Quick Wisdom | Scarf is The Medicine

 

“A lot of times when we talk about Chinese medicine we’re talking about common sense. Is our neck important? Of course it is!”   - Dr. Haosheng Zhang, LAC

 

In the Essential Questions, an ancient manual covering the theoretical foundation of Chinese medicine, the Yellow Emperor states that wind on the neck is the ‘culprit of one hundred diseases.’ “Wind enters from the exterior giving rise to shivering, sweating, headache, heaviness of the body and aversion to cold,” says Qi Bo, the Emperor’s advisor.

Here and now, as winter begins to loosen its bone-chilly grip and the season transitions to blustery and unpredictable, it seems essential that we keep our necks protected from the wet and windy elements.  

First line of defense?  The Scarf.

In order to understand the neck’s role in anatomical wellness a bit more, we had a chat with Dr. Haosheng Zhang, a highly respected acupuncturist here in Portland, Oregon. The first thing we learned was that our suspicions were correct: Neck warmth shields us from immune system vulnerability, especially along the midline and nape of the neck.

 

Scarf Is The Medicine

 

PB: Why are we humans drawn to keeping our necks warm and how is it related to well-being?

 

Dr. Zhang:  In fundamental theory of course it’s quite complicated, but I always try to explain to students and [my] patients that in Chinese philosophy everything consists of energy. The big picture is the whole universe.  The first thing to understand is that energy has to flow without any stagnation. Everything is constantly moving. If you want to have good health, first you want to make sure you have enough energy, and for that we use the word ‘Chi’ or ‘Qi.’ Secondly, everything has to be flowing smoothly and without stagnation. If you maintain these two things – you are in good health.

 

PB: Could you describe the relationship between good flow and optimum health a little bit more?

 

Dr. Zhang:  Yes, a really good example is to look at water. If water is moving along there is no bad odor. When does the water begin to smell? When it stops running and is sitting still. That’s when imbalance, or virus and bacteria, is detected. The same thing happens inside of our bodies. It is energy in constant flow, just like the river. If you want to keep it flowing you must keep the water clean. You want to have this type of free-flowing movement. That is when you feel good and are well balanced.

Warmth makes things flow. Cold temperatures lead things to contract and congeal. And that’s when your circulation decreases. The result: colds, stiff neck, mental fatigue, fogginess, headaches, generally unwell feelings. The scarf is just like Chinese or herbal medicine - there is definitely an effectiveness there. Really, it’s kind of like common sense. So many vessels go through the back of the neck and connect to the brain. Warmth in that area promotes better circulation so you don’t block that movement. When the energy is not blocked, your body is allowed to continue its good work.

 

'Tis the Season!

Season's Greetings from Parekh Bugbee

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Shop Shawls > Here

. . . 

We aim to keep the narrative of handmade craftsmanship alive within the domain of beautiful wearables; a seasonal story with a message behind each product. For over 25 years, our modest family-owned factory team in India have produced scarves, shawls, stoles, and pocket squares the slow and deliberate traditional way - manually-operated silkscreens over steam wax tables. It may be old fashioned, but we take great pride in the process and product.

Yoga Bags...they're Hot!

How about a little warmth this winter for your favorite yogini? Our heavy canvas waterproof lined hot yoga bags are studded with long, sturdy suede leather shoulder straps. Ready for the sticky mat! Click HERE to view 'em.

Hot Yoga tote bags

Endless Journeys!

Taking a moment to give the good folks over at Row+Rue a big warm seasonal smooch under the mistletoe for their most recent winter Parekh Bugbee blog feature.  Mwaaah!  Click the image below to view the post!

 

Parekh Bugbee Hand-printed silk scarves and shawls

ArtSetters Interview: Payal of Parekh Bugbee

 

 

ArtSetters:  What inspired the vision behind your brand?

Payal Parekh Bugbee:  As a child, I spent a lot of time observing the work of my father, Bharat Parekh, a self-taught textile designer and manufacturer of premium fine-printed silks for the last 45 years. At 17 years old, and without any formal training in textiles or design, he began his printing business literally from a cardboard box. Decades later he would receive world class recognition for his prints and design skill. This early exposure to meticulous craftsmanship, exquisite color combinations, and close observation of the art of traditional silkscreen printing in our family-owned factory has most definitely inspired my vision.

Also a huge part of the inspiration comes from the world travels that my husband and I have had and the people we have met. Fashion for us is not about status, or how expensive a product might be, but more about the story behind in the making of each individual product. We have a commitment to bringing forward the human dimension behind the clothing or accessory. Giving a spotlight to the beauty of the product, but also appreciating the work and skill that went in to making it. Showing and knowing is what we like to call it. In the current day, where mega machines are employed to secure profits and cut costs, there seems to be a real disconnect between clothing and the consumer. We want to stay with the original story of true artisanship and maintain a transparent channel on the manufacturing process of our handcrafted wearable products.

 

AS:  What are three core values that represent your designs?

PPB: Team work, Integrity, and Compassion. You have to connect the dots on these three components when you’re in this business because you are never working alone. When it comes to handmade textiles, there are so many people, families, and livelihoods in the mix.

 

AS:  What materials do you use?

PPB: We use a variety of weights and styles of fine silks, cottons and wools for our products.

 

AS:  What advice would you give to up & coming designers that want to start their own brand?

PPB: Be prepared to work really long hours and don’t be surprised if your work infuses itself into your dreams. You have to celebrate every small win, while at the same time, not take it personally when your ideas don’t materialize just exactly the way you envisioned them!

 

AS:  If your designs were a movie, which would it be?

PPB:  Breakfast at Tiffany’s for sure. Actually, all of Audrey Hepburn’s movies would have had our designs in them. Also, the character Vianne, played by Juliette Binoche in Chocolat. Impeccable dressing style. She would certainly have stocked a few of our pashmina shawls and silk scarves in her wardrobe. 

 

AS:  What’s next for Parekh Bugbee?

PPB:  Other than rolling out our new Fall-Winter 2015 line of scarves that are just simply gorgeous, we’ve just completed printing a special run of samples at our family factory in India. It’s an intriguing scarf line that exhibits a blend of disparate technologies and artistic styles while at the same time celebrates one gorgeous theme. It’s a little hush-hush right now, but stay tuned for Spring 2016!

 

9 Questions with Paul Lorenz

 

"Abstraction is not a style, but a state of mind…a way of thinking about action, time and circumstance, confidence and risk-taking, boldness and subtlety."  - Paul Lorenz

 

 

As we further our series on individuals who make and create by hand, this week Parekh Bugbee focuses a lens on artist Paul Lorenz. I first came to know Paul's work in Berkeley, California, in the mid 1990's.  Between shooting assignments for Bay Area magazines and weekly newspapers, I would periodically connect with Paul in his East Bay home studio to photograph his latest works.  My recollection is that Paul was super prolific then, as he is now.  At the time, he was transitioning between a career in architecture to creating and showing his paintings full-time. Photographically, this was the pre-digital era.  I remember setting up my hot lights, assessing exposure coverage with a Sekonic incident light meter, loading roll after roll of Fujichrome 35mm tungsten slide film, all the while engaged in fascinating conversations with Paul. Topics like the passion for travel, his latest abstractions, the qualities of working with paint, characteristics of pigments, surface textures...or just whatever questions were coming up for him that didn't have immediate answers.

 

 

With an education in Bauhaus architecture and fine art, Paul Lorenz has carved an intriguing niche in the international art world: bridging the principals and immediacy of painting, drawing and sound with the logic and detail of architecture. All three media are a balance of physical structure (wood, canvas, paper); visual structure (brush strokes, scrapes, tears, lines); and color, whether overt or atmospheric, allowing the process to be the final subject.

Graphite drawings are an important section of Paul’s work. Based upon drafting exercises from his years studying architecture, his drawings depict abstraction in its purest form, geometry. Though minimal in logic, the drawings contain richness in developed space and positive/negative relationships.

Paul works and lives in Paducah's LowerTown Arts District in Kentucky and exhibits with numerous galleries in the United States and Europe. As a member of Pintura Fresca, an international group of abstract artists, he has exhibited worldwide, with past exhibitions in Australia, Singapore, Austria, England and Sweden.  

 

I was able to catch up with Paul recently at a current showing of his work at Soltesz Fine Art in Portland, Oregon.

- Geoff Oliver Bugbee

 

 

Parekh Bugbee: Every artist has an original story, let's hear yours.  Could you describe the origin of your work and how your vision unfolds today?  

Paul Lorenz:  Wow, nothing like starting an interview with an easy question!  Like many artists, I started drawing and painting at a very young age.  My parents encouraged my imagination...art supplies, craft projects, piano lessons, etc.  Having an older sister (almost 13 years older) brought many influences to my life at an early age too...the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, fashion, politics.  All facets came together when I started studying architecture in college.  The Bauhaus curriculum at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago opened the door to seeing a logic in design, materials, tools, applications, and processes.  Ideas I had to explore in college guide many of the art pieces I work on today.  When I was working as a full-time architect, I needed the looseness of paint on canvas to balance the hard lines of making construction documents.  After leaving architecture full-time in 1999, I have found that I need the structure of hard lines to bring logic to the expressionism of the oil paintings. The idea of randomness, the mathematics of geometry, the act of 'making' all play together.  Letting life enter and influence the logic keeps art moving forward, whether it is a painting, drawing or a sound piece...whether in my studio in Kentucky or in a residency in China, Mexico, etc.

 

PB:  Where do you look for inspiration?  

Lorenz:  Everything has potential to inspire.  Architecture inspires me a lot...scale, the play of materials, the way one enters and receives volume and space.  Color, the way colors react to each other, or how color is created.  Nature, finding surprise in small details or broad areas.  Drama, in nature's violence or quiet, or in man-made actions like film or music.  Surprise is inspiring - that moment of disorientation in a new city, or reaction to a new circumstance.  For me, creating art is about creating that new circumstance to work both with and within. 

 

PB: Where do you show your work and what's on deck right now?

Lorenz:  I work with five galleries currently, four in the US (New York City, Seattle, Dallas and Portland) and one in Europe (Florence, Italy).  My studio in Kentucky has a small gallery as well, which I use as the transition space between the working studio and sending work to the other galleries.  I have just started working with Soltesz Fine Art in Portland only a few months ago, which is very exciting.  Work always appears and feels different once it leaves the studio, so new galleries offer new insights into future projects.  Currently I have a solo exhibition of paintings at the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah, Kentucky (August 15 - September 23, 2015).  These paintings were created while I was an artist-in-residence with the Shangyuan Art Museum outside of Beijing in 2014.  I am very fascinated with ink, and the Chinese ink paintings - old and new - really made my wheels turn, so I explored ink on paper for my three months at the museum.

 

PB:  Tell us about an artist or influencer that you most identify with?

Lorenz:  Impossible...there is not just one, but many that play in my head at any given moment.  Artists that conjure challenging beauty...painters like Willem de Kooning or Kazuo Shiraga...composers like Morton Feldman and John Luther Adams, architects like Shigeru Ban or Tadao Ando...everything seems to be a combination of the visual, the audible and the physical.  Global influences that create a contemporary whole.

 

PB:  Creative folks often have a happy place when they're fully immersed in their work. What's happening when you're in the zone?

Lorenz:  'A happy place'...I have never considered my studio a 'happy place'.  In general, my 'happy place' is full of questions, few answers, but a lot of work and play to find satisfaction.  When the time is right and the lack of satisfaction, or commitment, or resolve occurs, the frustration elicits the 'blindness'...working with complete confidence, instinct and abandon to find the answers, to find the conclusion or to simply end the process.  Working 'blind' is the best...it is freedom and knowledge, it is trust and endurance...it is not instant but needs to be enticed or provoked.

 

PB:  On the topic of Man vs. Machine, what does 'made by hand' mean to you?

Lorenz:  A difficult question.  I create all of my own work, the paintings and drawings are done with my hands.  I do use others to make my stretcher bars and wood panels.  I am not a wood craftsman.  I do not make my paper, I buy paper already made.  I do not employ others to create my work, I am not a project or product manager.  When I was working as an architect, 'design' meant something different than 'art'.  If I design a chandelier and have it manufactured, it is 'design'.  If I create a chandelier through a mental, visual and physical process with my own hands, it may, or may not, be 'art'.  With numerous people I have wrestled with this idea of 'art', fine art', 'craft', and 'design'.  It is very personal for every individual.  When I sign my name on the back of a painting, it is because I painted it.

 

PB:  You have recently ventured from two dimension into sound. Can you explain what took you there and your relationship with it?  

Lorenz:  Music has always been very important to me.  I was at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and attended their music fesitval.  I heard a concert that pushed all of my buttons...it was symphonic, dissonant, violent, fascinating, captivating, challenging...and I needed to know more.  The composer of the piece performed was Iannis Xenakis, a composer that I was not familiar with.  I investigated him and his work and found out he was a structural engineer for LeCorbusier back in the 1940's and 50's and used many of his drawings as the basis for his music compositions.  Suddenly a light turned on in my brain...making lines, giving them length of time and pitch...a visual vocabulary that I was very familiar with as an architect and artist suddenly seemed to make sense in sound.  Interpreting a drawing into a sound piece is fascinating for me...it is like learning a new language.  Making a drawing for a sound piece is easy...it is visual and fun...interpreting the drawing into sound is the challenge.  Giving parameters to the sounds, choosing instruments, moving from a drawing to sheet music, they take a lot of concentration and I really need to focus to make it happen.  I work with an audio-engineer to record the interpretations via computer.  I am not a composer in the traditional sense or intent, but sound is a result of interpreting the abstract drawings or photographs.  

 

PB:  Where's your favorite place in the world and why aren't you there all of the time?

Lorenz:  Another difficult question!  I am from Chicago originally, and Chicago will always be 'home', but I do not see myself moving back.  Many places intrigue me...but I do not necessarily want to live there...they would stop being special. I have a long and marvelous relationship with Italy, which I am fortunate to get to visit often.  I do love being in Mexico...I spend winters in Merida, Yucatan recording sound pieces, oil painting and renovating a house/studio.  I work differently in Mexico and I want to explore that more.  I do not speak Spanish, so there is an automatic challenge, but the colors, heat, rhythm, history all make me smile. Merida is a special place.

 

PB: What's your next adventure?

Lorenz:  Professionally, I will be participating in the Florence Biennale in October.  A sound piece I created in China, a string octet, will be performed live during the biennale.  This is the first time a sound piece is being performed by an ensemble, so I am excited and nervous.  I met the musicians last May and I know they will be brilliant, but moving from the privacy of my studio to a public concert is a new experience.  I have been involved in a couple of improv concerts of my sound work, but a formal concert is a big deal.  For me, the live performance is the culmination of all the drawing and interpreting.  Personally, I head to Merida with my partner after Christmas to see what new things will be discovered.

When Architecture Meets Fashion

We're thrilled to be a participating brand partner in Megan Berry's inaugural micro pop-up shop in St. Louis, Missouri. The open air kiosk designed by Berry is a 6 x 6 x 8 foot birchwood and black plexiglass boutique and was constructed onsite at Maryland Plaza in the Central West End of the ctiy. The store is open for business this weekend and features FOUNT, Rooey Knots, NUUFORM, and Parekh Bugbee - all brands that Berry curated as "handmade, sustainable, and timeless." 

 

 

Berry, who recently earned her Masters in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis, founded the concept for Vala Collection, a traveling micro boutique exclusively showcasing online fashion brands. "Our custom micro boutique is an opportunity to showcase samples of artisan garments enabling customers to touch and feel the authenticity of the crafted clothing and accessories prior to purchasing,"  she said.  "Our trained associates then guide customers through our mobile purchasing system for items to be mailed to them, an identical process to purchasing online."  

 

After this weekend's success, she's taking Vala Collection on the road. What a concept! Good luck Megan!

 

Above images by Nicki Dwyer

Tête-à-tête with Vladimir Kagan

 

Some relationships are meant to be.  Widely celebrated designer Vladimir Kagan is a true beacon of inspiration for “creatives” the world over. Avant-garde furniture designer and master of striking contemporary interiors, Mr. Kagan’s career and body of work is nothing short of astounding.

 

 

 

It was a Saturday morning in Manhattan, over 10 years ago, when I had the good fortune to first meet Mr. Kagan. At the time, I was working as a second assistant to a top line fashion photographer in the city and we had just finished an editorial shoot with Erykah Badu. I was returning props we had rented and borrowed for the photo shoot, one of which was an exquisitely crafted little piece of furniture made by Vladimir Kagan.

 

When I entered Mr. Kagan’s flat on Park Avenue, I was completely bowled over by his artifacts, exquisite collection of personal work and aesthetic. We got to talking about some of the gorgeous Indian tapestries and cushions in the foyer of his lovely home and it led to a discussion of my father’s fabrics and life-long work in print design. At the time, I was supplying some of his products to a store called Pastec in Soho.  A couple of weeks later, I returned to Mr. Kagan’s home to show him some of our hand-printed scarf and shawl creations – twill, tussar, and jacquard silks, wools and pashminas. This marked the beginning of a lasting friendship, one which included his lovely and talented wife, the late Erica Wilson. A couple of years later I had the rewarding experience of showing both of them around my home city of Mumbai, India.

 

 

In one's lifetime, it is quite possible to be blessed with a few precious moments spent in the company of a truly remarkable and inspiring person.  I can surely say that Mr. Kagan is one of those individuals in my life. Sophisticated, talented, and all-around kind and loving gentleman.  At 87, he works with the same passion as he did at the dawn of his career. I had the great opportunity to catch up with him recently on a visit back to New York, and we picked up where we left off in his Park Avenue home.

- Payal Parekh Bugbee

 

Parekh Bugbee:  As one of the foremost pioneers of modern furniture design, your work is widely recognized and celebrated around the world. What has been some of the inspiration behind your designs and concepts over the years?

 

Kagan:  I have always looked to nature for my inspiration. Trees, mountains, water…natural forms are my inspiration.

 

PB:  Who was the first client to take interest, commission or purchase your work?  Could you describe your first break?

 

Kagan:  Marilyn Monroe was certainly one of my first, but I have had major art collectors, musicians, industrialists and heads of corporations.

 

PB:  In our current online age, many people are under the impression that it's much easier to build a reputation and grow a brand virtually overnight.  You have experience and have earned a following from a much different era. Over the years, how have you gone about connecting with clients, keeping them engaged with your work? What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

 

Kagan:  Honesty, sincerity, open mindedness, being responsive to clients changing needs. Never be dogmatic.

 

PB:  There's a saying about talent and success that seems to apply to people working in almost every industry, art or craft:"Quality” always percolates to the top. Surely discipline and hard work must factor into the equation as well.  With more than six decades devoted to your profession, what are your views on this?

 

Kagan:  If you persevere you have a better chance to floating to the top. But it is always a combination of hard work and good luck.

 

PB:  On the subject of handcrafted versus machine manufactured products - whether it be furniture or textiles - what are your thoughts on the 'Made by Hand' form of craftsmanship? Will this art soon be extinct?

 

Kagan:  It must never die…it is the humanization, the hands-on touch, that makes life worthwhile. I detest modern technology. I hate my computer and my iPhone. But we must embrace them to live in a competitive world.

 

PB:  Could you describe one of your most prized hand made possessions?

 

Kagan:  All of the furniture in my apartment!

 

PB:  What place in the world are you most drawn to?

 

Kagan:  Switzerland – The Alps. They give me peace though they can be very scary at times.

 

PB:  Having visited Mumbai, you're familiar with my father's designs - his textiles and prints. Could you give a brief testimonial about our work and what you find special about it?

 

Kagan:  Your father is a genius because he captures the spirit of India but translates it into a usable contemporary media that is marketable to sophisticated clients around the world.

 

   All photographs © www.vladimirkagan.com