…or visit this area during the upcoming summer stretch (can you believe it’s here?), you have to check out Annisquam, both for its atmosphere and for its new food resource, discovered via the blog Food for Thought. Click on the title of this post to learn more…
When I go to Annisquam I’m reminded of the time several years ago I saw a very charming, home-made production of Brigadoon there by the Annisquam Village Players. It was an appropriate choice of a play for Annisquam, a village just like Brigadoon, wholly out-of-time. Yet somehow Annisquam manages to be entirely relevant, even cutting-edge. Quite a feat.
This week’s Interiors post is more about exteriors - which, during this time of year in New England, begin to take just as much importance, if not more, than our indoor surroundings. I just acquired this vintage metal garden chair whose patina seems to make it a part of the outdoors as it blends in against the stone and hostas.
For this session of Magazine Talk I’m skipping the actual editorial content and heading right toward the engine that moves any print vehicle these days: the ads.
I’m without much purchasing power but that doesn’t stop me from pouring over magazine ads with the attentiveness of a proof-reader (too bad I don’t do the same for my own text). Flipping through the pages of the latest Elle Decor, it didn’t take long before I found the winning ad, at least to my sensibilities: a full-page layout of Fort Street Studio’s hand-knotted wild silk carpet called “Glimmering Dawn”. Unfortunate name aside, OMG! as the kids say. I went on to discover Fort Street Studio’s entire line, and get thee hence, people. You won’t be sorry. Check out the photo of Glimmering Dawn… It looks like a painting - but you can walk on it. Not that I’ve ever had the urge to walk on a beautiful painting - or maybe I did, but didn’t realize it until I saw Glimmering Dawn.
A few weeks ago I read a great article on Irving Harper, a relatively (meaning a non-Eames-level superstar) unknown mid-century designer. You can check out the article by Guy Trebay in T Magazine here. Harper’s paper sculptures are visual treats - apparently he made 300 or so of them for his own amusement, stopping only when he ran out of room for them. Or turned 90 years old. Whichever came first. The strongest aspect of his personality, at least for me, emerged at the end of the interview, excerpted below.
When an admirer gave Harper an Apple computer in return for a gift of some vintage graphics, the designer hauled it to his upstairs studio, where it remains unused in a closet.
"With a computer there are too many choices, and I always liked working within limits," he said. "You know, if you look at Mozart, who had this strict classical framework - an allegro, an andante, a scherzo and a finale - you see that within that formula, he got results he might never have gotten if he had all the options in the world."
This struck me as undeniably true. And no, it’s not about refusing to utilize technology out of some sort of suspicion of its merit, rather, it’s about the limitations of limitlessness.
Is there a groundswell of agreement with the idea that limitation has its virtues? I would say yes. I’m thinking of the return of representational painting (praise be), utilizing form in poetry instead of free verse (even rap lyrics insist on constraint when it comes to rhyming), and, seemingly out of nowhere, a massive interest in conscientiously - and at times self-righteously - limiting your culinary options.
In a sense, limitation lies at the heart of the locavore movement (Is that hyphenated? Is that even what the movement is called now? I can’t keep up), albeit for reasons related to ethics more than anything else. After all, while we can get any spice we covet from any corner of the world at the most generic of grocery stores, for the first time we’re wondering if we should, just because we can. The recognition that throwing the larder doors open to any ingredient, no matter how exotic, does not necessarily make you a better cook or even necessarily make your food taste better, has been something of a revelation over the last few years.