Exploring Natural Health with Saje Wellness

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Exploring Natural Health with Saje Wellness

In San Francisco, we live in nature’s margin—where nature engages in an ever-changing relationship.

From the famed Bay Area fog that hovers amongst the clouds to the emerald greens of the plants and trees, the natural world perpetually moves around us. Yet it’s so easy to settle into daily city life, moving through the motions and letting the magic of the natural world slip our minds.

This week, during the first Studio Table dinner of the autumn season, we centered on the beauty of nature and its healing power. Our partner was Saje Natural Wellness: a Vancouver-based wellness brand dedicated to connecting people to the healing power of plants. Together we shared an evening talking and thinking about the close connection between healing, inspiration, and nature.

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Opening a dinner for healing the body and its senses, Saje diffused one of their signature essential oil blends with their aromaArt Ultrasonic Diffuser—a vessel for water that features a print designed by Heather. Part of the proceeds from their collaboration diffuser are going toward Drawbridge 4 Kids, a charity that has helped provide art programs for 30,000 homeless and underprivileged children in the Bay Area. Elsewhere in the studio, Lila B Designs’ greenery sculptures transformed Heather’s space into a lush oasis with flowing plants stationed around the studio and a verdant centerpiece accenting the table. Heather’s paintings lined the walls and anchored our conversation to the movement and energy of water. Since her work draws from the lines and textures found in travels through the Canadian Rockies and several of California’s national parks it acted as the perfect backdrop for the evening.

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When guests began to arrive, the space filled with with light music and the warm sounds of greetings and welcomes. Chef Ben opened the evening a cocktail inspired by the Saje Rainforest diffuser essential oil blend. At this dinner, we premiered Studio Table’s first plant-based menu, called Plant Textures. Inspired by the Hippocratic idea that “food is the first medicine,” Ben planned each of the courses that evening to correspond to an aspect of wellness that plants can support—Stress, Skin, Mind, Energy and Tummy. From dishes like the olive oil-poached tomato, the kale-coconut green curry and smoked tea broth, we enjoyed plants’ ability to not only heal, but also satiate us. A warming poached pear with rooibos tea ice cream rounded out the meal.

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During dinner, we discussed how moving towards true wellness means examining your whole life for balance. It’s easy to get thrown off kilter, especially with regards to meals. Feeling rushed and distracted encourages us to make less nourishing food choices and certainly distracts us from the fact we’re part of the natural world. It’s hard to admit to ourselves—and even harder to talk about in public. To help us speak candidly, Saje team member Kelly Kong presented guests with a card deck of #nofilter cards to encourage unfiltered conversations. Each person shared their answers with the guests in close proximity to them at the table, allowing us the opportunity to fully experience moments with new friends. Conversations ranged from creative playfulness to the need to make connections regularly, which speaks to the greater concept of Studio Table.

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Bringing people together, who might have not otherwise met, is truly the joy of Studio Table. By tackling the problem of disconnectedness, we can encourage authentic and organic connection. At these dinners we find ourselves challenging the traditional idea of what “dinner” looks like—and as each is so different, “dinner” always changes.

Our evening that night ended with a salute to Saje. In 1992, Kate Ross LeBlanc and her husband Jean-Pierre LeBlanc were inspired to introduce people to the power of 100% natural, plant-derived wellness products after a serious car accident left Jean-Pierre facing chronic pain. Seeking an effective and natural solution to recovery, he leveraged his background in chemistry to create Saje’s first essential oil blends, which are still sold today. Their beginnings as a small company with the mission to spread the healing properties of plants speaks to the drive of human creativity and passion.

From Ben’s culinary masterpiece to discussing creative inspiration, our evening landed us in places of possibility, allowed new stories to unfold and nourished our minds and bodies with plant-based wellness. We left the table feeling better connected to the beauty of the natural world around us—and to the magic that happens when strangers come together for an experience.

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A heartfelt thank you to Saje and every one of our guests at dinner.

Thanks for reading,
Michelle, Ben and Heather

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.
–Rachel Carson, environmentalist

A word on partnerships: With the objective of building lasting relationships in the San Francisco community, Studio Table agrees to partnerships with companies that share similar values. We’re thankful for companies like Saje that place such emphasis on supporting local businesses and creative individuals. With the goal of being as transparent as possible out of respect for our readers and in accordance with the FTC law of 2013, all content and opinions expressed are written by Studio Table members.

Written by Michelle Wei and Lauren Hsia. Edited and Polished by Kate Holthouser. Photos by Margaret Helfrich.

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Fearing No Mess with method

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Fearing No Mess with method

In our culture, there exists an urban legend about messy people—that instead of being chaotically disorganized and generally slovenly, they’re actually in touch with their creativity.

And isn’t that true?

As kids, we inherently made messes—boxes of crayons scattered on the floor, pillow forts dominating the living room—the world was our oyster, all we had to do was create. But somewhere along the way, we got told to pick up and organize, to deconstruct and repress our disorder. Over time, we realized messes were bad.

But for real creative magic to happen, you have to allow an explosion of materials, thoughts and colors. You have to make a mess.  

Fearing No Mess_Studio Table

This week, during our 8th Studio Table dinner, we discussed not only the need for messes, but also the idea of celebrating them, of refusing to fear them—as mess represents the human potential to create. From the paint drips that miss the tarp to the chaotic array of ingredients in a kitchen, messes happen. It’s our job to see them in a different light.

Our sponsor, method home, worked with us—and four other collaborators—to transform the Studio Table experience into an artistic process. Taking inspiration from method’s Sea Minerals soap and fragrance, shades and textures of blue served as the inspiration behind the art of the event. With #FearNoMess, we invited chaos into Heather’s studio and ended up with a creation as unique as the hands that made it.

In the hours leading up to the dinner, florist Jenn Sanchez installed a cascade of flowers on Heather’s banister, which flowed to the table below; artist Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day and her team built a balloon river on the walls that pulled in blues from the ocean and blues from Heather’s work. Erica Chan Coffman from HonestlyWTF created hand-dyed napkins in sea colors for the table, embroidered with guests’ names; and Amanda Holstein of Advice from a Twenty Something made takeaway bags with sea minerals—a nod to the theme of the dinner. Throughout the day, Heather’s apartment filled with bodies and supplies, smiles and sizzling smells. Hands passed boxes; strung flowers; and arranged dinnerware. It was one giant mess.

Fearing No Mess_Studio Table
Fearing No Mess_Studio Table

This dinner was special not only because it involved more people, but because it also allowed guests the opportunity to add their touches to the experience. Celebrating proximity to water, the sea minerals theme touched every element of the dinner—from the colors of the hand-dip dyed napkins to the beautiful “reef” floral arrangement crowning Heather’s studio table. Continuing the theme, Ben’s Land X Sea menu completed an evening designed to touch all the senses.

Fearing No Mess_Studio Table
Fearing No Mess_Studio Table

We opened the dinner with conversation around a St. George Terroir Gin tonic cocktail, followed by oysters and pine, sunchoke, caviar, bucatini and short rib porridge, shared around the table. Each of Ben’s dishes warmed and relaxed us after long days at work—his unique combinations of smell, taste and texture piquing our curiosity. We rounded off the evening with a dessert of eucalyptus, citrus and kombu ice cream.

Fearing No Mess_Studio Table
Fearing No Mess_Studio Table
Fearing No Mess_Studio Table

During dinner, we asked everyone to talk about a fear, and how it related to their creativity. Heather explained her fear of starting a new body of work that might not be recognized or accepted. Michelle shared her fear of stepping out of her comfort zone and creating something on her own. And Ben shared a fear of being too open, too personal and of leaving his comfort zone.

Guest Chris Olivares, a start-up entrepreneur and software developer, told us about his fear of failure in personal projects. And floral artist, Jenn Sanchez shared her fear of not meeting the expectations she has set for herself.

We went around the table discussing fear and how it related to creativity and mess, but dinner that night also allowed us to step into the shoes of method and hear their story of messy beginnings. Driven by a mission to create something they wanted to see in the world—a more sustainable and better designed product—method founders mixed first batches of soaps in their bathtub. We heard stories of initial failures and challenges, but thanks to their fearless approach to messes, they succeeded in changing the industry.

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Hearing everyone’s stories and digging deeper into method’s background was a real treasure. All of us walked away with new ideas and a sense of courage. A deep-felt thank you goes to method for making Studio Table such an experience into artistry and allowing deeper insight into the creative process of mess that makes us so uniquely human.

Thanks for reading,

Michelle, Ben and Heather

A word on partnerships: With the objective of building lasting relationships in the San Francisco community, Studio Table agrees to partnerships with companies that share similar values. We’re thankful for companies like method that place such emphasis on supporting local businesses and creative individuals. With the goal of being as transparent as possible out of respect for our readers and in accordance with the FTC law of 2013, all content and opinions expressed are written by Studio Table members.

Fearing No Mess_Studio Table

Written by Michelle Wei and Heather Day. Edited and Polished by Kate Holthouser.  Photos by Jen Kay

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Intersection : Mindfulness x Connections with lululemon SF

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Intersection : Mindfulness x Connections with lululemon SF

Studio Table x lululemon

Amid the flurry of the pre-holiday season, Studio Table recently hosted a unique dinner with lululemon. Candles and evergreen branches dotting the table and new faces coming through the door, this dinner, our capstone of 2016, was an opportunity to let mental background noise settle and live fully in the present moment.

Focused on the intersection of mindfulness and connectivity, the evening began like many others, but took us into deeper territory—thanks to ideas lululemon brought to the table. Their background as a grassroots company and the value they place on self-improvement and development gave us common ground—which sparked conversations and emboldened us to participate purposefully.

Studio Table x lululemon

Tucked in Heather’s industrial studio, we began the meal by introducing Studio Table as a convergence of differing talents, journeys, and personalities. Similar to combining ingredients to make a meal, Studio Table intersects food, art, and community and represents the importance of taking time to appreciate moments and connections with new people.

Studio Table x lululemon
Studio Table x lululemon
studio table x lululemon
studio table x lululemon

While Chef Ben and his sous chef, Will prepared the courses, Jeanne, a lululemon Store Manager and embodiment of culture, led us through a series of mindfulness exercises. With our arms over our heads, doing a version of table yoga and breathing meditations, we moved from feeling mentally distracted to feeling rooted in the present. From work-related stress to the recent warehouse fire in Oakland, the exercises reminded us that regardless of any emotions we felt during that day, being aware at the table and enjoying conversing and eating with new friends represents the best part of coming together. We also learned that "mindfulness" is not something new-age or inaccessible; it's as easy as taking a few deep breaths.

Studio Table x lululemon
studio table x lululemon

Our guests that night included two lululemon team members and ten other San Franciscans from different professional and personal backgrounds. The diversity of the group and the intimate setting of an artist’s studio made for open conversations about the expectations of group dinners. Designed to push people outside their comfort zones, Ben prepared the menu around the theme of synesthesia, a condition where the senses overlap each other. The focus on mindfulness allowed us to savor the flavors of each course longer and truly appreciate the melding of sense and consciousness. For example, the third course was experienced blindfolded to demonstrate how without eye contact and visual clues you become a better listener and taste becomes more detailed. It was a dinner of surprising sensory experimentation.

Studio Table x lululemon
Studio Table x lululemon

By the end of the evening, our guests were making plans to meet again and discussing how to bring mindfulness to their workplaces. Placing focus on the point where mindfulness and connection meet, we made space for the deeper conversations that always lie beneath the surface. That’s how Studio Table creates opportunities to expand the experience of community. With such a loving take on dinner, we can’t wait to see the impact Studio Table makes in 2017.

Thanks go to lululemon for providing the vehicle and tools for our guests to be experience and enjoy being fully present. As a takeaway, lululemon provided each of us with a copy of a mindfulness book by Thich Nhat Hanh, the famed meditation teacher and peace activist. Two quotes really stood out to us: "We live a kind of artificial life, with lots of plans, lots of worries and anger. Never are we able to establish ourselves in the here and now and live our lives deeply. We have to wake up! We have to make it possible for the moment of awareness to manifest...Mindfulness is not an evasion or an escape. It means being here, present, and totally alive.” The three of us are grateful that lululemon sponsored such a wonderful evening of learning and for their presence as genuine and supportive members of the San Francisco community. We felt like old friends catching up over a great meal.

To learn more about Lululemon SF, check them out on Instagram

Cheers and Happy Holidays from Heather, Michelle, Ben

Studio Table x lululemon

A word on partnerships: With the objective of building lasting relationships in the San Francisco community, Studio Table agrees to partnerships with companies that share similar values. We’re thankful for companies like lululemon athletica that place such emphasis on supporting local businesses and creative individuals. With the goal of being as transparent as possible out of respect for our readers and in accordance with the FTC law of 2013, all content and opinions expressed are written by Studio Table members.

 

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Overheard at Studio Table : Thoughts on Our First Dinner

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Overheard at Studio Table : Thoughts on Our First Dinner

With art supplies gently tucked away and dripping canvases leaned against the wall, the three of us - Heather, Michelle, and Ben - moved aside evidence of daily life in Heather’s live-work studio to prepare for the first ever Studio Table dinner, held this past October.

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The preparation leading up to the dinner left us a little breathless, especially since using a residence as a venue causes space and aesthetic limitations. But there’s just no beating the comfortable atmosphere of dinner in a home. To offset details of daily life, like Heather’s bike resting on the back door and her brown paper lists on the studio walls, we added professional fine dining touches, like bronze silverware and crisp white pottery plates to elevate the experience and create the right mood for Ben’s planned menu. We laid handwritten menus with a fuchsia print at each place setting that Heather designed for Studio Table, and Michelle polished every detail of the evening itself, setting the scene for an intimate experience.

Studio Table Dinner #1

When each guest walked through the door there were little hints of nervousness and uncertainty on their faces; they were no doubt anticipating something new. But each face immediately opened with a smile when we greeted them and ushered them into the studio with a big hug and a welcome grilled pineapple cocktail invented by Ben.

People come together for meals and form communities, even great works of art are centered around meals: da Vinci’s Last Supper and Renoir’s Le déjeuner des canotiers for example. But it’s one thing to just have a dinner; it’s another to strip down the concept entirely by eliminating the need to pay at the end and by altering the normal “sit down, eat, pay, leave” routine of restaurant experiences. This concept allows people to organically share ideas, meet new friends, and enjoy a beautiful meal in a creative space without worrying about who’s getting the check.

Studio Table Dinner #1
Studio Table Dinner #1

To this dinner, we’d invited people with a range of different backgrounds and careers -- a photographer, tech startup founders, artists, and furniture designers. Wanting to celebrate this diversity and get people talking, we opened the dinner with a question: “What is something unexpected that has happened in your life recently?” Some answers were straight up hilarious, while others were eye-opening and vulnerable. Oddly there was an immediate sense of ease and camaraderie, even though no one knew each other.  It felt fulfilling to see strangers talking to each other almost like they were saying, "Hi! We're meant to be friends. I'm so happy to be here with you right now."

Our first dinner centered around the theme of synesthesia, a condition where sight may mingle with sound, taste with touch, and so on. We started our evening of sense-challenging fine dining with a first course involving the sense of smell. This dish was replaced by the second course centered on proprioception -- the ability to sense the position of our bodies relative to other things. The third course demonstrated our sense of balance or equilibrioception. We explored the sense of sight in the fourth course. And, the finale of the evening was Ben’s spectacular fifth course on thermoception.

Some of the best moments we had that evening involved laughter and wonderful conversations. Each of Ben’s delicious courses sparked a new story or issued forth a new question, either regarding the food or a story. At the end of the night we were thrilled to see people exchanging phone numbers. They wanted to get to know each other more and connect further.

Although the three of us stripped down the concept of dinner, we didn’t change its goal. It was still a group of people around a table, but the difference is that we consciously slowed it down and gave it our full attention. Just doing this opened us up, made us aware of the present moment, and helped us appreciate the setting and the company all the more.

Studio Table Dinner #1
Studio Table Dinner #1

Above all, we saw how serendipity in the lives of a few can play out and affect those of many. We wanted to to challenge the norms and expectations of social gatherings, while simultaneously opening doors to San Francisco - connecting people who might not have otherwise met. And that’s exactly what happened.

-Michelle, Ben and Heather 

If you’re interested in our next Studio Table dinner please introduce yourself here and follow us on Instagram.  Or if you’re interested in sponsoring a dinner please contact: info@studiotable.com

Studio Table Dinner #1

Photos thanks to our kind friend, Jen Kay. Ceramic plates by Felt and Fat. Written by Heather Day and Michelle Wei, edited by Kate Holthouser.

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Nice To Meet You

Nice To Meet You

Hey guys, today's an exciting day. We're finally sharing an idea that has been developing for a while -- one that's resulted from a whole lot of serendipity. We thought we'd break it down for you, in story form. 

Michelle Wei and Heather Day | Studio Table

A few months ago, Heather had this idea to open the doors of her San Francisco studio. With hopes of branching out and sharing her space with a larger community, she wanted to invite others to take part in a conversation. 

Speaking of conversation, that's how our badass chef, Ben Roche, got involved. He overheard Heather discussing her early visions at Stable Cafe (some would call that eavesdropping!) and felt compelled enough to interrupt the conversation and offer to collaborate.

Thanks to her expert Googling skills, Heather learned that Ben was a real life chef. She consulted with her neighbor, Michelle Wei, decided to move forward with the concept. The three of them, each from vastly different backgrounds, all saw potential in this as a passion project -- to open doors and make life a little more vibrant for others in San Francisco. 

We hope the serendipity that brought us together will inspire you to join us for dinner Because bringing people together around the dinner table is what this project is all about. 

-Michelle, Ben and Heather 

Nice To Meet You | Studio Table
Nice To Meet You | Studio Table

Huge thanks to our kind friends that helped make this project happen.

Sara and Rich Combs : Web design
Jen Kay : Photography
Josh Haftel : Photography
Gentry Underwood : For business suggestions and for randomly showing up at cafe's on the same days we happen to be working!