In Brooklyn, A Nomad Puts Down Roots

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For the past two and a half years, Farah Malik has lived in this apartment in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Being that the United States is the eighth country she has lived in, Farah has accumulated quite an expansive and, as she says, sentimental collection of objects, representative of each phase of her life. After completing a gut renovation (the building had been abandoned and occupied by squatters for almost seven years), her home was transformed into a white-washed gallery-like space, perfect for showcasing her belongings. Farah describes her decorating style as Mediterranean, bric-a-brac and global gypsy. This translates to a web of inspiration for her beloved accessories line, A Peace Treaty. Farah is co-founder and CEO of this ethically-produced accessory design company. They work with artisans in regions of political and social strife, bringing them fair trade work and allowing them to make textiles and jewelry using centuries old skills that are often at risk of dying out. Thank you, Farah, and thanks to Max for the photographs! -Shannon

Photographs by Maxwell Tielman

Image above: The wood bench is stacked with a few handwoven cashmeres; handknit baby alpaca throws or hand block printed pieces from my A Peace Treaty line. I like to have scarves laid out so I can grab one and go. The prints are of Frederico Fellini’s sketches I picked up when I lived in Rome. The postcards are from my time in Spain, I have yet to find frames for them. The pillows on the sofa are Central Asian handwoven pieces that range in origin from Turkey to Pakistan.

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Image above: The Viking stove is my hearth/fireplace focal point for the home. It is the only real splurge in this home. The brass hood is from eBay – I decided I absolutely wanted a brass hood. I had bought a cheap Ikea hood that traveled first to California to be overlaid with brass, the craftsman apologetically quadrupled the quote he’d originally given me and sent the hood back to me. I then had it trucked off to New Jersey, promised by a metalsmith that he could submerge it in gold color for me only to be told a few days later that the electrical parts could not be removed. Many weeks later I found a brass hood for 200 bucks on eBay, something I had been looking for for over a year! The baskets on the shelf are handmade by women in Pakistan or Burkina Faso. The brass kettle is Portuguese. I grew up in England, so the kettle is always on for tea. The pottery is from a time when I dabbled in ceramics and spent some months at a potter’s wheel. I cook a lot and so handmade utensils are the ultimate inspiration for making more beautiful things by hand. There’s also a Moroccan tea kettle handed down from an old friend’s grandmother in Marrakech. I have a real thing for heirlooms – in fact my whole company’s slow fashion made for longevity ethos promotes a pass down from generation-to-generation culture. The farm sink also entailed a wild goose chase, most are made oversize and finding a 24″ one at the time proved quite difficult.

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Image above: The wooden spoons are all from travels: Thailand, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tanzania, Mexico, Panama and Lebanon. A few of them I pinched from my mom’s kitchen, hoping to one day “catch” her cooking germs. My favorite are the ebony wood ones. The chopping board is from the Aeolian island of Salina in Sicily; the place where one of my favorite films – Il Postino – was filmed. The brass bottle stopper was hand-crafted by an artisan cooperative in Lebanon. The woven basket is woven from palm fronds – handmade by South African women. The mortar and pestle is from a Bengali store on Brick Lane, London. It’s probably hand-carved red oak. I always keep cloves handy, apparently they act as a natural insect repellant. The olive oil is from Portugal, I love old Portuguese packaging which I first discovered when I went to University in Montreal, a city that’s filled with little mama papa Portuguese artisan food shops. This one was picked up in Lisbon.

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See more of this Brooklyn home after the jump…

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Image above:The light in my living room makes my eyes feel like an ol’ granny’s BUT I love it still. This perfectly dim lighting fixture was custom ordered from the Schoolhouse Electric website, what a great business idea. All design should be accessible and customizable like that! 

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Image above: I love Edison lightbulbs – this was also customized.

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Image above: The framed block print on top of the glass cabinet, was made by me as I was testing out a design in our block printing workshop in the slums outside Lahore, Pakistan with one of the few remaining silk block printers left in the region that practices the trade as it was practiced during the Silk Road era. This was one of the first projects A Peace Treaty helped resuscitate, the block printer’s sons did not want to follow the family tradition so we recruited 12 street kids from the slums (all over the age of 16) and trained them in the art. They now work at the workshop whose output has gone up six-fold and they are even exporting goods internationally. The framed photo is Helmut Newton – one of the greatest fashion photographers ever! Lace reminds me of watching my mom as a child, getting dressed for work. The vintage clock radio was my jukebox for many years before the iPod came along.

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Image above: I found both this vintage clock and the shelf it sits on, on the street.

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Image above: The rug is hand-knotted and from an ancient bazaar in the South Eastern Turkish town of Gaziantep. Its probably handmade by Kurdish artisans. The frames are hand-painted. I picked them up at my favorite charity shop, Oxfam, living in London. The best home decor finds! I’ve been obsessed with empty picture frames for two decades now. I love the way light filters into my room all day. It feels like a mini conservatory. The bedroom feels like it is suspended over the garden below. 

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Image above: The nightstand is vintage from Furnish Green. The Union Jack because I was born and raised in London and the United Kingdom, represent!

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Image above: The throw on the bed is from A Peace Treaty’s Resort 13 line. It is handwoven Silk Noil. The blanket is handwoven wool, from a company called Naturla, from Portugal. A Peace Treaty is expanding into home textiles so I’ve been trying out different throws on my bed almost daily.

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Image above: I love white linen and doing laundry! The crumplier the better. Sometimes I wonder about myself because I enjoy changing my sheets more than going out! I also have a rule – wash off the city and enter into bed clean every night. I usually pick up local variations on white bedding wherever I might be. These lightly embroidered sheets are from Pakistan.

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Image above: The spice chest is Indian – it stores old buttons, pins and needles. The mirrors were bought in Italy’s largest flea market, Porta Portese, in Rome.

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Image above: The gold-plated brass jewelry is all from my line A Peace Treaty. I’m usually quite adorned, passing through airport security is no joke.

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Image above: The rings are all A Peace Treaty and include sustainably sourced Lapis Lazuli and Agate. The pieces range in inspiration and technique from Egyptian to Afghan.

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Image above: The necklaces are from our Libyan collection Villa Bambola. This particular one went through 5 prototypes before it finally came out the way we wanted it. My favorite earrings are the camel bone carved horn shaped ones from a project we did with Rajasthani artisans in the Thar desert. Resin and plastic had started taking away the livelihoods of artisans that worked with camel bone (a sustainable practice after the meat, leather and milk are utilized in other markets and trades) so we found old families to train younger generations and revive this dying craft.

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Image above: I’ve framed handcrafted Italian/Florentine paper because its so beautiful I want to always keep looking at it. I also love wrapping presents.

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Image above: That’s a view on to my secret garden. It is always pin-drop silent and my bedroom hovers above.

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Image above: This was handmade by women in Zanzibar.

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Image above: The drawing Tape #3 by Hannah Cole, it was the second piece I’ve ever bid on at an art auction. This one was to benefit Groundswell Community Mural Project.

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Image above: The mirrors are hand-hammered copper, brass and pewter from Pakistan.

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Image above: The milk glass shade light fixture was bought at a pawn shop and rewired. It felt too new and shiny so I rubbed sea salt water all over it (perhaps I went too far).

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Image above: The tin cup is from Cyprus; the radial door knob that functions as a towel hanger was handmade in Pakistan.

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Image above: Guest soaps: Syria, Lebanon, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Kenya and Turkey are represented here. The packaging is mostly Portuguese. I’m making a move to organic and chemical-free skin and body care so my friends’ lines with oat grains and essential oils (neroli is my favorite) are represented here.

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Image above: The cabinet is from a pawn shop in Toronto. The trinket boxes come from Pakistan and Kashmir.

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Image above: Another one from the Schoolhouse Electric website.

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Image above: The butcher block is Ikea.

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Image above: Bowls are from Turkey, Pakistan, Japan, China, Italy and Mexico. The hand-carved palm leaf basket is from Pakistan.

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Image above: This table that has many dinner party memories ingrained in it was found on the street. An old roommate was a set-designer and she had a knack for finding gems. I had it sanded and polished.

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  1. susan says:

    That brass hood…YES PLEASE!

  2. mikki says:

    Hi, your home is absolutely stunning. Do you mind sharing the name of the white paint? Thanks so much.

  3. Tracy says:

    LOVE the brass hood. Would you share the brand name?

  4. suzi says:

    LOVE the brass hood!! Would you mind sharing the brand? I’ve searched the web with no luck. Thanks!

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