Sleeping Well on a Savoir Bed
Give it a rest at Soho's Savoir Beds.
February 07, 2011
The Savoir No. 1 Bed
If you’re one of the 60 million Americans suffering from a stress-related sleep disorder—or if you’re simply looking for the ultimate sleep experience—Savoir Beds is a savior. Located in the heart of Soho, Savoir allows its visitors to test-drive each bed (with espresso or prosecco served). But what really sets the beds apart is that each one is handmade to suit the recipient’s individual needs. “It’s the ultimate luxury in terms of being able to achieve the exact look and level of comfort you want,” says US creative director Roger Ericson. More good news: Made with natural materials like wool, cotton, and horse hair, the beds are also free of the toxins and allergens that are usually found in traditional mattresses. Savoir Beds, 28 Wooster St., 212-226-3640
Best In Show
The new kids' book by Karen Lefrak goes to the (champion) dogs.
January 21, 2011
In a city of canophiles, it’s a difficult task to claim the title of Greatest Lover of Poodles. But if anyone can, it’s Karen LeFrak. So when the winning dog breeder set out to write her third children’s book, Best In Show (Walker & Co.; $16.99), she made the most of her vast knowledge of the fluffy creatures. “They say it’s best to write about things you know,” she says. “I’ve been breeding and showing dogs for about 20 years, so I thought, Gee, what a great thing to teach children about—sportsmanship, camaraderie, competition… and standard poodles.”
The book, illustrated by Andrew Day, focuses on a youngster named Abby, who believes one of her poodle’s
puppies, Gem, is destined to win the top title at the Westminster Dog Show. Readers will see her overcome obstacles on her way to the big finish. Was any part of the story based on LeFrak’s real-life experiences?
“Absopoodley!” The Corner Bookstore, 1313 Madison Ave., 212-831-3554; walkerbooks.com
Graphic designer Rob Kimmel and his young son form an artistic daily duo
January 05, 2011
Picasso once said that all children are artists, and graphic designer Rob Kimmel of the recent hit blog WanderMonster is out to prove it. Everyday he slips a half-drawn illustration on a Post-It note into his son Ben’s lunch. Ben, who is currently in the second grade, finishes the drawing and Kimmel posts the finished works to the Lunch Post series, which was recently linked to by Wired and EW.com.
The ritual started as a way to stimulate Ben’s growing brain, but swiftly became a fun venture for both father and son. “[The project] started when he was learning how to read and do basic math,” Kimmel says. “It was a game where I would write a simple word that he could sound out, skip a letter and have him fill it out. As he got more sophisticated, they did too. Now he’s basically an equal partner. But that might be giving myself too much credit. Maybe he’s eclipsed me completely.”
The lunch posts started independently of WanderMonster, which was conceived as a travel blog. When he started the drawings, Ben’s school art teacher in Park Slope offered up the window at the front of the building to display them, and that’s when Kimmel started to see it as a legitimate body of work.
“We do things like this all the time,” Kimmel says. “Ben draws constantly. He’s also always building things. His main thing is that he makes up movies and series and movie posters. It’s never like a single movie, it’s a whole line of sequels and prequels. Right now he’s making comic books. He calls them graphic novels, but it’s not quite that grandiose yet.”
Ben was in school and thus unavailable for comment, but Kimmel relayed a story about the bright youngster: “A long-time client and friend of mine, who is Japanese, was very curious to hear what Ben would say about what it means to be an American,” Kimmel says. “Ben looked confused, paused and said, ‘I’m from Brooklyn.’” Spoken like a true budding New York artist.
Jackson Harris’ New York
By covering “Empire State of Mind,” Jackson Harris becomes the next pop sensation
January 03, 2011
It’s no minor undertaking to cover Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind,” but to do so as a singer-songwriter—not a rapper—is even more risky. Thankfully New Yorker Jackson Harris was up for the challenge.
“To cover Jay-Z’s song is obviously a big gamble,” Harris says. “I was at the Yankee game where they performed the song. It was amazing to be there, and to see Derek Jeter getting into the song made me realize that [it’s] New York’s next unofficial anthem. I wanted to do a spin on it that I thought would be attractive to people who like acoustic-driven music, but also get some respect from the hip-hop community. I’ve gotten some great well wishes.”
Harris and crew shot the video for his version in one day, spanning New York City from the streets of the Lower East Side to rooftops and subway platforms. He turns the city into his home, with a cab as his bedroom and a subway station as his kitchen.
“We wanted to capture New York City, to show the laidback, cool version of a song that is normally all about bravado," says Harris. "This song captured a sweeter, more pedestrian New York City.”
Harris just released his first EP, Long Story Short, on his own record label, 77East, which he started when he was 21. “What I wanted to do in creating my own label was to put out my EPs and give the fans as much as I can for their buck,” he says. “I grew up with Napster, so I understand the appeal of stealing things, so I just want to make it as affordable as possible. If I write a song today and finish it next week, there’s no reason my fans shouldn’t hear it the week after that, with no lag time.”
He also hopes to find upcoming talent and put them on his label. “I’ve been scouting for another artist to work with," he explains. "There’s so much talent out there. Nowadays, [because of YouTube], your bedroom is your window to 2 million people.”
And what is Harris’ state of mind when it comes to our beloved city? “I think I’ve honed a sound that’s honest," he says. "it’s pop rock but it’s rooted in real stories that are based in and around the people of New York City and the energy that the city has. I tried to imbue my music with that energy... so that when you listen to it, you feel like you’re right there on 63rd Street talking to me.”
A Whimsical Performance
Catch Shen Yun’s exhilarating dance and music
December 31, 2010
Immerse yourself in traditional Chinese culture by seeing a performance by Shen Yun—a dazzling array of traditional costumes, music and entrancing dance. Shen Yun aspires to beautifully illustrate traditional Chinese culture through historical studies of grace and wisdom, and to witness the display is something to remember. (January 6–16) David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, 212-721-6500
Glow with Glass
Glass art by Abby Modell stands in a class by itself
December 24, 2010
Artist Abby Modell’s LLe-Dom line features one-of-a-kind glass art in bold colors and contemporary shapes. Her fusion of solid objects and fluidity creates lively art that catches eyes and stimulates the imagination. Excellent to give as gift, too. 646-330-0022
Club Monaco unveils an online inspiration board worth checking out.
December 20, 2010
Find what inspires you at CM Culture Club—a new, exclusive digital inspiration board created by Club Monaco employees and their creative partners, including stylist Cator Sparks and photographer Victor Demarchelier. Scroll over the massive image collage, click on what looks cool, and learn things like Club Monaco's art director loves great-looking packaging or that a plate of Doughnut Plant doughnuts makes any morning sing. What else will you find? Select Club Monaco items that everyone will love.
Gary Vaynerchuk masters the universe of social media
December 17, 2010
Gary Vaynerchuk is living proof of the power of social media. In the late 1990s, he helped turn his parents’ New Jersey liquor store into a $60 million online retailer called Wine Library, due in part to his blogging and video wine reviews.
Today the 35-year-old has Facebooked, tweeted and Tumblr’ed his way to countless TV appearances; a second book, The Thank You Economy, out this March; “Wine & Web,” his Sirius satellite radio show; and VaynerMedia, the branding boutique agency he cofounded last year with his brother, which has worked with everyone from PepsiCo to his beloved New York Jets.
“The world’s changing and it’s changing fast,” he says. “People who are slow to the market play catch-up. I’m sure Blockbuster wishes they had embraced new technology before Netflix did. There are a lot of people in the reactionary business. ‘Who’s doing it best in our space? Show me an example and I will do it.’ That mentality is for second-place winners.”
Vaynerchuk’s claim for the next frontier? “I’m very bullish on texting,” he says. “I’m in love with this new company, Fast Society, a closed network where you can get 15 people from your phone onto a texting platform.”
But rather than just push, push, push, Vaynerchuk thinks more brands should be using sites like Facebook and Twitter to listen. “The fact that it’s OK for Bud Light or Pepsi or Pringles to speak to you on Twitter, and customers accept them and even enjoy speaking with brands—that’s crazy!” he exclaims. “That’s why The Thank You Economy talks to manners marketing—it’s like, give a crap, and you’ll be stunned what happens. Now that word-of-mouth is so powerful, good deeds and gestures have much more value.”
PHOTOGRAPH JOHN LEI
Ciara Brings It Back
With her new album Basic Instinct, Ciara sends a message
December 12, 2010
Ciara demands attention well before she commands the DJ booth at her album listening party at Veranda in the West Village, where she politely asks the crowd to ignore their cell phones while the album plays. The 808 kicks in, the bass drops and soon Ciara—who, at barely 25, is one of the youngest women in the R&B/hip-hop game—is dancing to her own music.
“I called this album Basic Instinct because it really is about taking it back to basics,” she tells me over the bass line of “Gimmie Dat,” the latest single off the record, which drops December 14. “I wanted to make something for the die-hard Ciara fans, something with that street edge to it.” She smiles, flips her hair over her shoulder and adds, “It’s also about fitting in with the hard rappers—being a female in that arena.”
The album stays true to that vision: Every song stresses female empowerment. The standout is “Yeah I Know,” the only track not produced by production power team The-Dream and Christopher “Tricky” Stewart. When it plays over the speakers, Ciara shouts, “This is my jam!” before taking the floor. She bobs as her recorded voice serenades, “I’m too qualified to waste my time/There’s a man out there who knows how to treat me/Boy, you’re not used to a girl of my kind.” Ciara calls herself “the princess of the A” on “Ride,” featuring Atlanta rapper Ludacris, and the album honors its home with heavy bass, lots of high-hat and a healthy mix of dance beats and R&B songs.
The production influence of The-Dream (of “Single Ladies,” “Umbrella,” and Justin Bieber’s “Baby”) is most evident on “You Can Get It” and “I Run It,” the album’s two über-slow jams. But even on tracks about love, Ciara purrs assertions of female dominance: “The next time they ask you/Tell ’em that I run it/Boy, you know I run it/It’s mine.” And underscoring the masculine themes, an off-hand sports reference: “If you’re ready to go/We can hit this thing off like first quarter.”
The most out-there track on the album is the reggae-infused “Wants for Dinner,” and after the party, I sit across from Ciara as she eats hers: fried chicken fingers, fries, and salad. As she makes a special request for a side of barbecue sauce, I urge her to continue our conversation about what this album means for Ciara’s female fans. “Men are naturally more aggressive,” she says. “As a female, you’ve got to hold your own, have self-respect and be confident.”
She adds that in crafting the album (a rarity amongst pop stars, her name appears in the liner notes of every song), she aimed to maintain a consistent message and sound. “We started this record from scratch, so everything comes back to the same place,” she says. “My fans are the most important people to me, and they always have been. I want them to really enjoy the album, to feel connected to it.”
In a post-Lady Gaga world, with Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna donning kaleidoscopic wigs, makeup and fashion to shift the public’s views of successful female artists, Ciara brings it home. The album is fun, yes, but it’s also Ciara holding her own in arguably the most male-dominated segment of the music industry. In one breath she encourages, “Girls, get your money/All my girls, get your money,” and in the next, “Don’t flash them dollars/Thinkin’ I’m gonna holler/Don’t play me for a dummy/’Cuz it ain’t all about the money.”
So Ciara contradicts herself. But in a world accustomed to cultural representations of women as the more one-dimensional of the two sexes, Ciara makes no apologies. If Jay-Z can wear a Che Guevara T-shirt with a platinum-diamond necklace, then she can tap the tile in six-inch stilettos and allow her talent to speak for itself. Ciara demands the respect she deserves, and with Basic Instinct she’s letting her fans know that they’re allowed to as well. Ciaraworld.com
Fashion on the Page
Masters of Fashion Illustration is a feast for the eyes
December 10, 2010
The sumptuously illustrated Masters of Fashion Illustration ($50) by David Downton beautifully showcases the most celebrated of these artists through their colorful and creative sketches. Downton includes his own portfolio in the conclusion of the book, but the bulk focuses on twentieth-century fashion illustrators like Giovanni Boldini, Tony Viramontes, Erté, Carl Erickson, René Bouché, Andy Warhol and Antonio Lopez.