What Roles Do Our Bodies Play in the Creative Process? | The Slowdown - Culture, Nature, Future
Skip to main content
The Slowdown
Lorne M. Buchman
Courtesy Art Center College of Design

For Lorne M. Buchman, president of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, the creative process rarely consists of an “ah-ha” moment. Rather, it’s a slow, ambiguous, often improvised affair that involves a continual rediscovery of oneself. Innovators including Yves Béhar, Paula Scher, and Frank Gehry, as well as companies such as Apple and Tesla, attest to such experiences in Buchman’s new book, Make to Know: From Spaces of Uncertainty to Creative Discovery (Thames & Hudson), as archetypes that demonstrate the value of embracing the unknown as a way to unleash new ideas.

Buchman is no stranger to his subject: A trained theater director and scholar, he previously served as president of Saybrook University and, later, California College of the Arts, and, as part of his work at Arts Center (which, after 13 years, he’ll conclude in 2022), he hosts the podcast Change Lab, for which he interviews leading artistic practitioners. Given Buchman’s extensive contact with and observation of creative people who work with their hands, we wanted to learn more about his perspective on the roles that the human body can play in the ideation process, and recently asked him to elaborate on the topic. Here, he discusses how various physical encounters—with materials, spaces, and ourselves—lend themselves to imagination.

What role does touch play in the creative process?

Touch is an engagement that’s part of making. It involves setting up a physical space in which to explore, to make, to improvise, to discover. It’s about the actual. Some of the artists I’ve spoken to talk about touch as their way into a project: the feeling of the pencil on paper, the feeling and the experience of the paint, and of the canvas. It’s this [tactile] engagement with material that gets them into a world that’s unknown and uncertain, but filled with possibility.

Can you give a specific example of that happening?

One that comes to mind is the neutral mask, [an expressionless face covering] used at a clown training school in Paris, called École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, that I talk about in the last chapter of the book. What does this “neutral” mask do? It’s a feeling. It’s a touch of this artifact on the face that blocks out facial expressions, and that simultaneously blocks out any kind of speech. The idea is, you take those things away, and it opens up a discovery of the body and what the body knows. It’s fascinating to think about this feeling of the mask as touch, the experience of the mask on the face, and how it actually frees something else. It changes who [the wearer] is, and allows them to have access to something through this particular kind of making process that they never would be able to have access to otherwise.

The mask also provides a kind of context, or frame. Discovery and improvisation can’t come out of nowhere. It needs something to hold it. Not to determine it, but to hold it so that the breeze can blow through, and discovery can transpire.

Do you think this kind of discovery can take place without an external object or material, and within our bodies themselves?

The human body is a reservoir of discovery. It can be a way into this world of uncertainty and the unknown that I find to be so filled with possibility. The artist Ann Hamilton, for example, often talks about her stomach, and how she can’t do an installation without feeling her body in a given space. She can’t really know what it is that she wants to do unless she gets a sense in her stomach, or feels compelled by an ache in her belly, to move forward into something. That physical sensation guides, opens, and confirms—it’s when a recognition, a word she uses quite a lot, takes place.

It also does something else. I learned this from a few artists, but Ann Hamilton is really clear about it: In the creative process, you almost have to eclipse, or overcome, intention. Because if you’re always focused on manifesting a vision, the work becomes about the intention. So the body can lead in a different way, and not narrow the possibilities, but open them.

What physical habits or ceremonies help you when you’re creating something?

A lot of people say, “I thought of the idea in the shower,” which is its own kind of touch. And man, I do—my ideas come in the shower. I just need to make sure I have a pen or pencil and a pad of paper on the counter when I get out—typically soaking wet—to make sure I can grab it and [write everything down]. That’s one way.

Another is stopping the focus and opening up another place in my being, in my body, in my brain, to allow something else to come in. I’ve had ideas or thoughts come to me through dreams. People also talk about ideas coming to them when they’re driving, riding their bikes, or doing the dishes. These are all interesting ways of touching, experiencing, and moving the body and space that trigger and allow us to find things. So the creative act is something that happens over a wide spectrum of activities, and is not in any way limited to the studio or the rehearsal hall.

It sounds like you’re suggesting that even the most mundane acts—things that all of us do—can be seen as catalysts for creativity.

All the motions that we’re talking about shouldn’t be limited simply to “artists” or “designers.” They’re relevant for everyone. The idea of living our lives as a making, as opposed to manifesting an already-created vision—there’s a freedom there. A way of nourishing our souls, and of opening ourselves up to growing and learning constantly.

Keep reading

Manitoga house designed by Russel Wright

Last week, the Earth slid between the moon and sun, inciting a heady lunar eclipse that transformed our usual relationshManitoga, a stunning midcentury home turned design center that’s nestled between a granite quarry and a mossy slope in upstate NDesigning Nature” (through November 14). Fittingly, the first piece visitors encounter is the Eclipse Ceiling Lamp, designed by the contFormafantasma in 2016, which casts new, entrancing light on its surroundings.

Wolfhouse tarot cards

Nestled in a cozy pocket of Newburgh, in New York’s Hudson Valley, is an architectural gem designed in 1949 by Philip Jograppling with how to address Johnson’s legacy in the aftermath of his fascist views becoming more widely known—the property was purchased and restored by Jiminie Ha,With Projects, and art director Jeremy Parker. Determined to establish the residence as a symbol of inclusivity, the two have reimagiWolfhouse, a community-focused cultural space and incubator with public programming centered around art, architecture, and design

The main space in Kvadrat’s New York showroom. (Photo: Daniele Ansidei)

Squares, with their even proportions and sharp corners, evoke a sense of honest, hard-edged rationality. The shape has dKvadrat, the 54-year-old Danish textile company known for its forward-looking, often vibrant fabrics and artistic collaboration

One of Alvaro Catalán de Ocón’s Plastic Rivers rugs. (Courtesy Alvaro Catalán de Ocón)

The Spanish designer Alvaro Catalán de Ocón’s repurposed plastic furnishings weren’t just born from a sense of duty. Whirecently deemed an epidemic—he also appreciates the material for what it is: a lightweight, flexible, yet strong substance that can be sculpted intACdO. “The problem is that the price and the value of the material does not match at the moment.”

The Castor Kids Chair, by Karimoku. (Courtesy Nalata Nalata)

If you look around your living space, there’s a good chance that all the furniture in it is designed for adult use and cNalata Nalata’s upcoming exhibition, “Starter Chair” (May 14–22),  celebrates furniture that was lovingly made on a different scale—one specifically for children.

Sagmeister 123’s Progress Shirt and Opinion Coat. (Courtesy Sagmeister 123)

Stefan Sagmeister is a contemporary polymath. Following his curiosity through many forms, the Austrian-born, New York–baobjects, installations, and participatory artworks throughout his decades-long career. (Sagmeister speaks about some of these projects and others on Ep. 8 of our Time Sensitive podcast, and on Ep.106 of our At a Distance podcast.) While his output, at first glance, might appear to move wildly between subjects, a closer look reveals a consistent i

Petit Pli clothing

On average, children grow seven sizes in just their first two years. As a result, parents end up spending an average of $3,000 on clothing—much of which ultimately joins the 17 million tons of clothing that finds its way into landfills every year—before their child reaches the age of 3. Considering these realities, aeronautical engineer Ryan Mario Yasin wondered: with them?

Ceramic vessels by Omar Sosa

Tactility has been central to Omar Sosa’s creative practice for years. He developed a fondness for making books while working as a graphic designer and art dirApartamento, which has developed a cult following for its content—candid conversations with creative people from a variety of field

A patchwork tapestry by Megumi Shauna Arai.

For Megumi Shauna Arai, textiles are universal indicators of culture and identity. Like 19th-century crazy quilts or the lively blankets that noren, traditional Japanese fabric dividers that are suspended in windows and doorways (seen in a Manhattan pop-up of Beverly’s Shop last year), and others laid flat, as was one particularly striking piece on a bed at the Eliot Noyes House in New Canaa2020 edition of the art and design fair Object & Thing—that invite viewers to consider the histories and techniques they represent.

Cartier's Milan flagship store

From the looks of things, physical retail may well be losing out to e-commerce (and perhaps soon, shopping in the metaverse). But a comeback for brick-and-mortar stores appears to be on the horizon, and if the architects at the Paris-based firm Moinard Bétaill

Sky High Farm Workwear’s recycled denim chore coat and double-knee pants. (Photo: ​​Ramie Ahmed)

For several years, artist Dan Colen wasn’t exactly sure how to talk about Sky High Farm (SHF), a nonprofit 40-acre regenerative ecosystem he created in New York’s Hudson Valley that, since its beginnings in Ep. 40 of our Time Sensitive podcast. “And the lightest touch seemed to be through products.” In 2019, he partnered with the international concept shop Dove

Nuno textiles book

There is something universally comforting—deeply intoxicating, even—about petting a soft, warm coat, deep with pile. MayFuwa Fuwa ( “fuzzy,” in Japanese): “I reach out to touch the fluffy, soft fur, gently run my hand over the broad nape of the neck

Toto Washlet C200

2014 may have been the year of the booty, but it took me six cold and less-than-sterile more (plus 2020’s lockdown) to get mine into the warm seat of a Toto Washlet C200, my top pick in this rotund—or rather, well-rounded—assortment of bidet toilet-seat attachments—and love-letter the for

Canopy raised bed

Green thumbs have long extolled the value of raised garden beds for their weed-reducing and water-retaining abilities, nPlanted—a New York–based company that provides resources and materials for cultivating your own food, including seedlings sourc

Playfool's Forest Crayons

In recent decades, art has steadily expanded into the digital realm, thanks, in part, to copious new apps, tools, and tuForest Crayons, a series of prism-shaped drawing implements that are made from natural materials and that use wood as their sole sourc

Soft Baroque’s coffee table for Vaarnii. (Courtesy Vaarnii)

Despite being among the most abundant tree species in Finland, pine has been largely overlooked and underutilized as a fVaarnii seeks to revive the use of pine in furniture making, and with it, forge a new era in Finnish design that celebrates the

A Letter from Mother Teresa, submitted to the Museum of Material Memory by Siddharth Sunder. (Courtesy Museum of Material Memory)

A gold dial Titan quartz wristwatch with a worn-out brown leather strap. A 32-caliber Colt pistol. A dekchi, or brass cooking pot for cooking the traditional rice dish biryani. A signed letter from Mother Teresa. An Imperial Bank of India checkbook. These are but five items in the collection ofMuseum of Material Memory, an online repository of objects from across the Indian subcontinent, dating from or before the 1970s, including books,

Lord Jones CBD bath salts

Those who have come to embrace CBD—short for cannabidiol, a chemical abundant in the cannabis plant that, unlike its sibEpidiolex, to treat rare seizure disorders; the majority of scientific studies on the chemical have been conducted on animals.) T$16 billion by 2025, fueled by users who report relief from afflictions including anxiety, depression, and stress. So it seems only natural

Dior Spa Cheval Blanc Paris

La Samaritaine, a historic Parisian department store that towers over the banks of the Seine, spent the last 16 years unDior Spa Cheval Blanc—a collaboration between the hotel chain and the French fashion house—promises “happiness in the heart of Paris,” a tall

Black denim fabric with pink cross stitches

“There should be as many clothing repair shops as there are gas stations,” says Satchel B. Moore, founder of the Saint PScience and Kindness. “After all, there are more pairs of pants in the world than there are cars.” Moore started the initiative, which he ru

The Reverso watch

One of the biggest challenges for any great brand is to evolve and remain relevant while staying true to its roots. JaegReverso timepiece, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, is a brilliant example of an accessory that is both immedia

Cartier's Pixelage necklace

“This is a new world,” says Cyrille Vigneron, president and CEO of Cartier, during a gala dinner he recently hosted on tSixième Sens (“Sixth Sense”), the luxury house’s newest collection. He continues, “High jewelry belongs to the world of sensory stim

The Amant Foundation in Brooklyn.

Earlier this month, a stately structure covered in angled white bricks opened its doors in the East Williamsburg area ofAmant Foundation, a nonprofit arts organization that values a slow, focused approach in making and viewing art. (It has a sister locatio

Gold jewelry from Loren Teetelli’s Viking Trove collection.

The archeologist-turned-goldsmith Loren Teetelli spent more than 100 hours hand-forging a single 22-karat gold cuff for Loren Nicole, in 2016. Jean Prounis is another millennial who’s mastered the time-honored craft of goldsmithing. The New York–based designer begins her pro

A holographic necklace with a yellow gem at the center

“I’m constantly looking for new links between light and color, but my collections always start as a dream,” says Claire Holographique, unveiled this week in Paris during the city’s fall/winter 2021 haute couture fashion shows, is yet another foray onto

The interior of Google's first retail store.

Technology, especially when it comes to screen time, can simultaneously induce sensory overload and sensory deprivation.Google’s first retail store, which opened last month on the ground floor of the company’s Manhattan headquarters (just blocks from The Slowdown’s CEp. 11 of our Time Sensitive podcast) toward a singular goal: to create an environment that demonstrates “how humans and technology [can] come together,” as

Entrepreneur Jaé Joseph

One year ago, entrepreneur Jaé Joseph and creative director Brianna Wise released a survey that doubled as an applicatioBlack Apothecary Office (BAO): a three-month-long accelerator program designed to help Black- and Latinx-owned beauty and wellness start-ups reBAO Universe, a digital marketplace offering goods such as velvety face oils, silky moisturizers, and hydrating shampoo from some of

A diamond necklace with large turquoise gems

“I don’t just look at stones. I need to touch them, and feel the life inside them,” says Lucia Silvestri, who sources geBulgari and serves as its creative director. “There’s sensuality in the energy of gems born in the depths of the earth.” Such v most exquisite pieces designed by the Roman jeweler to date. (Some 200 other items will be added to the collection later

Author and potter Bonnie Kemske in her studio

Kintsugi, the time-honored Japanese practice of using powdered precious metals to repair broken ceramics, has steadily gained poKintsugi: The Poetic Mend (Bloomsbury). In it, she interviews kintsugi masters, details various techniques, and considers potential grounds for the custom’s development. Here, Kemske discusskintsugi’s origins and why it resonates so strongly with people today.

A white ceramic kettle on a white background.

In 1983, the British fashion designer Margaret Howell made the first of many visits to Japan, where she discovered toolsAffinities: 50 Years of Design, a new short film directed by artist Emily Richardson that celebrates the distinctive work that Howell—now 74 and with Ep. 44 of our Time Sensitive podcast). The film is on view via the brand’s website and, along with a presentation of drawings and artifacts from Howell’s pe

Decorated room screens and sculptures

Over the past three decades, multidisciplinary artist Yolande Batteau has traveled the world to study age-old artisanal Callidus Guild. Yet while Batteau investigates materials, she’s simultaneously doing a similar kind of work within herself—an act thatYolande Batteau: Introspective,” on view at New York’s decorative arts gallery Bernd Goeckler through May 28.

A navy blue watch on a desk next to a picture of the moon

Since ancient times, people have looked to the sun, moon, and stars to create a sense of rhythm and order in their livesLittle Lange 1 Moon Phase watch elevates the poetic movement with a copper-flecked, midnight-blue silver dial that shimmers like the night sky, a

A white ceramic lamp on a wood table.

Giancarlo Valle, a celebrated New York–based interiors and furniture designer with an artful, worldly eye informed by hiPlateau table lamp, created with self-taught Brooklyn ceramicist Natalie Weinberger, leans into that sensibility with a more craft-centere

The interior of Beverly's pop-up, with a large indigo textile and cookware hanging on a white wall.

During a recent stay in her home city of Los Angeles, New York–based stylist Beverly Nguyen (a Vogue alum and the former studio director for Kate Young) was inspired to dream up her latest venture: a pop-up of homewares called Beverly’s, which opened last weekend in downtown Manhattan. The move home, prolonged by the pandemic, wasn’t intended to last mos

Three white, off-kilter sculptures on a white background.

Artist Eric Oglander gravitates toward materials that collapse time and space, and holds an unwavering faith in the powetihngs.com, and plans to open a brick-and-mortar shop of the same name in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens later this year). IP.E.,” is on view through May 15.

A large tray of compost heading into a white container surrounded by plants.

When a loved one passes, the typical death care options are both limited and harmful to the planet. Conventional burial Recompose, an NOR funeral home located in a Seattle suburb and designed by local architectural firm Olson Kundig (whose principalEp. 37 of our Time Sensitive podcast). Last year, two other NOR companies were formed in the region, signaling that the practice isn’t a pipe dream, but a r

Two Case containers with multicolored salads inside.

For many diners, using “biodegradable” or “compostable” takeout containers is one way of doing their part in protecting don’t break down in a backyard composting bin and require special conditions to degrade. The Canadian company Case has a better solution: a circular system for food receptacles.

A wide-blade rip saw.

As the vaccine rollout continues, previously closed galleries and museums have, thankfully, continued to steadily reopenWhen Practice Becomes Form: Carpentry Tools from Japan,” on view through July 11, presents an ode to the tradition of Japanese architecture and handcraft. On display are an atōryō. The collection of beautiful saws, chisels, and planes demonstrate the ingenuity and resourcefulness of Japanese joiner

Brown bowls on a dark yellow background.

East Fork imbues traditional clay tableware with a sense of delight, resulting in pieces that are instantly recognizable. The commonth)—while its expansion into the lifestyle realm, with online recipes and carefully culled pantry items, such as black gar Your products often immediately sell out. A few months ago, an article in the New York Post called your passionate fans the “new potheads.” What makes East Fork’s pieces so covetable?

An old sweater darned with purple thread.

Recent studies attest to what the crafters among us have known for a long time: that the rhythmic, repetitive nature of knitting, crocCelia Pym, working with her hands is more than a stress-relieving pastime—it’s instinctive. She grew up in a family where repairi

A kintsugi kit on a wooden table, next to several repaired plates.

Is our obsession with newness an ailment of capitalism? Kintsugi, the traditional Japanese art of mending broken pottery, has been around for more than four centuries—but its philosophkintsukuroi, meaning “golden repair”—sees breakage as a valuable asset that adds to an object’s history. Fragments are pieced back

A textile in bright streaks of gold, blue, and red.

Textile designer Anni Albers, who was born in Berlin at the turn of the 20th century, brought a modernist touch and expe“In a Slow Manner,” the first presentation at Paris’s Maison du Danemark since it completed an extensive renovation. Opening Feb. 3, the sh

Three white Dally soap dispensers on a concrete wall.

Hand-wringing and hand-washing seem to be defining this time warp of a pandemic. When it comes to the latter, we’re partSlowdown hand-wash set from the New York upstart Dally Goods—not just for its name (which, to be clear, we’re not connected to), but its ethosExperts say fantasy can provide a way through difficult times; if harmless daydreaming can get us through this moment, we’ll happily indulge in a bit of wanderlust where we can find

Glen Adamson in a dark jacket and shirt, smiling at the camera.

Technology and industry often get much of the credit for fueling the United States’ development, but for curator, writerCraft: An American History (Bloomsbury), out next week, Adamson shows how skilled laborers shaped the nation, telling remarkable, often surprising

A pair of white denchers with gold and rose-gold grills.

Dental grills might seem like a latter-day invention, but they’re actually anything but. Decorative tooth accessories weRi Serax, whose outrageous embellishments are worn inside the mouths of rap and R&B artists including Jpegmafia, Princess Nokia,

Screens from the Kama app featuring suggestions and techniques.

The culture of wellness tends to focus on trends, like meditation hacks or CBD gummies. But a new app devotes itself to Kama turns to leading neuroscientists, psychologists, somatic therapists, and other experts to help us better our bedroom hasaid in an interview with Forbes that she sees the company as a response to a “sex and intimacy recession” that’s happening around the world. “Our body

Two wooden boxes, one with a clear top and one with a wooden top.

Wood boxes are something of a national treasure in Japan, where Buddhist monks began tucking stoles, prayer beads, and okiribako—boxes handcrafted from paulownia, a native tree with lightweight, durable, water-resistant timber—into the mainstream. Masuda Kiribako, which has been skillfully producing traditional receptacles since 1929.

Marbled black tondela vessels in a gallery.

Three years ago, French furniture and object designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance—whose clients include Baccarat, Bernhardt Made in Situ that champions the traditional crafts, techniques, and materials of the region through objects he designs and makes witsoenga. How did the idea for Made in Situ come about?

A waving Ghanan pakurigo basket.

Imagine shopping a trove of objects that are at once elegant and ethically made—no post-purchase consumer guilt necessarGoodee, an online marketplace of homewares and clothing that make a positive impact on people and the planet. Founded by Montrundulating Pakurigo baskets handwoven by artisans in Ghana from locally sourced vetiver grass, vegan seaweed soap that cleverly uses coriander seeds and peppercorns as exfoliants, and the sought-after Goodee Hoodie, recently released in three new colors (dusty rose, Egyptian blue, and alabaster) and made from Egyptian cotton by the Kotn. There’s also a handsome German Douglas pine daybed from Danish B Corp Skagerak, topped with Kvadrat upholstery, and a Japanese windmill palm fiber “corner brush” designed to dust the undustable. Feel like decking the halls? Try these multihued Jipi Baubles tree ornaments, handmade from Jipijapa palm tree leaves by Colombian artisans in the Andes. For those on our gift lists, including the

An astronaut on the moon, with a dome reflected in their visor.

That we’ve all likely considered relocating to another planet at some point this year may be no bad thing, according to In a recent study published in the journal PLOS One, the group describes their experiments with the organic polymer chitin that demonstrate its viability as a building matEp. 16 of our Time Sensitive podcast)—with a mineral equivalent to Martian soil. They used it to successfully construct an array of objects, including a worProject Olympus, a research initiative looking to develop structures that can be 3D-printed out of lunar dust. Working with the Austin-he recently told Fast Company. “It’s actually going to make construction on Earth even faster, even cheaper.”

Black and natural wooden bowls on small, built-in platforms that raise them off the table.

In the design world, Instagramable interiors get all the fanfare—but true aesthetes know that tactility is key to lastinIndustrial Facility, the London design studio co-founded by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin, created its Collection Objects product line, released this fall by Italian furniture company Mattiazzi, it went full throttle on the literal feel of things. “It suJulie Richoz, a stackable beechwood bottle rack by Max Frommeld, and a shallow box by Julien Renault that, at first glance, looks like an unassuming stack of two lumber slabs. The designs are “respectful of the material,

Plush, knitted lights in multiple colors with a hand squeezing them.

“Many people think play is just for children,” says London-based designer Michelle Rinow. “But it’s necessary through alTransforming Touch, a series of knitted lights that encourage users of every age to engage in a bout of old-fashioned fun. Rinow cleverly

3rd Ritual's Sun balm in a yellow squeeze tube, on top of a leaf and orange rind.

Self-care, in times like these, is a necessary balm for both mind and body. When so many factors are pulling at our attebody creams from 3rd Ritual that play on the planetary elements and impart a range of feel-good benefits. Sun, a body gel made from

A hand holding a small button cactus next to a pot.

There are roughly 2,000 species of cacti found around the world. The speciality plant store Hot Cactus, run by a collective of creatives in Los Angeles, stocks some of the rarest breeds online and at its shoebox brick-and-Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia), is made expressly with the elongated napiform root of peyote in mind. For $70, you can nab one of Morris’s Peyote Pot grow kits: Each comes with four seeds so you can germinate your own Lophophora fricii, a cactus species that’s native to Mexico and commonly referred to as “false peyote.” That is—sorry to disappoint you—n

Two hands with purple nails holding a beaker filled with purple liquid.

By now, it’s a well-known fact that the multi-trillion-dollar fashion and apparel industry ranks as a top polluter world10 percent of annual global carbon emissions. It is also the third-largest consumer of the planet’s water supply—exceeded only by the oil and paper industries—and is set to double its consumption rate by 2030. Much of this water is Living Colour, the duo experiment with pigment-producing bacteria as a sustainable alternative to artificial textile dyes, which are Design to Fade, the very first bacterial-dyed sportswear collection. “We see it as a collaboration with the organism,” Luchtman says,

A bright red toilet building with angled entrances and the Tokyo cityscape in the background.

Japanese culture is known worldwide for its meticulous approach to hospitality—and, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, thTokyo Toilet project invited 16 world-class designers to rethink this humble, often overlooked, piece of public infrastructure.

Two sculptural toilet paper holders.

Toilet paper, like so many everyday items, has become a political point of contention in this maelstrom of a year, one t$31 billion tissue-paper industry in North America, as designers Benjamin Critton and Heidi Korsavong, co-directors of the Los Angeles art and design galMarta, point out. And with their latest installation, “Under/Over,” on view through Nov. 1, they’re addressing this dark underlayer of the Big T.P. industry with a group show examining thPlant Paper (which makes toxin- and tree-free toilet paper using only fast-growing, FSC-certified bamboo), Critton and Korsavong in

Hands holding the threads of a white roll of fabric.

When New York Fashion Week announced its anemic lineup for this month’s showings, the writing on the wall was as plain aEp. 69 of At a Distance, the fashion and apparel industry is a known top contributor to environmental pollution worldwide—and, as it grapples w

Bradley Bowers making one of his cotton paper lamps.

To an industrial designer, plastics and metals are typically a native language while natural materials are a foreign tonBradley Bowers didn’t touch them until graduate school, at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and discovered an approach to manipHalo, debuted this past spring. Bowers’s flair for transformation shines through each fixture, where sheets of cotton paper,

Marbled, multicolor origami paper.

So you’ve tried your hand at jigsaw puzzles and need a different indoor activity to tide your quarantine boredom over. MOrigami Paper Shop’s themed kits, which include detailed instructions for making all sorts of creations. Fold cats, cranes, dogs, rabbits,

A Goshi towel in a yellow package.

Getting a full-body exfoliating treatment is an experience, to say the least—one that will leave you feeling silky smootGoshi towel, made in Gunma, a prefecture of Japan touted for its textile and silk manufacturing, is no mere loofah. Woven wit

A WaterRower machine on a white background.

Finding a new exercise routine that provides total-body training can be a challenge, especially as we spend more time inWaterRower rowing machine, designed in 1987 by John Duke and carried exclusively by the MoMA Design Store, is built around a patented fly wheel tthe high-tech Hydrow.)

A man in virtual reality playing an exercise game, floating on a disk above a lake.

We’re living at work, working at home, and, on good days, working out somewhere between, in the same space every day. ItSupernatural, offers precisely that in the form of a VR exercise class. The next-level experience offers a range of cardio, upper-bo

María Elena Pombo stacking bricks for an exhibition.

From textiles to fashion to research and installation art, creative endeavors often take on varying forms for the VenezuFragmentario, in 2016, after stints studying industrial engineering and working as a fashion designer. Here, she tells us about her

A black Angell bike on concrete in profile.

Bicycling has seen a welcome boom in recent months, as the pandemic has made restless city dwellers wary of both public transportation and gyms, and in nAngell, designed by Ora-Ïto and currently available for pre-order, may be the most stylish and affordable e-bike option we’ve inflatable prototype) can tend to look a bit goofy, the Mate City eBike combines performance and style for the more serious cyclist seeking a longer-term investment. The Danish company also pthis high-performance model with fashion brand Moncler). If neither space nor budget are an issue, look to the Dutch bike-maker VanMoof’s S3, a top-of-the-line offering that boasts a near-silent electric mechanism and a distinctive frame that conceals the batt

A pair of Felco shears cutting a small branch.

A skilled gardener or houseplant parent is never without a good pair of quality shears. In addition to removing damaged Felco shears have remained virtually unchanged for decades, and for good reason: They get the job done, and are a worthwhile additiothese elegant Japanese gardening tools from the Beijing- and Hangzhou-based Fnji Furniture, made with solid-cast zinc-aluminum alloy that will accrue a pleasi

A note card on a desk with a pen, carafe, and sprig of herbs.

People have been bemoaning the decline of penmanship since the earliest days of typewriters, the once-newfangled, speedynote card and stationery sets from the Canadian startup Maurèle add an artful, personal touch to the analog communiqué, with a range of customizable designs and distinctive typefaces

Five sake soaks in different colors.

Self-care is always a good idea—and given the anxieties and uncertainties of living in a pandemic, a crucial way to mainsake soaks by Basin take your home-bathing ritual to the next level. The bottled concoctions, made from Japanese sake and a blend of all-na