Over the past few years, Cold Picnic—the home design company founded in 2010 by business (and real-life) partners Phoebe Sung and Peter Buer—has become an unlikely source for top-notch film recommendations. (At least for this writer, anyway—I’m always putting down titles from Cold Picnic’s newsletters on my watchlist.) The brand initially drew its minimalist, abstract, and gorgeously hued design inspirations from natural landscapes and far-flung places but since having kids and being unable to travel much these days, Sung and Buer have turned to transportive movies as a way to expand their world, even if it’s from the comfort of their living room in Ridgewood, Queens. Just some of the films that have informed Cold Picnic’s latest collections are Solaris, The Passenger, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, L'Avventura, Three Women, and Beau Travail—but honestly, the list runs really deep.
"I got into movies pretty young because my mom was into them and she urged me to watch movies she thought I would find satisfying—like when I was 12, she told me I should watch Breathless," Sung says with a laugh. "But for both me and Peter, when we met in fashion school, we used movies as a reference for things that we were designing even back then. They were kind of a way to get new big experiences without going anywhere. Before we had kids, there’s a trilogy of movies called Wanderers of the Desert and we would just have them on all day and absorbed them."
Look closely at Cold Picnic’s Beau Travail and Beau Travail Part II collections, inspired by the Claire Denis film, and you can find hints of the flick’s Eastern African landscape or a subtle tableau of a dancing Frenchman woven into the plushy rugs handmade by artisans in India.
While classic cinema informs Cold Picnic’s aesthetic, Sung and Buer’s daytime viewing habits skew younger, as the brand overall has started to evolve to accommodate their lives as parents. "Luckily there's a really wonderful Australian show called Bluey and each episode is seven minutes long," Sung says of what her toddlers watch. "It's so cute. We used to cry every episode. It’s a family where everyone is a dog instead of a person." Also part of Cold Picnic’s evolution: The brand’s first-ever line of sweaters, the Affection Collection, available in matching adult and youth sizes. "I think pretty early on I wanted to do sweaters because, I mean, [your kid is] like your baby doll that you're dressing and I was so obsessed with her," Sung says of her firstborn, Freya. "I wanted to have all the same clothes so we started designing sweaters a few years ago." Made from a blend of recycled fibers and superfine alpaca, these newly released cozy sweaters have since become a go-to for cozy at-home screenings. Other top essentials selected by Sung for her ideal movie nights are a cinephile’s dream streaming service, a lightweight quilt, a non-breakable popcorn bowl, and more.
"I’ve been known to derail a movie night by excessively watching trailers and the Criterion Channel makes it so fun to browse that it doesn’t help, but we’ve discovered so much through it."
"These sweaters can be dressed up but they’re also good for around the house since they’re cozy but also super lightweight and open. You can wear them with sweatpants (which we invariably change into when we get home) and still feel put together."
"A step further into cozy-but-still-put-together territory. It’s hard to find a robe that isn’t either sultry or frumpy—Dusen Dusen’s are just really cool."
"In our family, movie night requires homemade popcorn with nutritional yeast and salt."
"Obviously snack choice is nearly as important as the movie. The friend who introduced us to these described the flavor as Cantonese stir-fried lobster with garlic and she wasn’t wrong!"
"The twin is a perfect sofa guard if you have messy kids or pets (we have both) but also nice for snuggling under. They’re reversible, so you can change colorways depending on your mood (the mint side for Sofia Coppola, the olive side for Werner Herzog)."
"We have these in most rooms of the house and it’s how we’re able to listen to kids’ movie soundtracks from the moment we open our eyes until around 7 at night (after which point we don’t need to listen to the songs because they’ve become fully embedded into our consciousness)."
"For the longest time we watched movies in our bedroom after the kids went to sleep, huddled up in front of a laptop with ear pods so as not to wake any of them, but we finally decided to upgrade and this was recommended by a friend."
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