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Goodbye NW London
Vol. 3 | Issue 8 | August 2022
Thoughts or something like it
In two days, I will be moving to my fifth London flat in 10 years. Next month, it will mark 10 years since I landed in Heathrow with three suitcases to start my PhD. Now I am moving over 35 boxes (half are books), four suitcases, a sofa, a bed, a desk…pieces of furniture I own.
Moving is so tedious, and aside from outsourcing it, no one has come up with a better way to move. The process is a reminder of how many objects are poorly designed, and require unbelievable strength to open. Again and again, we [designers] do not consider the users of these objects, thinking somehow, we all have the same abilities. I write this with an ice pack on top of my very bruised baby toe, which is either broken or fractured (Doctor said there is no point in x-raying baby toes) by one of the many objects that have taken over my floor while I wait for the move date. The last time I broke my baby toe was in 2003, and I couldn’t wear my new DC shoes I wanted to show off.
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Before packing, I looked at over 20 flats across the city. When they say the market is bad, they are only referring to prices. What it really means is astronomical prices for flats in a terrible state (even when they are refurbished, usually to a cheap standard), that are so small you wonder if they are three-mat apartments (definitely not with those rent prices). Rents are being raised as the cost of living goes up, so let renters absorb the additional costs. I have zero sympathy for London landlords, especially those who own multiple properties, who are raising rents by £300/month without even fixing the place or buying respectable furniture. The saddest part is people are paying six months advance in cash, offering £200-300 over asking, and signing 24 month contracts without break clauses, setting up standards. Meanwhile, the government does nothing. Throughout the process, I befriended some estate agents, and called many out on perpetuating the system. Most of them just looked at me blank faced though.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and be well.
The last few months have been manic and this summer a busy one. The Autumn is going to be jam packed including:
Hosting another in-person session of Countless Palestinian Futures with Sarona on 14 September at MayDay Rooms during the Antiuniversity festival. Palestinian and Arab cultural producers, policy makers, activists, students, academics and organisers are invited to play this game. Spaces are limited, book here.
A trip to ISIA Urbino to participate on a panel for the “How to […] on design education” the XVI edition of Premio Nazionale delle Arti (29 September-1 October). I am looking forward to exploring the Renaissance town of Urbino.
I will be delivering one of the keynotes at RSD 11 in Brighton in October. Still unsure what I want to talk about because there’s a million things I want to talk about. But my abstract is due soon.
At the end of October, I will be in Eindhoven promoting Designerly Ways of Knowing: A working inventory of things a designer should know as part of Dutch Design Week. There’s an exhibition of designers responding to the book and a conversation/game between myself and Eleonora Toniolo. Details to come.
I will be giving a talk at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon on 9 November, as part of a series organised by Center for Other Worlds, Center for Research in Design and Art based at Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon. Details to come.
Over the weekend I was reminded of my piece The Table Dance (2009-2013) after the DJ threw it back to some dirty dabke1 at the launch party of the excellent series my friend Zena curated called “Palestine: Ways of Being”. Must read on Skin Deep.
On 10 June, our Head of College at Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon Professor David Crow died after a short illness. I admired how David always made time for a chat, and will never forget how he gushed over one candidate’s typographic craftsmanship during an interview panel. Read his obituary by Malcolm Garrett.
Why do rich people love quiet? is timely judging these signs (below) have appeared in Primrose Hill this past month
I have mostly been watching background series/movies for packing. I watched “Three Men and a Baby” over the weekend and I finally understand the Tom Selleck appeal. What a babe. I hear they are doing a reboot (because no one is bored, everything is boring), hopefully one that reflects the reality of house shares, dating and life generally in 2022. But instead of an actor, an architect and a cartoonist, you’ll have an influencer, a social media manager, and either an MA student, an estate agent, a banker or someone who works at a fintech start up).
The Museum of London is my favourite museum. It has this unpretentious, friendly appeal to it. Unfortunately it is closing in December and moving to Smithfield market (opens in 2026). In an attempt to find some A/C last weekend, I went to check out the Grime Stories: from the corner to the mainstream exhibition. Great overview of the scene and worth checking out.
N.B. I’ve moved this newsletter to Substack because TinyLetter has too many bugs, despite being owned by the behemoth of newsletters MailChimp.
RIP Aleppo XXX the best YouTube channel featuring home movies of Syrian weddings