pilar Guzman and chris Mitchell

Have you ever admired someone so much from afar that you began thinking of them as a kind of mentor, even if they didn’t know it? Magazine editor Pilar Guzmán definitely checks that box for me. For years, I’ve watched her create beautiful work as editor-in-chief of Cookie, Martha Stewart Living, and Conde Nast Traveler. And now she and her husband Chris Mitchell have written a gorgeous book together — Patina Modern — about home decor and renovation. Here, Pilar and Chris share eight things they love…


1. Ritual: When kids enter adolescence, you lose some of the physicality of motherhood. Snuggles turn into back scratches, for example. That said, my boys and I always seem to have an intimacy in the kitchen. We have a handful of food traditions — lasagna, gnocchi, chicken pot pies — that involve shoulder-to-shoulder prep over a nice period of time. I’m also in awe of how much they learn on social media, and they’re so much more willing to take culinary risks. It’s a wonderful role reversal.

2. Artwork: When we moved to Brooklyn, we hung Enzo Mari’s apple and pear prints in the kitchen. We love their graphic punch, which is such a good counterpoint to the Brooklyn brownstone Victoriana curlicue moldings. Here’s a photo of them in our apartment.

3. Ingredient: I always have anchovy paste because it’s a glorious flavor bomb. It’s better than salt! I’ll use it in a tomato sauce or any Italian or Mediterranean or North African or Middle Eastern dish. Also as a quick Caesar cheat, if I’m making a salad and don’t want to go through the whole thing — it’s really a squirt of anchovy paste, an egg, and olive oil — or just mixed into a vinaigrette.

4. Hotel: Chris and I have gone for many, many years to Hotel Amuleto in Mexico. You can’t bring kids and we go for three days. It’s not super easy to get to, but it’s this tiny little jewel — a handful of rooms, fantastic food, a lovely staff that you get to know. You’re high up overlooking the ocean, and the rooms are open air – it’s just the right amount of luxury. We read a book a day and tan like teenagers.


5. Song: Staralfur by Sigur Rós. I don’t know a single word (it’s in Icelandic) and yet it’s the most moving song I’ve ever heard. Listen to this track when you want to feel transported.

6. Fragrance: D.S. & Durga Burning Barbershop. David, the founder, told me they were going for a literal burned-down barber shop, where the stringent tonic they rub on your face after a shave mixes with a smokiness. I love a backstory, and I love wearing fragrance.

7. Ikea find: We have dozens of their red-and-white tea towel, enough for our lifetime. We use them for everything — as dishrags, dinner napkins and clean up.

8. Movie: All the President’s Men made me fall in love with journalism and realize how much suspense and action a movie can pack without any guns or car chases.

Thank you so much, Pilar and Chris! We’re so excited about your book.

P.S. An art curator’s 8 favorite things, and a fashion designer’s 8 favorite things.

(Graphic layout by Erin Jang.)


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