Travel Tech Essentials

There are a few things you just can’t not pack when it comes to tech. Though these might seem obvious, here are some options you might want to invest in for your next big trip.


You can’t do everything on your phone and you don’t want to carry around a bulky laptop + adaptor. A tablet is the perfect compromise and the most efficient. With the iPad dropping weight and price, it’s more convenient now than ever to do all your work on. It’s also really good for watching Netflix (because why would you watch a whole show on your phone…) and all your social media uses. You also have the option of getting one with a SIM card slot if you really need it. The Asus Zenpad 3S 10 is a cheaper option with ample storage space and a micro SD slot to add even more storage. Also a lightweight number, it’s well worth the money. If you’re just looking for an e-reader, Amazon’s Paperwhite is a great option. It has a non-glare screen, ample battery life, and, most importantly, a built in light that doesn’t bother the people next to you on the plane that are trying to get some shut eye. 

External Battery Charger/Battery Case

If you’re traveling, chances are, you’ll be out a lot and your phone/iPad/whatever else is out with you and you won’t have the convenience of plugging in your charger into an outlet all the time. This is why an external battery charger is essential. God forbid your phone dies when you were just about to upload that boomerang. A lot of people choose to go with a smaller one thinking it’s more compact and lightweight. However, keep in mind that a slightly larger one will provide you with more power. This one from Ankar provides you with a higher capacity battery but still weighs less than a pound. You can also invest in a battery case if you’re just worried about your Snapchat. Just try not to get stuck in an unfamiliar place with a dead phone.

A Power Converter

Don’t fry your electronics when you’re traveling overseas. I’ve done this before and it’s heartbreaking when you’ve killed something you’ve spent money on. It’s a bit on the heavier side but well worth the investment. This one from BESTEK has four USB ports and three outlets. You’ll be set for Europe, the U.S., the U.K., and Australia.


If you want a quality camera and not just your iPhone, there’s always the cult favourite GoPro. If you’re looking for another option, there’s also the Nikon KeyMission 360 that captures immersive stills and 4K video. It has all your essential features such as time-lapse and loops. It’s also shockproof, waterproof, and freezeproof.

Streaming Stick

If you’re stuck at a hotel with nothing to do and very limited cable channels, you could always rent a movie but it’s usually way overpriced. Use the spare HDMI port on that set to stream endless viewing options. The Roku streaming stick lets you enjoy smooth HD streaming and their channels. Google’s Chromecast lets you use your phone’s 4G connection to increase your viewing pleasure. Now you can take Netflix on-the-go as well as sports apps, games, and music.


The earphones they give you on planes suck. Bose’s QuietControl 30 wireless headphones offer adjustable noise cancellation. The neckband battery stays charged for up to 10 hours and prevents tangled wires. Of course it doesn’t have to be as bougee as these. Just pack a better pair of earphones that won’t hurt your ear drums. 


Dopp Bag Essentials for the Modern Man

Packing can be a daunting task for people who aren’t used to condensing their wardrobe choices into one twenty-four inch luggage bag. It’s hard to not pack a shoe for every hypothetical situation. Sometimes you pack too much and end up forgetting your toothbrush anyway. This is why everyone should always have an organized toiletry bag — enter the dopp bag, a one stop shop with all the essential masculine supplies.

This one’s for the fellas — a full list of all your dopp kit essentials so you can stop searching for your deodorant in the depths of your weekender.

Sivani No.321 Expandable Dopp Kit

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Obviously this doesn’t need an explanation, because hygiene. Carry a travel brush that folds into itself and a mini toothpaste bottle (often found at the travel section of a drugstore). You can also pack a couple of Wisp travel brushes with the toothpaste already on the bristles if you need to brush on the go. If you can live without a bulky power brush, it’ll save a lot of space.


Again, hygiene. If you’re sitting in a plane or a car for an extended period of time, you will build odour. Think about the people you’re traveling with. Buy a travel sized deodorant and use it — often.

Body Wash (or Soap Bar)

Unless you’re adamant about the bar, I wouldn’t recommend it because of storage. Even if you put it back into a tin container after use, it’s still wet and mushy and, overall, a bit gross. Get yourself a pack of plastic travel bottles so you don’t end up bringing your whole shower caddy with you, and fill one with a body wash.

Shampoo and Conditioner

You can find these in travel sizes but the options are limited, so it’s best to just pour some of your trusted products into travel bottles. It doesn’t matter if they’re free, the hotel products are almost never as great and 99% will make your hair feel like straw.

Hair Products

This is personal preference, whether it’s pomade, serum, gel, etc.

Face Wash and Moisturizer

You can always use travel bottles/containers to store your face wash, scrub, and moisturizer. Certain brands also have travel sized versions of their products. The Clinique for Men Essentials Kit includes travel sized face wash, face scrub, moisturizing lotion, and anti-aging eye cream.

Sunscreen and Lotion

Sunscreen, because you need protection, especially if your itinerary includes a lot of beach time. Make sure your face is covered as well as the rest of you. Lotion, because you need moisturized skin.

Razor, Shaving Cream, and After Shave

Many brands sell electric travel razors that are compact and have a lid so it doesn’t shred up the inside of your dopp bag or cause any other damage. Don’t forget the shaving cream or after shave, which can also be bought in compact travel sizes as well.


DO NOT pack a full bottle of expensive cologne. They can get stolen or just break in your luggage bag. I don’t know which is worse. Instead, use a perfume atomizer to bring the amount you need for your trip. This also saves a whole lot of space.

Grooming Supplies

A comb, tweezers, nail clippers, etc.

Lint Roller

It’s good to be prepared, especially if you’re going to be attending a formal event like a wedding.


Or lip balm. No one likes having chapped lips so if this is not already on hand, it should be in your dopp bag.


Contact lenses: If you wear contacts, always carry an extra pair because you don’t know when it might decide to rip on you. Also buy a travel sized solution bottle because the regular ones are just way too big; Bandaids: Always good to have on hand; Chewing Gum/ Breath Mints: You can’t have enough; Tide-to-Go: Just in case you ruin that nice shirt at dinner.

So there you go, a full list of all your grown man dopp kit essentials. Happy travels and stay organized!

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A Conversation with Afrim Pristine of Cheese Boutique

Afrim Pristine is the world’s youngest Maitre Fromager, practicing affinage, or the art of making cheese, ever since he was born into it. He owns the Cheese Boutique in Toronto, a cheese museum in itself that houses 450 kinds of cheeses, along with meats, local fruits and veg, savoury snacks and pastries among many other things.

Lexus — the Japanese suave on four wheels — sought out Afrim to participate in the Lexus Master class as he reflected the Lexus brand pillar of Takumi Craftsmanship. Takumi Craftsmanship is the ancient Japanese concept that holds the essence of absolute mastery of an art or a craft. Takumi craftspeople at Lexus distill years of training into a single goal: perfectibility. Similarly, Afrim has spent years mastering cheese. Like Lexus Takumis (Masters), Afrim applies high quality craftsmanship when making cheeses and stocking Cheese Boutique with the very best.

Afrim Pristine in his Cheese Cave, stocked with a million dollars worth of cheese. Photo Credit: Ivan Otis Photography

Helen Jacob: Do you run the whole place by yourself?

Afrim Pristine: A business owner has to do everything. I have my brothers (my business partners,) and I have my staff but you know, a business owner does everything. When they’re needed, they do it. I’ll sweep the floors if I have to.

HJ: How long has the business been in your family?

AP: Since 1970. So we opened up in the heart of Bloor West Village in 1970. Of course we were much, much smaller than this.

HJ: Is your whole family involved?

AP: Most of the family, the ones that want to be involved are involved. My eldest brother and I, we’ve been involved since we were kids. Literally [since] 8-9 years old, we were first working. And now this is our store. And now my niece and nephew, [his kids] are working. They’re the fourth generation. I grew up surrounded by all this stuff.

HJ: What kind of stuff did you do when you were 8 or 9?

AP: I had two jobs. I remember because we still have them. I’m 37 now, so this is 30 years ago. We have 2 employees that have been with us for 30 years each, one of which is Celina. So Celina used to make me go around the store with a damp rag and go and wipe all the bottles. This is all stuff that could sit for a long time but it wasn’t a good sign to the customer. Then there was the other job. We used to have all these wicker baskets with buns and bakery products. This was when we weren’t really making a lot of our bread and we used to bring it in, so the bakers used to come and literally throw everything in there. My job was to face up all the breads and all the buns and all the baguettes. My grandfather always said, “a bun face up, the bun sells itself. A bun face down, you have to sell the bun.” So it’s kind of the simple little things like that you never forget but that’s what Cheese Boutique is built on — on things like that, and ideas like that.

HJ: Are you interested in cheese because you’re interested in it or because your family is interested in cheese?

AP: Well it started with my family because that was our background and cheese was always on the dining room table and it was always the talk at the dining room table. Getting older, I started understanding what it is and started appreciating it for what it is. Then I understood what cheese gave to me and my family as well so I ended up loving it. It’s what I know and it’s what I know well. I don’t know many things in life but what I do know is really good cheese and that’s kind of my job — to really glorify it and to tell people hey this is a simple ingredient but it’s a really good ingredient. As you can see we’re not just cheese anymore, we’re everything (referring to the Cheese Boutique).

HJ: You’re the youngest Maître Fromager in the world. What does that feel like?

AP: As silly as it sounds, it feels like..uhh.. are you a superhero fan?

HJ: I appreciate it.

AP: You know spiderman?

HJ: Yes.

AP: Ok well the whole story of Spiderman was that this kid got bit by a spider and had all these superpowers. So Spiderman, when he was a kid, was just kind of a punk and his superpowers he used for fun. Then his uncle came along, and he says “With great power comes great responsibility” and he has all these super powers, he can use it for something good, save people’s lives, whatever it is. So getting back to this, “With great power comes great responsibility,” it’s a duty for me. Yes, I’m very honoured, it’s a big deal for me, my family, and the store. But for me, all this means is that I need to work harder. I need to be better at my craft, I need to understand cheese better. Someone bestowed that honour on me. Now, I need to honour it and give it back to all the people that love cheese. I have to work harder and I have to spread the love of cheese more and more and more.

HJ:Take me through the process of creating a cheese

AP: I make very little cheese here. As much as making cheese is important, the maintenance of the cheese is important as well. It’s how you store it, it’s how you age it. That’s really our focus. So we have 3 different aging rooms dedicated with different environments and with different climates, dedicated to aging different styles of cheese. That’s very important. Can I make cheese? Of course, but really a lot of my training from my father and my training in Europe is to age and keep the maintenance of cheese up. It’s like wine. You can have great wine, but it needs to age. It needs time to evolve. And that’s really our focus here — it’s to age as opposed to make.

HJ: Can you tell me a little bit about your training?

AP: I learned from the best, I learned from my father. Since I was a kid, I learned about business and about cheese from him. When I graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University, I studied history, and that kind of helped me actually understand the importance of food throughout history. In Italy and France, food and wine and cheese is part of the tradition, the culture, and the religion right? So when I graduated and I got back, my father literally said ‘go learn.‘ This is almost 20 years ago, so you couldn’t go to a classroom setting and learn about cheese. Now it’s starting to come up at a collegiate level but back then, I lived on a farm in Switzerland for 6 months. I lived on a farm in Tuscany for 3 months, milking goat and sheep and pressing the milk and making cheese and kind of understanding cheese. I learned trial by fire, I learned right on the farm. I was fortunate enough, from the time I was 20-25, I had spent probably 2 and a half years of that time in Europe. In different parts of France, different parts of Switzerland, in Tuscany, in Spain and in England mainly. And in different parts of Canada of course.

Afrim with the Lexus Master class program. Photo Credit: Evan Bergstra/Ryan Emberley Photography

HJ: Tell me about the cheese cave.

AP: So we have three different aging rooms. One is open to the public, which is the cheese cave. It’s climate controlled, so anywhere between 4 to 8 degrees and roughly about 80 to 85 percent humidity. This is something we manufacture whereas in Switzerland, in the mountains, this climate is natural. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s damp and humid. Here we have to recreate that. So that’s really what that room is doing but it’s open to the public. There’s probably a million dollars worth of cheese in there. Some we age for 2 weeks, some we age for 12 years. Everything is tagged and dated. You have to be meticulous with a room like that because aging cheese isn’t as easy as leaving it there, walking away and it becoming magically delicious. It’s not that easy. You have to watch for it, you have to care for it, you have to keep in mind the youngest product is in the back and the oldest is in the front. I do that and I have 3 staff and that’s all they do is maintenance in the cheese cave. It’s a 24/7 job. We’re always trying to work on that, and keeping it updated and keeping it clean and organized. It’s like a living museum. These wheels of cheese are living, they’re evolving. But it’s a museum so it’s hands off, don’t touch. It’s a fun interesting room.

HJ:How much cheese do you sell in a day?

AP: So retail and wholesale, I’d say maybe a thousand pounds a day, maybe more. We’re cutting a wheel of reggiano a day. That’s a hundred pounds right there and that’s one of 450 cheeses. 1200 pounds maybe? Hey we’re not just cutting cheese here. We’re suppliers of happiness. Cheese just happens to be that tool or vessel to make people happy.

HJ: Are you against Kraft Singles?

AP: No! I’m going to give you an example. You just got your license. Are you going to go buy a Ferrari when you’re 16? You’re going to buy a Mazda or Hyundai or whatever it is. It’s not better or worse than a Ferrari, it’s different. So when you’re a kid, Kraft Singles is everywhere. It’s one of the first pieces of dairy you every put in your mouth. There’s milk and then theres Kraft Singles right behind it. So am I against Kraft Single? No, I don’t balk at it. Every once in a while you gotta throw it on a burger. For me, my job is then to expose you to other cool cheeses. You liking Kraft Singles tells me you like cheese- that’s the most important thing. I’m against people who don’t like cheese though.

The Cheese Cave at the Cheese Boutique Photo Credit: Ivan Otis Photography

HJ: What are your essentials for a cheeseboard?

AP: Five different cheese, not complementing each other but contrasting each other. One blue, one firm, one goat, one sheep, and one semi firm. You want kind of a good cross section of products, flavours, and textures. Cheese is milk salt, that’s it. So you want to really differentiate it from each other so you get a good balance of flavours, a good balance of textures. With 450 cheeses, it’s easy to do. A fun cracker with fruit or nut, a crusty baquette for the creamy cheeses, some sort of sweet component (fig spread, honeycomb, honey,) and some sort of water based fruit-grapes or apples to cleanse the palette as you’re traveling through the cheeses. I also don’t like telling people which cheeses. My palette is no better than yours. Mine may be a little bit more trained, because this is what I do but I think if you have those guidelines, you go to your trusty cheese mogul and you tell them, “I want a goat what do you have or I want a sheep what do you have?” You try and you try and you see what you like and what you don’t like. I think that’s the best way but the formula I gave you, I think that’s the best for making a cheese board. Less is more too and let the cheese be the star of the show.

HJ: Do you have any tips for beginners when picking cheeses?

AP: You’re never wrong. What you like is what you like. Nobody can tell you a cheese tastes like something because you have to be the judge of that. If I give you a cheese and you say it tastes like candied apples, and I disagree, well that’s not right for me to say that it doesn’t. If that’s how your palette takes it in, then wonderful. I don’t like when someone is told that they’re wrong. You’re never wrong with food, it’s a personal preference. So when buying cheese, select ones you like. Maybe you don’t like blue because the one you tried was too sharp. Then maybe try a milder blue. If you don’t like that, then move on. Forget about blues. So there’s no wrong in my opinion.

HJ: What’s your favourite cheese?

AP: Parmigiano Reggiano. It’s the king. If there’s one cheese in your fridge, it’s that. I love the versatility of it: just to have on its own, to grate on a pasta, to shave into a salad. I’m going to piss off a lot of other cheeses but just the science behind making it, the history of it, I think it’s the most important cheese.

HJ: Is that your death row cheese?

AP: If you’re tying my hands to one, then yes.

HJ: What’s the most interesting cheese you’ve made?

AP: Something that’s called Sunset Sarsaparilla. We took a gouda-style big sharp nutty cheese from Holland, and then we make our own root beer from scratch, and then we reduce that root beer so it’s like a paste and we brush it onto the beemster (the cheese) and let it age. I love root beer, and that plus the complexities of the cheese work really well together. It’s awesome! It’s thinking outside the box, but it works really well too.

HJ: What lengths have you gone to for cheese?

AP: This is what I’m doing right now. There’s a big music food festival called the Feastival. I was asked to make for Canada 150 an inukshuk out of cheese wheels. There’s about 30 wheels of cheese that’s about 10 kilos each so it’ll be about 300 kilos of cheese — 800 pounds and 6 feet tall. I like to do stuff like that. Last November, I was the headliner for the Ottawa Food and Wine Show so me and six of my staff set up a five thousand square foot cheese vault at the show. That was two months of planning for a four day show. That took years off my life doing that, but it went very very well.And it was a huge ordeal, we brought about 1500 pounds of cheese to the show. We set up four stations, it was crazy. My goal is to one day, build a cheese cellar moon. I don’t know how. I need some time and some help from NASA, so we’ll see.

Lexus Master class with Afrim Pristine. Photo Credit: Evan Bergstra/Ryan Emberley Photography

HJ: Do you get a lot of chefs and vendors that come through here?

AP: The best in the world. Literally the best chefs in the city. I mean we’ve had Alain Ducasse from France, Massimo Bottura from Italy, Albert Adria, David Chang. These are literally the best chefs in the world. And then the chefs in the city are good colleagues. We are suppliers to a lot of those chefs and we do about 400 deliveries a week.

HJ: What was your favourite cheese experience so far in your career?

AP: Probably learning from my father. He’s the cheese pioneer of Toronto. He was the first one selling real French brie, real English cheddar, and yes he’s my father and we’ve had a very good relationship so far but he’s also my mentor. So we’re learning from the best who happens to be my father as well. Without that, the rest of this interview doesn’t exist. So for me, that was the best experience, learning what works, learning what doesn’t.

HJ: Where do you see yourself in the future?

AP: I’d like to teach a little bit more. I was teaching the cheese certification program at George Brown college, which is one of three in north America at a collegiate level. That’s a full time job and I already have a few full time jobs here, but I’d really like to get back into teaching. I think my job is to raise the awareness for cheese across the country and for people to love it as much as I do. I think I’m good at my job so for me, I want to spread the love of cheese more and more. I love it and I think it’s needed and I think I glorify cheesemakers, and I glorify my shop and I glorify my family and what my father’s been trying to do.

The Cheese Boutique, located at 45 Ripley Avenue, is open 360 days a year. You can see what they are up to on their Instagram page and on their website here. Continue following our arts & culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Healthy Interiors: A Conversation with Jessica Helps of Wolfe ID

Wolfe ID founder and leader Jessica Helps has been designing for over 14 years and has a unique take on health that incorporates interior design as a way to improve your daily living/wellness. She is inspired by neurobiological, sociocultural, and humanistic perspectives, and designs spaces based on three principles; art, science, and design. She takes into account nature, sound, light, air, water, and, of course, colour. Integrating science into room design can have an impact on your daily mood, productivity, and overall experiences within the space. We had a conversation with Jessica about designing with health and wellness in mind.

Helen Jacob: How long have you been doing interior design?

Jessica Helps: I think this is my 14th year!

HJ: Where did you go to school?

JH: OCAD U. I took environmental design, so it’s more like architecture, or, to dumb it down, how to come up with great concepts for design. The little technicalities and some of the lighter interior design stuff, they expect you to already know. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, getting through that program alive, but it was great!

HJ: When did you first start integrating health and wellness into your designs?

JH: I guess I started researching it about a year and a half ago. I had a couple of clients whose decisions I didn’t agree with. I didn’t know how to tell them, other than giving them my opinion. I knew they were going to be making a mistake and the space wasn’t going to feel that great. They were doing an office layout and they wanted a lot of desks in the space but I knew the way the office would function wasn’t superior. I tried to direct them but I had really no way of telling them why I was right other than saying it was just my opinion. It wasn’t really sinking in with the client so I was kind of upset and afterwards, I thought well how can I prove this? There must be some science behind what I’m saying because I somewhat know it to be true. So I started researching it and I realized there was this whole field of environmental psychology (how people feel within a space and why, and the science behind why people interpret space and light and colour and volumes and also proximity and layout of furniture). So when I realized that, I got into biophilic design and then I realized there was a complete line of science behind interiors that we tend to avoid or not really understand. We don’t really direct our designs based on the science around them. So it’s pretty interesting.

HJ: Is it a new concept?

JH: It’s relatively new…well yes and no. Sometimes I think the colour theory — like how colours affect people — that’s not new. But research based design is pretty new. Let me give you an example. If you were designing a corridor for maybe an old folks home for the elderly, as an interior designer how would you design that space? I was thinking I’d pick light calm colours, tone on tone, just something really relaxing and simple and clean. Well, I learned that’s actually a really stressful environment for somebody who’s 75, because a 75-year-old has 1/8th of the contrast vision that a 25-year-old has. So if everything is the same colour, it might be all nice and light but they can’t distinguish the floor from the walls or see handrails or see doors. So it’s actually very stressful for them. They need the contrast to be able to properly navigate themselves through a space, you realize that (the science) should direct the design, not the fact that I want to do tone on tone grey.

HJ: What is biophilic design?

JH: Biophilic design is centered on the relationship humans have with nature. They say there is an innate relationship between nature and humans. We feel good around natural settings. What we’ve done is built these urban cities that are really hard. They’re concrete, glass, and metal. They’re very man-made, very hard. And they’ve actually created a separation from nature which actually leaves people feeling cold or distant or disconnected. So biophilic design focuses on bringing natural elements back into the environment.  Light greenery such as green walls or hanging plants, cactuses, and things of that nature are good. Natural finishes like woods or tiles or things that you can touch that have a natural texture are also good. Also focus on light as well, like getting natural light into a space. Those three things I find in biophilic design, really give back that connection with nature that makes us feel better.

HJ: What do you think about the minimalist interior trend?

JH: I think right now there is a Scandinavian trend so its really popular to be clean. You know there’s that documentary on Netflix called Minimalist. I fully like what they’re doing. It’s a very healthy design, it’s natural materials and simple design. It’s reducing visual complexity and simplifying everything and I think that really does make humans feel better and happier in spaces. So whether or not people are focused on what is the healthiest design, I think the trend is good.

HJ: What do you take into consideration when incorporating wellness and health?

JH: Well it depends on the function of the space. What I always do is go into a space and what I ask the client is how do you want to feel in the space? So if it’s an office or it’s a home, or a specific room, start with the feeling: How do you want to feel in here? Do they want to feel really relaxed or do they want a cozy room or do they want their living room to be a place where they can entertain their family and curl up and read a book? We would start with that feeling and then build out from there. The furniture and colours and textures that would give them that feeling. You might see a pretty picture on Pinterest and you just want that and then when you get it, it doesn’t make you feel quite the way you wanted. So I always start with the feeling first and the function.

HJ: Sound, light, air water, and colour. Could you speak to each of those?

JH: Well for sound, there’s lots of issues with acoustics. It causes hypertension in people and it’s one of those things that creeps up on you. You don’t realize it’s causing you unwanted stress. So if you have thins walls- maybe you live in a warehouse conversion so neighbours or people above you can be really disturbing. Also if you’re designing a restaurant and you have a lot of hard finishes, you get a lot of clash of noise that bounces around and it’s hard to hear the person you’re having dinner with. So you can do ceiling panels, or white noise machines. You can also add fabric underneath tables and chairs- you just want softer finishes to absorb the noise rather than have it bounce. Also be aware of mechanical systems or appliances or photocopiers that are generally really noisy because they can also lead you to feel really stressed out if they’re going off all the time. Put them in a closed space or arrange the furniture to be further away.

HJ: What about light?

JH: You just want to maximize the amount of natural light you’re getting. There’s some crazy statistic that a lot of offices don’t have natural light- like no windows. I guess you’re tucked away in a basement or something. It actually causes productivity to plummet when you don’t have natural light or plants or have an environment that’s inspiring you to even be there. Its important to control light. In the evenings, dim your lights one hour before going to bed. Everybody has circadium rhythm. That’s the body’s way of regulating sleep and alertness. Everyone has one and it’s usually timed with the sunset and sunrise. And so the most natural way to wake up is with the sunrise and go to bed with the sunset. Obviously we don’t do that living in the city because everything is rather artificial and our schedules do not follow that. So dimming your lights in the evening gets your body to release melatonin and melatonin helps you regulate sleep. Try to block out all the light when you’re sleeping. You want a perfectly dark cave to sleep in.

HJ: Air and water?

JH: Those are the two functional items in a space. We have standards and we have building code and that’s great, but it is a minimal. Air quality is actually better outdoors than it is indoors in the city. Our indoor air quality is terrible. So you can up the filter on your H-vac system. If you live in a condo, you have what’s called a fan coil, (a vertical mechanical unit and with a filter on it). If you live at home you have a furnace that will also have an air filter in it where the intake of the air is going through. So you can up the quality of that- (from 10-15 is optimal). MERV is the rating. Or HEPA filter is the best, you’ll find them in Tesla cars and some vacuums have them. Those will really help your air quality. For water quality, if you have the ability to add a filter right into your system, that’s great. Or you can add a reverse osmosis. You can also just get an on counter water filter that makes the water alkaline and also reduces the toxins in it as well.

HJ: How would you work with colour?

JH: Colour is interesting because I don’t think there’s an unhealthy colour. There’s unhealthy uses of colour or just ways to maximize your health using colour. So say I was designing a spa bathroom and I want it to be relaxing, the three things I would not do is paint it red, put super bright lights in it, or play the music super loud. Those are all things that are very invigorating and make you excitable. So you want lower lighting, have softer and more comfortable furniture, more warmer and natural colours so the body is relaxing on a biological level. Green, greys and white are more relaxing and restorative.

HJ: Do you have any tips to integrate this into a cubicle setting?

JH: Umm yeah, maybe get rid of your cubicle? It’s an interesting question. The Google office kind of set the precedent for how to blow the typical corporate office out. They got rid of board rooms and cubicles and did the complete opposite. They did ballpits for adults and beanbag chairs and a lounge. It was almost like a playground for adults. This caught on because it was fun and employees were happier. They’re excited to come to work and productivity goes up. And that’s true- for Google. Google is generally a bunch of creative people doing stuff on computers so that works really well. But what they’re starting to notice now is within every office, there are certain people that work really well in private spaces, semi private spaces, or communal spaces. Some people who are forced to work in a communal space who would rather work in a private space, suffer and their productivity goes down. So you really have to look at your office and decide which departments need what kind of space. If you do have a cubicle, and you do like the private space I would at least pick a fun cubicle. They have some really great systems right now. A lot of them have acoustic paneling within them so you get really good acoustics. Some of them have little benches that pull out so you can still invite people to come hang out at your desk and you still get that human connection for people who don’t like being isolated. Some offices will have little plants or cactuses so you have that biophilic element. Also, employees who get taken care of tend to be the most productive.

HJ: Is there a way to organize your space that’s good for you?

JH: Yes, reducing visual complexity is huge. If you have open shelves jammed with junk, and you’re looking at it all the time, it’s visually overpowering. Hiding your visual clutter creates a freeness. If it’s already clean, then you can do what you need to do in that space without worrying about cleaning up the mess. You don’t want anything see through, like acrylic boxes.

HJ: What are the main elements to consider when revamping your space in terms of health and wellness?

JH: I think its all about creating a space that feels good. I think you really have to touch on the biophilic design. Like what’s natural about the space? What makes you want to work there? Light quality is huge. If you have no natural light, it’s essentially a storage room. I think people need to stop worrying about specific fixtures or details and think how does this space make me feel? Then you look at ways to maximize the space.

A Conversation With Jake Rosenberg

Based in New York and originally from Toronto, Jake Rosenberg spends most of his time everywhere else. As Co-Founder and Creative Director of global media brand Coveteur, Jake Rosenberg is making quite the name for himself. 

It was while working under photographer Chris Nicholls that Rosenberg met his now business partner, Stephanie Mark. In 2011 they launched Coveteur as a passion project and the site crashed on day 1. It has since grown to be the leading destination for a luxurious, behind the scenes look at all things fashion, lifestyle, and culture: “He’s one half of the duo shaking up lifestyle media by producing lucrative native advertising campaigns for luxury brands including Chanel and Dior.” We had a conversation with Rosenberg himself about how Coveteur came about and what it’s like traveling 25 days out of the month.

Helen: So are you a photographer first?

Rosenberg: Overall, I would say I’m a cofounder of Coveteur first, and then I split the creative director and photographer role.

H: How did you start?

R: It really was a passion project right from the beginning. I was 23 years old, living in Toronto, and assisting photographers in the industry here. I had just graduated from Industrial design at the Ontario College of Art and Design so I was extremely excited about branding and experience design and just creating something new and innovative. And that’s when I met my business partner Stephanie Mark. We worked together on a project and the next day, this kind of just happened. We got together, we decided to start something new and we built a brand, created some content and we published it. The first day the site was live, it crashed and we like “omg, whats going on?!” Shortly after that we decided that this is what we’re going to do full time. Six months after we started the site, we started to get new clients and then pretty much right from there we just kept on going. Six years later, we have an office in Toronto and in New York, great staff, a lot of great clientele, and we published a book in October.

The book is Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style. It features 43 people from around the world in their homes covering their styles, their interiors, etc. It’s a very iconic imagery of Coveteur.

H: What kind of content do you create?

R: We offer luxury lifestyle content across the board, predominantly women’s focused. And it covers fashion, beauty, health and wellness, travel.

H: When did your career start taking off?

R: I like to think that I’m still building my career and this is the first amazing project that I’m getting to build and work on but creating Coveteur has definitely led me to work with so many inspiring people and brands that I never expected to work with. So being able to spend time with people like Oprah and Cindy Crawford and having them allow me to photograph them and work with them in such close proximity, I would say has definitely helped my career.

H: What kind of projects do you do? Lifestyle media seems like a huge umbrella.

R: Predominantly as a company, I oversee the creative direction of the company so the full vision of the company, kind of making sure that everything stays in line with our creative vision and then I spend most of my time working on the native content for the site. So working in collaboration with brands like Chanel or Gucci or Saks to put together a piece of content in a series that really speak to our audience. And help serve their brand and their product

H: What is your favourite project that you’ve worked on?

R: Any project with Chanel has been spectacular but I think in terms of the company as a whole, I think working on the book. The book I really took time. Being able to publish and work on, so intimately, a coffee table book, published by one of my favourite art publishers I think was a very big moment for me and spending time with all the people that worked on the book. The book has 703 images, about 241 pages. It’s beautiful, it’s exactly how I wanted it to turn out. That project for me was very exciting and I’m very proud of how it turned out.

H: Where do you draw inspiration from for your projects?

R: From all over. Because I did study industrial design, I do pull a lot of inspiration from brands or designers or product that I interact with on a daily basis- and also Instagram. I mean Instagram is such a great tool for finding new and exciting people and things.

H: It says here that you travel 25 days out of the month. What’s that like?

R: It’s exciting and challenging at the same time. I get opportunities to go places and see people and have experiences that most people in the world don’t get to do so I would say I’m always excited about my next trip. But at the same time, it is a very big challenge to be on multiple time zones a month, sometimes a week. Generally I live out of a suitcase. I’ve gotten really good at doing that, I’ve done that for a long time so it’s fine. I think it’s also a really big challenge to work with the staff in the office when I’m on the road for so long. It just means that everyone has to work a little bit harder or stay a little more connected because sometimes I’ll be on a 12 hour difference time zone shooting in Thailand. So ill be done my day there and then they’d just be getting up. So that means we all just have to get in that extra time whenever I can but fore the most part, its amazing. I’ve literally spent countess hours, miles traveling the world and I love it.

H: So you don’t have a typical day?

R: I don’t have a typical day no. I have a typical day in the office and then I have a non-typical day when I’m on the road.

H: Are you doing work most of the time or do you kind of get to explore where you are?

R: Generally it’s work. I mean any kind of free day when I’m abroad is usually a resting day. Travelling that much is hard on you mentally and physically so when I do happen to have a free day, I try to rest. And because of the nature of my job I like to think that it’s kind of all mixed together. So depending on the project, I was just in Thailand or Aston or wherever, they all kind of overlap in terms of work and exploring kind of thing. And I think because of what we do at Coveteur,  a lot of the time we go to a new city and meet local people and they always kind of end up showing us their little world which is think is such a great insight into that city from a local’s perspective

H: Where have you been so far?

R: The furthest I’ve been is China, and Russia probably. I was in Dubai twice in 10 days. For the book alone, we went to London, paris , LA, Moscow, Antwerp, Dubai, New York- a lot of places. And then Thailand.

H: What was your favourite place to travel?

R: I think Barcelona has been one of my favourite places to travel. I spent about a week or almost 10 days in Barcelona. I just had an amazing time. I loved the city, the culture, the people, the energy. So that’s probably one of my favourite places to travel. Also I think Toronto. I don’t get to come here so much anymore but Toronto’s where I’m from. I love coming home. I love visiting Canada. I think Toronto is still one of my favourite cities, out of every place I’ve ever been. And then I think St. Barth’s. I was recently there and it just reminded me how special it really is. It’s such a small unique island that I’ve grown to love. I feel like it has such a unique community there that has a very exclusive aspect to it but it’s just beautiful and I love it there

H: Do you have any destination hotspot recommendations? (restaurants, places to go)

R: Actually you know what, Brazil is one of my favourite places in the world. I went to Rio. I would recommend everyone to go to Rio at least one time. I mean it’s like an urban centre built into the jungle on the coast, and it is just so lively and energetic and it is fun every single day. Once you’re in Rio, if you just take a little trip down to Florianapolis- or people call it Floripa. That’s probably my all time favourite island on the planet so far. I think I was there over Christmas and New Year’s so it was more of a vacation. Half the island is posh and I think it has like 42 beaches on the island. It is a spectacular place to visit and just relax and have fun.

H: What’s one place that surprised you?

R: I think Dubai surprised me. I had no preexisting expectations for Dubai but I had a great time. I was there twice, once for the Chanel cruise show and then I went back ten days later and I was a guest of one of the royal families. I had a great time. It was definitely different from anywhere else I’ve been. The people I met there and the experiences I had were all great.

H: Do you find it tiring ever?

R: It’s challenging. If you’re changing time zones as much as I do, it becomes tiring.

H: Is it hard to balance work and time off or just time for yourself?

R: I think as as a co-founder, I think that’s the biggest challenge to have that work life balance. I’m just so passionate and dedicated to what I do. I get to have fun with it, although it does get to be a challenge when it comes to taking time off for myself. I think anytime I do, it’s when I really need to. That only allows me to recharge and come back even stronger. But I’m always excited for it.

H: Do you have any favourite spots in Toronto?

R: My backyard with my family haha. A good friend of mine, Janet Zuccarini has a couple restaurants here- she’s got Gusto 101, Cafe Nervosa, and Pai- all of those restaurants I would recommend. I would always recommend just going down to the waterfront, going to Trinity Bellwoods in the summer, just hang out and listen to music and all that kind of stuff is really fun. Go to a baseball game, go to the islands, check that out. But usually when I come home, it’s family time.

H: Where would you like to be in 10 years? Do you still want to be traveling?

R: I think I’d always like to be traveling. There’s so many places in the world I’d like to see that I have yet to see. I am excited for the next five to ten years of Coveteur and the growth and opportunity that lays ahead. I think we’ll keep growing and exploring new opportunities and new avenues for business that will bring our brand to the next level.

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