I love Japan and have visited many times over the years. In 2016 I was exploring the back streets of Tokyo on my birthday, and this small ceramic vase and unusual cast iron paper weight jumped right out. As a designer, I love objects that are beautiful and functional, or not functional at all. The vase was designed by Masahiro Mori, whom I had never heard of before. The paper weight is also an incense holder, but the lid on the middle section has a pin underneath it; I guess you can wear it as a badge or a brooch. There’s just something about that piece. The colors, the shape and weight — it’s just very modern. It could be from the ’60s or it could be from now, or the future.
“As a designer, I love objects that are beautiful and functional, or not functional at all.”
I’ve always been a big sneaker-head, and I’ve never seen a pair of these before. I was living and DJing in New York City in the early ’90s, and took the train to the Bronx one day to look for record shops. I found these shoes in a small mom-and-pop sneaker shop that had some newer stuff mixed with deadstock Nikes from the ’80s that they hadn’t sold since that time. This particular style is from 1984 — a simple slip-on design made with nylon fabric and a print of a bare foot on each footbed. These really stood out to me at a time when a lot of sneakers were being over-designed.
I had seen the work of Cali Thornhill DeWitt before and loved the custom shirts he made. Eventually we became friends and he made this shirt for me at his studio in Los Angeles. The lyrics from an early ’90s Massive Attack song called “Safe from Harm” really spoke to me. “But if you hurt what’s mine / I’ll sure as hell retaliate” — there’s just something about those lyrics. Now I’ve got them on a shirt, which is one-of-a-kind and very special to me.
Whenever I travel I look for patches — they’re great for customizing bags and clothing, and they look great with age. I’ve picked them up all over the world; places like London, Hawaii, New York, Japan and Bali. But even then, the patches might not originally be from the place I’m visiting. I tend to look for ones that are unique and speak to my interests. I’ve actually sewn Velcro onto the back of these ones so I can put them on and pull them off because I always change my mind.
I like items that have a sense of humor, and I found this tiny switchblade in London when I was visiting a flea market many years ago — probably tucked away in a shoe box for 50 cents. It looks and functions like a regular-sized switchblade, but the small size is funny to me. What could it be used for? It could just be a novelty item you attach to your keys. But maybe it could be attached to a necklace or used as a zipper pull. Or maybe it’s good for a knife fight with a mouse?
“It looks and functions like a regular sized switchblade, but the small size is funny to me.”
I do tend to collect a lot of sunglasses and glasses in general. Some are classic and never go out of style, some are expensive or really cheap, and some are just weird. These particular ones have an unusual design I’d never seen before. They’re from Korea, but I picked them up when I was living in Hawaii. They’re both sunglasses and reading glasses — I can actually read through the small lenses at the bottom, which happen to be my prescription. I think I picked them up for a dollar at a flea market, and they’re most likely from the ’70s or ’80s. I really like them, they look so futuristic.