The Tortoise and the Snake. — Collecting African Tribal Art- Nisha Designs

While visiting the Yale University Art gallery (03/20/16) I came across a Yoruba door with four panels. The third panel showed four characters, a tortoise, a man, and a small antelope. I disagreed with the following description, “… a coiled snake seizes an antelope while a small kneeling figure strikes the snake with an axe, […]

The Tortoise and the Snake. — Collecting African Tribal Art

Suiseki, the Art of Stone Appreciation-Nisha Designs

©Karelj, Wikipedia

Suiseki, which literally translates as ‘water stone’, is an ancient Japanese art of admiring stones. An ode to time, patience and simplicity, suiseki involves showcasing the most remarkable stones found in nature and upon which water, erosion, wind and time have acted to sculpt abstract or, depending on the imagination more meaningful shapes, such as a mountain or animal. The beauty of a suiseki therefore lies in its ability to suggest an aspect of nature.

Originating from China, where it is known as gongshi, and Korea, where it is termed Suseok, the art of suiseki was introduced to Japan by the Chinese Imperial Court during the Asuka period (538 or 552-710 AD), and was only discovered in the western world during the first bonsai exhibitions, where the stones were also presented. Like the rigorous codes of bonsai, suiseki also has its own rules, linked to the quality of colours and the powers of suggestion and balance. Stones in multiple colours are the most appreciated, but placing them in light or shadow also allows a more precise aspect to be showcased, while also reflecting their harmonious balance and translating their original beauty. Enhanced naturally, the stone is simply placed on a wooden stand or, like in times past, presented in a bowl filled with a layer or water or sand. A wooden stand, or dai/daiza, is the most frequently used option, and is generally made from a type of refined wood such as rosewood, in order to support the stone and, more importantly, showcase it.

©manuel m. v.

For real suiseki aficionados, the most difficult thing is to find the stone that provides complete satisfaction from the moment of its discovery. Once the rare pearl is unearthed, the whole stone becomes conducive to contemplation of and reflection on the place of humans in their environment. As Matsuura Arishige, global ambassador of the art of suiseki, explains so well, ‘a good suiseki has the power to represent to humans, in just a few centimetres, the whole of Earth and the cosmos’.

©manuel m. v.
©manuel m. v.


Quebec-based Hintercabin connecting guests with nature and minimalism and gifting the planet 10 trees planted with every booking

Hintercabin, a Scandinavian-inspired lakefront cabin in Quebec, is enabling guests to connect with nature and minimalism while also helping to save the planet, given that for every booking made at the sustainable cabin, the company plant 10 trees.

The cabin, which is located in La Conception, was created with simplicity or “hygge” in mind, encouraging living simply and minimally. A modular design, with bare wooden floors and a neutral colour scheme, it is sparsely furnished but simultaneously offers everything needed for a comfortable stay.

Hinter, who designed the sustainable cabin, said the minimalist cabin is their “take on what a hotel ‘room’ should be. The floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around the house invite nature in as much as it serves as an “open window” for guests to connect with nature.

A 15-minute drive from the well-known ski resort of Mont-Tremblant, Hintercabin’s remote location is close to many nature parks and trails. The cabin, which sleeps up to four people, also features a private dock and access to the lake, as well as a canoe available mid-spring to mid-fall.

Hinter, who describe their purpose as the creation of “spaces where design, architecture, and nature become one”, also sell minimalist-style interior and furniture products via their website, all created with simplicity and sustainability in mind using sustainable wood. As with every booking made at Hintercabin, Hinter also plant 10 trees for every interior product it sells via its website.

Hinter say: “While your wellness is a high priority, we recognise that our planet needs help. Neutrality is not enough. We want to set a new norm on sustainability by giving more than what we take. Companies should be giving more than they take. That in mind, we plant 10 trees for every booking, for every object sold and we work only with companies that have the environment as their number one priority. We seek like-minded companies that share our beliefs so we can run eco-friendly spaces with sustainably-made products.”

In addition to Hintercabin, Hinter’s roster of spaces also includes Hinterhouse. Inspired by cabins in the Norwegian mountains and using Japanese design cues and minimalism philosophy, Hinterhouse is made of 60% glass to ensure that whether guests are outside in the woods or taking comfort inside, they remain close to nature.


Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at