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An Ayurvedic Spa Along the California Coast
When the Proper Hotel opened in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2019, its mix-and-match furnishings and earthy tones, by Los Angeles-based interior designer Kelly Wearstler, underscored a sense of relaxed sophistication. Now, in collaboration with Martha Soffer, founder of the wellness brand Surya, the property has debuted its 3,000-square-foot flagship Ayurvedic spa. The addition comprises six serene treatment rooms, each painted in hues that correspond to the body’s three doshas (or energies): There’s vata (yellow), believed to govern the body’s physical and mental activity; pitta (blue), digestion and metabolism; and kapha (red), the immune system. Appointments begin with a pulse reading to determine a client’s dominant dosha, after which treatment plans — including massages, meditation sessions and other therapeutic practices — aim to restore harmony to the mind, body and spirit. Among the spa’s many offerings is the panchakarma, a series of detoxifying meals and treatments, the latter of which last four hours a day, and can be booked for up to 28 consecutive days. The package includes abhyanga, a hot oil massage in which four hands work in perfect choreography to soothe tension and leave skin looking youthful, and shirodara, in which herbalized oil infusions are poured in a gentle stream over the forehead. For guests who may have less time to spare, Ayurvedic scrubs, steams and deep-tissue massages are also offered. “This is part of my dharma,” says Soffer. “It’s what I love doing.” properhotel.com.
Two years ago, I wrote about Diaspora Co., an Oakland, Calif.-based direct-to-consumer company founded by Sana Javeri Kadri, who wanted to shake up the spice trade after having realized that spices could be given the single-origin treatment in the same way as coffee or chocolate. Her first offering — a potent, earthy turmeric — was a hit. Today, Diaspora now carries over 15 different spices, ethically sourced from either India or Sri Lanka, and offers its farmers at least double to six times the commodity price (and is also aiming to provide health insurance to all of their farming partners by the end of the year). Launching today are three new spices, including a wild heimang sumac, which Javeri Kadri discovered through Hill Wild, who sourced the berry from farmers living in the Manipuri village of Ningthi, just east of the Burmese border. “It has these black tea notes,” says Javeri Kadri. “It’s sour, a little bitter and wonderfully complex.” Sumac is ideal for everything from mussakhan, a Palestinian-style roast chicken with caramelized onions, to dusting atop your avocado toast. While you’re at it, try Diaspora’s new wild ajwain (otherwise known as carom seeds, which have well-known health benefits) or byadgi chili, which is “more for color or sweetness than heat,” says Javeri Kadri, who suggests treating it almost like paprika. And if you’re in need of more inspiration, Diaspora now also features recipes, from a massaman curry to strawberry crumble cardamom bars. From $12, diasporaco.com.
The Work of Phoebe Boswell, Made in Lockdown
Before the pandemic, the London-based Kenyan artist Phoebe Boswell spent much of her time drawing portraits of fishermen who, within her body of work, represent the fictional ancestors of a futuristic utopia located off the coast of Zanzibar, once Africa’s largest eastern slave port. “I was thinking about how difficult it is to imagine the future,” she says, “to imagine freedom. We’re so confined to our own lived experience.” As the world went into lockdown last year, Boswell — who is at risk for severe illness from Covid-19 — found herself wrestling with an uncertain, and unknowable, future. To cope, she began drawing self-portraits and other works based on images she either posted to or saw on social media, as well as painting vignettes of scenes taken from her walks to and from her studio, documenting her time in isolation. “Still Life: A Taxonomy of Being,” on view at New York City’s Sapar Contemporary through June 12, compiles all 49 of these works. In one, Boswell sketches an image that was originally posted to Instagram by the art critic Jerry Saltz of two people embracing with the words “I just want to be touched again.” In another, a yellow electrical box, rendered in watercolor, contains a label reading “Ever Present Danger.” And a video titled “Notes on a Pandemic” (2021) plays sounds of heavy breathing and coughing, yet another marker of this long, harrowing year. “Still Life: A Taxonomy of Being” is on view through June 12 at Sapar Contemporary, 9 North Moore Street, New York, N.Y. 10013, saparcontemporary.com.
Ulla Johnson’s Debut Swimwear Collection
This week, the New York-based fashion designer Ulla Johnson is taking her signature earthy prints and breezy bohemian vibe to the beach with the launch of her first line of swimwear, cover-ups and warm-weather accessories. There’s a maillot-style suit with string-thin straps that delicately crisscross at the back, a flossy bikini and a one-strap two-piece with high-waisted bottoms, among others. All of the pieces come in a series of tie-dye and in-house prints culled from the designer’s pre-fall ready-to-wear-collection inspired by Japanese Komon kimono fabrics, which are known for their fine patterns. To match, there are sarong skirts and light cotton cover-ups along with natural-toned platform espadrilles, a straw tote with hand-braided leather handles and a bottle-shaped basket bag made for carrying your sundowner of choice. From $110, ullajohnson.com.
The idea for Namu Home Goods, a new line that sells handcrafted woodwork by artisans from Korea, came to the Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Diana Ryu while she was lying on an acupuncturist’s bed, with needles scattered across her face and body. “The art world in America is a Eurocentric space,” she says, “and so is home décor.” Determined to change that, Ryu launched Namu, which means “tree” in Korean, late last month with a range of elegant, one-of-a-kind offerings, from moon jars to charred-oak plates to tiny two-pronged forks. Notable pieces include artist Choi Sung Woo’s delicate Ginkgo Leaf servers, a pair of hand-carved spoons made from Korean birch whose spindly handles lead to a wider surface that resembles the namesake plant. Then there’s Kim Min Wook’s sculptural fluted vase, the vessel’s form made from the wood of a persimmon tree. Meanwhile, a series of small, footed dishes carved out of black walnut by the craftsman Heum Namkung are minimalist, austere but also playful. Though wood remains a central tenet of the brand, Ryu’s next project, a collaboration with her husband, the artist and actor Joseph Lee, is a limited-edition print of a solitary branch in hues of umber and putty. namuhomegoods.com.
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