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At Home with Artists: Michelle + Duncan

Fall/Winter 2021 –– We launch our new collection with artists, Michelle Favin and Duncan Graham.  We asked a few questions to learn more about their daily practices, what keeps them grounded...

Fall/Winter 2021 –– We launch our new collection with artists, Michelle Favin and Duncan Graham.  We asked a few questions to learn more about their daily practices, what keeps them grounded during these uncertain times and some of their favorite things.

Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Michelle: I’m a mixed-race Korean American artist living in the Bay with my favorite person and my favorite three-legged dogs.

Duncan: I’m a designer and artist living in SF with Miche and our pups! I love making art, learning new things, and wondering about what life is about and how I should live mine. 

What does a typical day look like for you?
Michelle: Mornings are for some variation of movement, coffee, time spent with Dunc and the dogs, meditation and journaling. I like the routine of those activities, but like to switch up when/how I do them. Recently, we’ve been packing coffee and taking the dogs on 6am walks -- sunrise in SF feels very, very special this time of year.

The middle of the day is for a variety of activities around my art practice. I like to batch my days, so that I don’t feel like I’m constantly task-switching. Mondays are for admin work, Tuesdays are for concepting and sketching out compositions, Wednesdays and Thursdays are for tech-free painting days, and Fridays are for whatever needs some extra attention from the week.

The evenings are usually a mix of sweet time with friends, time with Dunc, or exploring events, museums, or new happenings in the city.

Duncan: Oh gosh I don’t know that there are any typical days. I like waking up before sunrise and either having a slow morning stretching and easing into the day with Miche or driving down to Pacifica to surf for a few hours before work (if it’s a weekday).

On weekdays, I’ll head to Modern Treasury’s office. I’ve led design here since about the time the pandemic began and it’s been a wild ride. We’re a small but quickly growing startup so every day and week bring new experiences and challenges to navigate.

On weekends, Miche and I go on all sorts of adventures - hikes with the pups, urban exploration, trips to art museums, and more. I also make time for solo plein air painting jaunts and jam sessions with musically inclined friends.

How do you stay creatively inspired?
Michelle: A healthy balance of solitude and being out and in awe of the world.

Duncan: I make sure I make things every day if I can! When the creative gears get rusty the inspiration dries up – the more I make, the more I want to make and the more ideas come to me. (Miche is also the most amazing support in this area – she reminds me how much creation fills up my cup when I fall off)

Daily rituals?
Michelle: A cup of coffee shared with Duncan. A silent meditation, even if just 5 minutes. A moment to journal. A walk with my dog, Pi. A gratitude list at the end of the day.

Duncan: Morning coffee with Miche, Meditation sessions, nightly walks with roux and reading are some of my most cherished habits.

How do you balance work and life together (most especially this year)?
Duncan: As best I can! I haven’t been great about it tbh. At one point I made a list called “project mojo” that was my life back to balance.

What do you enjoy doing most when not working?
Michelle: Reading, learning, dinner parties, moving, dancing, cuddling, and big-belly laughing.
Duncan: Making music and art, bonfires on baker beach with close friends, traveling/adventures with miche (pre-covid 😭), trips to the spa, movie nights, meditating, reading and new experiences. 

How do you approach wellness/self-care?
Michelle: For me, true self-care is rooted in ease and kindness. It’s asking myself, “what do you really need right now?” and not having some perfect, disciplined answer. Sometimes, the answer to that question is sweat, movement and whole, green foods. Sometimes, the answer is snuggling up to watch a Korean drama with a big bowl of steaming noodles. I feel most well when I am present with myself, open to truly listening and open to tending to what I may need in a specific moment.

Duncan: Getting ample sleep every night
Hitting the sauna as often as I possibly can
Exercising regularly
Meditating and journal and therapy to sort out my head
Eating clean, nourishing food

What has '20/21 taught you?
Michelle: A sense of certainty and security cannot be found in external circumstances -- your strongest home is built within yourself, and in the love you build with your people.  

Duncan: Even more clearly what makes me feel good and what doesn't – I’m much more attuned to my needs.

Has the year inspired any new hobbies or change in routines?
Michelle: We started surfing! And also, I started watching more television. I didn’t grow up being able to watch a ton of TV, so I never quite fell into a habit. I am now fully bought in to all of the incredible stories being told on screen these days!

Duncan: +1 to surfing. And I got a synth – a totally new instrument for me. We’ve moved twice, got a new puppy, and changed jobs so routines have changed a ton across the board.Five words that describe your home.
Michelle: Open, warm, uplifting, a respite, shared
Duncan: Full of love and joy and creation and peace. Urban oasis.

What is something you can't live without?
Duncan: Music, Oxygen (for real tho – connection maybe.)
Michelle: Intimacy

A joyful moment.
Michelle: That was a very big joyful moment and also, I love small joyful moments! Whenever we get home, we run into our den and yell “emergency cuddle puddle,” which makes the dogs very excited. We all pile up and it’s an explosion of sweetness and cuddles. It’s a very small moment and also, my favorite part of the day.

Duncan: We got engaged! A gorgeous morning at pacifica after surfing. The low, early sun with a light marine layer to catch the light made for a beautiful scene for a moment overflowing with love.

Favorite quote or personal mantra.
Michelle: You can do it like it’s a great weight on you, or you can do it like it’s part of the dance -Ram Dass

Duncan: I struggled with this one- I can’t say I have a personal mantra. Lots of favorite quotes though which are hard to pick from. The poem “If” comes to mind, as does “when earths last picture is painted”. Gotta love Ram dass too - Love everyone and tell the truth.

A favorite sound, taste and smell.
Michelle: Sound: Morning Doves, Taste: So many! The first sip of coffee in the morning, my mom’s kimchi with warm rice. A full-bodied, spicy red wine with a really good piece of sourdough bread. Smell: Salty air, ylang-ylang, hinoki

Duncan: Sound: Birds
Taste: Floral lightly roasted pour over coffee
Smell: The California woods and wilderness. Eucalyptus and pine and cedar and salt air.

Best thing you’ve listened to recently.
Duncan: This song
Michelle: Is it lame to say new songs Duncan is working on? (Duncan: awwwww micheeee)

Do you have a favorite book that you recommend?
Duncan: Power of Now / Asterios Polyp (have bought AP more than 10 times)
Michelle: all about love by bell hooks

A favorite recipe.
Duncan: Grilled cheese on good sourdough bread with old bay and a thick tomato soup.

Michelle: I make this particular salad for friends and feel a lot of joy when they can’t stop going back for more.

Mushroom Tahini Salad
3/4 cup of Tahini
1/4 cup of Avo or Olive Oil
Juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp of hot honey
3 tsps of raw garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 of warm water to help break down the tahini when mixing

Sliced shiitakes
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning powder
Red pepper flakes
Coconut aminos
Avo oil
Sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup of arugula to 1/4 cup of red cabbage
Hemp hearts
Diced cilantro
Diced cucumbers
Diced avocado

Dice and slice raw, dry mushrooms. You don’t need to wash them! You can just dust off dirt if needed.
Bring a non-stick pan to medium-high heat with avocado oil, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning in the pan. Adjust temperature to ensure dry spices do not burn. It will start to smell very good.
Drop sliced mushrooms into the pan and mix to coat the mushrooms with oil.
Let the mushrooms do their thing, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms start to sweat. This should take about 7-8 minutes on medium heat. If you start to see the pan getting smokey, you can add a little more oil.
While the mushrooms are doing their thing, combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar, adding the warm water at the end to break up the tahini. Mix vigorously and salt/pepper/lemon to your liking. Set aside!
You can also prep the salad here which is easy! Just combine all ingredients and mix well. There should be an even smattering of cabbage, cucumbers, etc.
Once the mushrooms start to soften, add a healthy drizzle of coconut aminos and sesame oil. Mix and let cook for about 3-4 minutes. You’ll start to see a really lovely sear/golden-ing of the mushrooms.
Here’s the secret! You don’t want to add any salt or pepper until the very end! Once the mushrooms are at the sear that you want, add a healthy dose of pepper and Malden sea salt to taste. Mix well and take the pan off the heat.
Depending on preference, you can either serve the salad with the warm mushrooms OR prep the mushrooms a day before (like an adult!) and chill them in the fridge overnight. Both are delish though, honestly.
Mix the hot or cold mushrooms into your salad and add a healthy serving of dressing. Mix well and add one more little dash of salt and pepper on the salad.

Enjoy with good people!

Photographed by Peter Van Der Pas in their new San Francisco home.


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