Legally Blonde (2001)
Best in Show (2000)

Actress Jennifer Coolidge on her fight to be recognised and finally achieving icon status

Here in the dark cocoon of her parlour, Jennifer Coolidge comes alive. All day, the New Orleans heat made her leaden and itchy, but now that the sunlight has drained from the sky and the moisture has been wicked from the air, the actress is ready and alert. She asks me to fix us another round of tequila cocktails as she shuffles around her home in puffy pink slippers, closing doors and turning off lights to set the mood. She has been waiting for hours to unveil what she calls “the surprise.”

 I arrived early in the afternoon at her home in the Lower Garden District, where she greeted me at the cast-iron gate, wearing a black slip and a sheer fuchsia-and-gold bolero, as her rescue dog, Chewy (short for Chewbacca), ran around the fluted Ionic columns. She bought this 1867 house just before Hurricane Katrina and has spent much of her time restoring it to its former Greek Revival–slash–Italianate glory: shoring up the foundation, replacing the wiring, repairing the roof, patching the plaster, and filling it with Persian rugs, tasselled ottomans, an upholstered minibar, armoires. Oil portraits in gilded frames stare down from the high walls. Coolidge believes there is a “presence” in the house, although not an evil one.

“Welcome to the mausoleum,” she announces as she emerges holding a candlestick with a clinking crystal skirt, a long black taper set inside it. She leads me into a darkened room with heavy drawn curtains and the smell of lilies in the air.

“Are you going to kill me?” I whisper.

“Yes,” she whispers. “I am.”

She lights the candle, and a wooden box comes into soft focus. She opens the lid outward, toward us, reaches inside, and pulls; a small, Asian-looking figure dressed in red silk emerges, maybe a hand and a half high, seated behind a tiny table. She tells me his name is Signor (she says it SEE-nyore) Blitz, a Parisian automaton from 1850 and a family heirloom. She winds a crank and Signor Blitz begins to perform legerdemain, lifting a set of cups and turning his head to the side in a mechanical loop. He opens his mouth to reveal a gleaming crescent of white and a slip of pink. When Coolidge was a little girl visiting her grandmother’s house, her father would show off Signor Blitz in the dark with a flashlight; she loved how the passage of time had both obscured and enhanced its magic. Signor Blitz holds a piece of her soul — and, maybe now, mine.

That Coolidge would live in a haunted house and be genuinely weird in a bone-deep way moves against the archetype she has played for almost three decades: that of the faddish, busty blonde of slow absorption. Known in the popular imagination as “Stifler’s Mom” from American Pie or Paulette the manicurist from Legally Blonde, her characters are sexy in a way that’s often deployed for cheap laughs — as in 2 Broke Girls, when the protagonists mistake her character, Sophie Kaczynski, for a madam. And yet even with just those bit parts, Coolidge has etched herself into the Mt. Rushmore of millennial camp, breathlessly copied and never quite replicated. Part of her uniqueness is her mien, her lips that pout like a scrunchie, her hooded eyes, but really it’s her voice and delivery that inspire delirium. The shortest lines — “Hi” or “Okay” or “So moist” — are putty in her hands. She stretches vowels out across entire emotional vistas: plaintive, alien, funny.

“She is her own comedic universe in or out of character,” says Eugene Levy, who has shared the screen with her in both the American Pie franchise and the films he co-wrote with Christopher Guest. “Jennifer is amazing at playing off of people,” says Guest, who first worked with her on 2000’s Best in Show. “And if there isn’t someone to play off, then she plays off the silence.” In that film, Coolidge is Sherri Ann Cabot, the proud owner of a blue-ribbon poodle and the much younger wife to an old man who never speaks. (They “both love soup.”) In For Your Consideration, from 2006, Coolidge is a daffy film producer. In a scene where other characters are fighting over creative direction, the real tension is in the way Coolidge’s eyes dart back and forth until she bursts out, “But what about me?!”

“I know that sometimes she gets frustrated that she’s always having hump-the-furniture parts,” says the TV writer and director Mike White, who became close friends with Coolidge after they met on a film set over a decade ago. “She can nail that kind of broad comedy, so of course that’s what people want her to do. People love her, but she’s put in a box.”

Coolidge finally got a more considered role in season one of HBO’s The White Lotus, an ensemble comedy of vacation manners White created about guests and the staff who serve them at a luxury resort in Hawaii. Acting alongside Connie Britton, Natasha Rothwell, Jake Lacy, and many others, Coolidge played Tanya, a wealthy middle-aged woman longing for affection and stability who goes to the resort to spread her mother’s ashes. “I was like, I would love to be able to write something that allows her to show the person that I know, not the ‘character,’ ” says White. The series taps into Coolidge’s comedic timing while capturing a sense of unpredictability and loneliness: Tanya is the most visibly distressed and distressing guest at the hotel, someone whose palpable need makes everyone else uncomfortable. [Coolidge has since reprised her role of Tanya to Emmy-award-winning acclaim in season two of The White Lotus].

Left to right: White Lotus (2022) & The Watcher (2022)

Over a weekend with Coolidge, I learned to embrace unsteadiness. In person, she moves both slowly and chaotically, leaving you in a state of perpetual anticipation; it is just as unclear what will happen as when it will happen. Her natural speaking voice is more resonant, without the nasal breathiness she has become so associated with because of Legally Blonde. She loves to delay, riff, and sit with silence. She can talk, or not talk, for hours. And she loves a bit — although her eagerness to show me Signor Blitz is really a way to share something essential about herself. (She even named her production company after him.)

Sitting on the long velvet couch in her parlour, Coolidge thinks back to her parents. Her father worked in resin manufacturing and was a craftsman on the side, while her mother was a homemaker. “My father really worshipped my mother,” she remembers. “How did she get that? He really thought she was the most incredible person that ever lived on this planet.”

“What would you want right now?” I ask.

“What would I want?” she says, laughing. “In a dude or in love?”

“Or in general.”

“What would I want?” she pauses. “I don’t know. More tequila.”

Coolidge wishes she had a thicker skin or more gumption to just do the thing, like write a movie and star in it, the way Billy Bob Thornton did with Sling Blade. She grew up in Norwell, Massachusetts, and, when she was 21, moved to LA for acting school, where she lived in a rented room in a nursing home with another aspiring actor, the type who won bikini contests and bragged about it. “She was showing a photo of them, but then she said, ‘I just want to tell you something, Jennifer. I have a really good eye for talent. I don’t see you as someone in front of the camera,’ ” Coolidge says. Around the same time, a casting agent brought Coolidge in only to tell her she would never cast her in anything. “In your headshot, you look just like a young Candice Bergen,” she recalls the agent saying. “You look nothing like this. I only cast good-looking people on my soaps.”

She moved to New York and waitressed at Canastel’s at 19th and Park, where Sandra Bullock was a hostess. There were a lot of lost years when she was deep inside a coke habit. (“What a waste.”) When Coolidge went out to clubs like Area or Limelight, she pretended to be the least-known, completely fictional Hemingway daughter. “I always said I was Muffin Hemingway if I couldn’t get in,” she says. “One time I got thrown out of a club because I was behaving badly, and they said, ‘Don’t ever come back here, Muffin!’ ” Another time, she went to the Palladium and woke up the next day outside, near a tennis court in the Hamptons. Eventually, too many nights were ending in the ER. When she was 27, her parents sent her to rehab. When she got out, she found improv at Gotham City, which eventually led her back to LA to join the Groundlings, the comedy troupe that at the time included Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, Chris Kattan, and Chris Parnell. In 1993, at the age of 32, she booked her first big break — as one of Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriends on Seinfeld — while her mother was dying of pancreatic cancer. “My mother’s last words to me were, like, ‘I can’t believe it,’ ” she remembers. “But she was thrilled because she didn’t think anything was going to happen.”

American Pie (1999)

There is an always-the-bridesmaid quality to Coolidge’s career, of sliding doors and missed opportunities. The same day she got Seinfeld, she booked She TV, a short-lived sketch-comedy show that lasted for a brief season. After that, she was in Saturday Night Special, an SNL-rival attempt at Fox with Roseanne Barr and Kathy Griffin that again lasted one season. When Coolidge and some of the other Groundlings were sent to audition for the actual SNL, Coolidge’s (new) agent decided to play hardball and say the show couldn’t keep his client waiting for a decision — it was now or never. (SNL decided against now.) She says she played a shrink in an HBO pilot that didn’t get picked up. In 2003, as part of a development deal, NBC bought a half-hour comedy based on her time at Canastel’s but eventually passed on it too. In what was reported as a “consolation prize,” she played a horny agent on Matt LeBlanc’s Friends spin-off, Joey, which lasted two seasons. “It’s so funny when you’re on these shows and you plan your life; you think it’s all going to go so fabulous. And then two seconds later, it’s just through,” she says, laughing. “You’re like, Oh, really? It’s all over so soon?’ ”

Even The White Lotus, her richest role to date, is something of a runner-up. White — who created one of the canonical Best TV Shows You Missed, Enlightened with Laura Dern — had first conceived of a different star vehicle for Coolidge called Saint Patsy. It was going to be a “paranoid road comedy” in which she would play an underappreciated actress who gets a call that she’s receiving a lifetime-achievement award from an obscure film festival in Sri Lanka but spirals when she comes to believe the award is an elaborate ruse concocted by her ex-boyfriend in an attempt to kill her. “Honestly, it’s the best thing I’ve ever written,” White says. “If someone made this show, it would blow people’s minds. Just think of Jennifer getting bitten by a snake in the Indian Ocean and running for her life.”

He says HBO passed. “I got close on a couple places, but the craziness of it was too much,” White says. “People were like, ‘Jennifer as the linchpin to a show, as your way in …’ I could just sense there was some anxiety.” He blames the generally limited ability of network executives to see beyond the roles a person has already had, a sort of self-perpetuating mechanism. “Jennifer makes the comedy about herself. The joke is always on her,” he says. “It’s a disarming way of going through life — a way to put people at ease and try to defuse anything. You make yourself the joke, but what happens is that sometimes people then confuse her with being a joke.”

So when the network asked White to make a Covid-friendly show they could shoot in quarantine instead — what became The White Lotus — he insisted on including a meaty role for Coolidge. She was his nonnegotiable. “The same way people feel about her in Legally Blonde is how I feel about her in life,” he says. “I want to see her win.”

Left to right: Shotgun Wedding (2022) & A Cinderella Story (2004)

The day after I meet Signor Blitz, Coolidge texts me: “Hi Alex!! How are you feeling ?? I have an action packed evening I hope you’re up for it,” followed by alternating heart and prayer-hands emoji. She arrives at my hotel that evening in long lashes, a silk cheetah-print caftan, and crystal-encrusted heels that kick up her height (she’s five-foot-ten) even higher. In the front seat is William, an assistant at CAA whose provenance is a bit of a mystery. His little sister, a premed student, is driving and controlling the music, blasting Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour as we head to our first destination, Saint-Germain, a wine bar in the Bywater. “You got me fucked up in the head, boy / Never doubted myself so much,” sings Rodrigo. It’s Coolidge’s first time hearing the song. “I can relate to that,” she says.

We’re just here for some sips and apps, she tells Saint-Germain’s wine director as we step onto the patio outside. He remembers her preference for French whites, particularly Saint-Aubins. Coolidge loves to indulge, to go all out. Every year, she hosts a giant Halloween party, for which she removes the furniture from her house, places long tables in the double galleries, and treats the revellers to a catered meal, musicians, burlesque dancers, a costume contest, and endless wine. She usually tries to eat vegan, but it’s difficult on film sets or when there are so many delicious things, like aged Camembert butter and crab claws.

The server brings out a dish of thin coins of summer squash topped with crab and kaluga caviar and dots of bright-green lovage oil. That’s followed by the fanciest crudités I have ever seen, with cut-up vegetables dusted in puffed rice and buttermilk dressing. She asks if they have any bread; they don’t, but they do have some cornbread cakes that the kitchen makes to order. The cakes appear. She groans, I groan.

We discuss reincarnation. She grew up as a Unitarian Universalist, which ultimately means she believes in some big-picture thinker in the sky, although she’s not sure exactly what. Maybe God is gay. If she were to come back in another life, she would want to be a gay man. Why? “I don’t know,” she pauses. “I just … I think I’d be good at it.”

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003)

It’s impossible to overstate the mutual fixation between Jennifer Coolidge and gay men. They seek her out at parties, like moths to a disco ball, for photos and air kisses and conversation (and interviews). She wonders if this may be because she has “acted persecuted, in my own self-centered way.

“Whatever role they like, it’s something where they think I’m pretending to be a woman,” she says.

“That your characters are drag queens?” I ask.

“In some form,” she replies. “One time, this guy said it hadn’t occurred to them that there could be a woman like that until they saw A Cinderella Story” — a film in which she plays Hilary Duff’s evil stepmother, Fiona. “They said, ‘I realized you were me.’ ”

In turn, she projects a certain tenacity and put-togetherness onto gay men that she feels she may lack. Take William, she says: He grew up gay in a conservative part of Mississippi, yet here he is, capable, smart, thriving. She feels gay men are more generous than their heterosexual counterparts, more even than some women. “You’d think that a gay man would be condescending to me because I’m so not what they are. But I do feel gay men forgive me for it,” she says. “Gay men don’t make you pay for having a strong point of view. And I really like that because hetero men don’t like that.”

Coolidge is single and has never been married. She’s fascinated by liars and con men: The last time she had a Halloween party, in 2019, the costume prompt was to dress up as your favourite narcissist — or their victim; this year, she’s thinking it will be to come as your favourite fraud. These themes may or may not be inspired by personal experience. Either way, Coolidge stays in the game. She’s a romantic.

She doesn’t necessarily want to be dating some rich guy, but the more
salt-of-the-earth, non-Hollywood men she’s been with can be insecure
about her success. “Their perception of your life is so much bigger and better than what it really is,” she says. “They somehow project a bunch of shit onto you, that you’re usurping them or you’re doing something to them. You’re some sort of verb.

“I don’t want this to be the end of my life and my romance and all that,” she continues. “But I don’t know how people do it anymore. Sometimes I feel like you got this good little thing going once in a while with somebody. You get too much permission to, you know, be you. The thing dissolves pretty quick. There’s so many girls who would be like, Well, fuck them. They can’t handle it. But my feeling is, like, who wants to be alone, too?”

The Watcher (2022)

My last morning in New Orleans starts with a “coffee?” text from Coolidge. She takes us to one of her regular spots, Willa Jean, which leads to breakfast at Molly’s Rise and Shine, run by her friend Mason Hereford, who suggests she try the new vegan tamale. She insists on driving me to the airport and that, next time, I need to spend the night at her house. “I’ll stay across the street so you can really feel the creeps.”

Coolidge’s social anxiety feeds on wondering whether she’s doing enough for people or maybe doing too much. Hereford tells me that when he opened his restaurant, she came in and bought hundreds of dollars’ worth of gift cards. When she hired him to cater a party, she paid him double what he’d asked.

You think you really know yourself until you go through something and then you’re like, I had this all wrong.

“She’s very paranoid about hurting anyone’s feelings, about coming off as mean or entitled,” says White. He saw this in full force during a safari they went on together in Tanzania a few years ago; she wanted to tip the driver, then agonised over whether she had overtipped. “She did it with the animals, where she would be like, ‘Oh, there’s a leopard!’ And then she’d be like, ‘The leopard is looking at us weird.’ It would turn on a dime — she would go from loving the beauty of nature to projecting on this animal that they want to eat us and we’ve got to get the fuck out of there.”

The same fears apply to going after roles. She feels she has been passive about her career, that she took other people’s word — agents, executives, whatever — and assumed they knew better than she did. In the grand scheme of things, she knows she has a lot, and she’s not sure she really deserves it. Only when you compare her with other Hollywood actors do disparities in parts or pay start to arise. “So many people are just not making what they should be making. But I do think it is weird when someone just gets some massive amount of money and then other people who are just below them are getting one-hundredth of that,” she says. “If you’re called a character actress, it’s just an excuse not to pay you.”

Before the pandemic, she fantasized about leaving it all behind and moving to a house in the middle of nowhere. “Covid got rid of my dream to be isolated. No more dreams of living in a lighthouse,” she says. “I really figured out who I was. I need city life, city living. You think you really know yourself until you actually go through something and then you’re like, I had this all wrong.”

“Were there any other moments like that?” I ask.

She thinks for a second. “Either you’re too insecure and you think terrible things about yourself,” she starts, “or you overthink something great about yourself and then you have to have that realisation.

“I used to be a really, really fast runner, and I just assumed I still was. And then I did a movie recently, Shotgun Wedding, where you had to run really fast. You’re screaming, and you’re running. This fantasy I had about myself, I thought I was an Olympic athlete, you know? Then you’re just like, Holy shit,” she says. “It was a humbling moment.”

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Should you exercise while sick? Here’s how to navigate fitness when you’re unwell

With longevity the intention of exercise, recent years have prompted the question — should you be exercising if you’re sick? In search of a straightforward answer, Tessa Patrick discovers the complexities of fitness along the way.

Sometimes gentle exercise just makes you feel good. Circulating endorphins are always assured to lift any mood, and a healthy intake of oxygen has never been known to do harm — as long as the body isn’t exerted any more than it needs to be. Even if you’re not exercising for your body, it’s a feel-good habit for the mind. But should we be sacrificing that when we’re sick?

Many experts suggest that fitness doesn’t have to be pushed to the wayside when we’re battling a cold. It’s more about making gentle adjustments to ensure recovery isn’t impaired, and while the answer will differ in every individual, most professionals agree that the best principle is this: Exercising while sick is fine for symptoms above the neck, but as soon as you’re beginning to feel the impacts of the illness within your body, it’s time to change up your game plan. If you’re just feeling the effects of a head cold; the nose sniffles and headaches, it is considered fine (and actually even healthy) to move your body.

But if these symptoms are extending below the neck, like aches and chills, an upset stomach or chest congestion (this includes a phlegmy cough), most practitioners would encourage you to take the time to rest until symptoms have subsided. If you try to maintain your normal routine (with the same intensity and frequency) when you have more than a simple cold, you put yourself at risk of further injury and more serious illness.

As for the Covid pandemic that prompted this awakened social commentary; any strenuous exercise should be avoided during infection. Exerting strained lungs only burdens you further, potentially triggering what is known as ‘long Covid’. But our understanding of what long Covid actually is needs some more consideration. This phenomenon isn’t akin to a switch that’s suddenly flipped the second we don our activewear. Instead, it should be used as a gauge for just how much we move our bodies, and just how far we push them. 

Should you exercise while sick?

With Covid, a gentle walk around the block, and even a light stretching yoga sequence will probably do you the world of good, even in the height of illness. But that doesn’t mean the second you test negative you should be enlisting for the next half marathon. Take exercise gently, and ease yourself back into it. Allow your walks to return to runs over a matter of weeks, not days, and lay off the intense, HIIT-style workouts until you’re really ready to go back. It is an exercise in patience, but the debilitating effects of going too hard too soon are simply never worth it.

With all other illnesses, if you self-triage, and decide that exercise is essential for the day, experts suggest starting by reducing the intensity of your workout. Long-distance runners should swap that out for a lengthy ‘hot girl walk‘ instead. For those who like to lift weights, or lean into a rigorous HIIT workout, try an at-home Pilates session. Slower paced yoga classes like hatha and yin can feel totally nourishing at this time too. And of course, if you’re experiencing any kind of contagious symptoms, exercise while sick is best done at home or alone.

Throughout this time, extra attention should be paid to recovery too — prioritising those habits that ensure your body returns to its natural state of being. Ensure you take time to stretch, and then take some longer to get into those areas that may be stiff from a day in bed. Make sure you stay hydrated, with an ample amount of water intake before, during and after, and consider leaning on electrolytes, and other essential minerals that support immunity and recovery like magnesium and zinc too.

Evidently, every case is different, and only you can be the judge of whether it’s safe to get moving. But it’s also important to ask the question: do you actually feel like exercising, really? Too often we find ourselves in a space of movement out of obligation — people may feel they owe it to themselves, to their fitness journey, to their tummy they seek to tone, or their classes that they’ve already paid for (and the cancellation fee they might cop as a result).

What we can assure you is that sometimes it’s okay to take a rest day, even just mentally. Indulge a little instead. Re-watch your favourite TV show in bed, have your loved one bring you some food. It may not always feel like it, but these moments are as essential to healing as movement itself. After all, I think we can all agree that a balanced life is paramount.

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Your first look inside The Terrace — Viaduct Harbour’s sleek new oyster bar & kitchen

An intimate, exquisitely-appointed new oyster bar and restaurant has just opened in the space alongside Viaduct Harbour’s Oyster & Chop, quickly establishing itself as the perfect spot for an easy drink or a bite with friends. Versatile and atmospheric, this sleek new dining destination is called The Terrace, and while it has been designed to complement the existing Oyster & Chop offering (although with a more approachable feel) what diners will discover on visiting The Terrace is delicious drinks, a seafood-centric menu that showcases the oyster in all its glory, and a vibe that is both elevated and welcoming.

The interiors, anchored by a large open terrace, were designed by the experts at Jack McKinney Architects, who utilised a mixture of iridescent details with raw, organic textiles and shapes that, when viewed together, almost give the impression of an oyster itself. (The common with the precious, the smooth with the textural).

Here, the space is small and carefully considered, where casual tables are available to walk-ins seeking a pre-dinner drink, satiating meal or late-night bite with a bit of buzz. And while The Terrace’s Manager, Richard Pepper tells me that there will be music and atmosphere aplenty, he also explains that it is the perfect place to go if you just want to enjoy a laid-back evening, catching up with your dining companion.

The Terrace’s kitchen is in good hands too, skilfully helmed by William Dang (formerly of Mekong Baby, One Tree Grill and Culprit) with Alfie Ingham (formerly of Hugo’s Bistro) in the role of consultant chef. On the menu, inspired by classic British and European ‘oyster bars’, fresh seafood takes centre stage, where small plates like whipped Hapuka roe, smoked fish rillettes and a King Prawn cocktail collide with larger options like grilled crayfish tail, or for those who want some turf with their surf, a 600g bone-in New York strip steak.

There is (of course) a comprehensive oyster offering here, available prepared in a variety of ways, alongside a Sturia Oscietra Caviar service, served with potato chips, chives and creme fraiche. And if you have a hankering for some afternoon oysters, The Terrace will be putting on an unmissable oyster happy hour from 3pm until 6pm (Wednesday to Sunday).

The beverage offering at The Terrace is also notable, where the focus is very much on New Zealand varietals, alongside a comprehensive collection of Champagne and a back bar boasting more than 40 New Zealand gins. These is also an impressive cocktail list here, which runs the gamut from classic concoctions to more modern, unique tipples, each designed to complement the seafood-focused menu.

So, whether you’ve been looking for a new place for date night, or are simply seeking to switch things up from your regular, look no further than The Terrace. Delivering on its designs to be suave and sophisticated in a decidedly accessible and casual way, this new Viaduct Harbour destination offers good food and great drinks, and deserves to be firmly on your radar.

Opening Hours:
Wednesday — Sunday, 3pm until late

The Terrace

95-99 Customs Street West
Auckland CBD

www.oysterandchop.co.nz

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Mirror Bomboca sofa by Fernando and Humberto Campana for Louis Vuitton Objets Nomades
Monolith table by Emmanuel Gallina for Poliform. Brand available locally at Studio Italia.
Circa Swivel chair by Bensen. Brand available locally at Tim Webber.

Denizen’s guide to all the best exhibitions and pieces from this year’s Milan Design Week

The world’s preeminent furniture event, Salone Del Mobile (Milan Design Fair) took place last week, transforming the global fashion capital into the ultimate design destination. Thousands of international exhibitors and events unveiled new pieces from iconic brands, groundbreaking ideas for sustainable design and promising up-and-comers who sought to stake their claim in the industry. Over the course of the week, a raft of exhibitions and pop-ups were scattered through every corner of Milan, with various satellite events touching on different themes and spaces, and something for everyone to marvel at or ponder over. 

This year’s event also marked the return of its biennial light show, Euroluce, in which luminaries from across the design realm put their brightest designs on display in a series of exhibitions that were visually arresting and creatively inspiring.

With the theme for this year’s fair being one of building connections and expanding reach, the organisers also introduced a new cultural programme led by architect Beppe Finessi and a team of respected industry experts which aimed to bring architecture, art, photography to the fairgrounds, to sit alongside (and enhance) the design. The additional programme also saw the opening of a temporary bookshop by Italian publisher Corraini by Formafantasma.

From the Fuorisalone (in the heart of the city) to the Salone Del Mobile (just outside the city centre) the vast and varied offering of this year’s Milan Design Week resulted in the emergence of some truly special pieces. Here, we round up the best of the best that was unveiled over the course of the week — pieces we can’t wait to get our hands on.

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Travertine buffet table

Travertine buffet table

Travertine buffet table

Travertine buffet table

SolidNature shoulder-tapped Sabine Marcelis as one of their collaborators for this year’s Milan Design Week installation (the second time the brand has worked with the designer at the fair, although the relationship extends back to 2019). Here, Marcelis wanted to create an object visitors could interact with so she designed a buffet table and bar made from travertine and glass, where the tops of the travertine base blocks extended up as serving platters. To complete the effect, she called on culinary artist Laila Gohar to load the table with a visually-arresting feast.

by Sabine Marcelis
for SolidNature

Disco Cocoon

Disco Cocoon

Disco Cocoon

Disco Cocoon

For its sixth year, Louis Vuitton presented new additions to its lauded Objets Nomades collection of inventive and functional furniture and design. This year, the collection included this Disco Cocoon by Fernando and Humberto Campana which took one of the first Objets Nomades ever created and transformed it into a remarkable artwork, covered in over 10,000 hand-positioned mirror tiles. Only available in a limited edition of eight, this piece epitomises Louis Vuitton’s singular design ethos.

by Fernando and Humberto Campana
for Louis Vuitton Objets Nomades

Cone lamp

Cone lamp

Cone lamp

Cone lamp

Marking Tom Dixon’s first ever showing at Euroluce, the designer’s exhibition, CHOICE, included unexpected combinations in floor lamps and chandeliers, table tops and textiles to offer a deeper, wider palette. New collections showing for the first time at Euroluce included new Puff pendants and chandeliers, Portables lights inspired by the iconic Melt, Bell and Stone designs, as well as Cone lights (pictured).

by Tom Dixon
Brand available locally at ECC

Knitty Lounge chair

Knitty Lounge chair

Knitty Lounge chair

Knitty Lounge chair

The attention-grabbing Knitty Lounge Chair epitomises comfort and luxury. Enhanced with a knitted fabric, woven in a chunky basket weave that provides a unique tactile sensation, the chair is available in multiple colours promises to be a conversation-starter in any space.

by Nika Zupanc
for Moooi
Brand available locally at ECC

Sunday curved sofa

Sunday curved sofa

Sunday curved sofa

Sunday curved sofa

For part of Poliform’s Milan 2023 entry, Flaviano Capriotti designed Sunday: a seating collection made of inviting and comfortable upholstered pieces, inspired by the day dedicated to rest. Here, the curved, asymmetrical sofas with seats of varying depth are designed to sit at the centre of the room, and help cultivate the kind of relaxed conviviality everyone wants at the end of the week.

by Flaviano Capriotti
for Poliform
Brand available locally at Studio Italia

Collection A table and chairs

Collection A table and chairs

Collection A table and chairs

Collection A table and chairs

Collection A, designed by Naoto Fukasawa⁠ for Kettal, consists of a stackable armchair with upholstered seat and backrest, and tables in three sizes: Home Deck, Meeting Table and Workstation, in natural and dark oak wood. The collection was born from the concept that chairs and desks made of solid wood are not very common in the office environment, but that they should be, given the way that solid wood can ground us and keep us connected to nature.

by Naoto Fukasawa⁠
for Kettal
Brand available locally at Studio Italia

Pallana lights

Pallana lights

Pallana lights

Pallana lights

This year, Moooi explored design, lifestylecand technology more extensively. The brand embraced physical and digital realities to create technologically advanced experiences that felt deeply personal. The Pallana Light by IDEO was one new piece unveiled. It is a suspended lighting fixture with  mechanically joined, classic shapes that create a dynamic and adaptable design, making it a playful task light. The ring lights can also be spun in different directions, to directly shine light on whatever might need illuminating.

by IDEO
for Moooi
Brand available locally at ECC

Installation and six act narrative for My Circuit lighting system

Installation and six act narrative for My Circuit lighting system

Installation and six act narrative for My Circuit lighting system

Installation and six act narrative for My Circuit lighting system

For 2023, Flos teamed up again with Michael Anastassiades for Six Acts, an installation/performance (curated by Fabio Cherstich)  built around the My Circuit lighting railing system.

by Michael Anastassiades
for Flos
Brand available locally at ECC

Rows sideboard

Rows sideboard

Rows sideboard

Rows sideboard

With linear forms and clear-cut symmetries, the Rows collection by Patricia Urquiola is a refined, artistic concept — geometrical and minimalist. Doors, side panels and table bases are both formal and decorative. The curved milled edge running the length of the surface is inspired by the nature morte of Amédée Ozenfant, a French writer and painter who founded the Purism movement.

by Patricia Urquiola
for Moroso
Brand available locally at Matisse

Marenco armchair

Marenco armchair

Marenco armchair

Marenco armchair

by Mario Marenco
for Arflex
Brand available locally at Studio Italia

Cloud pendant

Cloud pendant

Cloud pendant

Cloud pendant

Glass lighting brand Lasvit debuted a number of designs at Milan Design Week this year, including a cloud-shaped glass and light installation by Maxim Velčovský (the brand’s creative director). His word, Cloud, was the centrepiece of Lasvit’s exhibition, It All Comes From Above, and was a monumental and highly intricate installation that emulated the meditative experience of cloud-watching and drew on the historical significance of clouds to cultures throughout history.

by Maxim Velcovsky
for Lasvit
Brand available locally at Matisse

Endless modular sofa

Endless modular sofa

Endless modular sofa

Endless modular sofa

This modular sofa system by Benson boasts endless possibilities and infinite configurations. Its luxurious seat comprised of coils, memory foam, and fibre gives it the effect of a well-proportioned unit floating above the ground. Suitable for both residential and contract spaces.

by Bensen
Brand available locally at Tim Webber

Indoor-outdoor collection

Indoor-outdoor collection

Indoor-outdoor collection

Indoor-outdoor collection

For this year’s Design Fair, Studio Piet Boon welcomed visitors into the home of inside-outside. Designed to bring balance to modern life, the thoughtfully-composed décor here brought elements of the outdoors into the domestic space— and vice versa. Exterior and interior spaces merged into one harmonious whole, creating an ideal backdrop for the presentation of the new Piet Boon indoor-outdoor furniture collection.

by Studio Piet Boon
Brand available locally at ECC

Unveiling Allure O' Outdoor table and Flair O' Outdoor chair

Unveiling Allure O' Outdoor table and Flair O' Outdoor chair

Unveiling Allure O' Outdoor table and Flair O' Outdoor chair

Unveiling Allure O' Outdoor table and Flair O' Outdoor chair

B&B Italia expands its outdoor furniture collection with four brand-new products signed by outstanding international designers, including the Allure O’ Outdoor and Flair O’ Outdoor by Monica Armani. The Allure O’ Outdoor table keeps the graceful strength of the design of the indoor version, while the Flair O’ Outdoor chair is characterised by its lightweight aluminium frame completely covered with an interlacing of polypropylene ribbons created via a meticulous artisan process.

by Monica Armani
for B&B Italia
Brand available locally at Matisse

Camma table

Camma table

Camma table

Camma table

This sculptural Carrara marble table is composed of three legs, placed in the centre of its base, with an offset position. The design of the Camma table, named after a beautiful and brave woman from mythology, inspires serenity and generosity. Its three monolithic but voluptuous legs and it’s very large top suggest epicurean pleasures and make it the perfect centrepiece for any dining space.

by⁠ Marie C Dorner
for Ligne Roset

18 Pockets installation

18 Pockets installation

18 Pockets installation

18 Pockets installation

The culmination of six years of research, 18 Pockets offers a wondrous glimpse inside the minds of the Treviso lighting masters Giopato & Coombes, who are known for highlighting the magic of the immaterial. This installation was a combination of previous fixtures, combined into 18 one-of-a-kind combinations through an intricate system of weight and balance.

by Giopato & Coombes
Brand available locally at ECC

Spyder X pendant and Synapse table

Spyder X pendant and Synapse table

Spyder X pendant and Synapse table

Spyder X pendant and Synapse table

Henge returned to Fuorisalone to present its new collection in a completely renewed space. Highlighting the concept of timeless design the brand returned to some of its most renowned collaborators, including Massimo Castagna, whose new Spyder X pendant (the evolution of Henge’s iconic Spyder) offers a chic, industrial style, particularly when seen handing over the brand’s impressive Synapse Table.

by Massimo Castagna
for Henge
Brand available locally at ECC

Convivium new professional door in NTF natural oak and grooved handles in stainless steel

Convivium new professional door in NTF natural oak and grooved handles in stainless steel

Convivium new professional door in NTF natural oak and grooved handles in stainless steel

Convivium new professional door in NTF natural oak and grooved handles in stainless steel

Set in Arclinea’s new-look, Milan flagship and unveiled as part of the brand’s Drawing Better Connections presentation, the latest version of the Convivium kitchen was displayed as a warm and elegant design, comprised of an island with a stunning waterfall worktop and stainless steel sides that were complemented by its Era snack bar in natural oak. The warm, woody finish continues along the operative wall, which also features the Convivium new professional door in NTF natural oak and grooved handles in stainless steel. The living/snack bar wall features two new pocket systems — one as a dresser and one as a studio — showcasing the true versatility of this system. A tall glass unit includes doors with black varnished aluminium frames and Stopsol glass.

by Antonio Citterio
for Arclinea
Brand available locally at Matisse

Minotti Pavilion featuring new architectural fireplaces

Minotti Pavilion featuring new architectural fireplaces

Minotti Pavilion featuring new architectural fireplaces

Minotti Pavilion featuring new architectural fireplaces

The Minotti Pavilion at Milan Design Week was designed to immerse visitors into the experience of the brand. Offering a unique collision of Minotti’s expertise and its aptitude for building architectural scenarios, this space was the perfect setting in which Minotti unveiled its 2023 collection, which included the design signatures of Rodolfo Dordoni, Gordon Guillaumier, Marcio Kogan / studio mk27,
Nendo, GamFratesi and Inoda+Sveje.

by Minotti
Brand available locally at ECC

Plissé table design

Plissé table design

Plissé table design

Plissé table design

by Paola Navone
for MIDJ
Brand available locally at Sarsfield Brooke

Kashima sofa

Kashima sofa

Kashima sofa

Kashima sofa

by Michel Ducaroy
for Ligne Roset

Supermax Outdoor loveseat

Supermax Outdoor loveseat

Supermax Outdoor loveseat

Supermax Outdoor loveseat

This year, Flexform presented 16 new products at Milan — eight for interiors and eight for exteriors, choosing to highlight the idea of longevity (rather than focusing on everything new). An example of this was via the Supermax, for indoors and outdoors, offering an evolution of Max, the sofa originally designed by Antonio Citterio in 1983.

by Antonio Citterio
for Flexform
Brand available locally at Studio Italia

The ‘Loewe Chairs’ installation at Palazzo Isimbardi

The ‘Loewe Chairs’ installation at Palazzo Isimbardi

The ‘Loewe Chairs’ installation at Palazzo Isimbardi

The ‘Loewe Chairs’ installation at Palazzo Isimbardi

For its Milan Design Week showcase, heritage Spanish brand Loewe explored its playful side with a collection of artistic chairs, each woven with a ‘new’ material by an international group of expert craftspeople. From foil to shearling, the designs offered an unexpected choice of materials and colours, as they were scattered throughout the Palazzo Isimbardi.

by Loewe

ZigZag collection

ZigZag collection

ZigZag collection

ZigZag collection

USM invited renowned Swiss artist Claudia Comte to design a limited collection of modular furniture featuring her intriguing artwork. Comte’s black and white patterns are inspired by the rhythm of single structures creating dazzling surfaces that flow from their movement. The lines of the zigzag evoke a backward and forward motion that represents past, present and future times. Proceeds from this bespoke collection will support a social project in Jordan, bringing skateboarding and education to underprivileged boys and girls through the non-profit organisation Seven Hills.

by Claudia Comte
for USM
Brand available locally at ECC

Otto and Suro collection

Otto and Suro collection

Otto and Suro collection

Otto and Suro collection

by Marc Merck and Christophe Delcourt
for Tribù
Brand available locally at Dawson & Co.

Lignum et Lapis island

Lignum et Lapis island

Lignum et Lapis island

Lignum et Lapis island

Milan Design Week saw Arclinea present Drawing Better Connections, highlighting its approach to ethical design, through a series of initiatives, and a newly renovated space by Antonio Citterio, at the company’s flagship. Most prominent in the new-look Arclinea showroom was the Lignum et Lapis island. It presents an iconic design identity and features a refined but impactful worktop, made of polished Ecotone™ in New Era Nirvana colour — an innovative material made of bio-based resin, low crystalline silica content and recycled glass.

by Antonio Citterio
for Arclinea
Brand available locally at Matisse

Mateo table

Mateo table

Mateo table

Mateo table

Creative director Vincent Van Duysen has reimagined the dining room with a stunning new table: Mateo. Celebrated for his ability to create objects with enduring character while maintaining a clean, refined aesthetic, Van Duysen demonstrates this skill to great effect with a new table that is destined to turn heads at any dinner party.

by Vincent Van Duysen
for Molteni&C
Brand available locally at Dawson & Co.

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Meet Toastie, a cosy new spot serving delicious coffee and toast in Auckland’s CBD

Toastie, the latest hole-in-the-wall in Auckland’s CBD, is doing something innovative and delicious with its unique Asian-inspired menu — one that has been flying under the radar, until now. The founders, brothers Blues and Harry Shim, who have travelled and lived throughout Asia, fell in love with each country’s distinctive breakfast culture. This passion for coffee and toasties inspired them to create Toastie, a concept that pulls from a variety of unique breakfast cultures to offer its own, distinct (and very delicious) menu.

The Shims are hospitality veterans who have worked in both back- and front-of-house roles, served countless cups of coffee and mixed cocktails, and even done marketing for other local businesses. But it eventually came time for them to combine their vast experience with their shared love for Asian street food, and channel it into creating something of their own. And so, Toastie was born, and eventually took shape in a shipping container in the heart of the CBD.

Left to Right: Sesame & Sea Salt Travel Signature Drinks

The commitment of its founders to offering truly authentic flavours sets Toastie apart from other breakfast spots. The restaurant uses only the best ingredients and bread from local bakeries to ensure that each of its signature toasties taste as close to the intended inspiration as possible. The menu features a range of mouth-watering toasties that pay homage to different Asian countries, including Kaya Toast, Sweet Travel and Egg Drop Toast. Toastie has also teamed up with Ozone to offer the latter’s renowned Empire Blend coffee, and we have it on good authority that diners can expect to find more traditional, Vietnamese-filtered coffee on the menu soon too.

Essentially, Toastie is designed to transport diners to the bustling atmosphere of an Asian street food stall, its cosy interiors and warm, bustling vibe reminiscent of something you might find on the streets of any Asian city, and its bursting-with-flavour food offering something totally unique on our dining scene.

Bulgogi Toast

Open every day, Toastie is very conveniently located on the corner of Elliot and Victoria Streets. As such, the Shim brothers hope that Toastie will become a go-to spot for people seeking something delicious to break up their day, a place in the City where they can grab a coffee or a delicious bite to eat, and return to their day refreshed and satiated.

Opening Hours:
Monday — Friday, 8am until 4pm
Saturday & Sunday, 10am until 4pm

Toastie

1 Elliot Street
Auckland CBD

www.instagram.com/hi.toastie

Gastronomy

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Culture and cuisine collide at Homeland’s new kai Māori dinner and theatre experience

The culturally-aware cohort in this City will have likely already nabbed their tickets for Auckland Theatre Company’s season of Witi’s Wahine this May. But, in an endeavour to enhance the theatrical experience and put kai Māori back on the map, Peter Gordon’s Homeland has announced the introduction of a set menu to run in conjunction with (and complementary to) the season, and the combination of the both leaves a lasting impression.

Left: Peter Gordon. Right: Pani puri with smoked kūmara yuzu hummus, olives and garlic labneh.

At Homeland, throughout the month of May, guests will be treated to a pre-show menu (even for those not actually attending the performance). This consists of a three-course meal, for which Gordon has drawn on traditional Māori culinary customs, alongside being inspired by some of his own restaurant’s signature dishes, to create some very welcome, new additions. The dining experience begins with an utterly moreish mini creamed pāua on toast, and a local take on Ika Mata, with mini raw fish, coconut, chilli jelly and sago crisp, while the main features hāngi pork belly (cooked all the way in Bethells Beach), wood roast kūmara, kawakawa hazelnut pesto and a necessary helping of greens. For dessert, Gordon’s mother’s secret pavlova recipe takes centre stage, served with kawakawa mascarpone, passionfruit curd and coconut crisps — one of the most delicious iterations of this dish we’ve ever tried.

Creamed pāua on toast with mini raw fish, coconut, chilli jelly and sago crisp.

Additionally, Witi’s Wāhine ticket holders to the show are treated to a special appetiser of pani puri with smoked kūmara yuzu hummus, olives and garlic labneh. It’s a menu that rings true to the Homeland ethos of embodying a ‘food embassy’ for New Zealand and the Pacific, harnessing some of our most delicious local produce, embracing traditional kai Māori cooking methods, and of course, adding a cheeky, modern spin on it, somewhat reminiscent of the kind of writing for which Witi Ihimaera himself has become so renowned.

Left: Homeland restaurant. Right: Hāngi pork belly, wood roast kūmara, kawakawa hazelnut pesto and greens.

Few New Zealand literary figures are as notable as Ihimaera, who has dedicated his career to telling stories guided by Māori women. In this Auckland Theatre Company production, Nancy Brunning’s story comes to life — a love song to the matriarchs of Ihimaera’s beloved works, and reflecting a celebrated version of our history too. The show itself, which acts almost as an anthology of the famed writer’s most powerful heroines, has taken on a new life of its own since the late Brunning penned it.

Left: Pavlova with kawakawa mascarpone, passionfruit curd and coconut crisps. Right: Witi Ihimaera.

Really, we are very lucky to have such a profound collision of culture and culinary excellence right on our doorsteps — one that celebrates our country’s rich and harrowed history, and presents it with the kind of joy we think is worth savouring. Bookings for Homeland’s special dinner are essential and can be made through the restaurant’s website here. Show tickets can be purchased from Auckland Theatre Company, here.

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From new silhouettes to luxurious classics, Helen Cherry’s AW23 collection is a masterclass in timeless style

The idea of timeless elegance has long been a cornerstone of any Helen Cherry collection. After all, the revered designer has cultivated a reputation for her foundational pieces, luxurious prints and looks that could take their wearer from the desk to dinner with nothing more than the swapping out of a shoe or a jacket. Now, with the unveiling of Helen Cherry’s new Autumn-Winter ’23 collection, we are being given a masterclass in sleek, sartorial sophistication, as the designer offers a raft of beautiful new silhouettes to sit alongside (and enhance) her more recognisable ones. As well as a series of new-season floral silk pieces that promise to deliver some necessary colour to winter dressing.

To look first at the new AW23 pieces that speak to Helen Cherry’s classic aesthetic, the designer is offering new takes on her covetable suiting, which includes chic blazers (like the double-breasted Rae blazer) with corresponding waistcoats and (of course) new iterations of the designer’s iconic suit trousers (like the Keaton) and cigarette trousers. Here, traditional three-piece tailoring has been reworked for the modern woman and is sure to feel right at home in any contemporary setting.

Elsewhere, Cherry has posited flattering, bias-cut skirts and effortless slip dresses as foundational essentials for any seasonal uniform, with the key idea being versatile, sleek pieces designed to deliver a chic edge. A series of new shapes and silhouettes also enter the fold, including the new Dakota sleeveless jacket, Margot mini and Devon trousers, all of which clearly build on Helen Cherry’s timeless legacy.

From the strong suiting to the exceptional floral silks to the use of new fabrics and finishes (like chalk stripe flannel), Helen Cherry’s new AW23 collection is a study in refined elegance and is the first place we will be looking when cultivating our winter wardrobes.

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Alfa Romeo - Tonale Veloce

In driving Alfa Romeo’s new Tonale Veloce, our editor discovered a car that was personalised, polished and perfect for city pursuits

If you know me, you’ll know my propensity for impractical cars. What can I say? I love a set of 90s wheels. And while I have had some great times with my beloved vehicles (including sticking by them through all the mechanical and petrol bills that I justify as the price of owning a piece of history), after a week spent behind the wheel of Alfa Romeo’s newest model, I wondered whether it might be time to change my attitude.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce is a compact SUV that sets a bold new standard in software and technological innovation. It also offers driver-centric comfort and control that makes you feel like you’re at-one with the car from the first acceleration. I immediately connected with the smooth curvature of the vehicle’s exterior and the practical but polished vibe I felt surrounded by just sitting in the driver’s seat. From the dark palette to the sleek, backlit dash to the perforated Alcantara and leatherette seats, Alfa Romeo’s typically elegant design elements have been reinterpreted through a more modern, functional lens. And while the Tonale still proudly boasts the distinctive Alfa Romeo front grill, there is so much more going on under the surface that demonstrates how this respected marque is entering an exciting new era. 

Technology also plays a huge role in the more traditionally practical features like the Tonale’s 360-degree cameras with parking assist and dynamic lines. Honestly, this took all the pressure of parallel parking on Ponsonby Road. (I didn’t even break a sweat.) There is also lane control and speed control systems, autonomous emergency braking, driver attention assist and Level 2 autonomous driving — which works to maintain the correct position of the car on the road with minimal driver intervention. Here, there is a level of personalisation that goes beyond the norm. Everything about the Tonale feels easily customisable, with information about the car or
the traffic conditions accessible in real time, and all of the internal systems working together to optimise every journey (no matter how far you might be travelling).

The drive is customisable too (to a degree, of course). To get technical for a second, the Alfa Romeo Tonale debuts in a front-wheel drive, 160-horsepower Hybrid version with it’s intelligent suspension system — the ‘Dual Stage Valve Suspension’ — allowing me to adapt to various road conditions in seconds with comfort and sport modes available at the turn of a dial. Whatever version you go for, all of the Tonale iterations offer best-in-class steering that reimagines the way an SUV can be navigated on the road (something I particularly noticed while driving it around the city). It was a thrill to watch my Tonale transform from everyday runabout to sporty beast with barely a pause, and made longer drives on Auckland’s motorways far more interesting and dynamic. Here, I realised, part of the appeal is the way in which the Tonale combines the practicality of a compact SUV with the sexiness of an Italian sports car, a unique combination that the clever minds at Alfa Romeo managed to
get exactly right. 

In the short time I had with this car, I found a previously untapped appreciation for the convenience of modern technology and was shocked by how quickly I became dependent on it. Not only is this car small enough to manoeuvre around a busy city like Auckland with a toddler in tow, but it felt like a true extension of me, its innovative systems geared towards improving my driving experience and making my life as effortless as possible. And in this modern age, when everything else can feel overly complicated and unsure, a car that makes things easy is just what I need.

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Willie J Healey
Lana Del Rey
Lewis Capaldi
Miley Cyrus

Update your playlists with the new albums and podcasts we’re obsessed with right now

Every so often, our go-to playlists need a good old shake-up, and given how difficult it can be to wade through the multitude of new content in search of the best, we’ve decided to do it for you. From Miley Cyrus’ return to Lewis Capaldi’s stunning second album, to a raft of new podcasts that run the gamut of captivating content, we have rounded up a curation of everything to listen to at the moment.

New Albums

Lewis Capaldi 
Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent
Following up the incredible success from his debut, Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent, Lewis Capaldi’s second album has kept the production minimal, allowing the Scottish crooner’s voice to take centre stage. Capaldi is adored by millions of fans for his hilarious social media persona, although his new songs are poised to be the antithesis of his personality; sad, swoony and poetic. Essential listening for heartbreaks, dinner parties and everything
in between.
Song to start with: Pointless

Miley Cyrus
Endless Summer Vacation
Already hailed as the new break-up anthem, thanks to the expertly petty music video for ‘Flowers’ (filmed in the location her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth rented for an affair), this much-awaited album feels like the evolution of Cyrus that we’ve spent the last decade waiting for.
Song to start with: Flowers

DMA’s
How Many Dreams?
The last album from Australian rock outfit DMA’s came in 2020 — but with the last few years of chaos under their belt, most of it spent in the UK (where the trio are now based), How Many Dreams? offers a totally new perspective on their sound as we’ve come to know it, while still paying homage to their roots. 
Song to start with: Fading Like A Picture

Lana Del Rey
Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
After releasing her exquisite title track late last year, Lana Del Rey’s melancholic talents return with this latest release, featuring the likes of Father John Misty, Jon Batiste and Tommy Genesis. Grab the tissues, because this one’s another signature heartbreaker.
Song to start with: A&W

Willie J Healey
Bunny
This genre-bending third studio album from English singer-songwriter Willie J Healey sees the artist drawing inspiration from funk, soul and R&B. Featuring his recent single, ‘Dreams,’ this release is essential listening for anyone wanting more of the artist’s fresh, inspired sound. Having opened for Florence + The Machine on the early stages of their current tour, it’s safe to say that the career trajectory for this breakthrough artist is only looking up.
Song to start with: Sure Feels Good

New Podcasts

Full Credit To The Boys
As we endeavour to make the world a kinder place in which to talk about mental health for men, normalising these conversations is essential. Lifting the lid on mental health, masculinity, and other vital subjects, this is a podcast that feels akin to a good therapy session.

Bot Love
As AI becomes increasingly prevalent in our daily lives, how we define our associations with it will constantly be pushed to new places. In this series, hosts Anna Oakes and Diego Senior explore stories from those who develop meaningful, and sometimes romantic relationships with bots.

Other People’s Pockets
Few people speak about money — it’s
 still a great social taboo. But with hopes to disintegrate that, Other People’s Pockets talks about other people’s money, for anyone seeking new spending habits, a self-esteem boost, or those who are just a little nosy, too.

The Louis Theroux Podcast
This inquisitive podcast comes from the undisputed documentary king himself, whose curious nature has already cemented him as one of the greatest thinkers of our generation. With a series of in-depth and free-wheeling conversations, Theroux lifts the veil on notable tastemakers across the globe.

The Last of Us Podcast
While the HBO show itself has been holding viewers captive since its release over summer, this podcast offers an insiders look at each episode, furthering our obsession with this post-apocalyptic watch. This is a must for anyone who has ever felt so immersed in a show that they simply can’t shake it.

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Down The Rabbit Hole: Could psychedelic therapy be the key to unlocking our mental health?

Few of us are strangers to the connotations of hallucinogens — drugs grounded in a Woodstock-esque vision of the late 60s. Unfortunately, it is a prejudice that has stuck. Yet since the turn of the 20th Century, we’ve been growing a collective awareness of their application in therapeutic use, with Australia recently announcing changes to laws that allow the use of hallucinogens in therapeutic sessions (administered by a psychiatrist), becoming the first country in the world to do so. As such, many in the field are now predicting New Zealand will follow suit, ushering in a new era of drug-induced psychedelic therapy. From this vantage point, the prospect of change is finally promising.

In understanding the therapeutic application of illegal psychedelics, it is easiest to define what it is not. It is not decriminalising or legalising a drug for recreational use, and it won’t be made any more widely available on the streets than it currently is (which, if you’re curious, is actually a lot). It is not to be confused with microdosing either — which shouldn’t be discredited as it still has a relevant role to play in therapeutic use too.

Microdosing, in theory, is concerned with small, regulated doses over a sustained period, allowing the user to tap into their inner creative self, a lessened sense of self-judgement and anxiety, and an unbridled sense of freedom, supposedly. Its use has also been critical in aiding recovery from some mental health conditions (although not those that can be triggered by drug usage, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). Done right, it’s subtle. There are no clichéd visualisations and hallucinations. For most, it just makes approaching the challenges of daily life a little more manageable.

Therapeutic application, in contrast, argues the case for macrodosing. The goal here is to succumb to a trip in all manners imaginable. Experts will often argue that it is the trip, rather than the drug itself, which triggers the most profound shifts. In disconnecting with reality, even only momentarily, there is room for ego dissolution and that is where, I’m told, the most profound, lasting shifts happen. It is this return to our primal human nature, best likened to a rebirth in many senses, that prompts a greater sense of freedom, a connection to a higher purpose and an intrinsic understanding of the world. Some have described it as a religious experience.

What’s In A Trip?

For those who have yet to experience a trip, there are a few things one can compare it to, and very rarely is it ever the same. One obvious factor is the stimulant you’re taking; as LSD (acid) differs from the kind of trip one would anticipate with psilocybin (the compound in magic mushrooms). Even then, the experience of tripping itself is difficult to articulate, other than to say that it alters perception and is extremely transformative. Many find the world becomes a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns, and ordinary objects take on new and profound meaning. Time feels like it stretches and warps, and the self dissolves into a sense of oneness with everything. It’s almost as if the world as you know it begins to melt away.

The experience can be both beautiful and terrifying, as the mind is opened to new possibilities and perceptions that were previously unimaginable. It is a journey into the unknown, a leap of faith that requires surrender to the moment and trust in one’s self. Ultimately, the trip is a reminder that reality is not fixed, but rather a fluid and ever-changing state of being that is ripe for exploration and discovery.
And so, with that same goal, therapeutic use hopes to remove the connotations of a trip as something associated with recreational drugs.

It is less so about the experience as a social one (despite it often being anything but) and more so about recognising the benefits of a clinically-induced trip as a legitimate approach to psychotherapy treatments. In another sense, it’s a rebuttal to the ‘War on Drugs’, which has seen the adoption of these treatments sidelined due to ongoing misinformation and political agendas. Through seemingly endless studies, psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms have been found to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, alcoholism, and PTSD by shifting patients’ perspectives and fostering a greater sense of connection, both to themselves, and to the world.

Additionally, these drugs offer potential for increased creativity, empathy and compassion, as well as inducing a profound sense of wonder and spiritual growth. The experience of a drug trip can help to break down limiting thought patterns and create new perspectives. It can also enhance creativity and problem-solving abilities. By opening up the mind to new perspectives and experiences, these hallucinogens hold the potential to unlock the power of the human psyche and provide a deeper appreciation for life, making them perhaps the best-suited solution to treatment-resistant mental health disorders.

But coming back to the age-old adage of any drug use — safety measures are paramount (one should be warned against an urge to order DMT on the dark web and simply hope for the best). When losing inhibition and control, the environment is so integral, as is the actual makeup of what you’re taking. In-clinic therapeutic use is widely regarded as the best way to easily monitor an individual and regulate the substances taken, so that benefits can be experienced as they were meant to. The concept is almost trivial in theory, but in Australia, it is poised to change the landscape entirely.

Late last year, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) gave the green light to psychedelics for therapeutic purposes, a groundbreaking decision that makes Australia the first country to do so. The use
of hallucinogens MDMA and psilocybin will be closely controlled by psychiatrists, and will only be prescribed for certain mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and treatment-resistant depression.

A recognition of the limitations of current treatments for these conditions and the potential benefits that these drugs could bring, mark a significant moment in the evolution of medicine, and one that will undoubtedly provoke controversy and debate.

While the number of eligible patients remains unclear, psychiatrists must be approved by a human research ethics committee and the TGA’s authorised prescriber scheme to be able to use these medicinal psychedelics. These drugs can only be obtained via importation under a TGA licence for the time being. Nevertheless, the CSIRO is teaming up with Australian firms to develop new psychedelic medications and improved manufacturing techniques for local production. To guide the use of these medicines, a series of psychotherapy procedures, protocols and training plans will be formulated in the weeks and months to come. And while specific patient treatment protocols are still in the works, psychotherapy is deemed the most crucial part of the treatment — meaning it’s not an opportunity for a quick fix (you can’t just hop on a plane to Sydney for a legalised trip), but rather an essential part of a lengthy process.

Psychedelic Therapy in New Zealand: Hallucinogens On Home Soil

Currently in New Zealand, hallucinogenic use remains illegal in every sense — despite many groundbreaking studies on psychedelic therapy being conducted through leading researchers at our universities. Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy is one such researcher, whose recent study through the University of Auckland considers the impacts of LSD (otherwise known as acid) on mood and function. In 2020, over a period of six weeks, he monitored a test group microdosing the drug, and noted an overall improvement in mood across the board. This time, he hopes to observe the effects on those with an already lowered mood, (namely treatment- resistant major depressive disorder), and examine whether it has an antidepressant effect. Being in the realm of research, the study is able to side- step the recreational legalities and access quality, tested LSD, but not without seemingly endless red tape, background checks and rigorous protocols. It is an arduous task in the name of increasing our understanding of science, and as we’ve found in the case of Australia, it is still challenging for practitioners to get their hands on, even when it is legal. But with the rising rate of mental health conditions, this kind of research is paramount.

“There are a lot of patients out there with mental health issues and patients with depression who either don’t like the medicines that they’re on, or the medicines that they get prescribed don’t work for them. So they need more options, that’s become pretty clear,” Dr Muthukumaraswamy reasons. But concerns surrounding legalities still remain locally, and there is a certain degree of cognitive dissonance that exists within the realm of recreational hallucinogens. When talking about the therapeutic benefits, or even simply considering the substances as party drugs, the societal implications are often thrown by the wayside, with little regard to the people they impact the most.

Let me be very clear — anyone found in the possession of these substances (magic mushrooms and LSD [acid] are both currently Class A) can lead to six months incarceration, and/or up to a $1000 fine. Anyone involved in the production of these can face life imprisonment (which in New Zealand, carries a maximum term of 17 years). MDMA, the other hallucinogen legalised in Australia for therapeutic use, carries a slightly smaller sentence as a Class B drug. So while it is essential we mention the benefits of these psychedelics, it is also vital to note that under the 1975 Misuse of Drugs Act (legislation that many experts believe to be outdated) usage is still a serious offence, no matter how earnest your intentions. Without legislation created for therapeutic use, it is likely the supplier will face the shortfall for the freedoms of others.

On Innovation & Investment

With decriminalisation and legalisation only predicted to further boom in the way of hallucinogenics, an opportunity to remain ahead of the curve presents itself. There is room for innovation on a mass scale, in the way of direct-to-consumer products (albeit slightly more hopeful) like Layer, a concept for an edibles subscription service delivering sweets and teas laced with tried and tested doses of psychedelics intended for microdosing. Thinking more largely, room exists within the medical field too. As Stephen Bright, director of Psychedelic Research in Science and Medicine told The Sydney Morning Herald, “there are no products available, and aside from myself and a handful of colleagues, there’s no one trained to provide the treatment.” Those with an eye for innovation should recognise the immense need for supply — as while regulations remain a challenge, a time will soon come when these services will be in high demand.

As The Wall Street Journal indicates, one of the next financial sub-sectors to boom is psychedelic medicine, where Venture Capital firms like Empath Ventures are investing exclusively in
start-ups that sit within this realm — and those that are predicted to bring profit to the budding market. Founder Brom Rector likens it to crypto, the industry in which he found his success, telling WSJ, “psychedelics is similar to crypto in the sense that it is a crazy big sort of bold new investment thing.” Like any industry, it is a guaranteed risk, but one that only stands to evolve and expand exponentially in the coming years.

In the twilight of the twentieth century, this new chapter has been written in the realm of therapeutic medicine. Yet until now, it has only existed as a realm of discovery and research, and so the changes to legislation over the Tasman are poised to usher in a new era of psychedelic therapy for New Zealand — one for which, the many struggling with treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD and even alcoholism have spent their lives waiting. It is a considered (and supervised) use that can be used for deep and lasting transformation, and hopefully, will see decades of stereotypes passed over in the pursuit of healing humankind.

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