Reflecting on the year through the stories we loved most is not only a nostalgic pastime, but it also lets us highlight and appreciate some of the memorable artists, inventions and places that invigorated and sustained us along the way. This year, we spoke with inspiring cultural innovators, explored large-scale art and maximalist hotels, we found community and indulged in creativity. Below, our favorite features from 2022 capture the spirit of the year, while providing hope for more growth in the next.
Sampa The Great on Home, Identity and Representation
Rapper, singer, songwriter and producer Sampa The Great (aka Sampa Tembo) has been appointed the poster-child of various movements, communities and cultures—without acquiescence—and, as such, she’s no stranger to myopic perceptions, reductive takes and misrepresentations. While she was born in Zambia and raised in Botswana, she’s often described as an Afrobeats (a West African genre) artist. She lived in Melbourne, Australia for several years and is often claimed by the country as Australian. As an African woman, she has been designated as a spokesperson for Black women artists all over the world. But now, with her second full-length album (following 2019’s The Return), As Above, So Below, Tembo is committed to representing herself… Read more.
How NYC’s HAGS is “Queering” Fine Dining
Despite the fact that no one knows what truly lies beyond its doors yet, the highly anticipated restaurant HAGS, from first-time restaurant co-founders Telly Justice and Camille Lindsley, has garnered almost immediate acclaim for being New York City’s first fine dining restaurant that focuses on and is founded by queer people—but the establishment achieves so much more than that. Located where the original Momofuku Noodle Bar was in the East Village, HAGS upends the very notion of what fine dining is—from applying a queer lens throughout to labor practices structured around a four-day work week and food sourced directly from the neighborhood. At the up-and-coming eatery, queer is praxis, and the result is an intimate, campy dining experience where everyone is welcome… Read more.
Large-Scale Art, Musical Performance and Stunning Landscape Converge at Tippet Rise Art Center
Glowing golden in the late September sunlight, tall prairie grass quivers in the breeze beyond the picture window of the Olivier Music Barn at Tippet Rise Art Center in Fishtail, Montana. The barn, an acoustically engineered performing arts center, welcomes an annual array of diverse international talent—from bombastic string quartets to mesmerizing classical pianists. Outside this intimate facility, 12,500 rolling acres cushion monumental, perception-changing sculptures, a charming indoor-outdoor restaurant and an open-air amphitheater. Tippet Rise is often likened to New York State’s beloved Storm King Art Center, but the sprawling Montana site happens to also be a working sheep and cattle ranch—and honestly something entirely unto itself… Read more.
Questlove on His “Quest for Craft” Series With The Balvenie
With Quest for Craft, Questlove‘s ongoing interview series for The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky, the musician, producer, DJ and founding member of The Roots continues to inspire. Each episode the legendary artist speaks with individuals who have spent immense time, energy and effort honing their own art. The themes of all these conversations are creativity and curiosity—two driving factors behind COOL HUNTING, as well… Read more.
Leica’s Celebration of Photography Event Nourishes a Creative Community
Last month at Leica‘s headquarters in Wetzlar, Germany, the camera brand proved once again that it’s more than a company; it’s a community. They have been manufacturing precise, high-end instruments (cameras, lenses and more) of exceptional quality for 150 years, and those who adore their products seem to organically gravitate to each other. Appreciating this sense of community, Leica invited friends, family, media and photographers to Leitz-Park, Wetzlar for the launch of new and reissued products, this year’s Picture of the Year, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, and various events and activities as part of their Celebration of Photography… Read more.
Looni’s Menstrual-Health Supplements Tackle Medical Misogyny
For more than a decade, vomiting and fainting were par for the course for Chelsea Leyland, a DJ and activist working to de-stigmatize cannabis and epilepsy. Over the years, Leyland would go to physicians to try to deal with her pain but was met with the same dismissive response every time, being told “it’s normal.” This is partly why it took years for the her to be diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition that affects around one in 10 people who experience periods yet takes on average seven to 10 years to diagnose. With no cure for endometriosis, Leyland sought her own solution, delving into botanicals and Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Years of research and experience eventually led to Looni, a menstrual-health company dedicated to improving period literacy and autonomy… Read more.
Clifford Nae’ole’s Celebration of the Arts Program at Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua
For mindful travelers, it’s crucial to respect and celebrate the places they visit and the people who live there. Curiosity is often a cohort of mindfulness, thus authentic and educational experiences are of utmost importance. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s at the The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua where some of those kinds of experiences can be had. The hotel’s Celebration of the Arts program attracts visitors and locals alike, and has been helmed by Clifford J Nae‘ole, who was born and raised in Maui and works as the Hawaiian cultural advisor at the hotel, for over 30 years. Nae‘ole wants the program—which includes demonstrations, workshops and rituals led by cultural practitioners, artisans, craftspeople, musicians, dancers and chefs—to encourage participants to “engage, participate, create, learn, share and teach.” We experienced Celebration of the Arts earlier this year and found that Nae‘ole (who was given the Historic Preservation Award from the Historic Hawaii Foundation last year) is intrinsic in the endeavor’s success and spirit. We spoke with him about everything that Maui offers and what it means to have visitors come to his home… Read more.
Tea Drunk Handpicks Leaves From 1,000-Year-Old Terroir in China
Nestled throughout rural China, secret wild tea trees (from when now-defunct villages cultivated trees centuries ago) house rare, high-quality teas. Acquiring them requires tapping into a local network of knowledge about their location and then bushwhacking through swamp and forestation while fending off leeches to pick each leaf. For many in the tea industry, this is far too much dedication and labor for sourcing tea, but for NYC-based Shunan Teng, founder of Tea Drunk, this is a typical day at the office—at least in the spring, when Teng hikes throughout China to work and camp with farmers to find prime tea leaves… Read more.
London’s Fantastical, Maximalist The Twenty Two Boutique Hotel, Restaurant and Members’ Club
There’s an intimate grandeur beyond the formidable doors of The Twenty Two, a stunning boutique hotel, restaurant and members’ club in London‘s tony Mayfair neighborhood. The hospitality haven is housed in an architectural marvel: a former Edwardian mansion crafted from Portland stone that’s set off of Grosvenor Square (22 Grosvenor Square to be exact), which lived a recent life as office space. Today, it’s imbued with a particular style of sophisticated opulence that’s underscored by friendly service and an omnipresent sense that just about anything is possible. For anyone wary of a members’ club in London (an exclusive and often exclusionary hospitality sector), The Twenty Two grants hotel guests membership during their time on site… Read more.
Kristin Worrall Crafts Sculptural Art from Gelatin Desserts in “Take Comfort”
For New York-based artist Kristin Worrall, it was not enough to tour with the award-winning company Nature Theater of Oklahoma, nor was it enough to bake for critically acclaimed restaurants such as Jean-Georges. Rather, Worrall’s penchant for the multidisciplinary and interconnectedness led the artist to forge her own path, melding food, sound design and theater into interactive, unique art. Her latest—Take Comfort at Connecticut’s Standard Space, founded by fine art photographer Theo Coulombe—explores the beauty and creativity of gelatin desserts. Accompanied by a performance and atmospheric soundscape, the exhibit (on view today through 18 December) playfully investigates pleasure and nostalgia… Read more.
Hero image by David Graver