design as a cultural barometer

popular design can be a expression / projection of an aspirational ideal of a culture. ok fine let’s simplify that for example:

much of design in bangkok (applied onto third-wave, bespoke shops, brands and products) seem to be greatly influenced by a few aesthetic sensibilities:

1 romantic european mainly british and french, old-world, turn of the century,  and 2 japanese simplicity, warmth, and lightness (mostly in illustration work)

my stance is that businesses do not exist and generate ‘taste’ but captures an unspoken, abstract sensibility desired by a group. a designed business crystallizes this ‘idea’ or ‘vibe’ or ‘taste’. through buying, and signaling, thus participating, the consumer has this subconscious desire for expression relieved. thank you consumer culture.

this can be seen as one method to going about art directing / designing brands. capturing a “sensibility”. but the other way around is also true in the sense that successful businesses, especially cultural (lifestyle) operations, are indicators of a dense enough shared sensibility.

take for example the popularity of european/old-world themed cafes and restaurants in rattakonsin island (old-town) bangkok. the idea of taking an old-town shophouse and refurbishing it is an act that affirms its historical legacy. the act of reclaiming an invaluable property turns it into something valuable. is this an expression of a romantic idea of the european old world? of a bygone age of refinement, culture, european royalty? is this why anything vaguely european hits quite the spot? there’s a cultural g-spot that design can express, when expressed eloquently. amen.



Baseline Grid

I can’t find the pulse. I’ve been sleeping way less and reading more. There are 200-minute calls.  Changed my sheets and got a duvet and threw out the old bottles out on the porch. Aint got no time lounging with Tony S. and the therapist and the fictions that brim my guilt. Maybe it’s switching from sticks to pipes and the amount of nicotine in my gut. Bought my machine double the memory speed. Had that watch I picked up oiled and repaired. In my sleep the wars are over and the palm-thatch doors of my interiors fly open for visitors. Told her I don’t like being on the nose and she says what’s on the nose? She’s right. Did I need her around to set me on fire? I can cup myself in my hands but that’s tough work for one. I spill through the holes in my fingers. But now thats coming home at seven to monggo dinner and that’s more than all right with me. Maybe it’s what I’ve been missing. There’s warmth and it beats.





But it beats.


Im on edge. At the horizon line of a revelation. Its that close. Too close skinny close. Just waiting for the ball drop, the shit to get down. And then coming about to a moment of pure agency. (Youve seen this before) Part unknown, part knowledge, a pinch of foolishness (though no formula can do justice). The ball rolls. It only makes sense in hindsight. Today i had one of those again. Felt like ive been here once– must be the lack of sleep or my head going haywire. In any case good ole Edna St Vincent Millay may be right– Life Isnt One Thing After Another, Its The Same Damn Thing Over and Over. Now those are pearls worth a thousand circular lifetimes. I can console myself with inconsequentiality and amplify the joys of sunday morning rides, high and driving, greeneries, risky corners, la di da.. What are young men’s dreams but hubris and foolishness? Steel to temper. The iron is hot.

Feb 5 2010

Okay I’ll say it. I forgot to retune the bass to drop D for that one last song and ruined Lovefool. To this day I never popped that commemorative DVD from 2010. I get shivers at the image. That night too I learned best not to negotiate with the demons, that the script that goes in the head don’t really match what happens in real life, that wishful thinking and active planning are two different things straight from a self-help book. I also don’t wanna admit that Meditations and The Shortness of Life belongs to that section cause that’s a major white flag. Like that postbattle parlay after an initial lopsided skirmish of javelins and goliath stones. I had that “butterfly” bowtie made, and sure just looked like a black croissant tie, never listened, just went on with it. I lived on that shit for years. Like crack. Guts and all. Hunnid horsepatch belief and zero curation. Then again it may be a function of age. When all your life yain’t careful or thoughtful and just really went on with things, you find yourself in situations like fingering an off-key bass line, a rejected slob on the ballroom floor by the prom queen, and Lovefool forever etched as a cringey teen memory. In those days overreaching was such an easy thing to do. That anything you see in the mind can be done with any minor compromise. Oh to be young and unpolished. You can shoot for the moon with a Congreve rocket. And it’s not that I’m not craggy any longer these days since fears of falling are valid survival mechanisms (darwinian the dumb die first) but where’s that Lovefool kid? We haven’t hit the park. Just all slow cumbersome throws. We’re breaking no windows. People hated our balls for that. There’s so much cowardice in looking ahead that it’s all calculated action. And there are embers in the belly. They need bellowing. Though the sages are preoccupied and the augurs’ visions are blurry we can’t find the unit placements on the field so no punches shall be thrown. But that’s such a lame excuse. Bat it out, kid.


Red dots, Red eyes
Patterned signs, saying
“Bound for,” and coming,
going, and “Cruising from”,
and the only constance
is in the shifting.
It’s a late night out but I
keep sights on that flight.
Then the bays spill empty and
worn-out passengers dream
of nests and soft beds,
Baggage rolling
Through cold floors, solace,
at last– Warm land and restful sighs,
Welcomed to a place of absolute silence.
In the interim I sink asleep in the lobby seats
deep down my own Marianas,
thrashing in the dust of my bedrock,
— followed a herd
of elephants, graceful struts
in violent waves from a distance,
a hawk trying to fly,
snagged dead in a kite- and since
Sundays of youth, end, I,
traded my wings for seats
in silver bullet trains.
Versions of Chicago, Paris,
Firenze, Beijing, images,
Taming tigers and
Denying black pyramids
out wide into contested territories of my
unknowns, jagged borders, demons in towers,
warzones, battlegrounds, tales of veterans
mapped familiar for an azimuth to trail,
slouching in the slumber of a bench,
weary — in search
of home.
By that I’ve been steady,
Patient through delays and
zero vision, radio zilch,
even in days of cumulunimbine
rolling grays at the mercy of
horrid, relentless turbulence —
“I’m on my way”s and
thoughts of locked hands,
Casual prayers for
that one arrival into
From where it all spins,
that central axis, the calm
at the navel of the twisting,
where jet stream gales slow down into
midnight whispers,
applause on touchdown,
perching birds,
— to arrive on its
own ready day.

27 dec 18

Bedouin Meditations

It may be the bedrock of all the preoccupations. The journey into the inner center of the basin. Through ribcage ivory gates. No room for business here. Out across is a line of two desolate plains from end to end as far as the eye can see – one alhambra yellow and the other, ayutthaya blue. The guides and horses reduced to carcasses at the shores of the final oases. All the pilgrims who come close to the center of it all walk alone. Few and far between with their own foot trails in the sand for companions. They say if you spend your nights eating dates and not drinking water the morning after you have it easy. Some warn of afternoon siestas that kill you in your sleep. Some say they went as further down the basin as anyone could have gone and find old robes and bones tartar-locked in wedges of the barren terrain. One says you find an blind man with a cane sitting in the labyrinthian gate that leads to sunken gardens where men lose themselves for a hundred years. Some seek the tower. Some seek the bottomless font. Some seek a word, a gaping hole. Many leave their homes and wives and cities and children and follow the trail lost to men through the ages in a cursed pursuit. Yet here we are. We know these things from the ox bones left from the auguries and the bird stains spelling constellation marks of future kings to come. The declarations come and come and come and men go and go and go yet nothing arrives. Look around you and see how many travellers down to the bosom of man remain. Few and far between. Some hidden in the folds of the dunes. In the dark of the night their torches are bright for you to follow. On foot. In the cold. We do not talk — yet we all seek the same thing. The inner sanctum. The bottom of basin. The gaping hole. The hotel named babel. Where up the steps is a room that directly leads to the closet of god. Some say they will find the one true thing there. Those who have gone only so far and came back to say would say it ain’t nothing, but we all know nobody comes back. All travelers doubt that we ever get there.. Yet we all walk slowly towards that. Whatever it is. For all foolish men to follow here is a note to read.