2018: Our Favorite Stuff
It’s the last day of the year — and we’re looking back at a few of our favorite things from 2018.
Favorite App: Headspace
This was the year we finally followed through on our annual New Year’s resolution to start meditating. Why 2018? Have you been watching the news?
Still, it was easier said than done. The whole idea of sitting still and emptying our brains doesn’t come naturally to us. We knew we’d need a little help. So after doing some research, we decided to give Headspace a try.
Despite feeling certain we would fail, it worked! Thanks to Andy (you’ll meet him in the app), and his reassuring manner, we were able to slow things down and find a very deep focus and sense of calm. Work got better. And life got better.
The hardest part was figuring out what time of day to set aside for our 3-10 minute (the app lets you choose the length of your sessions) ritual. Our sweet spot ended up being midday, between 1-2pm, after we’d completed the business part of our day and were transitioning into the creative part.
Favorite TV Show: True Detective (Season 1)
Yep, we know True Detective premiered in 2014. What can we say, we’re late bloomers. But after hearing just enough raves about it (and, thankfully, no spoilers) we finally decided to make time for Season 1.
We had no idea what we were getting into.
The show hit the ground running and didn’t look back. And we couldn’t stop watching. After seeing the first episode on a Wednesday, we jammed in the entire rest of the season (eight episodes in all) before the sun came up on Saturday morning.
As great as Matthew McConaughey was — and he really, really was — and as solid as Woody Harrelson was, the real star of the show ended up being its location. The story takes place in southwestern Louisiana, an area known as Acadiana — Cajun country. It’s a part of the US that is rarely seen in movies and television, and it gives the show its otherworldly mystique.
★ Runner up: Barry (HBO)
Favorite Music: Mandolin Orange
Their website says it better than we could: “Mandolin Orange’s music radiates a mysterious warmth — their songs feel like whispered secrets, one hand cupped to your ear. The North Carolina duo have built a steady and growing fanbase with this kind of intimacy, and on Tides of A Teardrop (due out February 1), it is more potent than ever. By all accounts, it is the duo’s fullest, richest, and most personal effort. You can hear the air between them — the taut space of shared understanding, as palpable as a magnetic field, that makes their music sound like two halves of an endlessly completing thought. Singer-songwriter Andrew Marlin and multi-instrumentalist Emily Frantz have honed this lamp glow intimacy for years.”
Mandolin Orange has produced five albums of original work bearing the stamp of folk, country, bluegrass, gospel, and pop, all mingled in a unique melange perhaps best described simply as “modern American roots music.”
Click above to watch their live performance in Boston.
Favorite Book: The Eye
Honestly, we didn’t want to like The Eye. We’re kind of over the whole twee and precious Kinfolk thing. But, that was before Alex Hunting got involved. Hunting, who we hung out with for a bit in Oslo last year, has remade Kinfolk into something much more interesting than it was, at least in the look-and-feel department.
Subtitled “How the World’s Most Influential Creative Directors Develop Their Vision,” the book is everything we still cherish about books as objects: heft, paper quality, and great printing. It’s a thing you want to hold in your hands.
Here’s the description from the Kinfolk website: “The Eye brings the world’s leading creative directors into the spotlight. We meet fashion designers like Thom Browne and Yohji Yamamoto, editorial directors including Fabien Baron and Marie-Amélie Sauvé, and tastemakers like Grace Coddington and Linda Rodin. We learn about the books they read, the mentors who guided them, and their individual techniques for achieving success. And we discover how they developed their ‘eye’—and how they use it to communicate visual ideas that have captured generations, and continue to shape the future.”
We wouldn’t — and didn’t — pay the $45 they’re charging on the Kinfolk website, but found it for a much more attractive $27 on Amazon.
Favorite Podcast: No Fuckin’ Ziti
We still think The Sopranos is the best TV show ever produced. We’ve watched the entire run at least five times.
About a year or so ago, we stumbled upon No Fuckin’ Ziti. (Click on the video above to see the source of the podcast’s title). The hosts of this quirky podcast, Brendan McCarthy and Evan Sutton, recap, evaluate, interpret, and confirm all the stuff you were thinking when you watched each episode the first time around.
Favorite Gear: Apple HomePod
The Apple HomePod was this summer’s big birthday present. Paid for with a generous combination of Apple gift cards from a wide range of family members, this gadget did not disappoint. It’s a beauty to look at, fills a room with sound, and meets our criteria for a great speaker: It sounds like there’s a live band performing in our office.
Favorite Movie: Isle of Dogs
It’d be hard not to choose a Wes Anderson film as our favorite in any year. And while Isle of Dogs isn’t our favorite Wes Anderson movie ever — that’d be a toss-up between The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou — it was our favorite movie this year.
Anderson’s movies are all beautifully designed, but we think this one is his best — even better than The Grand Budapest Hotel, which was just about perfect.
Filled with subtitles and screen graphics that feature a beautiful custom Japanese font (sans serif, as specified by Anderson), the film incorporates typography into nearly every scene. From It’s Nice That: “Visually, Isle of Dogs is a beautiful and authentic homage to Japanese culture and history. Suddenly Wes Anderson’s obsession with symmetry and immaculate attention to detail takes on new meaning in this context. From the set designs of the city to the hand drawn maps, woodblock print-inspired animations on the TVs, and the comedically adapted version of Hokusai’s The Wave, the production screams of being made by an obvious Japanophile, without any pastiche.” We concur.
Favorite Magazine: Avaunt
It’s a rough world out there for newsstand magazines. And with the rare exception, it’s obvious — at least amongst the big American publishers — that design and innovation aren’t super high on the list of priorities anymore. Everything good seems to have been sacrificed in order to make Hanging-On-for-Dear-Life the only measure of success.
So when we look for inspiring print design these days, we have to look a lot harder. And lately, we’ve been finding it in the UK studio of that Kinfolk guy, Alex Hunting (see our Favorite Book, above), who also designs our 2018 favorite magazine, Avaunt.
An indie publication from the UK, Avaunt, “invites the reader to escape the urban grind through a series of brilliantly written and stunningly photographed articles, featuring extraordinary people and reports that go well beyond the radar of the mainstream press. It’s for those with a thirst for the unusual, whether they want to find out about the world’s most remote and inaccessible places, learn about the latest discoveries in science and technology, or simply be surprised by a great story.”
Happy New Year 2019!
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