A Beverage Commentary We Can Relate To


Blackberry Cooler, Orchid Thief and Mumbai Mule.Credit Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Rebecca Bartoshesky.

We have never before seen an article by this author that would be considered relevant to the themes we write about, link to, and find worthy of promotion; normally she writes about “drinks,” drinking culture, bar stuff. But here she touches on a theme we have spoken of often among ourselves in our day to day work (but would not likely have ever written about here): that ridiculous word “mocktail” — the word police should come and take it away, lock it up and throw away the key.

On the other hand, we have been watching and tasting in amazement as our beverage teams in India, Costa Rica, Belize and Baja all come up with ever-more inventive ways to enjoy liquids that do not intoxicate. Our biggest challenge, after they do the heavy lifting on the chemistry side of the equation is finding words worthy of a name, and worthy of a category that means non-alcoholic. So, hats off to Rosie on this one:

Don’t Call Them ‘Mocktails’


I’m always thrilled when a certain former drinking buddy comes to see me at the bar. He stopped drinking alcohol years ago, but he’s as fun to be around as he was when we sat side by side at a corner bar in TriBeCa many nights in the ’90s — probably more so. Continue reading

‘Tis the Season for Creative Arborescent Decision-Making

photo credit: Carol Fernandez

photo credit: Carol Fernandez

Real Vs. Fake Trees – Which is Better for the Environment?

Tis the season for an age-old question: Which kind of Christmas tree – real or fake – is better for the environment?

We love this question, because it’s an example of a simple choice that anyone and everyone can make that can reduce our impacts on the environment.

We also love this question because, like many environmental issues, the answer isn’t as simple as you might think. Our #1 recommendation? Buy a real tree. Read on for more details on the impacts of both real and fake Christmas trees, and then make the choice that’s right for you. And check out our 12 Tree Tips for other earth-friendly holiday decoration tips.


In 2015, 26.9 million trees were purchased from live Christmas tree farms – more than twice the number of fake trees purchased (12 million).   Continue reading

Organic, If Not Natural, Beauty


German artist Diane Scherer creates low-relief sculptures made from plant roots. DIANA SCHERER

Thanks to Wired for this bit of intrigue:

Artist Teaches Roots To Grow In Beautiful, Alien Patterns


THE HUMAN RACE has a long history of bending nature to its will. The results of this relationship can be devastating—but they can also be strikingly beautiful, as German artist Diane Scherer skillfully proves with her low-relief sculptures made from plant roots.


Scherer grows these works of art by planting oat and wheat seeds in soil, and then carefully, meticulously, warping the growth pattern. DIANA SCHERER

Scherer grows these works of art by planting oat and wheat seeds in soil, and then carefully, meticulously, warping the growth pattern. She prefers to train her roots into geometric patterns found in nature, like honeycomb structures, or foliate designs reminiscent of Middle Eastern arabesques. Continue reading

New Directions In Art



Flexn artists, photo by Sodium for MIF 2015

We had not heard of Flexn until this week, when they were mentioned in a podcast with the phenomenal Peter Sellars (alluded to once previously in these pages, and linked to another time directly). Now we want to know more. And it looks like one way to learn more will happen at The Shed. Back in August, when we first heard about The Shed, it was a quick glance at the future. Now we have more detail, thanks to this early release of a profile in next week’s New Yorker:


How will the director of New York’s ambitious experimental cultural center change the city?

By Calvin Tomkins

Every so often, it seems, visual artists are stricken by the urge to perform. The “happenings” movement in the nineteen-sixties—young painters and sculptors doing nonverbal theatre—was explained as a response to Pollock, de Kooning, and other gestural Abstract Expressionists: it was the gesture without the painting. Continue reading

Living Walls

As Kochi is awash with participating artists putting finishing touches on their Kochi-Muziris Biennale works, it’s exciting to see art flourishing in other cities on a regular basis.

Atlanta’s Living Walls seeks to promote, educate and change perspectives about public space in local communities via street art.  Dozens of international artists participate in an annual conference on street art and urbanism that began in August 2010 in the city of Atlanta. Continue reading

Dr. Seuss, Champion Of The Unusual

drawing5_smWe were led to this by a news/feature story, but the background material is even more interesting than the feature in the news. Here is a note worth a moment of your time:

Dr. Seuss was a storyteller in the grandest sense of the word. Not only did he tell fantastical tales of far-away places but he also gave us a unique visual language that carried his stories to new heights of artistic expression. Surrealism provided the foundation from which he built his career, but like a launch pad sitting idle just before liftoff, surrealism was soon to be engulfed in the flames of ridiculous fun and its launch tower thrown to the ground with each new editorial cartoon, magazine cover, painting, or children’s bookContinue reading

Fiber Fashion

PiñatexTM production will bring new income opportunities for pineapple harvest farmers in developing countries, with the initial development stage taking place in the Philippines

We’re not insensitive to the frequent commentary on both news and social media by animal rights activists against viewing animals as commodities. With those feelings in mind, this discovery of Ananas Anam, a not for profit organization that is developing leather-like textiles using natural fibers that are the by-product of the pineapple harvest, is an exciting one.

I’ll definitely be on the look out for Pinatex products and hope our readers will as well!

ananas- anam – new materials for a new world


Ananas Anam supports pineapple-farming communities in the Philippines. We are developing a new industry that will enhance the social network in rural areas as farmers will be able to sell fibres as a commercial and viable proposition.

Furthermore, the farming communities will benefit from the potential output of natural fertilizer/biogas which is the by-product of fibre extraction.

Other pineapple-growing developing countries will join the Philippines in the production of Piñatex, which will support local economies and strengthen their exports. Continue reading

Birdsong – Making Visible the Invisible

We recently posted on artist Xavi Bou‘s creative use of chronophotography, a series of photos that capture the illusion of movement, to craft still portraits of birds in flight.

Australian artist Andy Thomas specializes in creating ‘audio life forms’: beautiful abstract shapes that react to sounds. These videos were created using computer program to activate particle effects from digitally captured bird sounds. Continue reading

Ornitographies – Making Visible the Invisible

Great cormorants, Ibars Swamp, Catalonia (Courtesy of Xavi Bou)

Great cormorants, Ibars Swamp, Catalonia (Courtesy of Xavi Bou)

Birds are photogenic in their own right, but this creative capture of their flight by artist Xavi Bou is both innovative and etherial. A geologist and photographer by training, Xavi’s love of birds goes back to childhood.

Xavi Bou focuses on birds, his great passion, in order to capture in a single time frame, the shapes they generate when flying, making visible the invisible.

Unlike other motion analysis which preceded it, Ornitographies moves away from the scientific approach of chronophotography used by photographers like Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey. Continue reading

Veggies Punching Above Their Weight



When scanning the hard news, feature stories, reviews and profiles we are on the lookout for stories that address any of a group of themes, generally related to better treatment of the planet we live on. We are interested in creative approaches to making better human treatment of the natural world more likely, more palatable, so to speak. After reading this article about magnificent results from modest parcels of land cared for by relatively common folk, we see a parallel theme in this restaurant review; it qualifies:


“Vegan” evokes two images: judgment for abstemious virtue or scarcity on meat-centric menus. Neither happens at Ladybird.

By Jiayang Fan

…Of some two dozen tapas, the most successful were the least expected and the most unassuming. The olives and cornichons—perfectly pert, coated in seasoned rice flour and gently fried in chili oil—proved to be the kind of addictive nibblers that make you forget the etiquette of communal dining. Continue reading

Save Your Screen Time, Kochi!

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 “main stage” doesn’t start until December, but Kochi is already throbbing with activity – from the Piramal Art Residency at Pepper House to introductions to this year’s participating artists on the KMB Facebook page.

Interested in film and video? The Signs Festival 2016 begins in less than a week at the Kochi Town Hall on September 28th.

SiGNS, the pioneering festival in India for digital videos featuring national level competition for documentaries and short fiction for the prestigious John Abraham National Awards. John Abraham Awards was instituted in 1999 by the Kerala Region of Federation of Film Societies of India  Continue reading

2016 Cornell Council for the Arts Biennial: Abject/Object Empathies

With fewer than 90 days to go until the 3rd edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale we admittedly have biennales on our mind. We thank one of our 2012 design interns, Chi-Chi Lin, for bringing this one to our attention.

The Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA) is a campus wide organization that promotes collaboration and artistic experimentation to inspire innovative and challenging projects by students, faculty, departments and programs from all disciplines. The focus of the 2016 CCA Biennial 

is on the cultural production of empathyThe upcoming biennial will address the ways in which feeling is form and explore how the objects, buildings, clothing, machines, languages, and images we construct are shaped by our intentional or implicit emotional, interdependent relationship to others. Whether by framing a connection that already exists or by providing the condition for new connections, what we create can either merely extend our own personal desires, goals, and directives, or can alternatively function as a bridge between who I am and who you are so that aesthetic experiences are interdependent, collaboratively generated and inherently reciprocal. Continue reading

A Resort Of The Future


We do not need to love everything everafter created by architects whose earlier work we have been in love with; but we at least take a look:

High Line architects create volcano-style resort

Diller Scofidio + Renfro beat Foster + Partners in a competition to design a new international resort in China

Could Hainan, China’s smallest and most southerly province, become a new international tourist destination? That’s certainly the Chinese government’s ambition, which hopes to draw in thousands of international leisure travellers to this island province, 800 miles southwest of Hong Kong, by 2020.

Hainan Airlines Group announced the winner of its competition to design a 250-hectare resort which will be built on an artificial island in Haikou Bay, just off the coast of Hainan’s capital, Haikou. Continue reading

Keeping Shakespeare in Mind

Illustration by Mathew McFarren

Illustration by Mathew McFarren

Quite a few of our team can attest to the power of a liberal arts education, especially when put in such a joyful context.

Scott L. Newstok’s convocation speech to the Rhodes College class of 2020 embraces this joy, adding the cheeky tweak of asking the incoming class to approach their college experience in the “spirit of the 16th century”.

Building a bridge to the 16th century must seem like a perverse prescription for today’s ills. I’m the first to admit that English Renaissance pedagogy was rigid and rightly mocked for its domineering pedants. Few of you would be eager to wake up before 6 a.m. to say mandatory prayers, or to be lashed for tardiness, much less translate Latin for hours on end every day of the week. Could there be a system more antithetical to our own contemporary ideals of student-centered, present-focused, and career-oriented education?

Yet this system somehow managed to nurture world-shifting thinkers, including those who launched the Scientific Revolution. This education fostered some of the very habits of mind endorsed by both the National Education Association and the Partnership for 21st Century Learning: critical thinking; clear communication; collaboration; and creativity. (To these “4Cs,” I would add “curiosity.”) Given that your own education has fallen far short of those laudable goals, I urge you to reconsider Shakespeare’s intellectual formation: that is, not what he purportedly thought — about law or love or leadership — but how he thought. An apparently rigid educational system could, paradoxically, induce liberated thinking.

“Take advantage of the autonomy and opportunities that college permits by approaching it in the spirit of the 16th century. You’ll become capable of a level of precision, inventiveness, and empathy worthy to be called Shakespearean.”
So how can you think like Shakespeare?

Continue reading

Green Rooftops


Source Pinterest.com

According to the Population Reference Bureau, since 2008 more than half of the total global population lives in urban areas. What does this mean for farmers and the food industry? It means that as cities expand, farmland is receding farther away from the markets that supply the city consumers. In effect, the food has to travel longer distances, which increases their cost and environmental impact. However, there is good news for those with a green thumb (or pinky!) and creative mind (here are some examples we’ve written about previously). Continue reading

Mountain Lions to Save Drivers and Deer from Collisions

Image: ©Brother Magneto/Flickr

It’s strange news, but a great sign of innovation that both helps a large keystone mammal come back from reduced population numbers and cull a troublesome species that is creating more and more road hazards every year. Brandon Keim reports for Conservation Magazine:

What’s one simple, inexpensive way to make driving safer?

Letting big predators live.

If mountain lions returned to the eastern United States, say researchers, their predatory habits would literally get white-tailed deer off the road, reducing collisions between drivers and deer by 22% over the next 30 years.

Continue reading

2.5 Minutes With David Lynch, Well Spent


Take a moment, just listen to this unusual, gifted man speak:

David Lynch on Where Great Ideas Come From

In 2008, The Atlantic sat down with the filmmaker David Lynch as he mused about inspiration and how to capture the flow of creativity. Now, we’ve animated his words of advice. “A lot of artists think that suffering is necessary,” he says. “But in reality, any kind of suffering cramps the flow of creativity.”