The HTSI culture guide to summer 2021


Music recommendations

Tracee Ellis Ross in her Los Angeles home
Tracee Ellis Ross in her Los Angeles home © Erik Melvin
“Leave The Door Open”, by Silk Sonic

Tracee Ellis Ross, actress
My three go-to songs right now are Silk Sonic’s “Leave The Door Open”, Jazmine Sullivan’s “Pick Up Your Feelings” and “Best Friend” by Saweetie featuring Doja Cat.

Laura Gonzalez, interior designer
I want to dance every time I hear “What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers.

T-Michael at his flat in Bergen, Norway
T-Michael at his flat in Bergen, Norway © Bent René Synnevåg
“NoWhere Cool”, by M.anifest

T-Michael, fashion designer
I play M.anifest on repeat. It’s a nice mix: hip-hop with an Afro vibe fused into it. I play it practically every other day and it always takes me back to Ghana, which is where I grew up. Sixty per cent of the population of Ghana is under 25. Think about all that energy.

Laurence Leenaert in Marrakech
Laurence Leenaert in Marrakech © Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui
“Starry Night”, by Peggy Gou

Laurence Leenaert, ceramicist and founder of LRNCE
My dancing playlist always includes a song by the South Korean DJ Peggy Gou called “Starry Night” – it’s just so happy.

Tim Little, shoe designer
I’m listening to “Half Mile Harvest” by The Teskey Brothers, a really soulful Australian band.

Lindsey Adelman in her Brooklyn home
Lindsey Adelman in her Brooklyn home © Nicholas Calcott
“Dangote”, by Burna Boy

Lindsay Adelman, lighting designer
I love several of Burna Boy’s Afrobeats tracks, including “Dangote”, “On the Low” and “More Life”. This is amazing music that makes you want to dance, but in a really relaxed, mellow way. When I put Burna Boy on, I can feel the anxiety start melting away.

Tory Burch, fashion designer
A song called “Hell N Back”, by the London artist Bakar. My boys introduced me to him – he’s a friend of theirs – and he’s absolutely brilliant.

Rita Konig, interior designer
Ubomi Abumang” by Sun-El Musician. He’s a South African artist and makes the sort of music you can get lost in. The song is really long and transcendent and it makes you want to dance.

Book recommendations

Thierry Boutemy at home in Boitsfort, Belgium
Thierry Boutemy at home in Boitsfort, Belgium © Mous Lamrabat
Embers, by Sándor Márai

Thierry Boutemy, florist
Embers, a novel by Hungarian writer Sándor Márai, takes you to another time – it was first published in 1942 and is set in the early 20th century. I loved its vivid descriptions of nature and interior scenes. It brought me so much pleasure reading it that I stopped before I got to the end – I wanted to keep it alive.

Gia Coppola, film director
In Wine Girl by Victoria James, I loved reading about James’s personal journey, working her way up to become one of the top female sommeliers. I never knew how complicated and expensive it is, especially for young women. It’s a world I previously knew little about and found very interesting.

Bella Freud’s copy of Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
Bella Freud’s copy of Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous © Laurence Ellis

Bella Freud, fashion designer
Ocean Vuong is only 31 and he’s already won the TS Eliot prize for his poetry. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is his memoir about his upbringing with his mother and grandmother, and it’s completely spellbinding and devastating, written in a detached way that is also extremely compassionate. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever read. I rationed it so that I could have his voice in my head for as long as possible.

Rita Konig, interior designer
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is an extraordinary tale of survival, complete with a heart-wrenching love story. Set in North Carolina, the novel captures the racial divide and how tough life was for women and children in the early 20th century. I loved the spirit, frailty and self-taught knowledge of the main character Kya. It’s such a page-turner and made me rather weepy.

Christine Centenera at her home in Sydney
Christine Centenera at her home in Sydney © Jake Terrey
Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid

Christine Centenera, fashion editor and co-founder of Wardrobe NYC
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid is about a young couple who are forced to leave their families while escaping a war-torn country. There’s an element of magical realism that makes it a special story about love, commitment, imagination and courage. It’s one of those books that I didn’t want to end.

Oliver Reichert, CEO of Birkenstock
The Film Club: No Work. No School… Just Three Films a Week by David Gilmour is about a teenage boy whose parents have recently divorced and he asks to drop out of school. His father lets him, with the provision that they watch movies – of his choosing ­–­ together each week. They end up talking about everything from work to popular music, and it really touched me as a parent.

A selection of Alexa Chung’s books, including Chaos by Tom O’Neill
A selection of Alexa Chung’s books, including Chaos by Tom O’Neill © Jo Metson Scott

Alexa Chung, fashion designer and broadcaster
Chaos by Tom O’Neill is about the Manson murders, and it examines what was omitted from the case of these strung-out hippies who were at the behest of an evil mastermind. I love intrigue and any kind of detective work. I’m also fascinated by the ’60s in general, and it was interesting learning about this moment in time when one of America’s biggest threats appeared to be the drug scene.

Mimi Thorisson, food writer and cook
Autumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and His Last Muse by Andrea di Robilant is an account of a period in Hemingway’s life when he rediscovered Italy and it set him on the path to writing The Old Man and the Sea. It’s a good read for anyone interested in northern Italy, Hemingway or both.

Martin Ephson at home in Wiltshire
Martin Ephson at home in Wiltshire © Harry Crowder
The Second Sleep, by Robert Harris

Martin Ephson, co-founder of Fermoie fabrics
The Second Sleep by Robert Harris takes place about 800 years into the future where society has mysteriously broken down and a priest is collecting archaeological remains to try to piece together the past. I raced through it.

Melissa Morris, designer and founder of Métier
Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. She’s very strong-minded and was uncompromising in her art.

Laura Gonzalez, interior designer
Villa Kérylos by Adrien Goetz is set in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, near where I grew up in the south of France. Reading it at a time when travel was strictly limited reminded me of how beautiful it is there. It’s a very special place.

Bay Garnett, stylist
I didn’t even know Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall existed until a friend recommended it, knowing that Jane Eyre is my favourite novel. It was a total treat to go back into that gothic world that the sisters created.

Podcast recommendations

French musician Woodkid
French musician Woodkid © Alex Cretey Systermanns
Reply-All podcast

Woodkid, music video director and singer-songwriter
Reply All is about internet culture, from when it was created right up to the present. One episode interviews the guy who invented pop-ups – remember a time when you couldn’t open a window without one appearing? We’ve since developed tools to block them but he explains how it felt like opening Pandora’s box when he created the code, spreading all over the internet like a virus.

Flora Soames, interior designer
I’m not generally a podcast person, but I find House & Garden’s series of online talks Conversations with The Calico Club, which features designers including Beata Heuman, enlightening and approachable.

Jake Tapper in the live studio at The Hay-Adams Hotel, Washington DC
Jake Tapper in the live studio at The Hay-Adams Hotel, Washington DC © Stephen Voss
Fresh Air podcast

Jake Tapper, CNN anchor and author
Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Fresh Air and This American Life. It’s all non-fiction, but more storytelling. If I want real news, I’ll just listen to NPR. One of my favourite podcasts is Decoder Ring from Slate, which dives into cultural mysteries, and I’m eagerly waiting for the…


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