The aesthete questions

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What is the aesthete?

The Aesthete is found in the weekend edition of The Financial Times. It features in How To Spend It magazine supplement (recently rebranded HTSI). The Aesthete interview usually features some sort of taste maker or artist rather than the usual celebrity one would expect.

Likely questions to be in the aesthete interview

  • Personal style signifier
  • Last thing you bought and owned
  • No party is complete without…
  • The best souvenir you’ve brought home
  • Your drink of choice
  • The best book that you’ve read in the past year?
  • The last music I downloaded
  • In my fridge you’ll always find
  • The thing I couldn’t do without
  • An indulgence I would never forgo?
  • Style icon?
  • Recent discovery?
  • Object I would never part with?
  • Favourite building?
  • Beauty toiletry stapes I’m never without?
  • Favourite apps?
  • Work of art that changed everything for me?
  • Best advice I ever received?
  • Source of inspiration?
  • Party playlist?

What would my answers look like for The Aesthete?

My personal style signifier?

Function versus form has always been a big thing of mine. I like the G1 pilot jacket design and have worn one for over a decade. I love Carhartt workwear and technical clothing from Nike ACG, Arc’teryx and The North Face – particularly vintage TNF. I love alpine approach boots and have sets by Zamberlan and Dolomite.


The last thing I bought and loved?

Prometheus Design Were Ti-Ring Strap – its a NATO style watch strap with titanium fittings. I had a watch which I loved but the strap was driving me mad and this cured my constant annoyance with it. They just work and their really well made

Prometheus Design Werx

No party is complete without?

The right mix of people. The kind of people you can chat about the most drivel or profound thing ever (not mutually exclusive categories) until way past sunrise.

The best souvenir I’ve brought home?

Beyond the memories and experiences? Probably not a lot in recent years. I guess I would have to go back to my childhood. As a child I used to go into Salmons a shop in the local market town near the family farm where I spent a good deal of my childhood. It was staffed by Tony Salmon who had opened it in 1968. At the time it was predominantly sold knick-knacks, souvenirs and stationery products for school children. I bought some absolute dross in there and brought it back to England with me. One thing caught my imagination though. A book published by the Irish Government Department of Foreign Affairs called Facts About Ireland. It had the Tara brooch on the front cover and reading it gave me a better sense of myself and culture. It served as a primer for me then to go on and read Robert Kee’s Ireland A History.

My drink of choice?

It depends on the time of the day, but Hong Kong style milk tea needs a special shout out. alongside the Japanese take on it.

The best book I’ve read in the past year?

It’s a current affairs oriented book called The Dragons and The Snakes by David Kilcullen. You can read moe of my thoughts on it here. The damage that the Russian war in Ukraine has called to Russian armed forces mean that in the medium term, things are likely to slightly less dystopian than Kilcullen would have thought.

The last music I downloaded

New Rage Savage by Also Beauty:Beast.

In my fridge you’ll always find

Very little to be honest with you, but my freezer is stuffed.

The thing I couldn’t do without

I find myself increasingly reliant on my Mac. It helps me create things like this blog. It’s what I work from and it even keeps me in touch with friends around the world.

An indulgence I would never forgo?

Style icon?

Probably Shawn Stüssy, Nigo, Minoru Onozato and his book My Rugged 211, James Lavelle or Hiroshi Fujiwara.

Recent discovery?

Perun who is providing some thoughtful analysis on the current war in Ukraine.

Object I would never part with?

At the moment it would likely be my work glasses that cut down a lot of glare from using a computer on constant video calls.

Favourite building?

Gosh this is so hard, I have chosen these buildings based on what they mean to me rather than the absolute quality of the design. It is likely to be a toss up between The Plaza Hotel – Seoul, Wah Luen Industrial Building – Hong Kong, Hysan Place – Hong Kong and Cityplaza – Hong Kong. My favourite UK buildings would be Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, The Barbican and The Southbank Centre.

Beauty / toiletry staples I’m never without?

Colonia by Acqua di Parma.

Favourite apps?

  • Newsblur
  • FT
  • Yahoo Finance
  • Apple’s Podcasts app
  • Apple’s Mail app
  • Apple Books

Work of art that changed everything for me?

Best advice I ever received?

It would be two pieces of advice I got at the oil refinery I worked in briefly before college:

Life occasionally kicks you in the balls to let you know you’re still alive

From a lab tech called Tony when redundancies came down the pipe. A short but excellent summary of stoicism

Work the problem. If you can’t deal with it as is, chunk it down until you have things you can deal with

From the head engineer at the refinery Les, who was a no nonsense kind of guy.

Source of inspiration?

Reading. Blogs and books play a big part in this. I am also inspired by everyday life and consumer behaviour in East Asia; Hong Kong and Japan. Numerous people have inspired me though my career and still do. Finally my parents who have been long tolerant of the different directions I have taken over the years.

Party playlist?

It depends on the party, but I would trusty standbys would be my record collection from the late lamented Chicago label Guidance Records, New York’s Shelter Records, Irma Records, Yoruba Records, modern labels Razor n’ Tape, Sound signature, Sacred Rhythm Music, pretty much most things remixed by The Reflex, Dimitri from Paris, Danny Krivit or Joe Claussell.