killing denouement


four new pieces up at brownbook

Given that I’m pretty much blogging near-daily at THE STATE, might use this space as a kind of record of pieces up elsewhere. For now, at least.

In the intervening months? Almost entirely Dubai, with a recent trip to Bangalore and Ooty. Summer is looking like a return to Brooklyn, with a possibly move to Istanbul (!) afterwards, roundabout October. More on this later, though; for now, have at Brownbook’s gorgeously redesigned site. I have four pieces newly up there, mostly from the last issue that I was with them:

East is East—on Nada Debs, and a design aesthetic that merges the Middle and Far East(s)

In 1917, just as the ravages of World War One were tearing through Europe, a young man named Ezzat Debs picked up his threads and followed the Silk Route to Yokohama in Japan. The son of a textile merchant and cotton mill owner, he began exporting Japanese silks and cottons and eventually established a lucrative family business. Eighty years later Nada Debs – Ezzat’s great niece – retraced her relative’s steps and set up an eponymous design company back home in Beirut. Today, Debs fuses the influence of her two homes – the Middle and Far Easts – in furniture and interiors using distinctive patterns and materials from the region.


Like Water for Sand—on Aziza Chaouni, desert tourism, speculative design, and architecture for a world without water.

Imagine a near future, where water has become the oil of tomorrow and wars are fought over liquid not land. Imagine a past too, where regional deserts were greener and a river wound its way through the already twisty walls of a busy medieval medina…

One Man Band—on Hanni El Khatib from the bayou to the Bay Area, via Palestine, the Phillippines and Old Weird America.

Stomping, yowling and hiccupping with all the raw ferociousness of the blues, Hanni El Khatib describes his music as ‘knife-fight music for anyone who’s ever been shot or hit by a train.’ Heavily inked, with a lacquered pompadour and stripped-back sound, he could have come right out of Old Weird America. Yet there’s nothing derivative about this.

The House that Bassam Built—on Egyptian architect Bassam El Okeily, a narrow house that’s just over 5m wide, and an architectural practice refracted through Deleuze & Guattari, Tarkovsky and Nietzsche.

Once upon a time, on the Belgian border with the Netherlands, there was a picturesque city named Bilzen. On one of its quiet, tree-lined streets, a retired couple are living happily ever after. Their abode has a transparent facade that resembles a display cabinet by day; glassily austere between the brick work that flanks it. At night, coloured lights pick out two angled balconies, suspended in mid-air like a paused game of Tetris. This is the house that Bassam built.

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