New York City-based Andrés Modak, along with his partner Rachel Cohen, grew frustrated when trying to furnish their home post MBA graduation from the Wharton School. Finding only uninspired, disposable wares or outrageously priced, high-end goods, he and Cohen realized there was a gap in the market when it came to high quality housewares that were still affordable. Keeping to a neutral palette, Snowe was launched in 2015 filling the once-empty niche with thoughtfully-designed dinnerware, drinkware, serveware, bedding, and towels that people of any age, or taste, would love to own. In this week’s Friday Five, Modak gives us a look at five of his favorite things.
1. Mexico City
One of my favorite places for so many reasons. Visually stunning, planned and chaotic, green and vibrant, it’s a megalopolis filled to the brim with gems. From some of the best food hunting opportunities to a deeply-rooted, tangible love of design, it never disappoints me. The city has some of the best examples of contemporary residential architecture in the Americas, perhaps the world. I’m a sucker for Luis Barragán’s designs, how elements of his work are so inspired by Le Corbusier, but also how it’s still so much more human and truly Mexican. As much as I often lean towards whites, blacks and neutrals, I can’t get enough of his use of color, particularly in buildings like Cuadra San Cristóbal. Barragán’s obsessive need to impart serenity and effortlessly enhance his surroundings is a major inspiration for us at Snowe.
2. Chef Christian Puglisi
One of the most surprising meals of recent memory was at Puglisi’s Relae several years back. The only thing better than walking away from a meal being inspired is to be surprised at every turn. His cooking is deceptively simple but brings incredible intensity from the purity of the ingredients he uses. Puglisi’s having worked at Noma and El Bulli is obviously quite the pedigree, but to me what was so seductive is his emphasis of balance. Each dish was a revelation in flavor, texture and combinations that showcase unexpectedly harmonious combinations. I’ve always loved the unpretentious blending of ‘high and low’, but pulling out your own flatware from your personal drawer while pouring your own craft Pét-Nat during a 7-course tasting leaves you with the kind of surprise the keeps my thoughts returning to Puglisi’s cooking.
I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with fire – as a kid, I grew up with pyro-tendencies that eventually evolved into a healthy taming of it in my own cooking. Fire is just as much a creator as it is a destroyer, and it’s funny how we forget that. From my high-school years doing sculpture and pottery, I’ve always associated fire with creation and artistry. Today, I link it to our products, albeit at a different scale – blown glass, forged steel or high-fired porcelain. I love how it can be so controlled and accurate but much of its real beauty comes from when it’s most untamed and unpredictable. Sometimes it’s the natural application that gives you the most beautiful results – from chaotically-cracked Raku pottery to the charred bubbles on the perfect pizza crust.
4. Shigeru Ban
The diversity of architect and designer Shigeru Ban’s talents is inspiring. From the Aspen Art Museum to the Metal Shutter House in Chelsea, each balances his stylistic trademarks with site-specific execution. Ban’s humanitarian work is particularly important to me as we face increased climate uncertainty and one of the largest migrant crises we’ll experience in generations. His recycled paper tube structure designs have been used for disaster relief to help those most in need from Japan to Rwanda and Nepal. The idea of using design to improve the world isn’t a new one, but I find the way Shigeru Ban has channeled his pretty awe inspiring. At Snowe we take sustainability to heart in all our product, packaging designs and sourcing practices, but Shigeru Ban’s work is addressing these issues at another level – reminding us to strive to push boundaries as we grow.
I grew up riding, jumping and playing polo, and I still think it’s one of the most enjoyable, exhilarating things to do. I also think horses are among nature’s aesthetic aces. Their power, their movement, their symmetry is really something special. They have a real intelligence and often very strong personalities. Building a team with them is an awesome experience. I’ve always found riding to be among the best ways to disconnect from the everyday and just be with the horse and my thoughts. No room for ego, complications or unnecessary burdens. It’s a therapeutic escape, and one I unfortunately don’t get enough of in NYC these days.