AltLuxe

Posts from the “Living Well” Category

Doing the holidays, right.

Posted on December 25, 2015

  I am an unabashed lover of the time that starts just before Thanksgiving and runs to about mid-January. It’s the darkness. The layering and the coats. The focus on bringing light into the world. The way people just smile at you on the street, even though you know they’re over-stressed, over-fed, and under-rested. I even like the shopping, yes I do. And the wrapping. And the giving. Here’s what makes me love the season so… The smells. It is all about the cedar and juniper and fir. And the decadent Feu de bois candle. And a new favorite since last year: my German wooden Dragon Smoker from legendary toy company Dregeno (extra points for its utter ridiculousness) and its Crottendorfer incense cones. I’m also newly in love with Lite + Cycle’s Urban…

The gift of procrastination

Posted on December 10, 2015

When I think about what impedes the quality of my life, about what saps both my pleasure and my energy, it’s got to be procrastination. But not in the way you’d think. While I procrastinate a LOT, I think the problem is the quality of my procrastination, not the fact that I do it, or even do a lot of it (which I do). Google “procrastination” and you get all these ways to stop it, get around it, get beyond it. It is evil. It gets in the way of progress, moving forward, making things happen, growth, achievement. All those things that are what we (in the west) are supposed to be about. Yes of course, there’s “bad” procrastination: not getting important work done (note the word, important); putting…

Undone by design

Posted on November 16, 2015

Just over a year ago, my partner and I moved house. Radically different from what we’d lived in before, it required a big rethink of how we wanted the space to be. And it was more than that: moving house was something I’d done a dozen or so times before, but this time it was about making home. This was great. I adore design. I work in a design-focused company and write a blog about craft, design, and aesthetics. I hang out with people who venerate “Design”. (Cue grand music.) As a result I consume an endless succession of shelter magazines, blogs and books and my head is daily filled with beautiful spaces, places, and things. I have a sense of my own style. I have opinions. So doing my own space would be…

Collected stories

Posted on October 11, 2015

It seems to be that if you like the finer things in life, and are far enough along to have a lot of the basics taken care of, at some point you will confront the “c” word.  As in collecting. As in being a collector. As in having a collection. I think the first time I was aware of the idea of a collector was when I was living in Hong Kong. I visited the home of a lovely man named Paul Braga, a member of one of the oldest Portuguese families there. My 7 year old self was awed by a collection of snuff bottles. I had no idea of what they were. What on earth was snuff? I was told. (Yuck, said I, the 7…

The thing about things

Posted on September 7, 2015

At long last, I’m weighing in on the unlikely book that blew the minds of publishers everywhere: a book from a little known (in the West, at least) Japanese home organization consultant. I’m of course talking about Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. But I’m not that surprised. Because the book taps into a very deep craving for the values she’s espousing. The values of pleasure and joy and ruthlessness and clarity. The book is not just another self-help book (though there are some embarrassingly awesome ideas on how to organize your underwear drawer): it’s a philosophy for living and even consuming. For those who’ve been otherwise occupied, the book is nominally about de-cluttering. But it’s not it’s not the usual one about…

End of empire stuff

Posted on August 2, 2015

Despite the fact that the world is full of strife on one end and bad taste on the other,  I’m not one to let these things get me too terribly down. But there was one thing that really got me depressed and truth be told, disgusted. Entitled “Instagram: Retail’s Holy Grail” (behind the FT paywall) the piece reported that  “millennial females’ anxieties about appearing too many times in the same outfit in their internet photographs is driving fundamental changes in the way they shop.” Selfie culture is driving Millennialistas to buy cheaper, more often. Says Jamie Merman, an analyst for Sanford Bernstein, “Faster is absolutely better because part of the selfie phenomenon is that women want changing trends, and current trends, quicker.” So wrong. Vile, in fact. They sell or…

Don’t settle. When ethics are not enough.

Posted on July 9, 2015

Don’t get me wrong. I do love bunnies. I do love artisans. I do love the earth. I do love people (for the most part). But the Ethical Marketing Machine? Not so much. I used to be a big fan. I used to believe that by consuming sustainable/ethically sourced products, we could change the earth. After a good 40 years of this (it all started, slowly, in the ’60s) there may be some evidence that it’s moved the needle slightly, more in food than in any other category; maybe in packaging; and possibly – slowly – in clothing, though I’m not so sure that 10 years out from Rana Plaza there won’t be another sweatshop fire in Myanmar or Mongolia or East LA, or wherever cheap production has…