Best of CH 2018: Editors’ Picks

Design stories, interviews, travel guides and curious cuisine that truly mattered to us

Perhaps it was a quote of unearthly wisdom, a bite of strange deliciousness or simply a breeze on a newly discovered path; 2018 imparted several moments worth honoring. As a team of writers and editors, we spoke to so many and set foot in so much. The following excerpts mark personal high points for us, selected because of resonance. Here, you’ll find design stories, interviews, travel guides and curious cuisine. With that, we’d like to share our gratitude for your readership and we hope (and suspect) 2019 will offer other extraordinary opportunities.

by Evan Malachosky

Dining at Guadalajara’s New Restaurant Xokol

Xokol, helmed by chefs Óscar Segundo and Xrysw Ruelas Díaz, is a small, tasting menu restaurant in the Santa Teresita neighborhood of Guadalajara, Mexico. The menu, which changes weekly, is rooted in the conservation of Latin corn and the chefs (who also happen to be married) are bridging the gap between ancestral, endemic ingredients and modern dishes. Their work is archival, artisanal and expressive. Every ingredient is carefully sourced, intelligently used and delicious. Though you won’t find tacos or burritos on the menu, rather they offer foods that predate the second-wave iterations of tortilla-based dishes. Here, the tortilla isn’t merely a vessel for the ingredients inside, it’s the star of the show… Read more.

by David Graver

Word of Mouth: Belle-Île-en-Mer, Brittany

Distill the essence of a seaside vacation destination. You may find a vision of quaint cottages settled along sandy coves. Perhaps it’s a series of small, colorful towns dotted by restaurants serving local cuisine beside shops with regional wares. Maybe it’s simply a salty breeze, a walk through a shaded garden or a moment of quiet under the sun. After a 45-minute ferry ride into the Atlantic—from a peninsula extending off of Brittany, France—all of this lays in wait on an island known as Belle-Île-en-Mer. It’s a destination of quiet yet extraordinary beauty. It can be traversed entirely by bike or walked in its entirety by a trail that rises and falls along severe cliffs… Read more.

Courtesy of TED

TED 2018:  Emily Levine’s “How I Made Friends With Reality”

Somehow, beginning her TED Talk “How I Made Friends With Reality” by announcing she has stage four cancer, yet making the entire crowd laugh, the inimitable and charming Emily Levine immediately hooks her audience. The writer/philosopher/comedian discusses how she avoided reality for a long time, only to find out—through her diagnosis and coping mechanisms—that she and reality were always on great terms. By figuring that reality is actually an “imposter,” Levine learned that reality is about limits… Read more.

Courtesy of Mystery Ranch

Interview: Dana Gleason of Mystery Ranch

Dana Gleason, the designer behind self-titled backpack label Dana Design—a brand that ruled the outdoor pack market during the ’90s—has always found solid ground in individuality. Mystery Ranch, founded in 2000, is his second label alongside long-time business partner Renee Sippel-Baker. Though the brand was founded nearly two decades ago, its more recently-acquired popularity in the mainstream market seemed to unfurl quite suddenly… Read more.

Courtesy of Native Instruments

An Oral History of Native Instruments

In Berlin’s neighborhood of Kreuzberg—a place that’s become representative of the city’s nightlife and creative scene—the physical presence of Native Instruments (NI) wordlessly exhibits the success of a company that consisted of three people and a wild idea 20 years ago. The idea: a musical instrument, specifically a software-based modular synthesizer, that could be played and manipulated real-time inside a personal computer—at a time where you either needed access to a lot of money or a university to experiment beyond analog synthesizers… Read more.

Courtesy of Tom Blachford

Tom Blachford’s “Midnight Modern IV” at NYC’s Toth Gallery

In 2015, architectural photographer and artist Tom Blachford released Midnight Modern in Palm Springs during Modernism Week. For many (our editorial staff included) it was love at first sight. With this photo series, Blachford captured the desert city lit only by the light of the moon—documenting and defying time all at once. Blachford paused the sublime natural world and honed in on its relationship with manmade splendor. Meticulous framing envelops dreamlike scenes that truly exist in the California town. From debut to exhibition and onward, Blachford’s series has only grown in acclaim. Last year, he released a book. This year, he concludes the series with an exhibition at Toth GalleryRead more.

Courtesy of Ao Yun

An Adventure From Start to Finish, China’s Ao Yun Wine

From grapes harvested at the foot of the Meili Mountain in China—a nation not oftentimes front-of-mind when considering winemaking—five-year-old wine brand Ao Yun is an unexpected gem. The LVMH-owned wine defies expectation—thanks to its terroir, altitude, climate and creative approach to winemaking… Read more.

Courtesy of Antionette Carroll/Creative Reaction Lab

Interview: Antionette Carroll, TED Fellow and Founder of Creative Reaction Lab

St. Louis-based Creative Reaction Lab (CRL) actively works with communities, specifically their youth, to devise plans aimed at overcoming systemic disadvantages—from racial and economic inequities to social and cultural limitations and policy that disproportionately separates minorities in the education and housing sectors. Through CRL’s programming, young people interested in entrepreneurship, creativity, community development and design learn how their interests can make changes in their community and help in the fight for justice. CRL’s founder, president and CEO, Antionette Carroll, approaches design as a tool—more problem-solving than poster-making. She wants to address the plights of African-American and Latinx communities by activating youth and instilling a sense of understanding for leadership and upward-reaching design… Read more.