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Saturday, May 2, 2020
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Suggestions for your senses,
every Saturday at 9 a.m.
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Good morning.

This week, we delve into the legacy of Black Mountain College, get our home gyms into shape, try our hand at recipes from Family Meal, take in the latest audio reporting on Curio.io, and learn how to arrange flowers with Entriken.

On our At a Distance podcast, we talk with Pennsylvania State Senate candidate Nikil Saval, environmental journalist Tatiana Schlossberg, cultural multihyphenate Waris Ahluwalia, and interviewer Paul Holdengräber.

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See
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College Collage
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Courtesy Black Mountain College Collection
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Founded in 1933 in a small town in North Carolina, the storied Black Mountain College was in operation for just shy of 25 years, but continues to carry an outsize influence to this day. Emphasizing interdisciplinary work, community, and experimentation, the short-lived arts school counted among its faculty members such visionaries as Josef and Anni Albers, Willem de Kooning, John Cage, and Merce Cunningham. Its board of directors included William Carlos Williams and Albert Einstein, and many more great thinkers and creatives were among its students: Ruth Asawa, Cy Twombly, Ray Johnson, and Robert Rauschenberg, to name just a few. Free of schooling conventions—no grades, no tests—students created their own curricula and were all required to participate in cooperative labor, working in the kitchen, on the farm, and on construction projects.

Their stories, as well as those of many lesser-known figures, will soon come to light, as the Asheville Art Museum works to bring its “hidden” Black Mountain College archives to the public for the first time. With its local proximity to the school, the museum’s holdings from that colorful period in history are especially rich—comprising nearly 20 percent of its entire collections—with many works donated directly from family members, friends, and relatives. We’ll be awaiting the museum’s digitized BMC archives with bated breath, and until then, stoking our fascination with a handful of indispensable reads, including Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College: 1933-1957, Black Mountain Poems: An Anthology, and The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College.

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Touch
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The New Workout Plan
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Courtesy Forme
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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 to hone your mind as well as your body. There’s plenty you can do from your living room with just a few free weights, a quality Gorilla Mat, and some good ol’ motivation.

Meanwhile, high-end fitness companies are finding a larger market as people invest in more personalized regimens. Peloton, for example, the cultish “smart” stationary bike, has seen a surge in sales, with its live-streamed classes also hitting new highs. Forme, a new connected smart mirror designed by Yves Béhar (who was just on our The Workspace of Tomorrow podcast, produced in association with ROOM), promises to be the Peloton of home-training systems, poised to potentially edge out existing options like Mirror and Tonal when it launches, later this year. Wall-installed and integrated with additional equipment that can be easily folded and concealed, the svelte design offers A.I. metrics, live personal-training sessions, and a variety of classes with on-screen instructors. Now available for pre-order, the literal black mirror launches this fall, with a subscription-based model to begin as early as September. Quarantine or not, “taking two hours of your day to go to the gym two or three times a week, as is recommended, can be a huge detour to your day,” Béhar says. “With Forme, we provide resistance-training as well as a variety of well-being exercises, methods, and approaches in a way that's discreet in the home, doesn’t take up too much space, or even require another room.”

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Taste
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Community Center
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Courtesy Family Meal
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The ongoing Covid-19 closures have brought the unimaginable to so many local and small businesses across the country and around the world, and the restaurant industry has been among the hardest hit. With limited ways to contribute—and a growing list of restaurants that are sorely missed and in need of funds—two food-loving designers in New York are paying it forward with Family Meal, a site and Instagram account of recipe cards featuring dishes from their favorite local restaurants. All are available for download, with suggested donations. Among the delectable recipes, which will continue to be rolled out every few weeks, are bagna cauda from Popina, challah from The Lighthouse, and lou rou fan from Win Son.

“We were heartbroken to see all our favorite restaurants close and start to post employee funds,” say Grace Robinson-Leo and Rob Matthews, co-founders of the New York design studio Decade, which launched the project last month, as it became clear that the city would need to endure prolonged social distancing measures. “The goal is really just to raise awareness and help out. Every part of this project has been done pro bono, and we hope it gets people—both in and outside of the restaurant industry, and inside and outside of New York—excited to participate, share, and donate.” Pairing iconic dishes with a rotating cast of top-notch illustrators and studios—such as Tim Lahan, Catalogue, and Pete Gamlen—Family Meal serves a welcome dose of optimism, joy, and purpose to home cookery. 

On this front, if you haven’t already done so, we highly recommend reading this beautifully written essay in The New York Times Magazine by Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune, which renders, in heartbreaking and melancholic, yet still somehow hopeful and humorous, detail, the challenges of running a restaurant even before the pandemic hit.

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Hear
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Audio Zone
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Courtesy Curio Labs Ltd.
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One upside to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis: a renaissance of podcasts and audio content to take in. These days, we’re tuning into the Curio.io app for a curated selection of the best narrated and audio journalism being produced today. The helpful, easy-to-navigate app spotlights top stories by leading media outlets including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The Economist—and we’re chuffed to have The Slowdown in such great company, with our very own At a Distance podcast now available on the platform, too. With personalized feeds and unlimited ad-free listening both online and offline, it’s a small luxury to be able to unplug and listen to the news, unmoored from the screen, and away from all the attention-clamoring push notifications.

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Smell
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Display-at-Home
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Courtesy Entriken Studio
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Katherine Carothers, owner of the Brooklyn-based floral design studio Entriken, shares her favorite scent, tips on where to source and gift flowers in the time of Covid-19, and how to create your own simple, beautiful arrangement at home.

What are some ways to source flowers right now?

There are still a lot of different ways. A flower shop or florist is your best bet for more quality and interesting flowers, as they source directly from suppliers. In New York, the outdoor farmer’s market is still open in Union Square. There are also farm shares of flower CSAs that you can sign up for each season, and they’ll deliver weekly boxes right to your doorstep. It’s totally worth it, and if you love flowers and want to get a chance to play with them, this is a great way. It also makes for a lovely gift. A few that I enjoy: Tiny Hearts Farm, Brooklyn Grange, and The 607 Upstate.

And, of course, there’s always the local deli or grocery store, and even Trader Joe’s, where you can find flowers like daffodils, tulips, and peonies. Some of those flowers might come from further away, and may be a little less fresh, but they’re still great to have. I also love an actual plant that you can keep around. We just got a little indoor Meyer lemon tree at our place, and the whole apartment smells like citrus blossom. 

Do you have any favorite scents? And do they ever weigh into your floral designs?

I really do love citrus blossoms and irises. I wouldn’t say I design around scent, though it’s a lovely element, and there are so many really good-smelling flowers—like chocolate cosmos, which smell like chocolate. But I’m careful not to use too many super-strong-smelling flowers in my arrangements. In the spring, when the weather is a bit colder and just starting to warm up, the scents are usually not as strong. I actually love the way lilies smell, for example, but they can tend to give some people allergies because their scent is so strong. 

I’m actually a wood-scent person. I love to steal my partner’s patchouli cologne from Santa Maria Novella—just a light spritz. It’s what I imagine the scent of the Victorian era was like. 

Any tips on how to create a D.I.Y. floral arrangement at home?

I like to keep it simple, for the most part. I’m a fan of creating little still-life arrangements around the house, like a bowl of lemons or beautiful pears. A great way to create an arrangement with a little depth and movement is to pick up a few bunches of flowers with different textures, and maybe some pretty fruits to add. Take three to five differently sized and shaped glasses, gather them together, and add flowers at different heights, trying to keep them at different lengths, like a wave, and group the colors. Add a few similar colored fruits to the base of the vases. For a one-element bouquet on the kitchen table, cut and put a bunch of flowers in a fun pop can, like a tin of Campbell’s soup or tomatoes. And remember to change the water every few days, which will keep the blooms fresh for longer.

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Until next week...

Today’s email was written by Aileen Kwun.

Editor: Spencer Bailey
Creative Director: Andrew Zuckerman
Producer: Mike Lala
Copy Editor: Mimi Hannon

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