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A Boutique Hideaway in Southern California
Nestled in the foothills of Griffith Park in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles is the Cara, a 60-room boutique hotel that calls to mind an idyllic Mediterranean getaway. Once the site of a 1950s-era motel, the property underwent an extensive 18-month renovation in 2019 and now includes a grand whitewashed tower that’s host to a magnificent lobby with olive and cream travertine and limestone tiles. The rooms — which are decorated in a soothing palette of beige and ivory — feature either breezy patios or balconies and are stocked with JuneShine hard kombucha and coffee from the nearby cafe Maru. Each terrace faces the central courtyard, a serene, palm-shaded space with a pool at its center and 100-year-old olive trees at either end. Lest guests forget that they are, in fact, in California, though, at the hotel’s namesake restaurant and bar the chef Michael Patria serves dishes — such as watermelon and tomato gazpacho, and ceviche made with snapper sourced from the waters near Santa Barbara — that prioritize sustainable produce from local farms. Rooms from $299, carahotel.com.
Of all the quarantine hobbies out there, the one occupying art world veteran Noah Wunsch might be the most unusual. Determined to curb his sugar cravings (Wunsch has an unrelenting sweet tooth), he discovered the zero-calorie, high-antioxidant properties of hibiscus water and began concocting his own formula in his New York kitchen, taste-testing each batch with his family while they stayed at home. The resulting beverage, Ruby, which launches this month, is as beautiful in color (a deep shade of red) as it is bright and tangy in taste. It’s also fair trade, organic and sustainably packaged, and, perhaps most importantly for Wunsch, contains no sugar — or only a very slight amount (the brand currently offers two versions: the original, which is absolutely sugar-free, and a lightly sweetened iteration, with others to come). Sugar addiction has as much to do with marketing as it is a chemical response, notes Wunsch, referring to the way sweet treats and sodas are typically packaged (in flashy wrappers and bottles), and “we really wanted to play with the idea that fun can be more than just sweet.” This is where Wunsch’s love of art and design came in handy: To further instill the brand with a sense of joy, the Ruby team created the Rubyverse, an experience that extends beyond the bottle to include fantastical illustrations depicting a hibiscus forest filled with wide-eyed characters called Shmees by the Berlin-based artist Sharmila Banerjee, and a newsletter with recommended articles, music, books and more. But the most enticing part of Ruby is its crisp hibiscus flavor: delightful, refreshing and perfect for spring. From around $4, ruby.fun.
Timeless Bags Designed to Endure
This week, the handbag designer Amy Zurek, whose résumé includes stints at the Row, Coach and Khaite, launched her own brand: Savette. Its inaugural collection consists of three geometric styles — there’s a structured rectangle, a soft oval and one that is a perfect blend of the two — with hardware designed after Modernist sculpture and jewelry that comes in silver or gold. Zurek regards each piece as a kind of heirloom, and was inspired by the strong women in her family: Savette is the maiden name of her mother, whose refined style informed the look of the line (her favorite bag to carry was a deep blue Hermès Kelly). Zurek’s maternal grandmother had an extensive jewelry collection that her granddaughter would rummage through, while Zurek’s paternal grandmother was a seamstress with a keen eye for construction and pattern making, skills that the designer inherited. Each bag is handmade by a family of third-generation artisans outside Florence who use high-quality, sturdy leather that’s considered an alternative to box leather, which has traditionally been favored by heritage saddle and leather goods houses but is vulnerable to scratches. The collection’s neutral color palette — black, brown, tan and white — adds to its timeless appeal. What’s more, each bag has a three-way convertible strap and can be worn as a cross-body, a shoulder bag or, if you tuck the strap inside, a short handle bag. As Zurek notes, “They give you a heritage luxury sensibility with a modern twist.” Price on request, savette.com.
The Futuristic Bunkers of Doug Meyer
The artist Doug Meyer, known for his popular “Cameo” series, recently debuted “Wyldlands”: an imagined resort town filled with florescent surrealist buildings in miniature. (The pieces range from 13 to 24 inches tall.) Set in the year 2037, in Arizona’s Sonoran desert, the installation — currently on view at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York — imagines a future where pandemics are the norm and elites have constructed a safe haven, called Wyldlands, to which they can slip away and live out their fantasies without risk of infection. Look closely at each of the 15 wildly exuberant mixed-media sculptures and you’ll notice that these playful buildings — one is modeled after a goldfish, with bulging eyes and glittering fins, another after a bird, its plumage a cotton-candy pink — are, in fact, bunkers, their middles hollowed out to house tiny figurines of people either in pods or in complete isolation. Meyer began creating the structures a year ago, in the early days of lockdown, when he felt struck by the emptiness of the streets and the feelings of solitude he experienced as he walked the eight blocks from his New York City apartment to his studio. “We didn’t know much about Covid-19,” he recalls. “And as the pandemic evolved, the bunkers evolved. People started forming pods, so I added figures to show how we’re all living in our own little bubbles.” Working with wood, plaster, epoxy, resin and plexiglass, he also added such tiny details as flowers, trees and even vintage-style glass eyes. While the culminating works are dystopian in concept, there’s something strangely uplifting about their madcap vibrancy. “Wyldlands” is on view at Daniel Cooney Fine Art through May 8, 508 West 26th Street, New York, danielcooneyfineart.com.
The Saudi Arabian-born, Madrid-based designer Faisal AlFadda founded LOolios last year with the idea of making beautiful genderless garments inspired by the work of masterful artists from the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Henri Matisse, Joan Miró and Vincent van Gogh. The label’s summer Landscape collection, which launched this month, was also born from a road trip that AlFadda took, not long before lockdown, from the south of Spain to the north of Portugal. Easy to wear, and ideal for the coming months, the pieces include comfy sweatsuits in pale blue, powder pink and mint green; perfectly tailored khaki pants; crisp white button-downs; and T-shirts embroidered with delicate floral motifs. (The brand also recently debuted a line of denim.) A highlight of the collection — which on the whole is colorful yet subdued — is the idyllic, hand-painted landscape prints by AlFadda that adorn many of the silhouettes and were inspired by scenes from his trip. His designs speak to our need to feel emboldened by the world around us. As AlFadda sees it, fashion is about “uniting art and the human in a completely personal way, and without obvious distinctions of gender.” loolios.com.
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