At Home: COOL HUNTING in April

Our team strives for connection with a life in quarantine

Inspiration, above all else, drives this website. For many of us, nothing inspires quite like travel—whether that’s repeat visits to the Catskills or Salone del Mobile in Milan or taking one’s first steps on Antarctica. We’ve often channeled our experiences on the road, at hotel openings, distilleries and international events into stories that we hope compel others to seek out similar adventures—or any at all, for that matter. With our time on pause in New York and in quarantine in our homes (or as guests in others’ homes), we’re grateful for our safety and have become markedly more self-reflective in this time, amid our calls for supporting those who need help the most right now.

Recently, we tasked ourselves with looking at what we’ve loved this past month, and what we’ve needed. Unsurprisingly, need was interpreted in two ways: what people realized they were without, and what people realized they’d acquired and found to be a necessary part of their experience. You won’t find product recommendations here. Rather, below are areas we’ve looked at for fulfillment for ourselves—and perhaps you can look there too, if you aren’t already consumed by a sourdough starter.

We invite you to answer these two questions, as well. Share your answers, if you like, through the Contact Us tab at the top of the page.

Over the last month, what have you learned to love?

“Over the last month I have learned to love tie-dye. I mean, I already loved it, but my appreciation for it within the new world context is next level,” says Josh Rubin, COOL HUNTING’s Founder and Executive Creative Director. “I started making tie-dyes in middle school. They were mediocre at best and along the way I managed to ruin many things in my grandmother’s Jewish Contemporary off-white home. I’ve dabbled in dyeing again and again over the years with each result a little more satisfying than the one before. While sheltering in place, however, dyeing has become a thread that stitches one day to the next. It’s a 24-hour, five-step process that requires brief moments of focus and extended periods of patience. The beauty and the charm is that no matter how much I plan, the results are a surprise. And such is life.”

by Josh Rubin

“I’ve learned to love my collection of printed works—magazines, pamphlets, flyers, menus. I may have sacrificed the innards of a few of them for collage projects, but I love them with their holes just the same,” says Evan Malachosky, Assistant Editor. “Somehow they’ve become more valuable by having something to offer the canvas works.”

“Contact with strangers, which used to make me anxious” says Katie Olsen, Director of Editorial. “These days I’ll wave at everybody/anybody who catches my glance. I asked an older gentleman sitting on his stoop how he was doing and we had a nice talk about our favorite neighborhood stray cats. Chatted with a woman about how we have mysterious daffodils sprouting on our street. Met a couple taking their puppy on her first-ever walk. Shouted across the rooftops with neighbors we had never met.”

“As someone who never cooked before, I’ve learned to love my kitchen knives. For the first time in my life, I’ve used every knife in my rack. I’ve needed the fish knife and the bread knife. I never thought that would happen—but the experience has taught me the inherent value of the design of each… how they make their task easier,” says David Graver, Editor in Chief.

“I’ve loved cooking a lot again. I’ve loved catching up with people I think about often but am not as in touch with as I’d like. I love trying to figure out how to make our path through this, what the world will be like, and how we can fit in and serve the creative community,” says Evan Orensten, Founder and Executive Editor. “I’ve learned to love tie-dye, too. We adopted a dog a few weeks before we started sheltering in place, and I’m loving creating that new bond.”

Over the last month, what have you realized you need?

“I need a dining room table. Or any table. A table with four sides and four chairs—or eight—and plenty of room for both spreading out while I work and assembling the day’s meals. Plus, I could eat there instead of standing at my window’s ledge,” Malachosky says of his StuyTown apartment.

by Katie Olsen

“Nature,” Olsen says from Greenpoint. “Which was already fully evident, but the understanding that I can’t be in it for a long time makes it all the more visceral. It’s also made me homesick. I’ve taken to listening to the sounds of rosellas and kookaburras and waves; imagining the smell of gum trees and petrichor; picturing dusty red dirt, leathery eucalyptus leaves, seagrass, saltbush, craggy sandstone cliffs, banksias, bottlebrushes, paperbark, and thunderstorms after long sweltering summer days.”

“A little more stillness in my life is a good thing. And having a dog again after a year. I’ve been enjoying cooking, making CBD chocolates, cocktails and working out,” Orensten says from Long Island, where he shelters with Rubin, who adds, “Over the last month I have realized that I need to watch water. Watching how the air renders texture on the surface and the moon pulls and pushes the tide is truly mesmerizing and meditative. As a kid in Florida I got to watch the water a lot. I used to understand and appreciate how it soothes my soul. I’m grateful to have been reacquainted.”

“I’ve realized I needed better organizational systems for product groupings in my kitchen and bathroom. My spice rack is pell-mell and I do not know how to organize it,” Graver says in Park Slope. “The same can be said for my bathroom, where we do not yet have an organizer or cabinet. Shampoos, colognes, medicine, moisturizers—they’re all in bags waiting for a home. I wouldn’t even know what to buy to start. This isn’t about a product; it’s about understanding how to organize.”

At Home is a monthly series dedicated to the quieter observations of COOL HUNTING’s editorial staff and contributors from their homes.

Hero image by Josh Rubin