The spaces we occupy affect our mood so much that I suspect that maybe all of us are secretly neat freaks. It’s just some of us have grown used to the anxiety that comes with an unkept home. Okay, maybe I’m painting with too broad a brush here, but you get what I mean, right?
It’s the feeling you get when you walk into a well-designed five-star hotel— the smell of freshly cut flowers and clean linen. The high ceilings with intricate ornamentation...
Where was I going with this? Ah yes— I like to make my apartment look and smell like a hotel (as much as I can) because it helps with my anxiety and depression. I ordered a lot of stuff from Amazon and The Container Store during the pandemic. The grimmer it looked on the news, the more over-priced document boxes I purchased.
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Sometimes just looking at photos of a loft with big windows and ivy-laced red brick, like you see on Instagram, makes me feel better. And please, give me all the targeted ads for home goods brands. Ayeee! The perks of late-stage capitalism!
Yamakazi: Small storage solutions with clever designs. Check out this kitchen organizer you can stick onto your fridge with its magnet.
Floyd: Danish-style shelving and furniture. My dream is to design a massive wall with shelving like this.
Artifox: The desk for home offices. I have one, and I fully recommend it. It’s the last desk you’ll ever buy.
The Citizenry: Come for the ethically sourced home goods, leave for the prices! Seriously though, everything they sell is gorgeous.
This person does not exist and it scares me
Often when I cannot sleep, I incessantly press the refresh button on the website thispersondoesnotexist.com. Watching AI create a new human face in a fraction of a second gives me the creeps, but I’m still so fascinated. I guess this is not the best before-bed activity.
Looking for a good doomsday podcast?
It Could Happen Here is a podcast by journalist Robert Evans. He lays out a compelling argument for why a second civil are is not only possible but, in some American’s minds, is already happening.
In the first episode, Evans explains that the reason most Americans find it hard to picture a second civil war is because of the first civil war. We imagine men in blue and red coats fighting in fields with muskets. Older wars have clear beginnings. The US civil war started with the capture of Fort Sumter. War Wold II began with the invasion of Poland. But modern war, particularly civil war, escalates slow enough almost to go unnoticed until it’s too late.
It Could Happen Here is easily the most exciting podcast I’ve come across in recent memory. I’ve listened to it, start to finish, twice so far.
Robots are getting people out of parking tickets
I, for one, welcome our robot lawyer overlords.
Good movies I watched this week
Since I discovered Letterboxd, an app that lets you catalog and review the movies you watch, I’ve been on a good-movie watching streak.
- Pig: A guy loses his pig.
- The Green Knight: A tree embarrasses a knight in front of the knight’s other knight friends.
- Roadrunner: If you want to cry.
- The Suicide Squad: If you want to laugh.
Oh, the atrocities we overlook in tidy and sumptuous spaces.
A few months back, I rewatched The Handmaid’s Tale in preparation for the upcoming season four. Without the burden of following plot, I paid attention to the cinematography and set design and wanted to share some thoughts about it with you.
Dystopian stories, in my humble opinion, live or dies in the worldbuilding. This is particularly true when the “apocalypse” isn’t an extinction-level event and the world, for the most part, keeps going. You need ways to show your audience how the world has changed. The Handmade’s Tale does this well.
Gilead demands a certain grand sophistication and decorum, but it’s not just about keeping up with appearances. It’s about control. Cleanliness is next to godliness, and in the sun-soaked rooms of Gilead, there are no cluttered entryway tables. There are no junk drawers or spilling coat closets. The god they serve is rigid in his affordances. There are two genders, one sexual preference and zero room for the etcetera. The Container Store (if capitalism still existed in this world) would fit well here.
The grocery marts, in their finite beauty, are decidedly void of capitalism. It brings comfort— this is the variety of tomato sauce you need because this is the only type of sauce we provide you. There are no family-sized cereal boxes that are deceptively more expensive per gram than their normal-sized counterparts. Black and white iconography replace aggressive color palettes. Tin, glass, and whicker, all meticulously lined across sparse shelving, replace familiar plastic packaging. I would shop here; I have shopped here, in my mind and under different circumstances.
The use of symmetry, or lack of symmetry, is always a deliberate choice made by the cinematography team. When we’re watching the characters in Canada, nothing is symmetrical because nothing and no one is controlled. In Gilead, the use of symmetry feels menacing. It’s used to convey the control Aunt Lydia has over the Handmaids and to highlight Commander Waterford’s power.
The beautiful architecture and well-designed rooms attempt to comfort its inhabitants and the viewer, so when evil happens, it’s that much more horrid. The juxtaposition of aspiring interior design and abhorrent behavior stirs up conflicting emotions about Gilead— “this place is completely fucked...but would you look at all that natural light in the kitchen!”
Other reoccurring aesthetics in HMT’s set design:
- Organic textures: lots of linen and whicker. No plastics.
- Permanent architecture. Nothing “fabricated.”
- Solid, primary colors.
- Looted art is used to convey a rebellious Commander Lawrence.