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East London 2012: Nasir Mazhar

We chat to the east London-based accessories designer about his life in east London and the changes that have affected it over the last 15 years

As an ongoing part of the 'Is East London Dead?' debate in the current issue of Dazed & Confused, we spoke to accessories designer Nasir Mazhar about his life in east London and the mix of communities. As the area continues to go through integral changes since the last 15 years, join the discussion by uploading your memories of east London on the 'A Secret History of East London' project, mapping your own personal involvement.

Dazed & Confused: Who are you and what do you do for a living?
Nasir Mazhar: I'm Nasir Mazhar and I make and design accessories.

D&C: Where in east London are you based?
Nasir Mazhar: Stoke Newington, Hackney

D&C: What first attracted you to the area and how long have you been working here?
Nasir Mazhar: The main reason for moving here was because of the size of the warehouse I got and the price. I've been here for almost six years now.

D&C: How has east London changed the most since you've been here? Why do you think that is?
Nasir Mazhar: I've lived in east London all my life and some parts havne't changed at all. Go to places like Forest Gate, Leytonstone, Leyton, or Plaistow and they're the same as always, apart from ugly new homes going up. There's also massive Eastern European communities now. There wasn't when I was growing up. This is a good thing though, just adds to the mix. Saying that though, loads has changed in other parts. Shoreditch has turned into Notting Hill. Dalston is on its way, it feels like you're in Clapham on a Saturday night. Stratford is unrecognisable, same for some parts of Hackney but I think the thing that's changed the most is that east london ain't grime-y anymore. It's desirable whereas it used to be feared.

D&C: What is the most exciting part of your local creative community?
Nasir Mazhar: I think its the mix of cultures and people from my house to Liverpool Street station which is basically one very long road I go from being in Jewish Israel to Turkey to Africa and then Shoreditch aka Notting Hill. That's the worst part of the journey if I ever get that far.

D&C: Has the area informed your creative work at all and if so, how?
Nasir Mazhar: Definately. There's people from all over the world here, dressed in all sorts of ways and that has constantly provided me with divine inspiration.

D&C: Is it possible to say Silicon Roundabout aloud without laughing?
Nasir Mazhar: Yeah

D&C: What's your favourite east End hangout?
Nasir Mazhar: The streets. It's the best place to hang out, drink or whatever. Pubs and bars got ruined when the smoking ban got introduced.

D&C: Does anything annoy you about the area? If so, what?

Nasir Mazhar: The rent has gone up loads. Artists and designers moved here 'cause it was cheap and 'cause they could have big studios. Now people keep moving here 'cause they wanna buy into the lifestyle and wanna be able to sound interesting around friends but it just means prices go up and up and we have to move. It also means east London is slowing turning into West London. Who wants that?

D&C: What are you going to do during the Olympics – stay or flee? Why?
Nasir Mazhar: Stay. I can't wait to see how the city changes for that month. Stratford and parts of Hackney are unrecognisable. The actual games is what this has all been for right? I'm really curious to see how the area develops after the games. They're building new areas with new postcodes within London City. That's fucking crazy.

D&C: Is east London dead?
Nasir Mazhar: It's not dead but it's on its way. The city just keeps getting bigger and bigger and who knows when, but London will be a rich man's playground at some point. We'll all being living in Billericay before you know it. Or moving town.

Dazed Digital invites you to map your east London memories on our timeline, 'A Secret History of East London'. Get involved HERE!

Interview by Chantelle Fiddy
Photo by Jamie Hawkesworth