Several months ago, in an ed’s letter gone by, I mentioned my desire for acquiring a farm. There are numerous reasons — obvious ones, such as growing my own food and getting closer to nature, and other, less obvious ones I will leave unexplored here, but for one. I long for the opportunity to work with my hands, on something that might, after some righteous toil, feel like love.
I imagine finding on my hypothetical property a family structure in want of some care, with odds and ends needing a careful chisel or a few hammer blows to be set straight. I can see a shed ready for conversion into a gym and content studio in which I can write and take bad photographs while the firstborn makes music. I can see it.
For ceramicists and designers Tatiana Baibabaeva and Tyson Strang, the rustic Finca Alfabia in Mallorca was that. All stone, sand, and largely self-restored, with an honest materiality that exudes an unexpected luxury.
In early December, I found myself amid a different kind of luxury, in the land of the technically free but not always brave. I had the privilege of taking in some of the world’s best art and design at Art Basel Miami and Design Miami, respectively. I will be writing more extensively about this in the weeks to come but, in this issue, I speak to Dutch solar designer Marjan van Aubel about a special sustainable project with Lexus unveiled in the same week in the Magic City, where bilingualism, Maga politics, and blush-worthy body positivity play out as uncomfortably as they do seamlessly in all that humidity.
the mood isn’t quite enthusiastic, but it is certainly contemplative, stress free, and not pandering to AI-powered fomo factories
As you page through our first issue of the year, dedicated to renewal, rejuvenation, and decisions that will shape 2024, the mood — if our contributors are anything to go by (they always are) — isn’t quite enthusiastic, but it is certainly contemplative, stress free, and not pandering to AI-powered fomo factories.
Sarah Buitendach rejects the algorithm-fuelled tyranny of Wall Pilates on her feed and advocates for something a bit kinder to the glutes, a “be better” lite perhaps, with a chilled glass of chenin as a just reward. Michele Magwood reviews a local guide to stressing less, as well as bestseller Morgan Housel’s thesis on the dawdling nature of the arc of change. Aspasia Karras advises us to avoid the inevitable frustrations of padel booking schedules and instead consider badminton, or any number of the wellness waves about to engulf us. Vagus-nerve stimulation, anyone?
The ever-lucid Dr Wamuwi Mbao says that when the demands of this relentless life have us feeling guilty about not checking off every task on our indomitable to-do lists, we would do well to leave the isolation lane and open up ourselves to the world.
So, essentially, you need to do what you do, in the manner in which you choose to do it. Whichever path you choose this year, let your choice reflect the things that are important to you, let it be completely your own and, as writer, poet, and academic (and newish gardener) Dr Athambile Masola gently urges, let’s strive to cultivate beauty. Always.