Category Design

Pablo & Rusty’s coffee branding by Manual

I love a good coffee branding project and the folks at Manual have continued to impress with their work for Sydney based coffee roasters, Pablo & Rusty’s. What I always find impressive is the breadth of the work as Manual has put their stamp on nearly aspect of the business, not just some business cards or a cup design.

We began by taking inspiration from the core of their business—the humble coffee sacks and stencil typography often found printed on them—and reinterpreted this as modern, sophisticated custom-drawn logotype. In our research we discovered that many of their customers and staff referred to them as ‘P&R’ for short, so we recommended building on that brand recognition and created a monogram that would work at small sizes. This duality in naming and branding provided the backbone for all print, packaging, and retail design elements.

Inspiration from Jen Agg, owner of The Black Hoof, and thoughts on a future in food

In the next 10 years I plan on opening a restaurant somewhere in the world. I’ve had this thought in my head for a while but I know that right now isn’t the right time. I love being a creative director at Disney–I have an amazing team, a supportive boss, a crazy amount of exciting projects in the pipeline–and it would be dumb to walk away from such a transformative time. In the meantime though I’m planning what that next thing will be, my mid-life crisis/masterpiece.

I’m writing all of this because I’m feeling particularly inspired by a recent interview with Jen Agg, the owner of The Black Hoof, speaking with the Eater Upsell. I first came across Jen and the Black Hoof when she wrote one of my favorite essays, titled, Vodka Is Stupid, which is expensive, flavorless and not worth drinking.

Now what I love about Jen is her thoughts on being a restauranteur, especially being a person who’s not a chef, and the real challenges associated.

Yeah, it’s really interesting. I think it’s very hard to manage people. I was just talking to someone last night about this and what I do. And I mean, I can open restaurants and make restaurants with one arm tied behind my back. I find it very easy, which is why I was saying earlier that if I sort of am identified at my death as a restaurateur, I will have woefully fucked up my 40s. It’s not what I want to do forever. I mean, it’s fun, I enjoy it, I love it, and I know that it’s challenging, and I know that it’s hard for a lot of people. I’m not trying to be glib about it, but I get it. I’m good at it, and I want to do other things. But managing people is the most challenging thing in the world.

It’s so difficult, and if you’re already kind of in that zone of being a chef and being a cook and so focused on that, to add being a restaurateur on top of that…Maybe Danny Meyer has done some work to change this, but I think a lot of the time the art of the restaurateur, the craft of the restaurateur, it’s very ignored. If my restaurant, The Black Hoof, had opened with brighter lights and quiet music, which was certainly still the trend in Toronto at that time — The Hoof really did change that — it would be a completely different story. And a lot of people would argue that, and a lot of “friends of cooks” would say, “Well no, if the food is good, the food is good.” And that can be true in a certain kind of restaurant, but it’s not true in a casual fine-dining restaurant. The atmosphere is hugely important, it gets very downplayed and underplayed, the role of that.

Those two paragraphs did a lot to alleviate the fears I have of opening a restaurant but not being a chef. I do know how to manage people, I have a 20 person staff, and I think I have pretty good taste and a sense of curation, another aspect that Jen touches on. She also mentions how important hiring is, finding the right staff that truly gets it.

And I don’t hire them because they don’t make sense, they’re not a fit, they don’t — they’re not it-getters. I don’t know exactly how to put my finger on it, but I’m, like, really, really careful. And as a result, almost no one quits. We’re hiring someone at The Hoof, so if you know anyone good, that would be great! We’ll move you to Toronto. It’s been three years since I had to hire someone, and I’m dreading it. ’Cause I hate having to go through that process with someone.

Having a positive, like-minded culture is so critical to success, be it a design team or the staff of a restaurant. Without that glue nothing can possibly work, or it’ll work for a while but eventually things fall apart.

If you’ve made it this far you may have noticed a serious food slant to the site. This post is an insight into that shift because it’s where my head is at, and honestly, has been at for a while. I was reluctant to shift away from design and toward food but I can honestly say that the two are inextricably entwined together for me. I have no interest in posting recipes or restaurant reviews, that’s far too mundane. There’s a fascinating intersection between the world of design and food and drinks that I feel needs to be explored more fully, one that hasn’t quite been approached in the way my brain thinks. A big thanks to Jen for giving my a sign that this is the path I need to be exploring.

Why drink alcohol when you can breath it instead?

Two of the most unique thinkers in food these days are the unlikely duo of Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, who together form Bompas & Parr (yes, it’s very original). They rose to fame by forming jelly into fantastic shapes like national monuments, full-blown cityscapes, crafting glow-in-the-dark drinks and a installing a green river on the roof of Selfridges.

These days their experiments are getting even more fascinating like their newest project Alcoholic Architecture.

Bompas & Parr’s Alcoholic Architecture is live in Borough Market, featuring a walk-in cloud of breathable cocktail. The installation is an alcoholic weather system for your tongue where meteorology and mixology collide against a canvas of monastic mayhem, referencing the gothic splendour of neighbouring Southwark Cathedral.

This concept is phenomenal and turns the standard convention of drinking on it’s head. The project will run until early 2016 so get there while you can.

Handmade picnic whisky set by Peter Ivy

As a part of Wallpaper* magazine’s annual handmade issue, glassblower Peter Ivy has created the ultimate whisky vessel: a “one-glass whisky set” which contains a stoppered bottle and a glass stacked on top of it, held together with a copper frame and adorned with a bamboo handle. I love these because their forms are so simple and timeless. Plus, how crazy would you look carrying a giant carafe of whisky to a one person picnic? You’d be a regular Ernest Hemingway.

On a side note, I believe the copper colored weight shaped object in the glass is actually an “ice cube” to cool the whisky. Anyone know if that’s true and who makes them?

Kith Treats is the ultimate cereal bar

When you think of ultra-rare collectible sneakers the next thing that pops into your head probably isn’t cereal. That is unless you happen to be Ronnie Fieg who in 2011 opened Kith in Manhattan, and recently opened one of the most well-designed footwear and apparel stores in Brooklyn. As a part of the opening also came Kith Treats, a cereal bar that offers 23 options of cereal to mix with any of our 25 assorted toppings and 5 different milks. Recently Grub Street spoke to Fieg about the concept and as it turns out, he simply loves cereal that much, and has for a very long time.

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like cereal. It’s one of those things that you love growing up, and then when you get older you end up having it because you want to feel like a kid again. For me it’s never been about being like a kid again, though. I’ve just loved cereal my entire life. It’s weird.

If cereal isn’t your thing, perhaps Kith Treat’s can offer you an Ice Cream Cereal Swirl? It’s a swirled vanilla ice cream cereal confection that’s supposed to be game changing. I mean, could you say no to the image below?

Kith Treats

High life: 8 designer bottle openers

1/ Minimalist II by J. L. Lawson & Co.
Described as a “minimalist key shackle” this bottle opener is milled form solid brass and fitted with a blackened steel pin. This is the brutalist bottle opener you never knew you needed.

2/ Lustre Bottle Opener by Kelly Wearstler
Is it geographic? Is it melting? Perhaps it’s Kelly Wearstler’s fingerprint? Either way this abstract bottle opener is sure to grab the attention of your guests.

3/ Crest Bottle Opener by Fort Standard
I dig this cast bronze opener because of it’s masonic vibes and the fact you can personalize it with an 8 character maximum. A simple blend of art and function.

4/ Brass Squirrel Bottle Opener by Jonathan Adler
Jonathan Adler is simply the best. There are few people who can get way with being ridiculous and upscale at the same time (though Ms. Wearstler is high on that list as well). This little squirrelfriend is hand sculpted by Adler’s team in NY, then cast in brass and polished to a mirror finish.

5/ Sphere Bottle Opener by Areaware
Fort Standard gets another shoutout on the list for their collaboration with Areaware. Made of solid beech wood I’d say this is the most minimal of all the openers on this list, as well as the most affordable.

6/ Barbara Bottle Opener by Thomas Sandell and Skultuna
This is one of my favorites on the list for being so blatantly opulent in it’s design. There’s a visual and literal heft to it’s ergonomic shape. You feel like you’re going to lift a bar of gold to open your High Life.

7/ Bulla Bottle Opener by Valerio Sommella for Alessi
Of all the openers on the list this is truly a piece of art that happens to perform the incredibly mundane task of opening a bottle. This is perfect description: “Bulla is the result of reflection into the adoption of natural shapes that do not immediately reveal their origins but which, even without explicitly announcing it, may have a purpose.”

8/ Bottle Key by Makr
And then sometimes you don’t want to fuck around, you just want something to open your damn beer. The Bottle Key by Makr is that option, the thing I carry around in my pocket every day.

Interview with product designers Scholten & Baijings

Photo by Benjamin McMahon
Photo by Benjamin McMahon

Mr Porter has an interview with design duo Scholten & Baijings, famous for their brilliantly colored furniture and home goods. A quick Google image search is illuminating on their breadth of work. I love that they’re so process driven, working and working to find the right solution, until a product feels just right. Further, I think it’s great that they keep their explorations on display (above), understanding the importance of learning from one’s mistakes.

Quite how exacting this process can be is demonstrated by the set of ceiling-height shelves that separates the workshop from the main lobby. This is full to bursting with embryonic versions of recognisable products, such as the speckled, polygonal cardboard cups and saucers that would later become “Paper Porcelain” (issued by Danish brand HAY in 2009) and cast metal forms of pears, baby steps towards the “Fruit Party” centrepiece of 2008 (which now resides in the collection of Holland’s Zuiderzee Museum). These prototypes and experiments are not only clearly visible from within the studio, but also from without, thanks to the building’s glass façade. “If you’re on display in a transparent building, your work should also be transparent,” says Mr Scholten.

Pantone Cafe

Pantone brings it’s patented color system to the world of food with it’s Pantone Cafe. You can nibble on a 13-0221 Pistachio Green eclair or savor a 17-1227 latte. The pop-up closes Sep 9 so you’d better book your tickets to Monaco soon.