As has become customary for me, I have once again undertaken a cross-continental move and am settling into my fourth temporary home this year. Following stints in New York City, the Hamptons and Miami, I will be ending off the year in my hometown, Cape Town. This is all due to a very typical 2020 series of uncertainties – suddenly working remote, closed borders, flight cancellations, visas – you know the drill.

BUT we’re staying positive (most days) and making the most of this weirdness. Doing something creative is the only thing that really makes me feel a semblance of control. So, until life enlightens us on what comes next, I’m working on some very exciting and (probably overly) ambitious projects.

In an attempt to organize my thoughts visually, I’ve collected my monthly list of inspirations. A theme for the month, if you will. Please enjoy.

1. Dreaming of / Miami

I have a bit of a lingering aesthetic nostalgia for the iconography of Miami – the dreamy colors, the Art Deco architecture, the luxe beach clubs… Basically, a very distilled and curated vision of my experience living there for a few months during the midst of a pandemic.

Photo via Pinterest

2. Playing with / Tower 28 Beauty

If I haven’t mentioned it… I have a bit of a make-up obsession. Ironic, considering I’ve barely worn make-up since March. But I love watching beauty videos on YouTube – they’re very soothing to my tired-of-2020 soul. And I love trying new brands. My current favorite is Tower 28.  They’re a clean, sensitive-skin friendly brand with the CUTEST branding (as an art director, I’ll always be a huge nerd for good logos and packaging). They do multi-use blushes, lipglosses and a face mist that helps clear acne.

Photo via Instagram @verenshka

3. Searching for / Twisty candles

Ok, so as you might have gathered from this month’s mood board, I’m kinda into curvy lines and Mattise-inspired organic shapes. And I keep seeing twisty-shaped (one might even call them phallic… it is what it is) candles EVERYWHERE. So, if you, like me, desperately want one, I’ve spotted them from these artists/makers on Instagram. Top-bottom: Areaware (US), Maison Balzac (AUS), Melle Studio (SA), Via Wax (SA), Lex Pott (US).

Photos via Instagram @areaware, @maisonbalzac,, @via.wax, @lexpott

4. Wearing / Mathe Jewelry 

If you’ve seen Harry Styles’ Golden music video, you’ll know that early 2000s neck wear is all the rage. Beading? Colors? Mismatched stones? Sign me up. Mathe Jewelry is a brand I keep seeing on Instagram, pictured below. Oh, and the bikini here is from my forever favorite Sommer Swim. Might as well mention I’m also currently obsessed with the color lilac. I used to avidly hate purple but here we are.

Photo via Instagram @lisadanielle_

5. Inspired by / Matisse’s cut outs

Henri Matisse is arguably my favorite artist of all time. This month his cut out period is top of mind for me. Now that I’m looking at my mood board all together it seems pretty evident that my other obsessions – Sophie Lou Jacobsen’s drink ware, those twisty candles, even Tower 28’s logo – draws inspiration from Matisse’s shapes.

Matisse poster via Pinterest

6. Drinking / Ghia

Who would have guessed.. there’s a emerging trend towards non-alcoholic beverages. Basically, for the same price as regular fancy liquor, you can now buy a beyond-chic superfood-infused aperitif. Basically, the Diet Coke’s much more sophisticated counterpart. It would be a ridiculous notion if it weren’t so damn intriguing. Alongside the established wellness trend, being “sober-curious” is the buzzy way to describe a growing group of consumers who don’t drink, or want to drink less. The idea is that these non-alcoholic aperitifs offer the same sense of mindfulness that a cocktail, or good food does – it fulfills a sense occasion in a way that water or soda just can’t.

Two brands in this space with killer design is Ghia (their tagline – “over the influence” – is too brilliant) and Kin Euphorics (their graphics are strangely therapeutic). Ghia is founded by a Glossier alum (makes sense) and their branding is inspired by classic postmodern Italian resort town signage. Kin Euphorics features a blend of nootropics, adaptogens and botanics. Both boast some sort of “mood-boosting” affect – akin to alcohol, without the side affects. Color me fascinated.

Photos via Instagram @KinEuphorics @DrinkGhia

7. Obsessed with/ Sophie Lou Jacobsen

Designer Sophie Lou Jacobsen’s pieces are just very on-brand for this month’s mood. Obsessed.

Photo via Instagram @SophieLouJacobsen

8. Contemplating / “Clean” Beauty

At the center of the same wellness trend that facilitates “sober curiosity”, is an increasingly educated consumer. Millennials and Gen Z are more informed about what they put in and on their bodies than any generation before. When it comes to cosmetics and skincare, there’s a huge push for “natural,” “organic,” “clean,” “non-toxic,” “vegan” formulas. Why? Because there’s been a huge surge in fear mongering from authorities like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop and documentaries like Toxic Beauty calling out commonly used ingredients for potentially causing cancers and disrupting reproductive systems.

While many certified  dermatologists still recommend traditional products and shoot down these claims, these are still distressing allegations. In the EU, over 1,100 ingredients commonly found in personal care items are banned. In the US, only 11. Thus giving rise to self-regulating claims like “clean” or “natural” products. But, since any brand can set its own criteria for what this means, consumers can’t blindly trust that a brand claiming to be “clean” is necessarily better. Do your own research. To simplify, most “clean” brands commonly share an aversion to: parabens (a preservative and potential endocrine disruptor), SLES (in the process of making this ingredient, a carcinogenic contaminant, 1,4 dioxane can emerge), phthalates (another potential endocrine disuptor), formaldehyde (a carcinogenic preservative) and fragrance (since fragrance is considered a trade secret, brands don’t have to disclose the ingredients under this umbrella term, and can potentially hide hundreds of toxic chemicals in the word “fragrance” on an ingredient list).

Again, most of these worrying dangers are from preliminary studies, and claims of toxicity need way more research to be substantiated. But it does seem prudent to be safe and not sorry. I have many gripes with the imperfect industry that is “clean” beauty… But as I continue to research this field, I’ll share some more thoughts.

Photo via Pinterest