The Alluring Art of Origami Folding | The Slowdown - Culture, Nature, Future
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Marbled, multicolor origami paper.
Courtesy Mile High Net Store

So you’ve tried your hand at jigsaw puzzles and need a different indoor activity to tide your quarantine boredom over. May we suggest more analog fun with the Origami Paper Shop’s themed kits, which include detailed instructions for making all sorts of creations. Fold cats, cranes, dogs, rabbits, flowers, and more using colorful, double-sided papers that come pre-cut as perfect squares. No cuts nor glue are involved in the centuries-old art of origami, which means simply “to fold paper” in Japanese. The painstaking, slightly repetitive process of meditatively creasing and completing each geometric form provides a gratifying pastime for all ages and skill levels. And, better still, these vibrant, often patterned papers—which come in all sorts of fine aestheticized varieties, from hand–silk screened to marbled—make for motivation to put in your very best effort, lest you should waste a precious sheet.

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Playfool's Forest Crayons

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

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

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Lord Jones CBD bath salts

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Dior Spa Cheval Blanc Paris

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Gold jewelry from Loren Teetelli’s Viking Trove collection.

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A holographic necklace with a yellow gem at the center

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The interior of Google's first retail store.

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A diamond necklace with large turquoise gems

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Two Case containers with multicolored salads inside.

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

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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

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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,

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

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

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

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

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Two sculptural toilet paper holders.

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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,

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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

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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

A jade gua sha tool next to a sprig of rosemary.

Anxiety and stress can take a serious toll on your health—and your skin. This may, in part, explain why the wellness worgua sha, a traditional Chinese medicinal technique for relaxing and relieving tension to aid in myofascial release. The method gua sha facials have garnered a particularly fervent following in recent years. You may have noticed, if you pay attention to tgua sha tools: small, handheld stone instruments that come in a number of shapes and contours, designed to smooth and scrape ovBrooklyn-based holistic healing studio Lanshin carries some of the best, carved from materials including rose quartz, jade, and nephrite. Founder Sandra Lanshin Chiu,online tutorials to get you started on your new favorite facial workout. Think of the small spatula- and spoon-like implements as doing

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Five months into this pandemic, we can say with certainty that cabin fever is real. Very, very real. Even if there are na specific type of longing that psychologists call “skin hunger.” Our desire for touch isn’t just emotional, either: Studies show that physical touch reduces the levels of stress hormon

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Textile artist Sasha Duerr centers her work around plant-based dyes with the curiosity of a dedicated alchemist, growingNatural Palettes: Inspiration from Plant-Based Color (Princeton Architectural Press), presents an antidote to the exacting industry-standard Pantone swatch—one that’s defin

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When it released its air-purifying Gunrid curtains earlier this year, the Swedish big-box furniture giant Ikea made a compelling argument for dressing up your windows: “Aclean air has long been an issue of global concern, as we soon enter the fourth month of this pandemic, that quippy selling point couldn’t have felt more eerily prescient

Manufactum's seed pot press next to a seedling.

Seed pots, much like baking staples such as yeast and flour, have been in higher demand in quarantine times, as many peohelpful little molds from Manufactum make the task a bit smoother and more consistent. The two-part presses are made from solid-waxed beechwood, and are as

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After a string of announcements from the organizers of Milan’s Salone del Mobile that the largest annual event for the dJamie Wolfond, who made a name early in his career for his pleasing, utilitarian designs as the founder of Good Thing, chooses to see

Rose-colored Le Monde Beryl Venetian slippers.

Perhaps your new WFH commute includes spending more time in the garage or backyard; maybe your temporary “workspace” is Sasawashi’s room shoes, available from one of our all-time favorite shops in New York City, Nalata Nalata, are made from a soft, natural mix of paper and plant fibers that are a Platonic balance of comfort and durability. ForBuilding Block just launched a fancy upgrade to the standard terry-cloth house slipper, updated in smooth leather, and roomy enough that you won’t need to fuss over mixing up your left foot from your right.velvet Venetian slippers from Le Monde Beryl (pictured), inspired by the footwear worn by gondoliers. Available in mule, slipper, and heeled variations, they might

A man doing bicep curls with a Forme home gym.

As gym closures continue (that is to say, most everywhere), the age of home fitness has arrived, and with it, a spate of online classes to match. Popular fitness studios like Sky Ting and Modo Yoga have recently transitioned to hosting live sessions online (as has Ashtanga yoga teacher Eddie Stern, who was just a guest on our At a Distance podcast), while apps such as Nike Training Club are temporarily offering free access. We’re also fans of the newsletter TheWorkout.Today, which sends a fresh routine to your inbox each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, along with a self-reflection exercise toGorilla Mat, and some good ol’ motivation.

A bowl of yellow squash and tomatoes.

The prospect of starting a home garden might conjure some Thoreauvian notion of going “back to the land” or returning tothe Edn smart garden; another we recommend—an especially aesthetically pleasing option—is the SproutsIO system. There’s also a user-friendly mobile app for this new reality: Made by a team of British developers, Garden Plan Pro offers an update to the classic Farmers’ Almanac, with a detailed glossary of plants and flowers along with their peak seasonal ranges and the ideal plantings to pair tSimCity rolled into one. Siri, let’s get gardening.

A selection of colorful puzzles.

So you’ve made it through your Netflix queue while scrolling through your Instagram feed, wondering why you spent all thTiger King—it’s probably time to step away from the screen (any of them). May we suggest: an idle afternoon with a jigsaw puzzle, social media fixation on this purely analog activity has been building for some time, embraced for its slow and methodical meditative nature

A roll of Who Gives a Crap "Emergency Roll!!" toilet paper in orange wrapping.

While you may find yourself tempted to hoard toilet paper, we hope that, instead of overcompensating, you’ve picked up just enough to get you through the coming weeks. Consider this fact to put the temporary panic-induced shortages into perspective: MWho Gives a Crap, a cheekily named BCorp on a serious mission to improve the lives of the 2.3 billion people without access to a toilet

A wooden panda.

From Eileen Gray and Frank Lloyd Wright to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Frank Gehry, there’s a long history of famous arArchitectmade sells a range of such objects by some of the country’s most celebrated architects and designers. These include a range objets by more contemporary talents, including wooden animal figurines by Bjarke Ingels (a panda) and Nikolaj Klitgaard (an owl). The collection of sculptural items are imminently giftable and ageless, made

Snow Shimazu meditating next to a hotel pool.

Flying long distances does a number on our bodies—something that wellness expert Snow Shimazu, founder of the holistic tAir Beautiful, knows all too well. We can credit the grogginess and exhaustion of jet lag to the disruption of our circadian rhythms,Four Seasons New York Downtown spa) works with clients to provide a range of speciality massage and lymphatic cleansing services, but there are also many

A white Light Phone in grass.

Americans spend an average of more than four hours a day on their smartphones—and it’s hardly innocent fun. A new study finds that smartphone addiction can have the same effect on the brain as drug addiction, reducing gray matter and deliv

An Adam Fuss fungus photogram.

Artists, chefs, and scientists have long found creative inspiration in mushrooms, and for a variety of reasons. Prized fAdam Fuss—who creates photograms by placing spores on light-sensitive paper and letting them bloom in contact to create an abstra“Mushrooms: The Art, Design, and Future of Fungi,” organized by Francesca Gavin, examines the widespread influence of the humble organism, featuring the work of 40 artistMushroom Book of recipes and observations, artworks by Cy Twombly, and a series of events including a pop-up dinner by chef Skye Gyng

A wooden polygonal massage tool.

Designer Juliana Huang spent much of her childhood in Taiwan, before moving to Los Angeles after high school. Living halThe Wax Apple—affectionately named after her favorite fruit native to Taiwan—she’s able to share a little piece of her culture with a

The Gentlewoman magazine featuring Margaret Atwood, on a red background next to a centimeter ruler.

When British editor Penny Martin and the creators of BUTT and Fantastic Man launched The Gentlewoman, in 2010, it boldly introduced a new type of “women’s magazine.” Redefining notions of female aspiration and personal sThe Gentlewoman features candid profiles and in-depth interviews with figures across the age, cultural, and professional spectrum—everymini-magazine. Measuring less than 3.5 inches tall, and nearly as thick as it is wide, it’s designed to fit in the palm of your hand,The Gentlewoman’s cover stories to date, including those printed in its earliest (and now rare and sought-after) issues. At once undersIrma Boom fan in your life. With its sleek white cover, it makes for a playful foil to the everyman’s little black book.