words anastasia miari | images damian chandler
Thirty-year-old art consultant Damian Chandler is a cultured bloke. Based in trendy East London, he splits his time between creative-industry hub, Shoreditch House, and the hottest art shows across the planet. About to hotfoot it to Hong Kong for a six-month-long working spell, Chandler takes a break from the beach (he’s currently in India) to talk travel.
where do you live—I live behind Columbia Road Flower market in Shoreditch, London, but will be based in Hong Kong for 2015.
favorite neighborhood dinner—I can be found once a week in Brawn, which, luckily, I live around the corner from. Long list of bio-wines and a fresh menu that always keeps you guessing—such a good spot to hang out in and take international clients and friends.
luggage—I keep it minimal. For business, my Jack Spade briefcase carry-on and a small chrome wheelie. But I have an odd attachment to my 45-liter Berghaus backpack—we've been to some great places together. It's perfect for cruising through coastal towns (and can be used as a seat/bad pillow).
gadgets—Not into them. But for pure power needs, a multi-country power adapter with lots of USB outlets.
favorite accessory—My navy cashmere crew neck jumper. Whether it’s for harsh air conditioning in the sunshine, or for a colder climate that I am heading to. It's classically stylish, it's a pillow, an eye mask. And it’s soft: an essential sartorial travel companion.
favorite charity—I'm currently helping with a great cause called Gift of Life, which raises money for children with cancer in Russia.
favorite hotel—I've never been a fan of hotels: the brands, the vacuous impersonal feel, and the staff who have to read from an agreed-upon script. Good boutique hotels are few and far between, and not always geographically in favor. But Airbnb has changed the game; I always choose a cool little apartment if possible for business travel. Although I do like the Soho House group if in the right city.
favorite apps—Google Maps. I even like it when it gets it horribly wrong like in Venice or parts of Japan.
favorite airport—I try to spend as little time in them as possible, but they're getting better, and not just the lounges. Qatar's new airport has a great public art program, with a wonderful Urs Fischer lamp/bear in the center, and they have a swimming pool that refreshes the time zones.
favorite airline—My favorite airline is Qatar Airways, and we get on pretty well, with an upgrade appearing every now and then. But Lebanon's MEA (Middle East Airlines) has the most unique and engaging stewards. Unlike BA, which feels awkward—reminds me of that teenage experience of having dinner at your friend’s parents’ house.
home is…will always be London. But for now it's Asia—it's great to go to places that make completely no sense to you.
where would you like to live—New York has always had that appeal—the raw energy and fast dialogue between strangers; there's nothing like it. I love the colonial influences of Cartagena (Colombia), or Panjim (India) for the look and feel. I enjoy South Africa, with the edginess of Johannesburg, the beauty of Cape Town, and the wine estates. But forgetting work and functionality—rural Italy, with its crumbling palazzos, incredible food and wine, has charm and appeal like no other.
where & when were you happiest—Many places but the formula is similar—a dinner party in a unique setting. Everyone's dressed up, good wine, and a bizarre mix of people from across the globe.
what do you consider to be your greatest achievement—Being able to just be. I've learned from the many experienced and talented people I met across a range of territories that keeping cool, being nice, and giving people time are the wisest things you can do. It's a talent to be able to speak with people from a range of different backgrounds and beliefs.
what is your current state of mind—I'm currently on a beach in South Kerala, India, so pretty chill. And the simple delights of curry and kingfisher do it…
how many trips do you take a year—I do around a hundred days a year away from home, maybe twenty trips.
how many of those are vacations— I always do one devoted vacation a year. I love to see in the New Year somewhere different where I have few to zero connections, and then spend the next three weeks figuring it out. But otherwise I like to make my trips merge into a form of business pleasure. I always try to marry together a trip with a friend’s show’s opening or some sort of occasion. For example, I came out to India to visit India's first contemporary art biennale.
without traveling, you relax by—I'm not stressed enough to need to relax. However, sofa, fireplace, and wine with that one and only, is a killer combination.
won’t board the plane before/without—For anything longer than a seven-hour flight, a sleeping tablet is your best friend.
indispensable in your carry-on—One liter of water. Considering that planes are dryer than the Sahara, how they expect you to keep hydrated on the minimal water they provide, I don't know. I stopped drinking booze on planes years ago but often forget that rule, which I made myself.
take-off routine—Clock my company for the following journey. Enjoy the magical moment of take-off (air travel still amazes me—which I see as magic over science), and pick up that book or drop that pill. Before on-board Wi-Fi, it was your safe place—out of touch from the world for that duration of time.
first thing you do after landing—Continue like you've just got off any other mode of transport. People make a big deal about it. Just keep on going.
travel is…Lots of words. “Important” is just one of them.