Lifestyle

B&O Harmonies

Bang & Olufsen introduced Harmonies, a new limited edition wireless speaker collection inspired by nature. The entire sound system was carefully designed to bring a bit of tranquility and balance into the home, crafted to sing together in blissful harmony. The Beoplay M5 features an aluminium disc that answers to viscous-dampened movement to manage volume and connection controls. Three evenly-spaced tweeters, a front facing mid-range driver, and a powerful woofer projecting its power down towards a meticulously designed disperser, provide a uniform diffusion of the Bang & Olufsen Signature 360º Sound throughout the space. The beautiful green woven wool produced by Kvadrat, a renowned Danish textile manufacturer, was constructed to add warm texture and enhance acoustics. The BeoSound 1 is a portable wireless speaker system, flexible to follow you to any room in your home or outside—the freedom of choice. It bears a built-in proximity sensor that detects your presence by calculating your distance, applying instantly, and automatically turning towards you, ready at your command. Its elegant design resembles a musical instrument to harmonise, not only in functionality but also in aesthetics—to create the perfect soundscape wherever the beauty of music takes you.

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Partnership with Bang & Olufsen

Fern
Harmonies 1
Harmonies 3
Harmonies 2

MINI x Shanghai

Automotive, Living, Work, Fashion. On first glance, these sectors may seem detached or isolated from one another, however, together they are the core elements that build the foundation of urban life for the Creative Class. MINI has introduced a unique vision for a brighter city life, whilst keeping a small footprint. The MINI mission is to integrate design expertise with the spirit of experience—a radically new future of urban living.

Cityscapes characterised by density and scarcity are reconstructing inner-city spatial aptitudes into a modernised currency in the era of hyper-urbanisation. Growing urban populations, space utilisation, and demographic amalgamation are evoking a collision between the supply and demand of living space in the global metropolises. Innovative architectural concepts that "think outside of the box", and integrate space and time, have become a necessity, as the most relevant urban potentials lay the framework for a future focused on personal flexibility, experience, and inspiration—together.

The MINI Shanghai URBAN MATTERS EXHIBITION took place from October 27 to November 7, 2017. The event was a paramount catalyst to the MINI mission to curate, create, and reinvent solutions—connecting the past to the future for a brighter urban life. 

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Partnership with MINI


MINI x NYC

MINI LIVING has designed the URBAN CABIN, a micro-house that acts as a research space for revolutionising urban living. The aim of the project is to create a pragmatic space inspired by local surroundings and bring light to relevant architectural solutions for urban needs and local identities, whilst keeping a small footprint upon Earth. The URBAN CABIN in Brooklyn camouflages into the landscape and illustrates New York for the vibrant city that it is—a blend of cultural influences from around the world.  

The URBAN CABIN façade flaunts iridescent acrylic glass in bright colours that change with every movement—a reflection of the bursts of inspiration and diversity in New York. In contrast, the back door—disguised as a hammock nestled in the a beautiful vertical garden—opens to the air for rest and restoration, a breath of calm and tranquility. The culture of the project meshes a spiked, humorous façade with a soft brightly coloured upholstered nestlike seat on its interior. “It’s basically St. Mark’s Place in the 80s: a bit punk, a bit kawaii...and close to John Hejduk,” states Peter Zuspan (principal of Bureau V), detailing some of the cabin's design references.

There will be a sequence of events and activities involving the URBAN CABIN through October and November 2017. 

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Partnership with MINI


ONA Savannah

I recently had the pleasure of partaking in a profile with ONA, my favourite camera bag maker. I discuss a couple of my most loved books, music, and humble musings on life, while on a little film adventure with the Savannah, a spruce compact crossbody, perfect for those smaller film or mirrorless cameras—the newest member to my ONA collection. Take a gander, if you are keen. 

ONA bags have been at my side as my trusted travel companions for nearly five years now. ONA designs are not only elegant and pragmatic, but the breadth of the company's philosophy—the mission to foster community and empower creatives, is sincerely inspiring and deeply resonates with me. One collaboration with ONA that I am thankful for is the The Prince Street from two years ago. It has since ventured with me across the country from NY to LA to across the ocean to Europe and I look forward to creating many more incredible memories with ONA in the future.
 

In Swahili, the word ona (pronounced ō'na) means, 'to feel,' 'to believe,' and 'to experience with the eyes.' This is the essence of photography and style. — ONA Bags


THE STORYTELLING FUND

A few weeks ago, ONA launched See the World in a New Light, a new campaign aimed to showcase and bolster new voices. ONA will allocate $10 from every bag sold to their new Storytelling Fund, a new project to act as a support system to help cultivate the endeavours of photographers and independent artists. The Fund will partner with organisations like 100 Cameras and Women Photograph, who recently declared that their first three $2500 grants will be presented to budding female documentary photographers this coming summer. The Fund will further support several projects selected by the ONA community. When you support ONA, you help strengthen the creative community. For more information, please visit the ONA Blog

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onabags.com


Prospector Co.

As the heir of an aromatherapist, Kyle Hinton established Prospector Co. in Savannah, Georgia, in 2010. The unisex bath, body, and grooming commodities are constructed in care with sensitive skin in mind, formulated with no additives, artificial fragrances, and colouring. To ensure highest quality, each clean-scented elixir is blended in small portions with great attention to detail and encased by hand in classic apothecary-inspired bottles. I have been using Prospector Co. for quite a few years now and I truly recommend their products for the individual keen on natural, less commercialised goods. Health and wellness begins with the ingredients we ingest, including ones we allow our skin to absorb on a daily basis. Presented here are a few personal favourites. 


COMPRESSED TOWEL TABLETS

These compressed cotton fibre tablets instantly decompress at the touch of water and expand into small facial towelettes for convenient personal care anywhere, anytime. They are brilliant for travel and in-flight relaxation when paired with your favourite soak and a few drops of essential oils. For a lovely touch, these little jars make a welcoming and refreshing gift for guests who have paid you a weekend visit. 

LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA CREAM
8 oz. Push Dispenser

This calming moisturising hand and body cream, infused with botanicals, was designed with pure relaxation in mind. Creamy, yet light and absorbent, it leaves the skin feeling hydrated, smooth, and replenished. The essential oil blend of lavender, rosemary, and cedarwood amalgamate into a scent of subtle broken flowers, overgrown gardens, and springtime freshness. 

ROSEMARY SAGE HAND WASH
16 oz. Push Dispenser

This gentle cleansing soap is a soothing fusion of herbal essential oils with a revitalising, garden-fresh scent. Eucalyptus and sage open the sinuses and breathe clean air into the kitchen or bath. Rosemary intermixed with tea tree offer anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and deodorising properties to the palms. Thyme, characteristic with its warm, spiced scent, bears additional disinfectant features as well.

SHAVING BRUSHES

Using only the highest quality materials and handcrafted detail, all of our brushes are manufactured in Germany, working with an 80-year-old, family-owned business. The superior performance and longevity gained from age-old techniques and modern engineering make for an heirloom-quality brush that “lifts” the shaving experience (Prospector Co.).

PURE BRISTLE SHAVING BRUSH 
Made in Germany

The Pure Bristle is a natural hair brush, a superb choice for wet shaving. Its anatomy includes a beechwood handle and economical boar hair, which gives a firmer, more rigid effect to the shave, that mellows beautifully with age. This makes for an exceptional entry brush for a new wet shaver. I have given this dapper brush as a gift to a comrade and he is quite pleased. 

ACACIA WOOD SHAVING BRUSH
Made in Germany, Vegan

The natural Acacia Wood brush, with its long-lasting durability and high resistance to water, is another excellent option. The bristle is made from a superior black fibre that exudes similar qualities of the badger hair. These fibres are long-lasting, tenacious, and produce a marvelous foaming lather—they prompt reliable softness even through the constant wet and dry periods of daily use. 

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Partnership with Prospector Co.


Autumn Muses

As I peer through the rustic window back home in New York, I see leaves starting to change colour. The brisk zephyrs pass through trees with sombre sighs; the light is slowly growing melancholic and moody, signifying the beginning of my most favourite season—autumn. With ambient music playing in the background, I am sipping tea, deep in green with the essence of roasted rice, and musing upon my summer.

‘Elegance is not about being noticed, it’s about being remembered,’ articulates Giorgio Armani. And, the HP Spectre is an unforgettable one.

I never thought that I would fancy another laptop other than the one I owned for the past 4 years, but the Spectre provided me with a new perspective into my art, which allowed me to reinvent my creative vision.

This past summer, I aimed to nourish my adoration in travel to a foreign land far away from the metropolis as well as increase breadth in my travel work. Some were a bit surprised at my newest travel location, as it is the opposite from the hustle and bustle characteristic of the city that I gravitate towards. However, it is reminiscent of my work as a mere child, when my passions in photography blossomed, and I took special interest in capturing the beauty of a simple dandelion.

I typically do not bring my old laptop on travels because it is quite cumbersome, but the Spectre is so incredibly light, it was fitting to bring along with me everywhere I went. This laptop challenges the future of computers—the extreme thinness of the Spectre without the compromise of power is the feature that I found to be the most striking. As I admire the Spectre bathing in autumnal light on my windowsill, I can see just how unbelievably thin this laptop is.

Moreover, from the i7 Intel Core to the artisan craftsmanship with carbon fibre, aluminium, glass trackpad, and gorgeous keyboard—the attention to detail is stunning, making this gem elegant, yet solid.

Being an urban soul, as I have written in in my previous Journal entry, I predominantly captured the ephemeral, quiet moments in urban cities. But with my Spectre, I traversed the ocean to rural Iceland and my artistic expression has distinctly evolved, evident as my visual storytelling of my magical adventure slowly unravelled. My Spectre became the perfect summer companion and will continue to be in the future.

Escaping the city with my beloved Spectre was incredibly exhilarating—it was the highlight of my summer. My heart is full.

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Partnership with HP


Spectre in Iceland

Little 1.5m me and my 13cm platform boots hiked across a mysterious post-apocalyptic planet through endless kilometres of rocks and black sand, and stumbled upon a mysterious plane wreckage peeking through thick fog. I stood on top of a mountain amongst the clouds, breathless, revelling in its mystifying allure. I am finally herethe land of fire and ice, Iceland. 

Iceland is a magical place that I have dreamed of visiting ever since I was a child, thumbing through old issues of National Geographic. I diverged from my comfort and familiarity in urban cities and ventured to a more remote land that breathes magic and wonderment through the untouched beauty of naturemy most adventurous escapade yet. 

Admittedly, I have always been a city person. My upbringing is deeply rooted in Brooklyn and I am studying at Columbia University, which is adjacent to Harlem. I grew up living most of my life in New York City. But, spending more and more time with my Spectre, I was struck with a delightful spark of new inspiration, which led me to reinvent my creative catharsis. 

My creative work encompasses city lifefrom the forgotten ruins and remnants of old cities around the world contrasting with the architecture of the 21st century to food and still life moments present in urban settings. However, because the Spectre is extremely feather-light, versatile, and powerful with a long-lasting battery, it provided me with confidence to venture with it outside of Reykjavík, the capital and largest city in Iceland.

I felt that I was not bound to the city. My creativity deepened as I lost myself in more landscapesmountains, glaciers, and waterfalls, to places that I have never been to before. I even had the pleasure of seeing Aurora Borealis dance in person, the stunning Northern Lights. The Spectre allowed me edit in the mountains and visualise my work on screen on site, breathing in the crisp air, overlooking the water. 

I am becoming more obsessed with the Spectre since my previous Journal entry, as it is expanding my creativity into landscapes and nature. I am reinventing my obsession. 

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Partnership with HP


New Obsession | HP Spectre

Although a bit camera-shy, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Perhaps you have been following my Twitter and saw little hints or seen me on the big screen in theatres across America as film pre-roll, but I am incredibly honoured to officially reveal that HP featured me in a cinematic short directed by the talented Tatia Pilieva, which documents bona fide reactions to the new Spectre. Weeks before filming, they were awfully mysterious and did not disclose any further details. I must say, it highly piqued my curiosity! Upon arrival at Siren Studios in Hollywood, I was quickly ushered through hair and makeup, and finally onto a full production set. Admittedly, I was quite hesitant at first as I have never been on a production set in Hollywood before, however, I was utterly impressed. 

The new Spectre is a stunner. There's thin and there's thinner—the Spectre is 10.4mm in thickness and weighs only 2.45lbs. As a travel photographer, I am obsessed with the smart Artisan craftsmanship and revolutionary design—feather weight without sacrificing power or battery life. The Spectre is the first HP laptop to integrate a hybrid battery—four polymer battery cells are allocated throughout the device in order to maximise battery capacity, enabling me to work longer on a single charge no matter where I am in the world. As a scientist, I am immensely keen with HP's unique method to cooling. The laptop is so remarkably thin that it requires special progressive hyperbaric cooling technology that actively draws cool air in and directs it over the processor, rather than simply venting it out. 

The Spectre is the ultimate sensorial masterpiece as well—Bang & Olufsen audio (my favourite) and a full HD IPS display with exceptional sound clarity and crisp visuals guarantee that I never miss a detail, whether I am editing on the plane, watching a film, or conducting experiments at the lab, deep into data analysis. I will be taking my Spectre on my next adventures and I cannot wait to share my experience with you.

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Partnership with HP



Up + Away

I will be jetting off very soon, up and away, on my most adventurous escapade yet. I will be flying to a magical place that I have dreamed of visiting ever since I was a child, thumbing through old issues of National Geographic. I will be deviating slightly from my comfort in urban cities and travelling to a more remote land that breathes magic and wonderment through the untouched beauty of nature. Follow along through my lens as I slowly whisper my story. 

As I wrote in a previous Journal entry, I travel super light and rarely bring checked luggage, so I was delighted to discover Away, a 'one size fits all' case that I could take anywhere in the world with ease. I gave my Away Carry-On a test run on a short trip to LA and I cannot recommend this Carry-On enough. It is the perfect travel companion and will be coming along on the journey with me.

The exterior is crafted from premium German polycarbonate and the interior features an original Away compression system, removable laundry bag, and a high capacity USB charger. Additionally, the 360° spinner wheels ensure a smooth ride. 


ONE SIZE FITS ALL
Designed to comply with major airlines regarding size regulations at 21.7" H x 13.7" W x 9" D (44.4 linear inches). Custom inset wheels offer 10% more packing space.

POWER TRIP
A removable interior 10,000 mAh battery and two USB ports let multiple devices charge at once. Wall adapter and luggage-charging cable are included. 

LOCK IT DOWN
Away built a TSA-approved combination lock into the top of the bag. The zippers slot right in, so items are safe. 

BUILT FOR LIFE
The hardshell exterior is made of 100% Bayer Makrolon polycarbonate, a material unrivaled in strength and impact resistance. It is so light, the entire bag weighs in at only 7.2 lbs.

STRONG FINISH
Topped off with luxurious touches with premium interior mesh, YKK zippers, 360° Hinomoto double-wheel spinners, and a leather luggage tag. 

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awaytravel.com


Marble La Roche

CLUSE tells a story of people who find beauty in simplicity. However, simple does not mean plain. According to CLUSE, it means being grounded, sophisticated, and true to oneself—freeing your mind of diversions and focused only on the truly important aspects of life. With this philosophy, CLUSE is committed to creating timepieces that exude minimalism, class, and the epitome of refinement. "CLUSE is there not only to indicate time, but to define your best moments and captivate attention in all simplicity." 

Designed to compliment one's individuality, this CLUSE La Roche watch features a genuine white marble dial, crafted from raw stone. Every piece is one of a kind with a natural veining pattern, which makes each La Roche timepiece entirely unique. Loyal to the CLUSE minimal aesthetic, this collection features a 38 mm case with a matte black finish and a black leather strap for a bold, yet elegant look. 

As someone who owns nearly everything marble or marble-themed, I am incredibly keen with La Roche as it is one of the few watch designs available currently that implements genuine marble.

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Partnership with CLUSE


Tavalon Tea

I am sure most have come to realise that I am quite the tea aficionado—I consume more tea than I do plain water. As mentioned in a previous entry, tea is much more than a refreshment to me. It is a daily ritual, a precious moment to reflect upon my life—a rumination of self-improvement, contemplation, and quietude. Moreover, I find tea to be exceedingly versatile in terms of the infinite flavours which it can be blended, its countless methods it may be prepared, and its immeasurable health benefits. Needless to say, I hold a high standard and take my teas quite seriously.

However, tea is often eclipsed by the seemingly omnipresent coffee empire, so I find it especially rare to stumble upon high quality full-leaf teas. I am often disenchanted by the commercial brands prominent in the market today. Because the vast majority of teas are imported from across the globe, by the time the tea reaches your teacup, it could already be half stale. Over the years, I have discovered that most teas are undistinguished or extremely brittle and resemble the texture of sand—unnecessarily over-processed and frequently contain preservatives or artificial flavouring, often leaving a dry, chalky aftertaste on the palate. 

In this journal entry, I am unveiling the future of tea—Tavalon. I remember opening one of their beautiful canisters for the first time and being instantly put under a spell by the heavenly aroma of Earl Grey Reserve, a colourful spin on the timeless black tea blend entwined with bergamot oil and blue cornflowers. Tavalon's notable freshness and high quality are undeniable, which led me to explore other blends, and I discovered my favourite Tavalon tea—Genmai Matcha, a classic Japanese blend of organic green tea with partially-roasted rice, and dusted with matcha green tea powder, resulting in a sweet, slightly 'toasty' flavour.

One day, while buried in scientific analysis on my laptop at Joe Coffee on the corner of Columbia University, I faintly heard someone call my name, "Koi?" I looked up and it turned out to be John-Paul Lee, the Co-Founder of of Tavalon, who is also an advisor for Columbia Business students. We connected over our mutual thoughts regarding the current tea market, which are very much akin. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Tavalon teas utilise premium essential oils instead of artificial flavouring, and are blended and carefully hand-packed at the time when one places the order in the country of the order. This enables the tea to retain its properties and extend its freshness, increasing its shelf-life to the fullest.

I am pleased to share an all-time favourite—Tavalon. For a discount on your entire order, please use my code at checkout: urbanxkoi

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tavalon.com


Oak + Fort

Emphasising the synthesis of art and life, Oak + Fort curates wearable collections with an appreciation for culture, creativity, and community. Living as leaders and visionaries, their mission is to provide quality apparel and be the catalyst for exploration and new innovations. 

I fell in love with Oak + Fort since their launch in NYC and was intrigued to discover that it is a Canadian brand with a Korean-inspired touch. Their aesthetic is minimal, modern, and aligns with my personal style. I have included Oak + Fort in my daily essentials as they can be dressed up or worn casually. Admittedly, I have been wearing their pieces to work at the lab as well as on weekend nights out. 

In my recent interview with Oak + Fort, I reveal the meaning of my name, Urban Koi, as well as my aesthetic and a bit about my life in NYC.

For the full interview, please visit the Oak + Fort Blog


A CONVERSATION WITH @URBANXKOI | #OFTAKEOVER

This week, we invited Koi, the creative mind behind @urbanxkoi based out of New York City to takeover our @OakandFort Instagram account in our #OFTakeover series. We were mesmerized by her carefully curated feed that encapsulates the beauty in every day moments. She uses her surroundings as the perfect backdrop to her subjects; creating a contrast between colour and textures. We had the opportunity to learn more about Koi and we are excited to share with you her story accompanied by her own snapshots. — Lauren


Oak + Fort: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where does the inspiration behind Urban Koi come from, and how did you come up with the name?

Koi: I am an art director, photographer, and scientist at Columbia University Medical Center.

I have always had a deep fondness for art and science. I am often asked how I balance two seemingly different fields. Although art and medicine are two distinct fields, I feel that they are more interconnected than one would think. When one formulates an experiment or treats a patient, one must be creative and critically think of the best solution—each project and each individual is unique and may require a spectrum of methods.

Urban Koi encapsulates two meanings.

The first is literal and depicts a koi fish dwelling in the urban sea. Much of my childhood upbringing is rooted in Brooklyn and I feel a deep connection to New York City. It is said that koi swim up rivers and climb waterfalls with bravery like samurai warriors. Hence, the koi symbolises courage, perseverance, and strong character. These elements are reflective of my life and are what I value as a person.

‘Koi’ is also a Japanese homophone for ‘love’, and alludes to the second meaning—my adoration for cities. All of these elements percolate into my work—the moody, sort of gritty urban textures, but portrayed in a softer, subtler way.

Oak + Fort: Your Instagram is filled with minimal, muted tones. What is it about this style appeals to you?

Koi: There is a certain tranquil feeling that is exuded when I am surrounded by quiet colours—I find muted tones to be mysterious, yet soothing. The hues of the sky at the break of dawn, the cerulean reflection that is illuminated by water—the ambience and mystifying essence of melancholic tones in nature lull me into deep reveries. I am also drawn to shadows and the scarcity of light, so my work tends to emanate a dark, moody timbre.

Oak + Fort: What are some of your favourite spots in the city to escape to and draw inspiration from?

Koi: I often escape to DUMBO, Brooklyn. I am enamoured by the abandoned industrial factories, cobblestone streets, and old train tracks—there is just so much history contained in its heart. I often take walks by Brooklyn Bridge Park, sample fare, and explore little shops. One of my favourites is Shibui, a Japanese antique shop hidden underground. It really feels like a brief step into Japan. I also frequent the rooftop lounge at the Wythe with close friends for a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline. I love Greecologies, a Greek yoghurt lab and café in Little Italy—I am decidedly keen with their menu, interior design, and lush courtyard. Lastly, I adore The Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as I am particularly fond of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It explores the wonders of medieval Europe through its art, gardens, and architecture.

Oak + Fort: As a photographer, which moments do you like to capture the most?

Koi: Photography is my catharsis—I am inspired when I travel and I delve into a multiplicity of cultures. I am enticed by wistfulness, minimalism, and idiosyncrasies—the harmony of symmetry and asymmetry in life. I tend to photograph moments that we sometimes take for granted. I see the quiescent beauty around me and I like to capture the transient moments to show others that there is elegance everywhere, even in the ordinary.

Oak + Fort: How do you stay connected with the creative community in New York? 

Koi: Ever since I was a child, I have been remarkably shy about showcasing my work to others. Instagram made it easier for me to share my daily musings, and through the platform, I found it thrilling to learn that there are other passionate creatives all over the world. From its inception, I found myself connecting with a vast multitude of creative talents—I even bonded with my best friend, Louise (@glassfauna), over our mutual interests in photography and science, and we have been communicating daily ever since. 


Nixon Time Teller

I have a penchant for men's watches and while I was looking for a new one, I stumbled upon the Nixon Original Design—the Time Teller. I was aiming for a design that was simple, understated, yet exuded undeniable character, and this watch bears an unpretentious, yet versatile style—perfect for my travels. My favourite aspect of this watch would be the bold black face in contrast to the stainless steel fixed bezel, hardened mineral crystal, and triple gasket stainless steel crown. I look very much forward to wearing it on my new adventure. 

MOVEMENT: Miyota Japanese quartz 3 hand.
DIAL: The dial includes applied indices, and custom molded hands.

CASE: 37 mm, 100 meter / 10 ATM , custom solid stainless steel case, solid stainless steel fixed bezel, hardened mineral crystal, triple gasket stainless steel crown, stainless steel screw down caseback and spring pin lugs.
BAND: 19.5-18 mm tapered custom 5 link stainless steel jewelry style bracelet (or leather/canvas) and stainless steel locking clasp.

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Partnership with Nixon


Skincare Favourites

Although I rarely use makeup, I am quite keen on skincare. Presented here are a few favourite moisturising products that I use on a daily basis and carry with me on my travels. Most of my skincare is from the STELL, a fantastic curation of quality products so one may sample from different brands.


MULTI-USE OIL - NO. 2

This oil is a blend of forget-me-not, peach blossom, and mandarin green tea enriched with apricot, sweet almond oils, and Vitamin D, accented with beautifully preserved flowers. I use this oil to keep my bleached hair healthy and just one drop instantly restores moisture in my driest skin. 

SOUL SUNDAY BOUGIE LITE FACIAL OIL + RICE WATER

The facial oil was created from red raspberry seed and contains high levels of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which replenish and soften skin. Squalane, a plant-based emollient, very similar to skin's natural lipids that decrease with age, helps create a balance of moisture and a light, protective barrier. Essential oils of geranium flower and sandalwood promote skin clarity and balance. The refreshing rice water was carefully combined with brightening Vitamin C, Bulgarian rose, and soothing cucumber; I typically use the rice water after I shower or to freshen up mid-day. 

BYREDO BLANCHE HAND CREAM

This is my favourite hand cream of all time. It travels with me everywhere I go, whether it is in my uni backpack or camera bag. It is deeply moisturising without a greasy residue. Top notes: aldehyde, pink pepper, white rose. Heart notes: neroli, peony, violet. Base notes: blonde woods, musk, sandalwood. 

GROWN ALCHEMIST SWEET ALMOND + SAGE HAND CREAM

This is another one of my essentials, which bears a unique hydrating and potent formula that consists of tyrosinase inhibitors from the rumex plant, phyto-peptides, sweet almond oil, Vitamins A, B1, B2, and B6, which visibly reduces sun damage pigmentation and redensifies thinning skin. As a scientist, I took great delight in this detail. 

GROWN ALCHEMIST CAMELIA + GERANIUM BLOSSOM HYDRA-REPAIR DAY CREAM

This is a non-greasy, nourishing facial moisturiser that contains camellia and rosehip essence with aloe vera and jojoba oil. I adore its scent and I use this cream on my face daily. It doubles as a rich body cream, and as you know already, I am highly pragmatic and love multi-functional products.

L:A BRUKET NO. 102 BERGAMOT + PATCHOULI HAND CREAM

This was my first product from the Norwegian natural skincare company based in Varberg, a coastal spa town in Sweden well-known for it's 200 year old traditions of bathing in saltwater and seaweed, and I was not disappointed. The essential oils in the cream have astringent, cleansing properties, and a slight antiseptic effect, which helps treat extremely dry skin. Meadowfoam is astringent, nourishing, and rich in Omega-6 and 9 fatty acids. Comfrey is also astringent, moisturising, and known to heal small scratches and sunburn as well.

AĒSOP REVERENCE AROMATIQUE HAND BALM

This balm contains bergamot rind, vetiver root, petitgrain botanicals, and skin-softening emollients that deliver rich hydration to the hands and cuticles. It is enhanced with skin-softening Potassium Lactate and Lactic Acid for sustained hydration. Its scent is a bit strong for me, so I typically use this balm for my feet and it works wonderfully.

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thestell.com


Travel Favourites

With parents who speak contrasting languages and a family tree diverse in ethnicities, I was brought up open-minded, accepting of all cultures, and I have learned to embrace my multicultural heritage. From linguistics to cuisine to fashion to lifestyle habits—it is all incredibly fascinating to me. So, I am onto my next adventure—I am returning to the UK for study abroad to delve deeper into my British family history. Although this is not my first time travelling overseas, it is my first time studying abroad and I am excited to be exploring Manchester, Leeds, and more of London—to name a few cities.

I am a light packer as I value functionality and practicality, so I typically do not bring any luggage that needs to be checked. Most of the time, I bring a roomy carry-on duffel or capacious backpack and a camera bag (which bears ample pockets for toiletries) and utilise military-style packing. Anything else that may be found, provided, or easily purchased abroad if needed, I leave behind. Displayed here are some travel favourites.


Gypsy Water + Blanche Hand Cream: Byredo
Travel Kit: Aesop
Charcoal Bristle Bamboo Toothbrush: Ernest
Void Watch: Anekdote
Leather Gloves: Coach
Button-down: Korean Boutique in NYC
Flats: ASKA
Boots: UNIF
Bow Ties: Topman
Waterproof Clutch + Drypack: Vicious Venom


LA x Gallery

I reckon it has been a while since my last post, but if you are familiar with university, autumn and winter seasons are pretty involved, naturally dense with disquisitions, presentations, exams, and more specifically for me, conducting research at the laboratory—channelling my inner mad scientist. Nevertheless, even offline, I continue to compose and record floating thoughts on my old typewriter or in my leather-bound notebooks, and those who follow me on Instagram are well aware that nothing hinders me from documenting memories through the camera lens.

In November, I was deeply humbled to have my photography work displayed on my own wall in the Eye for an Eye exhibit, hosted by Hands Down, alongside the masterpieces of National Geographic, Time, Getty Images, and numerous other brilliant contributors from around the globe. It was incredible and inspiring. It was the first time I had my work framed 20x30” in a gallery and my first time in LA—as well as the West Coast of the United States. I have been to Alaska, but I suppose that is a different story. Nonetheless, LA was a convivial and invigorating experience.

Besides flying across the country for the exhibit, I took the chance to explore LA a bit. Presented here are a few favourite memories cherished with my better half. I shall return to experience more of the city in the future.


Griffith Observatory: a facility resting on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood Griffith Park. It showcases a spectacular a view of the Los Angeles Basin, including Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The observatory contains a stellar view of the Hollywood sign, and an extensive array of space and science-related displays. Since the observatory opened in 1935, admission has been free, in accordance with Griffith's will.

Stahl House (Case Study House #22): a modernist-styled house designed by architect Pierre Koenig in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, California. Photographic and anecdotal evidence suggests that the architect's client, Buck Stahl, may have provided an inspiration for the overall structure. In 2013 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1959 as part of the Case Study Houses program, the house is considered an iconic representation of modern architecture in Los Angeles during the twentieth century. It was made famous by a Julius Shulman photograph displaying two women leisurely sitting in a corner of the house with an eventide panoramic view of the city through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The house has been featured in numerous fashion shoots, films, and advertising campaigns.


ONA x 100cameras

It was time for a new camera bag—I gave my old one a great deal of love and wore it down. So naturally, I perused ONA, and The Prince Street captured my attention forthwith. Slim, pragmatic, and spruce with a touch of vintage—matte black waxed canvas, detailed with full grain Italian leather and solid brass hardware. It comfortably houses an 11-inch laptop or tablet, a camera, two lenses, and small personal items. It embodies style and functionality; being a light traveler and one who embraces living minimally, the carry-all suits my personality well.

Those who know me well are quite familiar with my passion in supporting children's education. It is not only design and practicality that distinguishes this ONA bag from others. Profits from this camera bag support 100cameras, which is a New York City-based organisation that empowers children through photography by giving those living in marginalised communities the tools to artfully communicate and express. Their unique stories are transformed into sellable products that directly fund medical supplies, educational resources, and lifeline necessities. "100cameras envisions a world where kids are empowered to share their stories and create impact."

The 100cameras custom photojournalism curriculum coaches on personal development coupled with fundamental photojournalism skills. The organisation strongly aspires to consolidate artistic education and community development seamlessly, enlightening students to realise that they possess the skills and power to transform the world around them. The mission is impressive thus far, and their students are pleased to directly serve their communities via creative expression and sharing their stories.

Each project melds into global network of 100cameras staff, supporters, and volunteers. Proceeds and contributions are much greater than monetary—100cameras' youth have learned the power of their perspective, and by sharing their work, they have honed their abilities to positively impact right from their own homes. And that is the goal: to empower young individuals to realise they have a voice—that they can initiate tangible change and continue the cycle by sharing their stories to the world, one community at a time, no matter their background or circumstance.

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100cameras.org


The Gates Key West

We were greeted by blithe palm trees decorated with crystalline dew, encircled by the Gulf of Mexico in a tiny pocket of paradise, The Gates Key West Hotel. Its concept was inspired by the island's lush and diverse past, from Bahamian conchs to Cuban revolutionaries and literary legendaries. It is the rich, intricate history that makes Key West so special.

For an ephemeral moment, we escaped reality. 

It was a weekend getaway to unlock the keys and savor the last bit of warmth before returning to the imminent long and bitter winter season in New York. We were welcomed with a palette of creamy whites and neutral hues punctuated with color accents, eco-friendly and reclaimed details of exposed whitewashed beams and custom platform beds of hand-washed pine. The hotel amenities were designed for the discerning traveler, incorporating luxurious bedding, plush towels and bathrobes from Turkish Towel Company, and key lime bath essentials from Key West Aloe. Each room also displays original work by award-winning local photographer Jorge de la Torriente of Key West’s De La Gallery.

In the center of the hotel, rests a food truck called The Blind Pig and we must admit that we were a bit skeptical. However, the fish was grilled to an excellent medium, the soft-shell tacos were splendidly spiced, and the tortilla crisps and fresh guacamole were perfectly salted and slightly tart—a unique “Conch fusion” menu inspired by Key West’s Cuban, Bahamian, Caribbean, and Floridian roots. The fare smelled too delicious and instantly satisfied our palettes, it did not make it in any photos. We finished the trip with the perfect mojitos from The Rum Row—refreshing and sweet. The people were just so cordial and warm, I surely will return in the future.

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gateshotelkeywest.com


Tea Solemnity

When I brew tea, it is much more than to hydrate or to have an alternative to coffee. It is a period of reflection—I envisage the past, the present, the future, and being at home within myself is restored. It is a rumination of self-improvement, contemplation, and quietude. To achieve the correct flavour, the correct colour, the correct consistency, the act of brewing tea requires artistry, patience, technique, and a precise scope of practise—it is an art. 

Loose leaf tea flavors are authentic; the petals and leaves are less processed and bear such transcendental beauty. From the moment my eyes fall upon their intricate textures and I inhale deeply, filling my lungs with their ambrosial redolence, I am carried away to another world and I fall gently into a field with tall grass, graceful flowers, and balletic leaves that dance with the wind.

A beguiling synthesis of Japanese Sencha and the enticing spirit of rose, accented with an embellishment of rose petals. It possesses a breath of grace and mystery. The chartreuse leaves of Sencha, fragile with accents of oceanic and verdant notes, harmonise with the lush fragrance of rose. // An exhilarant tropical brew of Chinese green and subtle Jasmine teas swathed within a haze of lush rose, marigold, and passionfruit. Reminiscent of an afternoon rain and the fever experienced with the rush of young love. // A refined and distinguished concoction of white peony tea and French lavender with revitalising notes of bright grapefruit. At once casual yet opulent, it dons its derivation lightly, floating delicately from morning until night. // A beautiful, herbal amalgam evocative of a summer grassland. Lemongrass and verbena mingle blissfully with lavender, rose petals, mint, and sage. Airy and inspiriting.

Each tea tells a story. Each one is a circadian reprieve of peace amongst the chaos—my solemnity.


Le Labo

When I first discovered Le Labo one year ago, I was drawn in—tout de suite. The design and encasings of the formulations are minimal, yet dignified and refined. Each bottle of fragrance is conscientiously compounded using precise measurements of laboratory glassware, meticulously labeled, and personalised with the utmost care by hand. To attain the apotheosis of freshness, every creation is artfully amalgamated and coalesced by an au fait chemist right before the receiver using the finest ingredients sourced from Grasse, France. When one collects a crafted, well-balanced fragrance from Le Labo, it is said to be an everlasting emotional connection to the brand. 

Wandering to a Le Labo parfumerie is like a serendipity at a classic apothecary that has transmogrified into a polished, contemporary lab. The spaces are charming with a touch of vintage flair and I shall be returning to document them in the future. As a scientist, I cannot help but beam with joie de vivre when I stumble upon commodities codified with a scientific method foundation. Upon opening just one bottle, one will be greeted with deep, soulful scents—sultry fusions of bergamot, jasmine, patchouli, and rose.

The City Exclusives collection is composed of 9 sui generis fragrances and each scent is available exclusively in the city it belongs to, nowhere else. This means that one must venture to a Le Labo boutique in the city designated to the scent. However, Le Labo has allowed each city to be obtainable to the world for a limited time. Sample vials to experience each city before committing will be present starting on August 1st and the full bottles will be available for 4 weeks starting on September 1st, 2015.


Tubereuse 40 (New York) - Tuberose, bergamot, tangerine, and orange flower.
Vanille 44 (Paris) - Subtle amber and wood notes with undertones of vanilla.
Poivre 23 (London) - Warm, spicy, oriental, with true Bourbon pepper.
Musc 25 (Los Angeles) - Angelic, musky, aldehydic, and luminous with a dark core.
Baie Rose 24 (Chicago) - Spicy, woody, yet fresh. "Pure refinement and memorability."
Limette 37 (San Francisco) - Bergamot, jasmine, and petit grain, with vetiver and tonka bean base notes.
Gaiac 10 (Tokyo) - Gaiac wood with 4 different types of musks, cedar, and olibanum.
Benjoin 19 (Moscow) - Mosaic of olibanum, amber, cedar, and musks.
Cuir 28 (Dubai) - Animalic tar version of vanilla with leathery oriental undertones.