Best of CH 2021: Editors’ Favorites

Immersive films, polar bear excursions and more of our favorite features this year

Reflecting back on the year through the stories we loved most is not only a nostalgic pastime, but it also lets us highlight and appreciate some of the memorable artists, inventions and places that invigorated and sustained us along the way. This year, we came face to face with polar bears in Manitoba, delved into 3D sound, toured the studio of world-renowned conceptual artists and so much more. Below, our favorite features from 2021 capture the spirit of the year, while providing hope and inspiration to continue innovating, growing and evolving in the next.

Courtesy of An American Prayer / Nusrat Durrani

“An American Prayer” Ponders the Achievability of the American Dream

Film producer and creative Nusrat Durrani‘s new documentary, An American Prayer, responds directly to a question posed by Vincent Harding in a 2007 essay titled Is America Possible? “As Harding asked then, we ask now: Is America possible?” the film’s synopsis prefaces. “There are millions of untold tales of conflict, transcendence and exhilaration in our beautiful but bewildering country that are never seen on TV. These are the stories of our lives. The embodied policies of a nation wrestling with the project of democracy while the world watches with bated breath”… Read more.

By Alexandre Corda

Inside Conceptual Artist Duo Christo + Jeanne-Claude’s Downtown NYC Home + Studio

More than 50 years ago, following a stint at the Chelsea Hotel, world-renowned conceptual artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude moved into two floors of a slender industrial building in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood. There, they lived—and developed large-scale installations like “The Gates,” “The Umbrellas” and “The Pont Neuf Wrapped“—until Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009 and Christo’s in 2020. Though private, the residential floor frequently welcomed friends of the couple while the studio doubled as a showroom for Christo’s works. Today, both floors remain imbued with their artistic energy… Read more.

Courtesy of Pooneh Ghana/HARD FEELINGS

The Making of Amy Douglas + Joe Goddard’s HARD FEELINGS

A seemingly reticent but brilliant British producer, and a bawdy New York songstress, Joe Goddard of Hot Chip and Amy Douglas possess the underpinnings of a legendary pop duo. One is a master of electronic music; the other, a rock and jazz performer and a self-confessed “Brill-Building-nerd-level singer-songwriter.” But these two apparently disparate identities have plenty of overlap (a love of pop music and great songwriting being paramount) and they collide in a gloriously theatrical manner as HARD FEELINGSRead more.

By Jenny Wong

Word of Mouth: Polar Bear + Wildlife Safaris in Churchill, Manitoba

Nestled on the shores of Canada‘s Hudson Bay, a part of the Arctic Ocean that completely freezes shore-to-shore for over half the year, the town of Churchill, Manitoba is separated from the provincial capital of Winnipeg by over 600 miles of boreal forest and sub-arctic tundra. Churchill is not reachable by road; the only way in or out is by overnight train or a two-hour flight from Winnipeg. Several of the Arctic’s nomadic communities including the Dene, Thule and Cree people have inhabited this region for millennia… Read more.

“the bomb” by Smriti Keshari and Eric Schlosser, courtesy of Dan Bradica

Smriti Keshari + Eric Schlosser’s 59-Minute Immersive Multimedia Experience, “the bomb”

the bomb—created by Smriti Keshari and Eric Schlosser—debuted in 2016, on the final night of the Tribeca Film Festival. The audience, standing huddled, watched as electronic band The Acid performed an album-length sonic experiment over a 360-degree visual accompaniment: archival footage and apocalyptic (yet informative) animations about nuclear weapons. Then it toured other festivals—the Berlin Film Festival, Glastonbury—and eventually appeared online for at-home viewers. Now, a reimagined version is on view at Brooklyn’s Pioneer WorksRead more.

Courtesy of Google

Ivy Ross + Suchi Reddy Explain Their Design Process For The First-Ever Google Store

Architect and designer Suchi Reddy (founder of the firm Reddymade) worked with Ivy Ross (Google‘s VP of Hardware Design) and Nathan Allen (Google’s Head of Store Design and Special Projects) to realize the technology brand’s first-ever physical retail store. Opened last month in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood, the first Google Store allows visitors to get hands-on with their devices—be that the Nest, Pixel, FitBit or others—but also lets guests better understand the ethos behind these products and Google’s software, too… Read more.

Courtesy of Syng

Syng’s Cell Alpha Speaker Aims to Revolutionize Home Audio Experiences

Syng‘s Cell Alpha is more than a speaker; it’s part hardware, part software and a high-tech audio product that provides an immersive experience for users whether they are listening to music, podcasts, watching TV or films or playing video games. Thanks to its Triphonic tech (aka three channels), the Cell Alpha floods space with what the brand calls “smart sound.” Within the anatomy of the Cell Alpha sits the Triphone, which is made up of three horns and two drivers that include mid-range and tweeters. Sandwiched between a top and bottom woofer, the 3D-printed ceramic-based compound is formed into a transformational sound delivery system and its neighboring open spaces are engineered to produce optimal sound… Read more.

Courtesy of O’Shaughnessy Distilling Co

Craft Irish-American Whiskey from Minneapolis-Based O’Shaughnessy Distilling Co

It’s not often that a large new distillery is born from scratch. One such rare distillery, O’Shaughnessy Distilling Co, has a unique story predicated upon a one-of-a-kind ambition and the adventure that followed. It was only three years ago that two cousins of Irish descent, Michael and Patrick O’Shaughnessy, decided that they would create one of the first new distilleries in the US specifically focused on craft Irish-style whiskey. Their dream has come true. Open in Minneapolis, O’Shaughnessy Distilling Co distillery is one of the most impressive new distilleries in the US… Read more.

Courtesy of Papa & Barkley

Interview: Guy Rocourt, Co-Founder of Cannabis Company, Papa & Barkley

When cannabis-based wellness brand Papa & Barkley launched in 2016, the world was a very different place. While Adam Grossman (co-founder and executive chairman) and Guy Rocourt (co-founder, president and chief product officer) and their team continue to focus on cannabis products that positively affect the mind and body, they’re also acutely aware of the different stresses of the “new” existence we’re collectively experiencing. It makes sense then, that their new suite of products centers on sleep, rest and relaxation… Read more.

“The Part You Throw Away” by Joakim Ojanen, shot by Arturo Sanchez and courtesy of The Hole

Joakim Ojanen’s Ceramic Creatures Capture the “Essence of Being Human”

Joakim Ojanen‘s sculptural cast of oddball characters captures feelings of childhood, adulthood and the awkward transformation in-between. Through semi-human and semi-monster ceramics and paintings, the Swedish artist crafts an ensemble of adolescent creatures whose juxtaposing compositions evoke nuanced and often conflicting emotions. His new NYC exhibit, The Part You Throw Away, sees the artist more personally than ever before… Read more.

Hero image of “the bomb” by Smriti Keshari and Eric Schlosser, courtesy of Dan Bradica