Welcome! What a time to return to work from maternity leave. Everyone at Curbed—along with the majority of those reading this—are now at home all the time in the midst of a global pandemic. Now that I’m back online for a good portion of the day, and reading even more news, I’m looking for ways to decompress in my time off. Comfort and entertainment at home, plus some timely advice and novel coronavirus coverage from the Curbed staff, are what I’ll be focusing on in this newsletter for the next few weeks. Everyone please take care, wherever you are sheltered in place! —Kelsey
The Great Sofa Caper, contd.
I am presently ensconced in our apartment in Washington, D.C., with my husband—who is still on parental leave—and our four-month-old. We’ve been voluntarily sheltering in place for close to three weeks, including an extended stay at my parents’ home in Tennessee. We did not go out, or order in, or see friends. We did spend a lot of time congregating on their sofa.
Last year, I spent a ton of time on a sofa hunt, assessing and comparing and debating merits. In the end, we decided to keep the one we had—future proofing against baby-generated stains and, I suppose, taking the route of delayed gratification. So it was with genuine enthusiasm that we found ourselves lolling all over my mom’s new sofa—an 86-incher with beautiful white (Crypton!) fabric and a bench cushion. Now that we’re all stuck inside our homes 24 hours a day, it’s not lost on me that possessing one’s dream sofa would freaking rule.
Free, virtual entertainment to keep you informed and inspired:
- Indianapolis Museum of Art curator Shelley Selim took Instagram followers on a video tour of the museum’s shuttered design gallery (the largest in the U.S.!), through the lens of women designers in the permanent collection.
- Via Twitter, former LA Times editor Carolyn Kellogg cracked open her retro design books to yield sometimes hilarious, arguably prescient decorating advice. Ideal for anyone with a hankering for a hobby and/or a yearning to think about something other than the year 2020.
- Sight Unseen is using time that would be otherwise occupied by Salone anticipation :( to tap into its network of Cool Design People, now hosting IG story “seminars” every afternoon at 2 p.m. One particular fave entailed curator/personality Matylda Krzykowski wandering through the desert around Andrea Zittel’s Joshua Tree compound.
Meanwhile, I am very curious what rabbit holes you all are diving into, and what old books you’re pulling off your shelves. 1960s Japanese ikebana? Terence Conran’s The House Book? Goodnight Moon for nursery decor inspo? Tell me whatcha got!
This week in tabs
- Thanks to Zoom, now we’re all peeping at “the kind of home office you would expect the wealthy chief executive of one of the world’s most powerful technology companies to have.” Well guess what? You can also hack your own.
- “I’m lonely. Please let me look at your face.” An argument for sharing our boring home lives on Instagram.
- A profile of the “guru of guerrilla architecture and dean of all things D.I.Y.” that will make you want to rebuild your living room like a treehouse before this is over.
- If the flokati rug was good enough for Alexander the Great, it’s good enough for us! Read the backstory, then buy the author’s new book detailing the curious histories behind 60 common household objects.
- Macro predictions for our future: scary, but philosophically necessary for not getting trapped in the now. (Bonus: Alexandra Lange on parks.)
On my mind
Rest in power, Michael Sorkin. The brilliant writer, critic, and teacher died last week after contracting COVID-19. We exist in a time when terror, sadness, and delight all coexist, and frankly I don’t know how to grapple with this news. I’m not the only one grieving in the architecture community: Mark Lamster writes that Sorkin made him want to be a critic; Michael Kimmelman describes Sorkin as a “moral force about big ideas and about the granular experience of life at the level of the street”; and Michael Bierut quotes Sorkin’s acerbic 1985 review of a proposed Trump skyscraper. Reacquaint yourself with Sorkin’s unique sensibility through this collection of his essays.
- Single-use super glue is sheer genius. That’s it, that’s the rec.
- Ace & Jig turns its fabric remnants into patch kits that it puts up for sale every so often. For those in a mending state of mind (more on this next week!), you can’t beat these scraps in terms of pattern, color, and texture. Furthermore, all profits from patch kits will be donated to Meals on Wheels.
- As I type this, I’m watching my baby daughter whack at a so-called “play gym” I put together out of a wooden frame and a variety of toys (crinkle, rattle, rubber teether) hanging from colorful O-rings. I’m pretty pleased with myself, but it has occurred to me that she may prefer the cheapo all-plastic light-up version at her grandparents’ house. If you have any tips for baby-tested distraction items, send ’em my way!
Big thanks to Mercedes Kraus, from whom I’m taking back the newsletter baton this week. Do make sure to follow her on Insta at @merxaus for further nuggets of home wisdom, keep reading Curbed for her masterful editing, and visit the Editor’s Notes archive for any you might have missed.