Meaningful Things — Daniel Arsham

The feeling of a cherished product in your hands provides a certain unique and personal connection. The means in which something meaningful comes into your possession often has to do with one’s process of acquisition. For artist Daniel Arsham, several key things over the years each carry a specific meaning. Some are a result of friendships, and others serve a specific purpose in his creative process.

Follow along as Daniel Arsham shares some of the short, candid stories behind some of his favorite things.

Text by David Kenji Chang
Photos by Carmen Chan

Daniel’s Leica M-P

Several years ago, a photographer and friend by the name of Mathieu Cesar gave Daniel a Leica M-P, in hopes of casting it in volcanic ash and returning it to him. This small act was the start of Daniel’s return into photography.

Daniel’s Kith x Garrett Leight “Kinney” Sunglasses

Close friend Ronnie Fieg and his boutique Kith have been a collaborative product juggernaut of over the past few years. An item released by Kith that has been especially appealing to Daniel, are the collaborative “Kinney” sunglasses created with Los Angeles-based eyewear brand, Garrett Leight.

Daniel’s Kaweco Special AL Mini Mechanical Pencil, 0.9 mm

Several years ago, Daniel took a trip to Montreal. Mutual friends introduced him to one of the city’s most notable creative personalities, Justin Saunders, otherwise known as JJJJound. On Justin’s suggestion as Montreal’s “best shop,” Daniel visited a paper store and came away with this Kaweco Special AL Mini Mechanical Pencil.

Daniel’s Bamford Watch Department Custom Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm

In 2015, Daniel designed a watch in collaboration with custom luxury watch brand, Bamford Watch Department. While their collaboration entailed a Rolex Milgauss, Daniel later had a custom Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 41mm watch commissioned as a 1 of 1.

Daniel’s Bonsai Trees

Countless trips to Japan led to Daniel’s fascination with the traditional art form, Bonsai. There are several varieties in his studio, the most notable of which is an elm bonsai that’s over 40 years old. Daniel continues to shape and style these miniature trees, which were originally trained in Florida.

Daniel’s Brushes

Daniel uses standard round tip brushes. The nature of his work, as well as the corrosive materials he works with, limits him to these inexpensive tools. Yet, he’s happy to use them, especially the larger brushes, because he doesn’t have to worry about replacing them.