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The Monday Media Diet with Theresa and Corinna Williams
On detoxing, AD, Naples and Naoshima
Theresa and Corinna Williams are longtime friends of WITI. They run a very cool and thoughtful business, Celsious, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They both have great taste so we invited another duo edition of our MMD. Have a wonderful week. -Colin (CJN)
Tell us about yourself.
We’re Theresa and Corinna Williams, German-born-and-bred sisters and co-founders of Celsious. At Celsious, we’re on a mission to provide “a cleaner clean” – through an elevated laundry experience with a smaller footprint, at our flagship Brooklyn laundromat and beyond. We’ve also launched a garment care line that features 100% biodegradable products formulated free of dyes, bleaches, and preservatives – the essentials you need to kickstart a sustainable laundry routine!
Describe your media diet.
Corinna: I’m a mom and an entrepreneur, so my media consumption is dictated by what my respective babies (human and business) allow. As they currently don’t leave me a ton of time to peruse and read, my diet is podcast-focused: I like to get my daily news via NPR Up First and the New York Times’ The Daily podcast. Saturday mornings are reserved for Air Mail’s brilliantly entertaining Morning Meeting – which an editor friend put me onto. Post-baby bedtime provides the only couple of hours for me to potentially read a book or watch a show – Succession, The White Lotus, and Gomorrah have been recent favorites.
Theresa: My media diet just changed significantly as I embarked on a pretty strict digital detox at the beginning of the year. To stay on top of current affairs I read the NY Times Newsletter by David Leonhardt when going through my morning emails. After eliminating screen time, I now spend most of my evenings reading, both fiction and non-fiction. On my days off I will scroll through my News+ Magazines with Architectural Digest, Wallpaper, New York Magazine, Fast Company, and Scientific American probably being my most read.
What’s the last great book you read?
Corinna: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – a novel that trails the lives of twin sisters from a fictional town in the South that is reserved for Black people with light skin. Simultaneously, and in very stark contrast: Cerebro Frito, a romp of a novella by a friend of mine, Lukas Kubina, who staged an infamous free popup bar in our hometown of Munich during the summer of 2015 and chronicles one of his booze and hallucinogen-fueled weekends in the book.
Theresa: Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman. This non-fiction bestseller challenges the prominent belief that humans are inherently selfish, competitive and hide our primal propensity for violence under a thin veneer but rather that we are altruistic and hardwired for kindness. Bregman’s hypothesis is backed up by meticulous analysis of history, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and impressive detective work to reframe some of the most popular supposed examples of man’s callousness, like the murder of Kitty Genovese or the Stanford prison experiment.
What are you reading now?
Corinna: A heartbreakingly melancholy German novel from the early aughts that I’ve been meaning to read forever, Der Schwimmer by Zsuzsa Bank. It trails the young lives of two siblings in Soviet-era Hungary, whose mother flees to the West and leaves them and their father behind. I guess family drama is a recurring theme among my favorite fiction.
Theresa: I’m about to finish Dune. I don’t read a lot of Sci-Fi but decided to pick this up before watching the new movie. I heard that the novels actually subvert the white savior trope that the movie has been criticized for. Not convinced yet, but the overarching theme of environmental destruction through human exploitation was forward-thinking for its time.
What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?
Corinna: I used to work as a journalist, as a fashion writer for Elle and Harper’s Bazaar Germany to be exact, before I embarked on our entrepreneurial journey. The only print magazines I still read infrequently are German magazines. If I get my hands on one of them, I am that person who will check the table of contents and skip to the author/story I really want to spend my time on.
Theresa: I also have to admit that I don’t buy print magazines anymore, even though I technically prefer the printed versions of my favorite interior design magazines over their digital incarnations.
If I happen to come across a copy of AD in a waiting room I’ll flick through front to back, back to front a few times, and then take my time to analyze and enjoy the images that really speak to me.
Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?
Corinna: Not sure if no one is, but I feel like everyone should be reading Kafka. I say this not only as a German/daughter of a German lit teacher. His particular brand of bone-dry, eerily uncomfortable magical realism feels current whenever I (re-)read his work.
Theresa: I know a lot of people are, but everyone should be reading Haruki Murakami. For basically the same reasons that my sister picked Kafka. Since many of Murakami’s characters have to grapple with isolation (sometimes real, sometimes surreal) and feelings of loneliness, I’ve been re-reading his novels since the beginning of the pandemic.
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?
Corinna: Most of the apps I use are on the famous side. There’s one that has a rep in mom circles, but probably not so much beyond. So, for anyone who’s in need of a stellar sleep tracking app for their (present or future) babe(s), Huckleberry is your jam!
This one is definitely niche. After buying a harp last year, I started using Musescore, a platform where transcribers and composers can share their sheet music. It has an interactive playback feature that makes practicing new pieces so much easier than when I first learned to play the harp as a 90s kid.
I’ll throw in a second one for everybody NYC-based: DeliverZero, a food delivery platform that facilitates the use of reusable containers, eliminating the majority of the plastic waste that comes with getting takeout. I don’t order out often but when I do I’m glad to have a more sustainable option.
Plane or train?
Corinna: I won’t lie, I love the feeling of being unavailable, which one kind of doesn’t get anywhere anymore – except on planes. Very upset that there’s WiFi on virtually all domestic flights these days. That said, I still enjoy air travel in the US (and just won’t go online!). Trains in Europe, though – they’re the opposite of Amtrak: pristine, reliable, and superspeedy.
Theresa: Ditto :)
What is one place everyone should visit?
Corinna: My husband is from Naples, Italy. This chaotic gem of a city not only boasts great urban beaches and the best pizza on the planet, but it also has this Old-World charm that draws you in immediately. Also in Italy and a very close second – and don’t tell him I said this – is Sicily. Mediterranean vibes with North African influences, dramatic landscapes, the best pistachio gelato you’ll ever taste.
Theresa: A few years ago, I visited Naoshima, a small island close to Okayama and the site of an unparalleled combination of contemporary art and architecture respectfully integrated into the surrounding nature. The island is small enough to explore all the breathtaking sites and museums by bike over the course of a few days. An absolute must-see is the large-scale installation by Walter de Maria at the Chichu Art Museum, an otherworldly experience that brought me to tears.
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.
Corinna: All my rabbit holes are baby gear-related, so I won’t bore you with them…
Theresa: Ha, internet-rabbit-hole is my middle name! Here’s one: like many others I got really into indoor plants during the pandemic. I’ve always enjoyed gardening and plants but took it to another level. At the peak I spent entire evenings scrolling through “rare” plant listings on Etsy, binge-watching plant Youtubers, reading articles on propagation methods, soil chemistry, root health, footcandle requirements, pest pressures… I went a little overboard but did acquire a ton of knowledge and now thoroughly enjoy caring for and watching my plant collection thrive.
WITI x McKinsey:
An ongoing partnership where we highlight interesting McKinsey research, writing, and data.
The kids are not all right: Dr. Kevin Churchwell, president and CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital, says there’s been a sharp rise in behavioral and mental-health issues among children and young adults. What’s causing this escalation? How can families, hospitals, schools, and the healthcare system work together to tackle these issues? Don’t miss this interview with Dr. Churchwell.
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & The Williams sisters
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