Maira Kalman’s My Favorite Things is an enduring beauty on our morning reading pile. It features more than fifty objects from both the Cooper-Hewitt and Kalman’s personal collections — an Ingo Maurer lamp, Rietveld’s Z chair, a pair of Toscanini’s pants, photographs Kalman has taken of people walking towards and away from her, to name a few —with Kalman’s handwritten reflections on their meaning.

The strange little book is a meditation really, on the ways rooms, hats, shoes, things of all sorts, resonate in our lives, inside and out. We find opening it anywhere gives us an excellent shift of view with which to start our day.

It is like a book version of Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Things —one of our favorite poems — which she pairs perfectly with her painting of a vintage quilted and embroidered Egyptian Hat, capturing the resonance of the ordinary as only she can.

I love crazy things,

I enjoy

I adore
soup spoons,
not to mention,
of course,
the hat.

Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman

Kalman’s view of shoes wakes us up to SHOES.

The ability to take a walk from one point to the next, that is half the battle won. 

Go out and walk.

That is the solace of life.

Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman

Her charming painting of artist Charlotte Salomon’s pink room in Berlin (at top)  is annotated with a few spare words that express its unexpected and tender meaning: “…which brings us inevitably to sorrow.

This gilt bronze Mount*, ca 1810 reminded her of a Lydia Davis poem…

Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman


We’re going to order a dozen copies of My Favorite Things to give as gifts.


Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman


*Gilt-bronze mounts and bronzes d’ameublement such as wall-lights, firedogs, and clocks played a very important role in the French interior from the late seventeenth until the early nineteenth century —Metropolitan Museum

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2 replies on “Maira Kalman’s Favorite Things (What are Yours?)

  1. In order to more fully enjoy your inspirations, I sure wish I could do the two finger zoom on your page. Do you know why I can’t?

  2. Hey, what device are you using? Which OS? If you give as much info as possible, I can try to get to the bottom of it.

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