You heard right: it’s time for the Summer 2021 pillow round-up. It had to be done, and I had to be the one to do it. To be clear, the pillows I’m discussing today are of the decorative / daytime-use variety, not (at least primarily not) for sleeping.1 I love a good accent pillow, from the functional types meant for sliding under a laptop to beautifully useless objet d’art, and I think the three I detail here offer a little bit of both. To quote Chris Richards’ essential Debussy Ringtone zine: let’s begin.
Might as well start with the one pillow I personally own, the Knot Pillow by Design House Stockholm. Kind of a ubiquitous accessory in the pages of Dwell or Architectural Digest or any of those bougie magazines that will post articles like “Twenty Infinity Pools You Simply Must Own!” in the midst of a global pandemic, but that’s not the pillow’s fault. I admired it online for a while, this unruly-yet-symmetrical knot that’s more cubical than flat, and eventually obtained one in the mustard color pictured above. I was concerned the shape might be too uncomfortable for actual lounging purposes, but on my arm-less couch it’s the perfect solution, readily available at elbow height, textured like a beloved wool sweater and a provider of surprisingly firm support. It apparently also now comes in a larger “cushion” size too, which I just realized I also want. Come to think of it, I want them to do a knot couch, a knot dinner table, a knot credenza… I wouldn’t be upset if these big monochromatic knots singlehandedly replaced all of my furniture. Pass me a knot plate, dear!
Up next, we’ve got Arrangement Pillow 03 from Proba Home. Alex Proba is a Portland designer whose work ranges from home decor to large-scale installations (her swimming pool paint jobs are particularly magical). Abstract shapes and calming color palettes remains a constant through her body of work, from sculpture to bathmat. Sure, it’s an aesthetic that veers dangerously close to the Instagram Woke Infographic template, but that sort of concern is akin to thumbing one’s nose at heavy metal simply on the basis that Winger once sold a bunch of records. I love a muted, Diet Memphis color scheme with pale pastel abstractions, and it’s within Proba’s Arrangement Pillows that this style really shines. The hand-tufted New Zealand wool offers a tender clash of texture and shape, this variant in particular looking like some sort of hidden coral reef stage in Super Mario 2. It’s not a matter of if I’ll grab one of her pillows so much as when, and if you’re feeling similarly, please keep in mind that she’s actually only selling the cover for the pillow, not the pillow itself.2 I hope to one day get so good at making something that I can simply sell its container or shell and leave it up to the buyer to fill.
Last but not least we’ve got the Wheel of Emotions pillow by Zapista. It’s sold on Society6, one of those sites that, by the simple virtue of you reading this newsletter, will now flourish like cockroaches in all of your social media sponsored ads. Sorry about that! It’s like The Ring or It Follows or something. Me being the sucker that I am, I’ve ordered stuff from Society6 before, and I found the quality to be lacking (though as their model is clearly print-on-demand, perhaps I should’ve set my expectations accordingly). I’ve seen this pillow in person, however, and can attest to the quality of its print, as well as of the pillow itself. I’m generally not big on graphic prints as a matter of course, but this one is particularly fun to stare at and zone out into; you can use it to trace your own emotional frequency or simply drop your cat on it and Ouija their paws to predict the tenor of the next conversation you have with your parents. This pillow was introduced to me by someone that I miss, and considering its explicitly emotional content, that seems apropos.
Am I the only one who isn’t fussy about the pillows they sleep with? One of those big honkin’ memory-foam pillows might be a little annoying, but generally speaking I’ve never slept with any sort of “regular” pillow that caused me any problems or distress, or was honestly head and shoulders above the rest, for that matter. What I’m saying is, toughen up, people.
In preparation for purchase, I sent Alex Proba an email asking for pillow insert recommendations. She kindly (and promptly!) recommended West Elm’s basic pillows, of which there are a variety of reasonably-priced sizes.