If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the stain-remover pen and the tongue cleaner. We asked Arman Naféei, host of the Are We on Air? podcast and music director at the Chateau Marmont, about the Acqua di Parma dupe, Elton John–approved microphone, and sunset light bulbs he can’t live without.
I’ve been a music director for the past 15 years, and I’ve been DJ-ing since I was 15. So headphones play a big role in my life. I have Airpods as my daily headphones, but these are the ones I use for work purposes. After years and years of trying all kinds of headphones, I came across these surprisingly affordable ones by Sennheiser. They were originally studio headphones that got adopted by DJs because they were so good, so now they’re known as typical DJ headphones. They sound great, they’re very light, and they have adjustable ears so you can have one ear open. A good example of classic German engineering — simple and not overdesigned. I use mine a lot when conducting interviews for the podcast; they’re just really versatile. They’re not noise-canceling, but that’s not to be expected at this price.
I first heard about this German technology company from Tiga, a DJ that came on an early episode of my podcast. Before then, I’d been using a combination of Zoom and a Sennheiser mic. Yellowtec is a small brand, based just outside Cologne, and while it’s a bit on the pricier side, this is a fantastic mic. A friend of mine at Dublab radio in Los Angeles called it “the Lamborghini of microphones” and I noticed Elton John uses it for his podcast, too. It offers BBC-level of audio recording, plus it’s very portable, and it has an SD card slot. It automatically levels the volume when you speak into it, and you can connect it to your computer and tweak the sound levels internally if you have a preference. It also comes with three different head sizes, which you can screw on and off depending on your needs, like if you’re recording indoors, outdoors, or if you’re trying to capture environmental sounds or ambient noises. When I interviewed Patti Smith recently, she asked to have a look at it and said, “I know my way around microphones, and this feels very impressive.”
[Editor’s note: This price is converted from Euros, shipping not included.]
In the last year or so, this has become my “go-to” item of clothing. A perfect jacket I can wear during the day at work, and something I can also dress up in the evening. I actually first bought it four years ago and wasn’t familiar with the brand, but once I read up about it, I fell in love with the brand even more. I’m in Berlin right now, and in the last year I’ve gone out for face-to-face meetings and trips to the supermarket in this jacket. I think it’s good for your psyche to dress up, even if you’re stuck at home.
[Editor’s note: This product is low in stock.]
I have a lot of cologne, I collect vintage ones. So it’s hard to pick just one scent that I can’t live without, but generally what I wear depends on my mood. That little spritz in the morning makes me walk a bit taller, I find — even during a pandemic. I’m a big fan of Acqua di Parma, but it’s a pretty standard brand now, and this actually smells very similar — but you can find this in most French drugstores and it’s very affordable. In fact, Serge Gainsbourg was apparently a fan of this cologne. I found that out during one of my periods researching colognes and had to try it. It’s very light and citrusy, a perfect day scent. And the bottle looks quite discerning too, which I love.
These are actually brand-new under Braun’s new audio brand. It used to be available exclusively at the MoMa store, but now Braun has rolled it out everywhere. I am quite particular about speakers, so I always test them before I buy them. I first heard about these through my work as the music director for André Balazs’s hotel group, including the Chateau Marmont, which I’ve been doing for ten years. I also hold the title directeur d’ambiance, which means I specialise in creating the ambience at the hotel, which includes music, lighting, even the temperature. At one point I was thinking about installing them in the rooms at the Chateau. The best one is this small boxy one — it’s not the strongest model in terms of sound quality, but its design-y look just speaks to me. It’s quite cute, very easy to take with you, and that clean look is just something I really appreciate. You can also buy a mount, so you can have it mounted in a corner of a seating area, for example.
I have these at home. Two things I learned about from working at the Chateau: light bulbs and dimmers. Those are what make a place feel sexy and comfortable. Lighting must adapt to the time of day, but some times of day are particularly flattering — it’s why so many Instagram filters mimic sunset hours. It’s the warmest, most comfortable light. I cringe when I go to places — a high-end restaurant, a bar, or store — and the lighting is horrible, halogen and spotlight-y. You shouldn’t feel horrible in a changing room because the lighting is too harsh. If I go anywhere where I’m staying for a short while, I’ll buy an extra set of these light bulbs to take with me and temporarily install. Even when I go to my parents’, the first thing I do is switch the light bulbs out. It’s so warm, it’s like the light from a fireplace.
Shaving is a part of my life; it’s a nice process to have. Over the last few decades, shaving has been very “Gillette”-focused, where it’s been framed as this nuisance for men to overcome. But I like shaving, and when I do it in the morning I always put classical music on because I like the delicate tone, and I genuinely get excited. This is a German-made razor company, and I particularly like that it’s short. It sits in your hand differently than a typical razor. You hold it with your thumb and two fingers, which is actually easier to navigate across your face. It’s also very nice to leave lying around. I couldn’t have a Gillette razor.
Just like perfumes, I have a lot of pairs of sunglasses. I try to avoid anything too contemporary or overly design-y; I like something classic. This frame is one of my favourites; they look great day and night, whether I’m in L.A. in the sunshine or back in grey Berlin, where I’m staying currently. I own several and I have known the company for a long time; I actually got in touch and asked if they would put a very light pink lens into my frames, and they did, which was fantastic. It really changed the mood.
Here’s the funny thing: I’m not a big fan of coffee to the point I’m obsessed about it. I drink one espresso in the morning and one in the afternoon. That’s my ritual. My favourite coffee place in Cologne, Moxxi, has one of these machines, and something I learned over time, after watching countless espresso being made all around the world, is that this was the brand to go for when it came to an espresso machine. Obviously the beans themselves, and the roasting process, is a big part of it too. This has come recommended to me by so many people. It’s a beautiful piece of engineering and I love the design.
The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.