In my never-ending quest to reduce the environmental impact of my own existence, I’ve spent countless afternoons assessing the shelves of my local grocery, asking myself which among the various household cleaners, from dish soap to laundry detergent, is the least bad. “‘Least bad’ is a term I use a lot myself,” the New York-based entrepreneur Amanda Weeks told me recently. Weeks is the founder of Ambrosia, a new company that aims to repurpose food waste into useful items — its debut product, an all-purpose surface cleaner called Veles, might even be considered, well, good. Made through a fermentation process that extracts the active ingredients (alcohol, acetic acid, lactic acid, water), each bottle diverts roughly two pounds of waste; for context, as of 2018, a single waste treatment plant in Brooklyn processed about 250 tons daily. In addition to its sustainable production, Veles, with its terra-cotta-hued aluminum bottle (aluminum can be recycled over and over without degrading) and scent of bergamot, peppermint and lavender, is made with the design-focused customer in mind. And it works. $20, veles.com.
Revisiting the Renaissance Through Instagram
While quarantining in London, the artist and photographer Mert Alas started thinking about the parallels between this time and the trying period preceding the Renaissance. “We haven’t had hundreds of years of plague and war, but we’ve had four interesting, difficult and sad months,” he says. The spell made him consider what might come next, and whether we’ll land on a new way of approaching art and fashion. To explore those questions, Alas put out a call to his Instagram followers in April for self-created images celebrating the human form, a major point of focus for Renaissance artists. He then whittled down the 2,000-some submissions to 50 before editing them to reflect his own point of view, changing colors, adding backgrounds and collaging. The resulting images, in which a Michelangelo-like nude might wear contemporary kicks, are a timeless celebration of the individual. Alas was also struck by how many of the original pictures showed ingenious ways of finding light, which can be hard to come by in quarantine. Yet this was also very fitting: “It’s about the world coming from dark to light,” Alas says. “The Quarantine Days Renaissance Project” launches on @mertalas today.
The Los Angeles-based jewelry designer Anna Sheffield has been vegetarian ever since she was 16. Which means that over the years, she’s learned how to be as creative in the kitchen with her own meals as she is with her designs. “Your standard dragon bowl is such a classic vegetarian macrobiotic meal,” Sheffield says of her favorite dish, which combines vegetables, protein and sauce. But, she adds, “once you’ve eaten it for 20 years, you’re a little bored with the basic brown-rice version.” Recently, she transformed the healthy staple into one inspired by the juxtapositions often seen in her necklaces, rings or earrings — pieces in which she often mixes metals and stones in unusual ways, embracing imperfection or intentionally setting gems upside down. “I like playing with rule-breaking techniques,” she says. “It’s still beautiful. It’s still precious. It still makes sense. But you’ve done it in a way that no one else would.” Her dragon bowl follows the same conceit, except she combines ingredients in a spectrum of flavors and hues. “You have the sweetness of the orange-yellow squash. And then you have the herbaceousness of the jade rice and the fresh fennel; that’s green-tasting. And then you get a little bit of sour and funky with both the purple beet kraut and the cabbage slaw.” For the recipe, visit tmagazine.com.
1970s Photographs of a Jewish Summer Camp
There’s an added aura of intensity to images made by photographers who died young, as if their short lives were brewed stronger, as if there were more life in each frame. In the case of the photographer Andy Sweet, add to that the aura of his long-unresolved murder at the age of 28, of his contact sheets rediscovered in a storage unit decades later, and you might barely be able to see his pictures at all. But Sweet, whose talent was recognized even in his youth, never needed the trappings of tragedy to make visible his vibrancy. Born in 1953 to a prominent Miami Beach family, the photographer captured the community’s seniors, many of them Holocaust survivors, in all their colorful splendor. A book of those images, “Shtetl in the Sun” (2019), serves as a companion to a new one, out this month, called “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” in which the pendulum swings the other way, to the gawky angles of puberty. Taken over the course of the ’70s at Camp Mountain Lake in North Carolina, where Sweet was camper, then counselor, then photography teacher, the smell of sunscreen and wood cabins wafts from the pages. High socks and short shorts, amber sunglasses and halos of curly hair — the nostalgia is for all summers, including this one, the summer we may never have. $34.95, letter16press.com.
At a time when most of us are thinking about everything and anything but getting dressed, I’ve found myself wondering if clothing really matters to me at all anymore. If I’m being honest, I barely make it out of my (at this point threadbare) pajamas every day. What I’ve settled on, at least for now, is that wearing something soft, well-made and maybe a little bit indulgent is as good a way of lifting one’s spirits as a roughly shaken margarita, a pan of gooey brownies or a brisk walk outside. To that end, the Row has created a capsule collection with the German shopping website MyTheresa, which recently donated 10 percent of its profits from the month of March (350,000 euros) to the Red Cross’s Covid-19 relief efforts. As investment pieces that are made to offer comfort this summer and for many to come, the seven separates come in all shades of cream, and include a few shirt dresses, a cozy fishnet-knit sweater, some stretchy ’70s-style flared trousers and a really lovely silk and cashmere ribbed twin set. It will be available June 3, just after you’re officially allowed to wear white pants out (or in). mytheresa.com.
From T’s Instagram