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Studio Diaries: The Plaza | Financial Feminist | The Glass House

Welcome to my Studio Diaries series! Each week, I share a list of what’s been thought-provoking and inspiring in the books, videos, art, podcasts, etc., that I’ve encountered in the last few days.

Here’s what I’ve loved this week!

Reading: The Plaza: The secret life of America’s most famous hotel by Julie Satow

I love nothing more than a book that interweaves economics, sociology, culture, and urban studies, and this book does just that. Zooming in on one iconic building—The Plaza Hotel—Julie Satow recounts a history of American wealth and the upper class. In a story that tracks the building’s ever-revolving ownership, residents, and architectural layout, we get a glimpse of our economy’s booms and busts told through famous historical characters, including Truman Capote, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Beatles, Trumps, Vanderbilts, and Hiltons. Through this lens, I have found it fascinating to learn what tastes have gone in and out of style, represented by the hotel’s phases with gold décor and more. Through the story of one building, the book points to a broader narrative about the changing meaning of elitism, status, and who holds the wealth in this country.

Listening: The Financial Feminist: How to live your rich life with Ramit Sethi

As I discussed in previous posts, I have been trying to further educate myself in personal finance, especially now that I run my own business. This inspiring conversation between Tori Dunlap and Ramit Sethi centers on an idea I was never taught or urged to think about until recently. We work so hard to earn money to live, and in a panicked narrative telling us to save, we forget to outline what we are saving for and how to use that money to enjoy our lives.

Ramit’s insight is focused on living your ‘rich life,’ i.e., spending money how you want to and changing your mindset around it. So many of us feel panicked about money and assume that feeling will go away when we hit a particular milestone. But through the process of coaching a diverse set of people, from everyday couples to millionaires, Ramit has found that for many, the feeling doesn’t ever go away because our feelings about money are not based on numbers or facts. Tori and Ramit’s shared perspectives in this conversation were eye-opening to me and truly showed the importance of mindset, planning, and feeling clear about one’s values.

Seeing: The Glass House in New Canaan, CT

Modern Architect Philip Johnson, known for the Seagram Building, 550 Madison Avenue, and more, built his residency, The Glass House, on a 49-acre piece of land in New Canaan, CT. The main structure features an entirely glass façade, as the name suggests, and the property includes additional buildings and structures that represent the architect’s vision and design legacy.

As the main structure on the property, Johnson lived in The Glass House until he died in 2005. The pared-down minimalism of the interior has been retained in its original form. The property also includes the original swimming pool, sculpture and painting galleries, library, guest house, pavilion, and other sculptural elements immersed in the acres and acres of fields and trees.

Seeing this icon of modern architecture was breathtaking, and I was overcome with awe when experiencing Johnson’s limitless creative vision lived out through a series of buildings. There were endless moments on the property that were so perfectly considered and designed. The shadows in the sculpture studio, the simple desk chair and Mies van der Rohe furniture in the house, and the Frank Gehry chair in his library study tell a story of an architectural generation. I loved experiencing the epitome of an artistic vision expressed as a way of life.


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