Today, we got a Haitian Einstein bowl. It’s not a ‘Diana’ but a ‘Donna Karan’. This is a series that the second of the two famous D’s worked on.
It is, literally, a work of art. I mean art that can be put to work, art that is not meant only to be admired.
The Einstein bowl is waterproofed with up to 10 layers of lacquer. It can be used to serve hot or cold food, or store leftovers in the fridge. It’s even supposed to be dishwasher-safe, though many say that means the human variety. And it looks like a poem in wood.
Here’s how Macy’s describes an Einstein salad bowl, priced at $140: “Large but surprisingly light, the Einstein Rustic serving bowl is named for the artist and hand-carved from the trunk of a fast-growing, renewable obeche tree found in Haiti’s gorgeous mountainsides.”
For those unfamiliar with the concept – and reality – of the Einstein bowl, they are made by Einstein Albert (not Albert Einstein, note the transposed names). He’s a Haitian craftsman whose American musician father planted his own fast-growing grommier (pronounced “grow may”) trees from which to carve artistic and practical bowls. The grommier tree is ideal for Haiti. It matures in just seven years and thrives in rocky, sandy soil where little else will grow. Thirty years after Einstein Albert’s father began planting a 75-acre property near Aquin in the southern part of Haiti, the company maintains three grommier plantations with 25,000 mature trees in Petit-Trou de Nippe, La Gonave, and Aquin. It also employs about 300 families that grow their own wood and make the bowls.
The bowls sell at Harrods, Neiman-Marcus and Macy’s.
The story goes that Einstein Albert once sold a large bowl to a British woman he did not know was Princess Diana. When he learnt who she was, he refused payment and instead asked if he could use her name on his bowls. She said ‘yes’ and Einstein named his bowls after her.
But here’s another story, and this one’s about our newly acquired Einstein bowl, the Donna Karan. Last month, Einstein’s factory and store room suffered a devastating fire that destroyed everything but for roughly a hundred finished pieces. Einstein has been selling off all that was left in order to rebuild. Perhaps our purchase, in some small way, may help realize that dream. In the meantime, we will revel in the task of putting his art to work.