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Welcome to Haystack Stories, a website rooted in nostalgia.
Past. Present. Perfect.

Cold Picnic Designer Phoebe Sung on Her Lucky (Jim) Charm

Cold Picnic Designer Phoebe Sung on Her Lucky (Jim) Charm

If you’ve scrolled past a photo of an enviable bathroom on Instagram in the past couple of years, chances are it features a Cold Picnic bathmat. The textile brand’s playful, woven interpretation of the female form has become the most popular bathroom accessory since the rubber ducky. We spoke to one half of the design duo—who also turn out equally covetable rugs, pillows and quilts—about her decades-long literary obsession.

 The designer in one of her own creations. 

The designer in one of her own creations. 

Name: Phoebe Sung
Occupation: Designer (my husband and I have a brand called Cold Picnic)
Handle: @coldpicnic
Location: Ridgewood, NY

What's the star of your Haystack Story? 
Probably my favorite book, Lucky Jim, by my favorite writer Kingsley Amis. It's pretty easy to find used copies online now, but it used to be nearly impossible to find his books, so I'd look everywhere for them. I think I have 15 or so copies, including one with a cover illustration by Quentin Blake. 

Do you still have them?
Most of them...

Tell us about them.
There are a bunch of them but they're mostly weather-beaten paperbacks, orange or green covers, usually with a cover showing an uncomfortable looking man in specs behind a lectern. 

What makes the book so worthy of stockpiling?
I've read the book so many times and it still makes me laugh. 

How does your collection make you feel?
Collecting things is a little close to an addiction for me. Once I have a small collection I start to feel greedy and stressed, like Gollum. I won't be happy until I have more!

If the book could talk what would it say? 
Something clever and cranky.

How long have you been collecting editions?
On and off since around 2002

Who did you have a crush on when you started?
I had a guarded crush on Kingsley Amis back then. Probably also Gael Garcia Bernal. 

 Lucky Jim,  cover illustration by Quentin Blake

Lucky Jim,  cover illustration by Quentin Blake

What did your Friday nights look like?
I was living in Boston then, near Chinatown, and loved going for dinner there. At the time I was also seeing a lot of live music with friends, and I used to go to movies a lot back then

If someone gave you $20 to spend, what would you have bought?
Fried calamari and spicy beef with long horned peppers at Taiwan Cafe. 

What show did you rush home to watch?
The Office. I was obsessed with Ricky Gervais. 

What was your favorite snack?
Homemade popcorn. 

Who were you then, and who are you now?
I still love Lucky Jim, and I love eating in Chinatown. I think I've grown a little grumpier about going to live music or the movie theater.

Illustration by Marisa Balmori

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