Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween inspiration

This Halloween I couldn't help myself and had to play dress up as my favorite fashion icon. Can you guess who?

One in a million.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Women and clothes: Jennifer Cho Salaff

If you have the good fortune to experience Jennifer Cho Salaff in the flesh, the first thing you might notice is her petite 5’1” frame wrapped up in some delicious colors and textures. A nano-second later, you will most definitely notice her smile, through which you will immediately sense the most important things about this powerhouse of a woman: authenticity, warmth, vibrancy, inquisitiveness and the kind of confidence that peels out from the depths of someone who knows herself and her mind.

Can someone’s smile really say all of this? I’m picturing the last time I hung out with Jenn, which was for lunch at Messhall Kitchen in Los Angeles this past summer. I’m rewinding to the moment just before she even said hello, when a smile of recognition bloomed on her face as she spotted me … And, yup, her smile definitely said all that.

Smart as a whip and thoroughly engaged in the world, Jenn is someone for whom the things that matter the most are the matters of the heart. Whether it’s her faith, friends and family, creativity or self-care, she navigates them with intention and vulnerability, which means being okay with mistakes, sitting in shades of gray and asking the tough questions. She doesn’t shrink away, apologize or change the core of who she is but she also doesn’t puff up her chest to roar the loudest or feel that she has to appear invincible.

I love this about Jenn, and I love that it’s also the way she sees beauty and power in clothes. I was so honored to interview this gem of a lady. Our conversation about fashion and clothes was filled with “a-ha” moments and giggles alike. I will now forever think of harem pants when I hear the phrase “I sh*t my pants.”


Helen Kim (HK): Even though we see each other oh-so infrequently now, I love how we can just slip into a conversation without missing a beat. It feels like a favorite, well-worn knitted sweater: dependable, comfy and feels so glorious every time I put it on!
Jennifer Cho Salaff (JCS): YOU are glorious, Helen!

HK: Stop it! But tell me more!
JCS: Seriously, we are kindred spirits! Go-get-em females who like to shake things up a bit -– whether in style, our musings or how we look at the world. I wish we lived closer to each other so we could hang out all the time!

HK: Girl, you are singing my song! Speaking of how we look at the world, I really love how you can seamlessly weave something that’s supposedly “frivolous” like fashion with deeper matters of the heart and mind. It tells me that you give thoughtful consideration to all aspects of your person and that fashion resonates with you in a soulful way. What is your earliest memory of fashion having this kind of significance to you?
JCS: Oh thank you, love! Well, my earliest fashion memory occurred in 1984, the year my family moved across the country from Des Moines, Iowa to Irvine, California. It was my parents’ dream to move to sunnier climes. So we traded in cornfields for the beach. I was so excited about this new adventure. But when we settled into our new Southern California life I quickly realized I had absolutely zero style.

The girls at my new school were so different from my classmates in Iowa. These girls, some of them like the “Mean Girls” depicted in the movie, were not only beautiful and confident but so put-together. I had never seen such amazing outfits. Studded jeans, pastel off-the-shoulder tees, high ponytails and acid-washed mini-skirts. Suddenly, my upside-down glasses and maroon velour tracksuit (sent to me by my relatives in Korea!) became the pinnacle of nerd-dom. OMG those girls made fun of me for my lack of fashion sense. Ha! Kids can be so cruel. But believe it or not, I’m actually thankful for that experience. It awakened something in me.

(By the way, that's me in 1979, in the photo above. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures in that velour track suit. You'll just have to take my word for it.)

HK: I landed in Southern California about three years before you but I came straight from Korea, which means I brought nerd-dom from the motherland myself. Funny how Korea is one of the most fashionable places in the world nowadays.
JCS:  I LOVE this about Korea. From nerd-dom to taste maker.

HK: I am not even going to ask you if fashion matters. Duh. WHY does fashion matter?
JCS: Going back to my fashion awakening when I was 10 years old. I learned how clothes could be incredibly empowering. I realized it could be used not only as a way of expressing oneself, but also as a tool of re-invention. I remember begging my mom to take me to the mall to get what I called “new fashion clothes.”  We bought a pastel blue jean mini-skirt, a short sleeved button-down shirt with geometric designs, and white Keds. Those white Keds were everything. A few years later the braces came off and I got contact lenses. The transformation was complete. And those girls stopped bothering me because my fashion choices had eclipsed theirs. Ha!

HK: Ha, indeed! And it’s evident that your fashion choices have only continued to evolve and elevate. If those girls could see you now! You are, among many other things, a journalist, wife, mom, and professional arts/culture/style aficionado. How has your sense of style reflected the various phases and/or roles over the years? 
JCS: I love this question! I think the way we dress reflects different seasons in life. When I was a newspaper reporter I wore a lot of functional clothing. Lots of flats and styled sneakers and jeans (since I was running around all day chasing stories). 

As an editor at a magazine I spent most of the day sitting at a desk. So I enjoyed wearing dresses, skirts and heels.

When I had my babies I lived in yoga pants, t-shirts, soft button-downs and the dreaded nursing bra (ugh, I hated those!). My nails were rarely painted and I hardly wore makeup. I didn’t care much about looking "done" during those newborn/infant days. I was just looking to survive. Squeezing in an uninterrupted shower was my greatest fashion luxury at the time.

HK: I love the concept of an uninterrupted shower being a fashion luxury!
JCS: You can accomplish lot in the shower! But now that my kids are older and I have more time to devote to my career I’m enjoying being a fashionista again. I think my style has become more refined as I’ve entered my 40s. I care more about quality. I’m willing to save a little and purchase investment pieces, like the fabulous Italian sneakers I bought for my 41st birthday!

HK: See, I love that. Evolved and elevated can be fun and youthful. Well, Ms. Fashionista, do you have a rule of thumb for maintaining a fundamental fashion self while experimenting with new trends? I mean, how do you embrace the au courant without turning into a fashion victim?
JCS: You know, I enjoy watching trends but I don’t really follow them. I’ll see something in a magazine and have a fleeting thought like, "Oh, that’s beautiful and imaginative!" but I won’t have an urge to go out and buy it to stay au courant. Maybe I’ll do that for a lipstick or nail polish –- but again, it’s more because I think it’s pretty and less to stay fashion relevant. 

As for the rule of thumb, I don’t really have one. I go with my gut. I’ll know right away if it’s going to work for me or not. I think there’s a lot of truth to what style icon Iris Apfel said about fashion sense: "You either have it, or you don’t."

HK: Gotcha. I ask because you’re so great at keeping things fresh and staying on top of new trends and ideas. I’m curious to know if there are any mainstays -- whether they be clothing or accessories -- that have permanent status in your closet?
JCS: My only rule is to go with things that make you feel powerful, pretty and confident. And perhaps my biggest rule: HAVE FUN. I don’t follow fashion rules. Who says you can’t wear white after Labor Day? Who says certain colors are only for fall or winter or spring or summer? Nonsense! Perhaps I’m great at keeping things fresh because I don’t like to follow rules. I’ll wear overalls with high heels. I’ll mismatch patterns because I love to clash. I’ll pair leopard with stripes because why the hell not?

HK: Why. The. Hell. Not. I know I sound like a broken record but, girl, you’re singing my song! So in your rogue world without fashion rules, what is the worst fashion crime (current or past)? 
JCS: Harem pants. I don’t care who you are. It’s not sexy when it looks like you’ve sh*t yourself.  

HK: Bahahaha! What about a favorite trend in fashion (again, current or past)?
JCS: This isn’t a style trend but more of a zeitgeist -– I’m loving how we’re focusing our attention on the original gangstas of fashion –- living icons like Iris Apfel and Joy Venturini Bianchi and fashionistas of the past like Coco Chanel and Diana Vreeland. These women were (and are) so fierce, fashionable and fearless. We can learn a lot from them. It’s why I’m so glad there are books, documentaries and blogs dedicated to “advanced style” as its referred to.

HK: What are you trying to do or achieve when you dress for the day?
JCS: It depends what I’m doing and where I’m going that day. When I’m writing from home, it’s pajama bottoms and a comfy t-shirt. No make-up and hair un-brushed. Which always makes me laugh on days I’m writing about fashion. “If they could only see me now,” I think as I nearly knock myself out with my coffee breath. When I’m at Anthropologie (where I work part-time) I’m dressed like Superwoman. I say Superwoman because I feel like Superwoman. Pretty and powerful. Ready to kick some serious fashion ass. I’ve always loved Anthropologie and its branding really fits my style sensibilities. Eclectic, romantic, feminine, imaginative.

HK: Oh, those words definitely describe you! And now I’m picturing you looking fabulously eclectic, romantic, feminine and imaginative in an outfit that includes a cape. You’re flying from corner to corner inside Anthropologie, saving people from fashion disasters left and right. Now, that would be an impressive display! 
JCS: Oh Helen, you crack me up!

HK: Ok, back to reality, Helen! What else did I want to ask you? Oh, right: How much do other people’s opinions or feedback influence your fashion choices?
JCS: I don’t really care what other people think about my fashion choices. The only person I dress for is myself. Perhaps that comes off as arrogant or selfish, but I simply trust my instincts. I have a pretty straightforward attitude when it comes to fashion: I like it and I can see myself wearing it, therefore I choose it!

HK: I totally get that. I don’t think it’s arrogance or selfishness but a self-confidence that comes with age, with knowing who you are and embracing it. As a sister from another ahjussi (hm, that doesn’t have quite the same ring), I’m curious to know how your background as a Korean American from Southern California affects the way you dress. Or perhaps there’s another aspect of your heritage/background that has had an impact on your style?
JCS: As a Korean American woman –- an Asian woman for that matter –- I really lucked out in the genetic lottery when it comes to not looking your age. People are shocked when they find out I have two school-aged children. And then they’re even more floored when I tell them I’m 41. I think that has definitely given me an advantage with fashion. Some women feel the need to “dress their age.” I don’t.

HK: I have always been confused by that concept myself. I think it’s centered around the fear of being inappropriate. Ironically, I think it’s more “appropriate” to dress in a way that compliments who you are, inside and out. Speaking of which, how would you describe your figure?
JCS: Petite with an athletic build. Overall, I’m thankful for my strong body and all the wonderful things it can do. There are things I love –- my size 6 feet, my small waist (on those non-bloated days), my shapely calves. But like every girl there are also things I don’t love –- my short legs, my broad shoulders and the fact that I have no boobs.

HK: Oh, boobs schmoobs. What tips can you share about dressing to accentuate and flatter your particular body type?
JCS: First of all, thank the good Lord for the Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy Bra. A flat-chested girl’s best friend.

HK: Wait. Let me write that down...
JCS: (Laughing) Second of all, I can’t stress enough the value of good tailoring. An ill-fitting item of clothing is the fashion kiss of death. You could have the cutest outfit, but if it doesn’t hang right it could be a complete disaster. Oh and shoes! Shoes make the outfit! Think about it. You could have a basic ensemble (like jeans and a plain white tee) and then KAPOW! Add a badass pair of shoes and suddenly your outfit went from a 2 to a 10.  

HK: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. My song. You singing it. When do you feel most sexy?
JCS: I feel most sexy when I feel confident. And I feel pretty damn confident when I’m wearing a bold lip and killer heels.

HK: What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?
JCS: I’m game for almost anything, so it’s easier to answer what’s “not me.” White jeans, sherpa, halter tops, polo shirts, khakis, mini-skirts, Tevas, harem pants and the color lime green. None of these look good on me.  

HK: What do you admire about how other women present themselves?
JCS: I love it when a woman exudes love, warmth and confidence. I admire a women who takes care of herself, not out of vanity, but because she truly values herself. She knows she is a treasure, a rare beautiful jewel.

HK: Love it! That makes me wonder, who is your fashion muse? Is there anyone you would like to channel if you could play dress-up?
JCS: Helen, two words: IRIS. APFEL.

HK: I. DIE. 

[Editor's note: Fortunately, Helen did not die. Though momentarily verklempt, she was quickly revived with a spritz of Fresh Rose Floral Toner and a swig of kombucha vodka tonic.]

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Cho Salaff and Anthropologie.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sometimes life throws you a curveball...

...To remind you of the things that are most important.

Image via Pinterest.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ballet at 40 (happiness is...)

Happiness is...

Waking up in the morning and every inch of your body hurts.

I'm seven weeks into Year 2 of my ballet adventures and I'm getting my butt kicked, hard. My teacher is not letting me off the hook for anything and I absolutely love her for it.

"Let me see a better turnout, Jennifer!" she demands of me. "Ribs on a shelf. Zip them up. Shoulders back. Neck elongated. Elbows up. Engage your core. Don't sink those hips! Ahh!! You're doing it again! Look at your hips!"

I know. My damn hips just won't listen.

I've always admired ballet dancers but I have such mad respect for them now. Ballet is H-A-R-D. And the pros make it look so easy. Practicing and practicing for hundreds of hours. Asking their bodies to do what doesn't come naturally to a human. (Because who goes around putting their ribs on a metaphorical shelf?)

Monday evenings I walk into the ballet studio and ask my body to do what doesn't come naturally. Some nights are a success. Some nights I fail miserably. But one thing I know: I will not give up. I will keep going.

Because this is my happy place.      

Seated Dancer Adjusting Her Shoes by Edgar Degas.
My love-hate relationship with the leotard.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The things kids say...

It's official.

My 9-year-old son has appropriated the word "dope." Ex: "This song is dope," "That car is dope," "This beat is dope."


5 things to do for your kids.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

This week's obsession: bold midi skirts

The midiskirt is the happy compromise between miniskirts and her older sister, maxi. And the more colorful, loud and attention-grabbing the better. Like this outrageously fun graffiti number. I would pair this bad girl with a plain white pocket tee and nude ballet flats.

Just perfect.

Tie-neck blouses.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Do you eat too fast?

I'm guilty of a lot of things at the dinner table. One too many servings. An extra glass of wine. Talking when I should be concentrating on the food in front of me.

But my biggest mealtime sin is simply eating too fast.

I'm always the first one to finish. I think it drives certain members of my family crazy. Like I'm competing in the Grand Prix of eating. But I don't see mealtime as a race, honest! I wish I could slow down. In fact, I feel kind of left out when my plate is empty while everyone else is only halfway through their meal, savoring each bite and enjoying conversation along the way.

Did you know most Americans eat too fast?

Unfortunately this can lead to a slew of health problems, including indigestion and obesity (not to mention you could choke). Scientists say it takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness. So if you eat too fast chances are you're also consuming more calories than you need. You're also probably swallowing a lot of air and may end up with gas and heartburn (sounds fun).

For me, it all started during childhood.

We shared a lot of wonderful meals growing up. My particular favorite was Sunday night steak and potatoes. My dad cooked those steaks just perfect. And his baked potatoes! He would lovingly wrap each Russet potato in foil, throw them in the oven and 40 minutes later -- fluffy, starchy glory.

I loved watching dad eat his culinary creation. The way he methodically carved his steak into thick chunks. How he measured out two pats of butter and dropped them into the mouth of his steaming potato. But dad also ate really fast. When we would ask him why, he would always reply nonchalantly, "I had to eat fast in the military. Everyone had to."

So we followed suit. Not because he told us to. I think my brother and I just wanted to be like him. Our steak-and-potato eating hero.

But as a grown-up with two little kids watching me at the dinner table, I realize I need to stop chomping so fast and instead practice mindful eating. I want to connect more deeply with the experience of eating. I'd like to chew every morsel of food and pay attention to its taste, texture and smell. I would like to teach my children to do the same.

Because what we eat is just as important as how we eat it.

Photo via Getty Images.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Recent discovery (coffee + maple syrup)

How do you take your coffee?

I recently discovered the magic of maple syrup. One morning, after running out of my favorite turbinado sugar, I desperately rifled through the kitchen cabinets looking for an alternative sweetener. And there was maple syrup, her dark amber hue glistening inside her pretty glass bottle. I carefully measured out a couple teaspoons and... coffee glory!

Now I can't get enough.

Bonus: try using it in iced coffee. When simple syrup is not readily available (who has that stuff just lying around in their pantry, anyway?) maple syrup won't let you down.

Another cup, please!  

Illustration via Pinterest

#MondayMuse (Michaela DePrince)

Image via Glamour Magazine.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cavani String Quartet, 11:17am

Music is the universal language of [wo]mankind.

It was a wonderful treat to sit in on a recent rehearsal with the Cavani String Quartet. This powerhouse foursome (Annie Fullard and Mari Sato on violins, Kirsten Docter on viola, and Merry Peckham on cello) has been making music -- and magic -- together for more than two decades.

Appointed Quartet in Residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1988, their performances have taken them around the world from Carnegie Hall to Festival de L'Epau in France. But perhaps my favorite thing about these women (besides their warm, ebullient personalities) is their civic mindedness.  

"We need to make the arts and music education part of the core curriculum in ALL schools," says Annie Fullard. "Art changes lives, saves lives and make us live up to our humanity."

Now that's music to my ears.

Who: Cavani String Quartet
What: Rehearsal for upcoming concert @ Music at Kohl Mansion
Where: Cleveland Institute of Music
Best thing about rehearsing: "[After all these years together] the best thing and also most challenging is the music!" says Fullard. "The creative process and joy of discovery. And the understanding that we must communicate with each other in a compassionate and inspiring way."

It takes a village.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chop chop (my hair makeover, part II)

It's just too fun NOT to experiment with one's hair. So I decided to change it up for fall. Goodbye California beach girl. I've unleashed the Anna Wintour in me.

Where are my big-ass sunglasses?

Chop chop, part I.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sex and the single girl (#BeingChildfree)

Excited to bring you a new monthly column called "Sex and the single girl" starring funny woman, fellow blogger and partner-in-crime Erika Abdelatif.

Let's take a journey with Erika as she muses on all things modern single ladies are dealing with from online dating disasters and choosing to be childfree to changing ideas of feminism and fighting for gender equality.

To the deep end of the pool we go!


My womb has no vacancy
By Erika Abdelatif for love, -j.

When I was a little girl I was never big on playing house.

Instead, I occupied myself with novels, holding my family hostage while improvising monologues and tearing the heads off Ken dolls. (Is it just me or was Ken with Barbie for all the wrong reasons?) Fast forward a few decades and not much has changed. I no longer disembody men, but I’m still more interested in writing and career-ing than homemaking and parenting.

To many people (namely, the men I date) this quality is a flaw. Actually, my desire to stay child free came up on a recent date. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a man so stone-faced before. I had to look over my shoulder because, momentarily, I thought he may have seen a ghost.

In case you were wondering, we never had a second date.

My sweet mother, who would make the World’s Greatest Grandmother, is convinced I’ll change my mind when I fall in love. (For the record, I don’t find this offensive. I’m open to changing my mind in the future. Open-mindedness is a sign of strength.)

I’m a part of a growing number of women who are choosing to opt out of parenting. A 2014 US Census Bureau population survey reported the highest percentage of childfree women since the bureau started tracking data in 1976. There are more of us speaking out about it too, in an effort to make the topic less taboo. There are blogs, discussion groups, chat rooms and books devoted to childfree living. The Huffington Post even has a “Childfree by Choice” section on  its site.

It’s not that I don’t like kids. In fact, I spent most of my early career in childcare. Kids are great. They’re hilarious, free-spirited and they provide a built-in excuse to eat mac and cheese -- guilt free. What’s not to love? In life, however, each of us is tasked with the responsibility to determine how to best invest our limited resources. How will we direct our energy, time, money and brain capacity to yield the greatest return? The answer, for many, is in raising the next generation and that is a noble calling. But parenting is not for the faint of heart. It’s tough work that involves sacrifice, humility and unimaginable courage. It isn’t necessarily the best investment for everyone. It isn’t the best investment for me.

I may be missing out on raising the next generation, but my choice to be childfree has allowed me many other incredible experiences. I’ve been on six humanitarian aid trips. Worked for four non-profits and served on the board of one. I’ve eaten falafel in Jerusalem. I’ve studied human trafficking and peacemaking. I’ve followed whims and passion. I’ve held hands with hurting friends on the brink of divorce. I’ve built relationships with the chronically homeless in my city. I made a drastic career change to focus on writing and comedy. I swam in the Nile. Most importantly, I’ve been an additional voice of love and support in the lives of my friends’ kids.

Of course, a parent could do these things as well—but different. Limited. We’re limited in energy and resources. That’s just reality. When we spread our resources too thin, we compromise on quality. I want to give my absolute best to my commitments.

People often assume a childfree life is either heartless or lonely. It doesn’t have to be. For me, this lifestyle affirms the creative and wild way I’ve been wired. Life without kids has given me the ability play a supporting role in the lives of many, instead of the primary role in a few. Both are beautiful. Both are meaningful. Both should be celebrated.

It’s tempting to critique life choices, especially when they’re different from our own. Trust me, I know this from personal experience. I can be the Queen of Judgment and, frankly, having strong opinions about other people’s lives is fun (am I right, or am I right?). It’s a distraction from our own fears. It removes us from the depths of our insecurities. After all, scrutinizing someone else temporarily enables me to ignore the ways I feel inferior. It’s relief from the nagging voice in our heads saying, “Am I doing this right?”

But that is profoundly dangerous.

We have to fight that inclination. This isn’t a competition. I need your example. I need to learn from your family’s experiences. You need me, too—and so do your kids. We have a lot to offer one another. Let’s learn to ruthlessly practice the art of supporting one another, as each of our hearts lead us to unique places.

Our communities will be stronger for it.

(*This post originally appeared on Erika's blog and was expanded for love, -j.)

Illustration by Valentina Rossi via Hyro.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

This week's obsession: the statement sweatshirt

Sometimes when you have something to say, you need to get it off your chest. Since moving to Cleveland from California almost three years ago, I've learned to be a new kind of strong. Life, it beckons me to woman up. 

Moving to a new city in a new state in another part of the country? Explore and make it happen! Have no friends and want to make new ones? Make it happen! No luck finding work? Blaze your own trail and make it happen! Snow for six friggin' months? You're tough so make it happen! Keep dreaming and don't give up. Make it happen!

That's why this sweatshirt is my anthem.

What about you? How are you making it happen? 

Photo by Shauna Davis for Anthropologie.

Monday, October 12, 2015

#MondayMuse (Strong women)

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Thanks for all the birthday love, friends. 

Here's to 41 more!!

love, -j.

The best birthday card ever. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Kids and telephone manners

Is it me or are we not equipping our kids when it comes to the art of conversation?

At the expense of sounding like a curmudgeon, I'm afraid modern technology is contributing to our children's lack of real time conversation skills. Our babies are products of the Digital Age where "talking" is limited to email, texting, instant messaging, blogging, hashtagging, Snapchatting, Instagramming or sharing/ranting/pontificating in the comments section.

But what happens when they have to talk to a human on the telephone?

Teaching a child how to use the phone isn't easy. Like anything, it takes practice. I recently read this article and gleaned some helpful tips (we grown-ups should take note, too):

Making a call

  • Always say "Hello," speak your name and request. For example: "Hi Mrs. Jones, this is Caden. May I speak with Bobby, please?"
  • If you need to leave a voicemail message, leave your name, the person you are trying to reach, and your telephone number. For example: "Hi, this is Caden. I'm leaving a message for Bobby. Could you please ask him to call me back? My phone number is [or "my mom's phone number is" -- if your child does not have his own phone].
  • Don't mumble or leave a long, rambling message.

Answering the phone

  • A simple "Hello" is all that's needed when answering a call.
  • If a caller asks for a family member, a polite response is, "One moment please, may I tell her who's calling?"
  • Don't scream out, "Hey Mom! You've got a call!" Say, "One moment please," put the phone down (or mute the volume) and let the family member know he or she has a call.
  • If a child is home alone and a caller asks for a parent or family member, simply say, "She can't come to the phone right now, may I have her call you back?"
  • Write down the name of the person calling, the time of the call and a return telephone number.

Other telephone courtesies

  • Don't call too early in the morning or too late at night. To be safe, never before 9am and never after 9pm.
  • If your call goes to voicemail, don't hang up. Leave a short message.
  • Always end a telephone conversation by saying, "I have to go now. It was so nice talking to you."

Photo by Getty Images.
Teaching your kids about money.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The beast (#ProjectCaden)

I know this guy who is working on the coolest project on the planet. Yes, I happen to be married to him and no, I'm not in the least bit biased but I think you'd still agree with me. This is one badass beast.

To say it's been an exciting journey so far is the greatest understatement of the decade. But I'll let Carlos explain with his own words. He recently wrote about #ProjectCaden on his blog.

Here's to the open road! 


Holistic and Transparent
By Carlos Salaff
Originally posted on Kinja; 9/29/15

I held a great position as a Senior Designer at Mazda, and worked with some wonderful people. Why would I leave? Lots of reasons -- but one of them was the desire to create holistic design. The word "holistic" is often tied to a medicinal philosophy, but I am talking about designing a car as a total object -- from the ground up. As a designer at a major car company, tasks are generally confined to exterior and interior design. The guts and inner workings of a car are developed by the engineering group, with minimal interaction along the way between the two. This division of disciplines leads to obvious difficulties. A look at a modern car shows a division between the function and the looks of a car. There is a skin of rubber, plastic and foam, hiding the mechanical inner workings. I believe that as a result, we are a society becoming increasingly out of touch with our machines. I believe there are others like me, who crave to be more deeply connected to our cars' mechanical beauty, and view such things as art.

One goal of #ProjectCaden was to design the car as a whole, without these divisions. It is an approach where each functional element is also aesthetically considered -- similar to industrial architecture. I wish for Caden's drivers to see and feel the mechanical workings of the car, to be deeply connected to the machine through transparency. 

In the image below, the wishbones and rear tires will be visible through the "tunnel" gap.

The rear tires and wishbones will be most dramatically visible from the rear. Very Porsche 917-inspired, there will be no traditional cover at the back, exposing the beauty of the elements. Chassis structure and mechanical working will be on display through the rear glass. 

I designed Caden from the ground up in the computer. I started with some rough exterior sketches, then began a constant cycle of zooming in and out through the car, adding detail with each design pass. A satisfying right/left brain volley. As a designer, I felt a new level of freedom, as the car was the way I envisioned through and through. On the journey, I have learned a good deal about automotive engineering, and it has allowed me to minimize the types of compromises that can frustrate a designer who wants to go more than skin deep.

A project like this also requires engineering expertise. After establishing as much detail as possible with the chassis, I handed the blueprints over to Robert Metcalf of Metcalf Racing. The chassis is inspired by classic Group C, Formula 1 and GTP cars. Metcalf's experience restoring and racing these very cars came into play as he did an expert design pass on the suspension geometry and a refinement pass on the structure of the aluminum monocoque tub. Metcalf will also be fabricating Caden's entire chassis. 

I designed the tub with a central driving position. The inboard-mounted coilovers (black tubes) will be mounted in plain sight in front of the instrument panel. I want the driver to see the car working, the suspension moving. After sending Metcalf my blueprints he designed in a steel bulkhead at the front of the tub, for reinforcement. In this way, the chassis development has been a back-and-forth process. On the right is the nickel-plated steel bulkhead. 

The tub parts -- the floor, sidepods and front box are being shaped and positioned at Metcalf Racing. Steel suspension pickups will be built into the front box for safety (anti-intrusion) and strength. The floor will be an aluminum-honeycomb sandwich for increased rigidity. The tub is a thing of beauty and will be on display as much as possible, while creating "warm" areas of trim for the passengers. 

The concept of transparency entails an honesty of materials. The aluminum skin of the car will be -- for the most part -- left bare, to celebrate the inherent beauty of the raw material. 

After all, naked is beautiful.

Follow #ProjectCaden's entire journey here