celebrity shopping

What Bettina Korek, Serpentine Galleries CEO, Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the stain-remover pen and the tongue cleaner. We asked Bettina Korek, CEO of the Serpentine Galleries, about the incense matchsticks, eye balm, and citrusy room spray she can’t live without.

Photo: Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

I found these “ten-minute aroma” matchsticks at a small shop in Tokyo. I was actually in Hong Kong for work and then I went to Tokyo for fun, and when I got there, I immediately stocked up on presents to give to friends back home. I saw these, and I thought, Oh, this is something that you can only get in Tokyo, and I bought a ton of them and took them home. It turns out you can actually order them online, which is good because I ran out of them during lockdown. You light them on the box and then they come with this little pad that you put the incense on, so you don’t need an incense holder. It’s very well designed, superchic — they’re black matches, and the match head is a different colour depending on the scent. I like the geranium and yuzu scents.

Yes, this is for babies. But if you have dry skin and you want something that works — this is it. Beware that under no circumstances can you put on black clothes until it’s had at least an hour to sink in. That’s the only caveat; otherwise, so gentle and so soft. No allergens, either.

My mom always said it doesn’t matter what’s trendy; it’s what looks good on you. I’d estimate I own about eight pairs of these Uniqlo jeans — they stretch just the right amount, and you can wear them all day into a night out, or just all day (and all night) in front of your video camera. They do two high-waisted styles I like: the high-waisted-rise skinny fit for more of a legging look and the high-rise slim fit for something a bit more casual.

I used to buy other spray toners, but I was lucky to meet the brilliant makeup artist Geoffrey Rodriguez, when W magazine shot me last year, and I noticed him using this. He taught me so much about simple, natural beauty routines, which can be a serious help at the moment during marathon Zoom days. My favorite trick is spraying this toner on a makeup sponge before applying foundation. I also use it whenever I need a rosy refresh.

This is another multipurpose spray you won’t be able to get enough of. It’s like an all-natural version of Febreze. When I get home, I will spray this on my jacket or bag if I’ve been all over the place during the day. They also advise you to spray it in the four corners of a room, so I do that. It gets rid of bacteria, viruses, microscopic fungi, and all kinds of unpleasant smells; it’s so handy for sanitising what you bring home from the day or as a little cleansing ceremony before bed. It comes in different scents, but I like the lemony one — I love anything citrus.

These are my favourite snacks, and I have a big sweet tooth. If your sweet tooth has a mind of its own and you’re inclined to eat the whole bag of your favourite snack on those long lockdown nights, this should be your new favourite snack. The entire package is only 200 calories, yet when you’re done, it feels like you’ve had a huge slice of cake — in a good way. I highly recommend the cookies-and-cream one.

My friend China Chow is an absolute expert on all things natural beauty, and she’s extremely meticulous about everything. She pointed out this balm while we were grocery shopping at Erewhon in Los Angeles — the best and most over-the-top health-food store in the world. It’s great for around your eyes at night or perfect to keep in your bag for a dry spot or your lips. It’s a stick, so you don’t have to touch your face. Now I live in London, it’s a bit pricier to get this shipped to me, but it’s worth it! It never hurts to take care of the eyes.

I pride myself on being a carry-on-only traveller, so I’m always on the lookout for ways to pack more efficiently. Even though we aren’t traveling as much nowadays, these bags have come in handy for keeping my COVID safety gear, like mask, sanitiser, tissue, and gloves, all in one place. I can just grab it and go whenever I do leave my apartment — or flat, I should say, now that I’m in the U.K. They’re also great to use as drawer inserts to store things in your bathroom drawers.

It seems like there’s always someone I know who’s having a baby, and it can be a stress saver to have gifts on hand. But I have scored serious points with one of these, which clips on to the stroller. Babies love this toy, as I can attest firsthand — I used to walk every day with my best friend Thea and her then-5-month-old son. Our epic lockdown walks got longer and longer, and he was always happily entertained. The thing is, when you know someone who has a baby, you immediately think books or clothes, but they get tons of both. [Editor’s note: This product is low in stock on Amazon].

I Magma is a digital commission from the Serpentine and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. It’s a virtual product of sorts — a bit like Co-Star, but it gives you a daily divination reading. It was created by the brilliant Berlin-based artist Jenna Sutela; she works with words and sounds to create experimental installations. It’s like an oracle that lives as an app on your smartphone and uses your camera to read the environment and send you a different message every day based on the shapes in your surroundings.

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What the Serpentine’s Bettina Korek Can’t Live Without