Outside the tiny town of Simon in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, an NGO called Foundation Conservation Carpathia is creating a 66,000-acre national park. It’s against that backdrop that the hotelier Bogdan Calulanu opened Matca, a 16-room hotel with 10 private villas. Matca is the Romanian word for “queen bee,” the name a reference to the beekeeping practiced in this honey-producing corner of Transylvania and also to the pastoral serenity of a region that’s barely changed since the Middle Ages.
Reflecting the architectural style of the area’s traditional fortified farms (Transylvania was once the western frontier of the Hungarian Empire and subject to regular raids by the Turks), Matca’s guest rooms are set inside two stone-and-wood farmhouses with interior courtyards. The rooms’ earth-tone color schemes are apparent in natural linen curtains and upholstery, raw oak floors and furniture, undyed wool blankets and reed baskets that contrast with sleek Italian lighting and bathroom fixtures. Stup, the hotel’s restaurant, serves dishes based on the seasonal produce of Transylvania’s small farms, among them mamaliga, a Romanian take on polenta; wild mushrooms; and excellent ewe’s-milk cheeses. The hotel’s Ambrozie spa features a heated indoor pool with spectacular views and offers a range of treatments including phytothermotherapy, a body wrap using fermented hay. Guided hikes, beekeeping lessons and workshop visits with local craftspeople are also available. Rooms from about $523 a night, matcahotel.com.
A Candle Maker and Sculptor Couple’s Luminous Collaboration
For Rodrigo Garcia, the founder of the Paris-based candle brand Amen, candlelight reminds him of the first home he ever lived in. “I come from a small town in Flores, Uruguay, and in the countryside there was no electricity until I was around 10 years old,” he says. Years later, while dining outdoors by candlelight one windy evening in Uruguay, Garcia and his partner, the sculptor Katharina Kaminski, were inspired to create a protective vessel for the flame. Amen’s Light Sculptures are the result of the pair’s creative collaboration, a series of cavernous earthen candles available in three of the brand’s signature scents, each with an intended effect: Vetiver is meant to be calming, sandalwood soothing and eucalyptus invigorating. The varying clay finishes of the pieces were inspired by Kaminski’s travels — her visits to the Moroccan desert and the volcanoes of Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, led to the collection’s earthen palette of burnt umber, sandy beige and pale limestone. Like all of Amen’s offerings, these candles are made from natural, paraffin-free vegetal wax. Each Light Sculpture provides up to 1,200 hours of candlelight. $1,250, amencandles.com.
Growing up in rural Alabama on his family’s sharecropping farm, the artist Rick Lowe, now based in Houston, spent his free time drawing presidential portraits and illustrating maps. For the past 30 years of his genre-hopping career, cartography and placemaking have played a defining role, from his radical revitalization of five city blocks in Houston’s historic Third Ward, known as “Project Row Houses” (1993-2018) to his “Black Wall Street Journey” series, begun in 2020 as a response to the white-supremacist terrorist massacre of 1921 in Tulsa, Okla., in which Lowe maps domino games played around the former center of the prosperous Black neighborhood known as Black Wall Street.
This month, a new monograph celebrates Lowe’s practice and its impact on various communities. Published by Gagosian in association with the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago, the tome includes five essays, an interview with the artist and full-bleed images of Lowe’s paintings, drawings, installations and architectural reimaginings. Dominoes are everywhere in the book: Graphic and abstracted, partially erased and piled on top of one another, they represent a record of gameplay and a metaphor for urban development. Lowe, who plays the game himself, was unsure why he was so drawn to tracing dominoes until, as he puts it in the book, he realized that he saw them as both landscapes and maps of accumulated knowledge. “Dominoes is often a kind of academy where much is taught and learned,” he said. “I feel fortunate to have been a student of a great many thinkers who may be locked out of traditional academic institutions.” $100, gagosianshop.com.
The Return of the Circle Bag, a Hit in the Early Aughts
The design collective Threeasfour, made up of the Lebanese designer Gabriel Asfour, the Tajikistan-born Angela Donhauser and the Israeli designer Adi Gil, was founded in 2005. (The three cheekily refer to themselves as “the United Nations of fashion.”) Before Threeasfour, there was its previous permutation, Asfour, which in 2000 launched the Circle Bag, a shoulder bag made from two ringlike pieces of leather sewn together at their edges, resembling a Frisbee. Its graphic geometry was an immediate hit among downtown New York’s arts community at the time; early wearers included the actress Marisa Tomei, the musician Björk and Lady Miss Kier, the vocalist for the dance music group Deee-Lite. Its status as a cultural touchstone was solidified in 2004, when New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired a Circle Bag for its collection, this one with a metallic pewter finish and embossed with floral arabesques. Now, 25 years after the style’s heyday, Threeasfour is resurrecting the Circle Bag in two sizes, the larger one about the size of a hubcap, the smaller a vinyl record. Updates for the relaunch include added interior pockets and a gusset for extra storage on the smaller style. The bag is also offered in nylon, perfect for casual wearers and vegans alike. In the U.S., Circle Bags are available in New York at the Canvas 3.0 Gallery, situated within the Financial District’s Santiago Calatrava-designed Oculus Center, and from the brand’s website. From $300, threeasfour.com.
Holiday makeup looks typically lean into the festivities — think red lips and loads of sparkle — but for a more subtly sophisticated look, consider this season’s array of new matte eye shadows. “I love the contrast of a matte shadow on the eyes alongside a luminous complexion,” says celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon. Laura Mercier’s Caviar Stick Eye Shadow comes in moody colors like Dusk, a mauve, and the navy Midnight Blue that can be drawn on lids and smudged out for a smoky eye. For daytime, Ami Colé’s Lid Joy is a super-pigmented liquid shadow in rich browns that complement a range of skin tones. For those interested in exploring something more electric, Aharon (who recently worked with Gwyneth Paltrow for the CFDA awards) suggests starting with a liner, like the multiuse Precision Colour Pencil from 19/99. It comes in a bright orange and cornflower blue that can be drawn on the lash line for just a wink of color or buffed out over the lid. Merit’s creamy Solo Shadow offers statement shades like navy blue and army green that go on sheerly so you can add depth as you layer. When working with powder shadows, like those found in Hermès Beauty’s Ombres d’Hermès palette, Aharon likes to first use a primer and then hold a folded tissue under the eye to catch any fallout. For Aharon’s suggested luminous complexion, dab Westman Atelier’s Liquid Super Loaded highlighter onto cheekbones.
A New Line of Jewel-Embroidered Cashmere Shawls
The Delhi-born jewelry designer Hanut Singh grew up around precious gems. His family, part of India’s royal Kapurthala lineage, inherited a collection of 1920s jewelry that inspired Singh to eventually establish a line of his own. Now 50, with a two-decade-old business, the self-taught designer has sold his pieces to Diane von Furstenberg, Madonna and Mary-Kate Olsen. “It’s very modern jewelry with lashings of the past,” Singh says of his work, which he makes alongside master craftspeople in India. “My pieces are often talismanic — it’s all about protection. Something you hold close. Something that’s deeply comforting.” In his first-ever collaboration, Singh has created a line of jewel-embroidered cashmere shawls with Jyotika Jhalani, the creative director behind the Delhi-based brand Janavi. A feathered cream cloak is hand stitched with gold paillettes and beads; merlot and black shawls are woven with blossomlike beads and pearls, and a beige iteration is sewn with Lord Shiva’s trident, which symbolizes the defeat of darkness. “The trident is my meditation shawl,” Singh says. “It’s a very powerful motif.” From $850, janaviindia.com.
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