In the spirit of Pablo Neruda’s marvelous poetry about ordinary things, we’ve compiled a photo essay spanning the seven continents. Plato taught us long ago, that the “beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.” Let’s take a moment to celebrate the design of everyday things.
Africa: Ostrich Egg
Homes all over South Africa include ostrich eggs in their array of objet d’ -art and it’s easy to see why. Perfected by nature, oversized ovals are a unique surface for artisans to decorate. Enameled, painted, or even untouched, save for a stand, the results are astounding.
Contemplating the ice of Antarctica is a meditation in white. Something commonly thought of as one color, is in the purity of the Arctic landscape, many, many hues. Behold shades of ghostwhite, floralwhite, ivory, lavenderblush; yes, lavenderblush, all in sheets and bergs of ice.
Among the most beautiful creations in all corners of the Indian subcontinent are stalls of shimmering, fragile, glassy, colorful bangles sold by the dozen. A proper “sleeve” of bangles requires at least three dozen bangles. Since they’re glass, they’re expected to break. Shattering one by one, it’s time for another visit to the bazaar when they’ve all broken away.
Indigenous Australians created this exquisite instrument almost 1500 years ago from hollowed out tree limbs. How does one hollow out tree limbs? Termites do it for you. Decorative motifs vary depending on the provenance of the person making the instrument, and makes for a variety of styles and sounds. Its familiar droning is inextricably linked to the culture and people Down Under.
It’s a flower so gorgeous it inspired a frenzy in the 1600s. Legend has it that at the height of their value, certain tulip bulbs commanded prices 10 times the yearly income of a skilled craftsman! To this day, economists use the phrase “tulip mania” when speaking about fluctuations in the intrinsic value of goods in the marketplace.
North America: Maple Syrup
During early European colonization in northeastern North America, indigenous peoples taught arriving colonists how to harvest sap for survival. Many years later, Civil War abolitionists opted to use maple syrup rather than southern sugar cane. And during WWII, maple syrup was the go-to sweetener in a time of increased rations. This is a flapjack syrup with some serious historical cred.
South America: Caipirinhas
The classic libation of Brazil that’s as fun to drink as it is to say: KAI-PE-REEN-YA. A refreshing concoction that goes great with Rio’s hot, hot, hot beaches. You can order them with a variety of fruits like pineapples, grapes or strawberries but we recommend taking it classic: a little lime juice, cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor) and a hint of sugar. Saude!