look that works best for them by creating a mood board. The simple tool—an informal image collage of inspirational clothes, people, looks, and hair and make-up—is the first thing she creates for every new client. “I find it’s easier to dress yourself when you have an idea of what you’re going for,” Young says on the second episode of her new YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown. While her mood boards take various forms, including Pinterest boards and entire books of photos, Young’s aim in studying them is always the same: She’s attempting to determine a person’s “vibe.”

Fashion stylist Kate Young FaceTimes with actress and musician Selena Gomez

How Spanish Culture and Color Informed the Styling and Art Direction of Selena Gomez’s New “Revelación” Album

New York–based stylist Kate Young, one of Hollywood’s most highly sought-after, is known for putting the women she dresses—and the designers they wear—on the fashion world’s radar. Dakota Johnson, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Sienna Miller, and other female A-listers regularly turn to Young, who got her start in the industry in 1997 as Anna Wintour’s assistant at Vogue. This week, Young debuted her new YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, where she dives deep into the ins and outs of her trade, and the superior craftsmanship of the garments and accessories she handles. The first episode of the weekly series focuses on how she created a series of photographic art for musician Selena Gomez’s new album, “Revelación.” While Young has worked with Gomez since 2014 on a wide range of looks for the red carpet and various performances, she wanted to create an entirely new appearance for the musician and actor that related to the album, which is sung in Spanish. With Latin culture, the colors of Mexico City, and the work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in mind, Young called photographer Camila Falquez to brainstorm ideas. “She came back with this incredible mood board: an incredibly fresh and modern take on something that can be sort of cliché,” Young says. “We wanted to get the root of what those images make you feel, and a lot of that is color.”

Martin, Wood, and Medeski in red theater curtains.

Medeski Martin & Wood Offers Lessons for Making Music, and Living Life

In the early 1970s, the nonprofit educational program Creative Music Studio (CMS) opened in Woodstock, New York, with an unconventional aim: invite artists—regardless of their musical ability, socioeconomic status, or culture—to live and play together, using the universal language of sound. It became a breeding ground for musical cross-pollination and spontaneity, hosting numerous virtuosos, including MacArthur “Genius” Grant winners John Cage, John Zorn, and Charlie Haden, and redefining music-making as an act of listening, observing, and reacting. Today, the organization is helmed by experimental artist, drummer, and composer Billy Martin, who’s introducing its methodology to a new generation. (A friend of The Slowdown, he also wrote the jingle for our Time Sensitive podcast.) Martin recently unveiled Creative Music Workshop, an online platform that builds on CMS’s legacy with free masterclasses and an ever-growing library of archival footage from workshops past. This week, it began the first of five week-long digital presentations by the jazz-fusion band Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW), of which Martin is the drummer, called “Inside the Minds, Outside the Lines.” “Our general philosophy is to continuously reinvent ourselves,” Martin says of MMW, which plans to detail strategies for others, musicians or not, to do exactly that. As with CMS, which has long believed that anyone’s innate creativity can create something new, Martin sees beauty in moments where people simply let things happen. “Being playful, not thinking too much, not conceptualizing ahead of time—you can use those ideas every day,” he says. “Improvisation is a metaphor for life.”

A big, orange pumpkin on a green lawn.

Pumpkin May Be the Ultimate Aphrodisiac

According to Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, the neurologist and psychiatrist who founded Chicago’s Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, nearly 20 percent of people who suffer from a diminished sense of smell also suffer from sexual dysfunction. “We’re certainly not the first to acknowledge this,” he told the medical journal Alternative & Complementary Therapies. “More than a hundred years ago Freud said that, in order for society to remain civilized, it was necessary to repress our olfactory instincts.” The most effective smell for arousing men, his team discovered, is that of pumpkin—specifically, pumpkin mixed with the scent of lavender. In a study conducted by Hirsch’s foundation, 40 percent of participants—who were each connected to a plethysmograph, a device that measures blood flow caused by sexual arousal—were turned on the most by the distinct autumn aroma, which was delivered via a scented mask along with 23 other fragrances.

The Scratch and Sniff Book of Weed on a white background.

Illuminating Scratch-and-Sniff Books, Made for Grownups

Six decades ago, researchers at 3M and the NCR Corporation were looking for a more effective way of trapping ink inside tiny pockets on paper to improve the legibility of receipts and carbon copies. “Microencapsulation,” the method they devised, also functioned with scented oils that, when scratched, burst open, emitting their distinctive smells. The technique has since been used on stickers, stamps, and perfume-peddling magazine inserts. John Waters incorporated it into his 1981 film Polyester, when he distributed large cards that featured ten circular patches, laced with scents such as skunk and old shoes, for viewers to inhale during the movie. Unlike those throwaway applications, scratch-and-sniff books have a long shelf life, inviting folks to scrape their surfaces time and time again. Some of the recent, most imaginative volumes target adults, and use smell to illuminate the multisensory elements of their subjects. Master sommelier Richard Betts, author of lighthearted guides to wine and whiskey, helps readers understand flavor through the scents of its aromatic pages, while co-authors Seth Matlins and Eve Epstein use the tactic to capture cannabis’s various sensations in The Scratch and Sniff Book of Weed. Other titles employ the strategy in more subtle ways. Scent in Context, a deep dive into the work of Belgian olfactory artist Peter De Cupere, disperses hidden scratch-and-sniff odors among its 400 pages. Our noses are particularly intrigued by a journal from the California publisher Knock Knock that pairs scented stickers with writing prompts—a clever way to stimulate users’ emotions, creativity, and memory.

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson looking out over green mountains from a patch of trail.

These Climate Podcasts Focus on Stories, Not Statistics

Reporting on the climate crisis is a balancing act, where journalists must convey a sense of urgency without provoking despair—or risk losing audiences entirely. Two podcasts, Hot Take and How to Save a Planet, forgo the subject’s usual doom-and-gloom approach in favor of storytelling, where emotion and calls to action engage listeners in ways that statistics about their carbon footprints never could.

A classical painting depicting two men and a woman with a funny contemporary caption

In Her New Book, a Comedienne Explains the Mansplainers of the World

In 1617, German artist Jobst Harrich completed an oil painting on a copper canvas. The work, which depicts a flaxen-haired girl exposing her left breast to a flock of balding guys, was one of the images that turned up, more than four centuries later, when Detroit-based comedy writer Nicole Tersigni Googled “woman surrounded by men.” She’d had a long day, and, while scrolling through Twitter to unwind, came across a man telling a woman’s own joke back to her—a mansplaining incident she’d encountered many times—that prompted the search. Tersigni posted Harrich’s painting to her feed and tweeted, “maybe if I take my tit out they will stop explaining my own joke back to me.” She applied this tactic to other classical paintings, such as Thomas Gainsborough’s 18th-century work “Conversation in a Park,” depicting a gent gesturing toward a stoic lady (“you would be so much prettier if you smiled”), and a 1959 Norman Rockwell cover for the Saturday Evening Post, which portrays eleven men ganging up on a lone woman in a jury room (“thanks I’m gay now”). The thread went viral. A few days later, an agent contacted Tersigni, proposing that she turn her clever mash-ups into a book. The resulting volume, Men to Avoid in Art and Life (Chronicle Books), sold out within days of its release. It features more than 90 artworks accompanied by wince-worthy captions, and categorizes offenders for easy recognition. Anyone who’s ever been put down by a less-qualified man will be intimately familiar with them: There’s the Comedian, who doles out racist and sexist jokes and believes those who don’t respond to them simply don’t understand, and the Sexpert, who thinks he knows the female body better than people inhabiting female bodies do. Other culprits include the Patronizer, the Concern Troll, and the classic Mansplainer. Meme-ing artwork isn’t new, but Tersigni’s approach offers more than a witty caption. She suggests that these men, and the women forced to endure them, have existed for hundreds of years, and that there are as many instances of the annoying, frustrating experience as there are old paintings. Tersigni dresses down the mansplainers of the world, and, with her brilliantly funny pairings of art and text, gets the last word.

Angela Glover Blackwell looking into a microphone, in front of a blue background.

Angela Glover Blackwell’s Great, Galvanizing Podcast

The sheer volume of awful things that have happened in recent months makes a person wonder if we’ll ever get it right. For Angela Glover Blackwell, a lifelong advocate for social and economic justice and the host of the Radical Imagination podcast, now is the perfect moment to discuss deep-seated issues such as reparations, extreme poverty, and police misconduct. But it’s not all talk: “What we’re doing is finding the people who are not just wishing for [change], but making it happen,” she told us on Ep. 67 of our At a Distance podcast. So far, she’s interviewed Stockton, California, mayor Michael Tubbs about his guaranteed income initiative, as well as Darrick Hamilton, who’s advising the government on how to enact a federal job guarantee. In a recent episode, she unpacks the water crisis that disproportionately affects Black, brown, and indigenous communities in the U.S., urging listeners to think about the human rights of H₂O.

Bulbous white sculptures with various forms extending from them in a gallery.

Julian Watts Heeds the Call of the Wild

Julian Watts likes to collect sticks. The artist has a barn full of them, and spends a lot of time searching for new ones on the five-acre property in Alpine, Oregon, where he lives with his partner, three cats, and dog. Sometimes, he’ll carry twigs around with him as he explores the area, which includes a wooden house (“It used to be a creepy hippie tower,” Watts says) and a workshop on top of a hill that opens onto a flower-filled meadow, a vegetable garden, and a bog hemmed in by ash trees. Some of the sticks become the medium for his mystical works, which he chisels and sands by hand into blobby forms that are at once gorgeous and grotesque.

Aishwarya Iyer smiling and looking to the left.

Aishwarya Iyer Wants to Change the Way You Think About Olive Oil

Aishwarya Iyer never thought she would found an olive oil company. At least her background in start-ups and venture capital never led her to thinking she would. But after realizing that the oil in her pantry was making her sick, she began researching the kitchen staple—and discovered that most of the olive oil consumed in America is rotten, rancid, or adulterated. It’s also perishable, one of many little-known facts about the ingredient. So Iyer decided to make her own, and launched Brightland in 2018. Using olives from a family-run farm on California’s central coast, the Los Angeles–based company makes extra-virgin olive oil, including more adventurous lemon- and basil-infused versions, without the use of fillers or artificial preservatives. We caught up with Iyer to discuss the myths, truths, and outright lies about olive oil, and how Brightland sets the record straight.

Bradley Bowers making one of his cotton paper lamps.

The Crinkled Paper Lanterns of Bradley Bowers, a Magician of Materials

To an industrial designer, plastics and metals are typically a native language while natural materials are a foreign tongue. Bradley Bowers didn’t touch them until graduate school, at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and discovered an approach to manipulating mediums that went on to inform everything his New Orleans studio does today. In his hands, static materials undulate with life (and nod to his like-minded heroes Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Issey Miyake). His first lighting collection, Halo, debuted this past spring. Bowers’s flair for transformation shines through each fixture, where sheets of cotton paper, coaxed by spritzes of water and wooden clothespins, become beacons of enlightenment.

Colonia Verde's backyard dining area.

How Brooklyn Restaurant Colonia Verde Uses Food to Connect People at Home

Tamy Rofe, a sommelier who owns Brooklyn’s farm-to-table-y Latin American restaurant Colonia Verde with her husband, Felipe Donnelly, operates by a matra borrowed from her mother: “La comida compartida sabe mejor.” In English, it means, “Food tastes better when shared.” From the eatery’s lived-in aesthetic to its signature Sunday Asado Series, in which star chefs take over its grill for a backyard barbeque, pretty much everything Colonia Verde does centers on comfortably bringing people together, transporting them from their busy lives to a place where they can be present and open up to each other. When the pandemic forced the restaurant to close in March, the couple transformed it into a “general store,” selling and even delivering nearly every ingredient on its menu alongside prepared meals and grill boxes—a way for Colonia Verde to provide not just food, but elements for people to easily create meaningful dining experiences at home. This fall, the initiative will re-launch as a more permanent, well-rounded offering called Casa.

A photo collage of faces of people lost to gun violence

A Crowdsourced Internet Memorial Humanizes U.S. Gun Violence Victims

There’s a formula for homicide news stories: Place a TV anchor at the scene of a crime, and state that a victim was shot by an unidentified perpetrator. Later, run a mugshot of the person arrested for the offense. Based on hard facts reported by police, these simple-to-prepare segments typically focus on how a life was lost, not the life itself. On an average day, 89 people are fatally shot in the U.S., including suicides and accidents. The sheer volume of incidents makes them easy to tune out: We don’t know enough about the victims to care that they’re dead, and we’re definitely not moved to think about how to prevent it from happening again.

An oddly shaped alarm clock.

The Secret to a Better Night's Sleep? Alarm Clocks

The Swiss Army knife of gadgets, smartphones make for very good alarm clocks. They’re comforting to sleep with, keeping digital life within arm’s reach, and slide discreetly beneath your pillow, faithfully blaring a sound of your choice every morning, mere inches from your head. This convenience comes at a cost: Plenty of research shows that a smartphone screen’s cool blue light makes it harder to sleep, impairs vision, suppresses melatonin, and throws the body’s circadian rhythm completely out of whack. (The National Sleep Foundation recommends ending the use of electronic devices at least thirty minutes before bed.)