Best Haircut of the Year goes to... this adorable 2-year-old raccoon from Taiwan. His name is Uni and once a year, his human named Joyce Tai takes him for his annual check-up, vaccination boosters, and a shave. Usually during the procedure, the animal would be shaved completely, but Tai and Uni's groomer worked out a way to make going to the doctors a little more fun. This year, Uni is flaunting quite the unique haircut. A fluffy design of a dog's paw rides on Uni's shaven body like a stick-on backpack, and the Internet is going wild over it. Tai runs a Facebook page where she shares photographs of her stylish furry friend in public. Now, over 5,000 people follow Uni and his distinctive shave.
In addition to his unique haircut, Uni's pigmentation stands out amongst typical raccoons. His unusually pale color comes from a condition called leucism, but Tai prefers to say he's a "cinnamon" hue. According to Buzzfeed, Tai bought Uni in 2014, as it is legal to own a raccoon as a house pet in Taiwan. She's been giving Uni his famous shaves ever since. Last year, it was in the shape of a heart!
Despite Uni's global fame, Tai never imagined her raccoon would become this popular. She says of Uni's viral photos: "I’m just a normal working class person who wants to share photos of Uni with others to bring them some joy."
Though the world has made great strides towards increased LGBTQ+ rights in recent years, there’s much more progress remaining to be made. At the EuroPride festival in Amsterdam back in July, participants in the parade’s opening walk carried the flags of 72 different countries where homosexuality is still outlawed; in 12 of those 72, the death penalty is punishment for the crime. A team of artists has now come together to show support for these places where oppressed communities continue to fight for equality.
Cultuur en Ontspanningscentrum (COC), the oldest global center for LGBTQ+ advocacy, collected those diverse flags and partnered with fashion designer Matthijs van Bergen and artist Oeri van Woezik to sew them together into a couture dress. It was made to fit Valentijn De Hingh, IMG Models’ first transgender model as well as the official Trans Ambassador for EuroPride. Photographer Pieter Henket was brought on board to capture an image of the piece, choosing Rijksmuseum (the city’s national arts and culture museum) as the photo's backdrop.
As Henket explains on Instagram, the whole production took four days, but the final result is stunning. Pictured above (and in some behind-the-scenes moments below), De Hingh poses before The Night Watch, a beloved Rembrandt painting portraying a group portrait of Dutch militia. The gown—dubbed the Rainbow Dress—drapes glamorously around her. She appears poised but powerful, towering with stunning elegance to match the lavish museum walls. The shot seems to send a resounding message: despite sustained discrimination, the global LGBTQ+ community is united against hate and not backing down.
Discarded skateboard decks have often found a second life as stunning works of art. The self-taught wood carver Haroshi, for instance, stacks, shaves, and cuts skateboards into colorful, multi-layered sculptures. John Gibson of the 2nd Shot shop riffs off this trend, adding a dash of practicality to the one-of-a-kind objects. In collaboration with Canadian School of Lutherie, he has produced a custom electric skateboard guitar that’s made entirely out of the recycled material.
To create the fully-functional instrument, Gibson first collected broken and unwanted skateboards from local skate shops, parks, and friends. After selecting boards and colors, he removed the grip tape and cut them into a workable size, sanding the graphics and top lacquer off of them. He then glued and compressed the pieces into a block using 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of pressure. These segments were fitted onto an old guitar frame, and Gibson later had the frets, components, and other electronics installed. Finally, the instrument was tuned and played.
There’s only one of these guitars available, and it’s being sold through the 2nd Shot Etsy shop.
South African photographer Bruce Boyd is fascinated by ice—particularly the way that objects look distorted when encapsulated inside a large ice block. He experimented for months, throwing ice blocks into various bodies of water and observing the wrinkles and cracks that warped the once smooth surface. Boyd knew that he could turn this passion into a project. He and his girlfriend, artist Tharien Smith, began to collaborate their interests and talents, and started the first of a three part series involving H2O in its three phases. The first, called Zero Degrees, showcases colorful, delicate flowers arranged by Smith and preserved inside ice blocks. The ice is then thrown into either swimming pools, streams, or muddy puddles to warp fully before Boyd snaps a crystal-clear photograph of frost and flower, color and clarity, life and death.
Boyd writes of his and Smith's project: "In 0˚C (Zero Degrees), we use ice as a medium to display the beauty of flowers. I find it fascinating that ice can preserve something and at the same time also enhance or distort the beauty of it. For a few fleeting moments, we are treated to this preserved beauty, the past encapsulated perfectly, before the ice melts and flowers wilt." We are fortunate that Boyd's photography has captured these moments forever, prolonging the freeze to sustain a flower's life.
Wearable tech is an ever-growing trend, and rings are a natural progression from glasses and watches. Although these pieces have seemingly less available functions than other accessories, they can still play an important role in our lives. Nimb is a portable device that has your personal safety in mind with the tagline “a ring with a panic button.” While that might sound dramatic, it can prove vital in dangerous situations—with the touch of a button, you can send out an emergency alert.
The way Nimb works is simple: when in trouble, press the button on the bottom of the ring and hold it for three seconds. This activates a message with your profile info and GPS location, and it’s then sent to your predetermined safety circles. You’ll know they received the message thanks to the ring’s vibration feedback. From there, your rescue crew can take action to help.
With Nimb, you choose whom you alert. From their mobile app, you can set your safety circle as large or as small as you like—perhaps you only want it to contact your best friend. Or, you want it to include emergency services or even nearby Nimb users.
Available in white or black, the sleek ring looks like any other modern accessory rather than a powerful personal protection device. It’s now available for preorder through Indiegogo, with an estimated delivery of March 2017.
We all have those dreams of moving away from the city in pursuit of "the simple life," where the smallest deeds become the most delightful pleasures. Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower Farm has shown us that these dreams can be possible. She and her family moved to the quiet countryside of Skagit Valley, Washington, with visions of eating fresh vegetables, caring for a flock of chickens and an orchard to call their own. Benzakein recalls the very first blooms of her early garden: a row of flowering sweet peas planted in honor of her great grandmother. She says, "Grammy had introduced me to gardening and flowers at a very young age. As a child, I was her 'little flower girl' and she tasked me with making bouquets for her bedside table. While my creations were far from beautiful, she always cooed over them as if they were the most precious things on earth. Flowers were a source of great joy and connection between us. So, when the first flush of sweet peas bloomed in our new garden, it felt as if she were there with me."
It is this connection between people that inspires the Floret Flower Farm's philosophy. As one of the nation's leading "farmer-florist" operations, as well as a thriving family garden, Floret Flower depends on all family hands on deck to support the earth they tend to, other farmer-florists in the area, and their dedicated customers. On-farm workshops for farmers and floral designers are also offered across the world, which is just one of the many ways that Benzakein and her family are cultivating a global network of floral enthusiasts. "We believe in sharing. There's no sense in hoarding all this beauty and information, so we share what we've learned along the way with photographs, stories, articles and social media."
Floret Flower Farms imparts their knowledge to over 300,000 Instagram followers, who look forward every day to the daily photographs zooming into dahlias radiant like sunsets, or showcasing an elegant bouquet of cream and butter-colored roses. Benzakein's photographs are spectacularly addicting and might just make you drop everything to go outside and start planting.