The Craftsmen of Ireland

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At the end of last year, I was delighted to hear that Jameson had invited me to Ireland to interact with some of their local craftsman, tour their incredible distillery, and—of course—enjoy some delicious Irish whiskey.

Never having been to Ireland before, I knew I was in for a treat. Telling friends and co-workers about my journey I was told stories about cozy, old pubs that buzz until late into the night, lusciosus green hills that seem to last forever, and encountering folks who were some of the nicest they’d ever met. This was one of the elements that still stands out so vividly to me: how kind the people are.

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The first craftsman we visited was a burly man named Garvan de Bruir, a leather crafter working in the quaint town of Killdare. We drove almost directly from the Dublin airport to his studio and was greeted with a spread of sandwiches, salads, and good beer, which was much needed after a 14+ hour flight. Garvan’s kindness matched his creativity as we snacked in an impressive studio he designed himself, not content only creating objects with leather.

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The De Bruir line of leather goods are fantastic, too. He makes a little bit of everything such as luggage, bags, wallets, keep-all trays, and, most surprising of all, bow ties. I believe hearing the words “leather bow tie” might induce a cringe amongst most but his design is flawless and, when you see Garvin himself wearing one, you suddenly see how well it works.

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We were given the opportunity to make leather aprons for ourselves using De Bruir designs. Watching Garvan and his apprentice work looked simple but in actuality is a lot like watching cooking shows on television: “I can do that, no big deal,” you say in your head. As I learned, leather crafting is not simple. Thankfully we had expert teachers who led us through process with ease as we chatted about other small leather good brands from around the world. It was two days of hard work that led to a beautiful product that should last me forever.

After this, we took off for the town of Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city and home to a number of glass blowers. Waterford might sound familiar and that’s because it was the home of Waterford Crystal. Well, that was until 2009 when they declared bankruptcy and laid off most of their artisans. Still! That didn’t stop companies like The Irish Handmade Glass Company from filling the void with their very in-demand skills.

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If you’ve never seen glass blowing in person, it’s hard to fully understand the beauty of the process. We were treated to Richard Rowe showing us how a master glass blower goes about his craft, tranforming globs of molten glass into precious pieces of art in minutes. It’s an intimdating craft that has an element of danger—or at least you think this from the view of a spectator, which is a part of it’s allure.

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The last leg of our trip was a tour through the Jameson Distillery in Cork, a facility that’s been around since 1795. The distillery is indicative of what I saw a lot of in Ireland: a rich history and heritage now being augmented with contemporary design and architecture. As you walk around you’re overwhelmed by the age of the place, that has been the brand home for hundreds of years.

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They’ve been plying their craft, slowly but surely moving toward the present and future of whiskey. The grounds are mostly lined with old building made of stone and wood, like a Dickensian setting of some sort. This setting continues in the past until the near end, where you’re guided to the new wing of the facility a state-of-the-art complex that resembles a Bond villains lair (but in actuality, distills golden, whiskey goodness).

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They even have (what I would call) a whiskey labratory officially titled the Irish Whiskey Academy. It offers a number of courses on the history of whiskey, how it’s produced, and—yes—extensive tastings. The tastings were particularly interesting because of the variety of flavors and nuance a whiskey can take on. Some had fruit notes, some where quite smokey; others were younger and thus quite potent, a specific taste for specific people. Getting to soak up the details of a whiskey like that is not something that happens very often—especially in such a storied place like the Jameson Distillery.

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In all, Ireland was a fantastic place to visit. The weather was warm, the people were warmer, and the whiskey never stops flowing. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Bobby Solomon

January 27, 2015 / By

Many Little Lattes Were Used To Make A Lovely Little Video

Maxim Stick Latte Stop Motion

With how fast technology in film has advanced, you would have thought that creating using stop motion would have become a thing of the past. This is far from the truth as new cinematic formats like Vine and YouTube have illustrated that they are avenues for stop motion to thrive (despite the meticulous and somewhat stressful process it entails).

The latest example of exemplary IRL animation is a little video by Japanese coffee makers Maxim Stick. According to Design Boom, they created 1000 cups of latte art to tell the Up-like story of a boy and girl meeting, falling in love, and growing old together. It’s a very cute representation of love and, as the ending suggests, lattes” warm the world.”

While only a minute and a half, the microfilm is a showcase of very careful work. Each cup used in the video is a cocoa dusted panel in a moving comic. You get a glimpse of this at the start, when you see the initial cup being made. Because I am easily frustrated and have very little patience for creating in this manner, I have nothing but respect for the people who make this video because you know it must have been incredibly difficult given the medium and style. The result is absolutely perfect though: all the hard work and caffeination definitely paid off.

KYLE FITZPATRICK

January 13, 2015 / By

My Favorite “Coffee Shop”: Go Get Em Tiger

My Favorite "Coffee Shop": Go Get Em Tiger

As designers we tend to glamorize coffee. It’s the “fuel” for our projects, it’s the drink that keeps us motivated late at night. Perhaps you could even say we fetishize it. I’d add to the cult of coffee that we all have our favorite places we love to visit. That one shop that knows you, that knows your drink of choice, that with a glance makes you feel at home.

For me that spot is Go Get Em Tiger, a newish coffee shop that only opened last June but is already seen as one of the best in LA. It’s also the sister site of G&B Coffee which is located in the now trendy Grand Central Market which was named one of the Hot 10 places in America by Bon Appetit. Together they’re doing coffee a little differently, and it’s the little things that really matter.

My Favorite "Coffee Shop": Go Get Em Tiger Photo by @alwaysjudging

I would say the immediate difference between GGET and other coffee shops is the general vibe of the place. Rather than wait in line you belly up to a bar, first come first serve, which makes it a much more casual affair. It also helps if you’re a regular, and within seconds someone can swing by and ask if you want your usual. They’re also seating inside and out, dogs are totally welcome, most of the time the doors are always open, and it’s pretty consistently bright inside the space thanks to the big, west facing windows.

My Favorite "Coffee Shop": Go Get Em Tiger Photos by @candacesmkim & @lifeserial

Their ability to pull espresso shots is impeccable, in fact their barista Charles Babinski recently won the 2015 South West Regional Barista Competition, so you can only imagine the level of quality that’s being served. I’m a purist personally and only order the sweet latte. It’s what you’d think it is, a latte, hot or iced, that’s been sweetened with agave, which gives it a much more mild sweetness compared to artificial sweeteners.

My Favorite "Coffee Shop": Go Get Em Tiger Photos by @ccllim_jy & @jarliek

My Favorite "Coffee Shop": Go Get Em Tiger Photo by @monicais

Overall, Go Get Em Tiger gets all the details right. The perfect drinks, the perfect space, the perfect staff who know how to make you feel welcome. The next time you’re in Los Angeles, this is the place to go.

Go Get Em Tiger
230 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Bobby Solomon

December 16, 2014 / By

The Carry On Cocktail Brings Proper Drinks Back To Flying

Carry On Cocktail

It certainly feels like the glamorous days of flying are over. Free checked bags are history, seats are getting smaller inch by inch, and the food is certainly never going to get better. Thankfully W & P Design and Punch have teamed up to create the Carry On Cocktail, perhaps the cure to inflight mediocrity.

Carry On Cocktail

The kit contains a recipe card, bitters, sugar, a combination spoon & muddler, and to class things up even further, a linen napkin. And because you’re plane bound everything was designed to meet FAA regulations, so there’s no fear of a cranky agent dropping your stash in the trash.

Bobby Solomon

December 2, 2014 / By

The Fox Is Black UK Adventure

The Fox Is Black UK Adventure

Every now and then I have some amazing opportunities offered to me and my upcoming week is no exception. Thanks to the fine folks of Jameson whiskey I’m wandering about Ireland for the next few days spending time meeting local artisans, trying my hands at leather crafting and glass blowing, and of course drinking fine whiskey. I’ll be sharing a few posts about the experience on here though my Instagram will probably be updated the most.

I’ll also be spending a few days in London this weekend so I’m thinking it could be great to do a TFIB Bar Meet-Up somewhere in the city. More information to come!

Bobby Solomon

November 17, 2014 / By

The Coffee Pour Over Becomes Automated Thanks To Poursteady

Poursteady

Poursteady

The pour over coffee has a kind of mythic quality to it. While it’s not the most labor intensive process it’s still time consuming, meaning a lot of people don’t have the patience to make it themselves or wait for a barista to do their magic. Enter the Poursteady, a machine that seemingly does all the work for you.

Poursteady is an automated pour-over coffee machine that brings unprecedented speed, precision, and reliability to high-end commercial coffee retailers–and better coffee to discerning customers. Combining precision motion-control, elegant design, and beautiful fabrication–our system makes up to five cups of pour-over coffee simultaneously with a single barista at the helm.

I imagine purists will balk at such a blasphemous invention but I think the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the coffee. You can see in the video below how the machine mimics the swirling motion of the pour over, seemingly giving the same care as a human. Certainly interesting seeing robotics entering the coffee industry in such a unique manner.

Bobby Solomon

November 10, 2014 / By

A Hidden Cubby Hole Of Chocolate: Compartés Opens In Melrose Place

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In the world of cool, young chocolatiers in the United States, only a handful of names will come to mind because those are the only chocolates you see in stores. You have your Brooklyn old schoolers Mast Brothers, cool, mini-makers Woodblock Chocolate, glorified toffee treaters Alma, and the real San Francisco treat TCHO. One of the most important (and somewhat under the radar) makers is Los Angeles’ Compartes, an undoubtedly luxe and incredibly hip brand that eschews artisanal annoyances for no-hype-all-flavor sweets.

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The brand has big news, too: they very recently expanded from a Brentwood storefront, adding a Melrose Place cubby hole hidden from street view (and technically within coffee shop Alfred). It’s an interesting triangular space designed by AAmp Studio that is most befitting of a chocolate store. The goods are a limited selection that include a wall of Love Nuts, a display of chocolate bars, and a glass case of truffles. Yet, that is irrelevant: the shop is an exercise in brevity and beauty, a quick stop into considered foodie charm.

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The design details make the space. The main attraction is a conflicting tiled floor consisting of a black rectangle and triangular brick arrow that leads from the truffle bar to a corner of chocolate bars. A tension (and an eyeline) is created that brings the small room together. A wall of Love Nuts is arranged in a seemingly infinite gradient, placing you in a delectable loop almost demanding your trying each flavor of nut. The counter wisely features a giant logo that doesn’t overpower the room, instead adding a sophistication equivalent of a boutique hotel. If you want to hang for a while, indulging, a small cactus lined seating area is available under a gorgeous white neon sign in brand founder Jonathan Grahm‘s handwriting which reads “Chocolate Is Art.” And, in Compartés case, it really is.

It was a wise move for Compartés to add another location, expanding from their sleepy Brentwood headquarters to a trendy, busy Melrose location. The area may have difficulty in maintaining an identity but the design of the space is so crisp and pristine that it will outlive most of its surroundings. Who doesn’t like chocolate, either? The new Compartés is definitely cause for celebration.

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KYLE FITZPATRICK

October 28, 2014 / By

Sophisticated Branding for Fort Point Beer Company by Manual

Fort Point Beer Company Branding by Manual

Crafting unique, standout labels for a new beer seems like an awesome challenge. Making sure that the brew stands out in a competitive market can be difficult as well as creating a look that feels unique and original. Manual, the SF based design firm, has struck gold with this sophisticated look for the Fort Point Beer Company, a craft brewery located in San Francisco’s Presidio.

The brewery resides in a historic Presidio building that was formerly used as an Army motor pool. Their iconic location—close to both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Fort Point National Historic Site—provided inspiration for a modular, illustrative brand identity. The result is a brand that locals can identify with and, as the brand grows and becomes available throughout the nation, can be regarded as the new San Francisco craft beer.

Fort Point Beer Company Branding by Manual

I’m a sucker for gold these days (my team will back this up) and the black, white, and tomato red color combinations really make me happy. The geometric patterns have a playful nature which remind me of the work of Mary Blair, and at the same time honors a San Francisco landmark.

Fort Point Beer Company

The choice of a Copperplate Gothic-esque font pairs well with the bold, geometric lines that make up the label. It has a feeling of being both contemporary yet classic, bringing to mind the early days of San Francisco. The overall branding is extremely charming and inviting, and when you see the bottle it certainly looks like something new that you want to try.

You can see more images from the project by clicking here.

Fort Point Beer Company Branding by Manual

Fort Point Beer Company Branding by Manual

Fort Point Beer Company Branding by Manual

Bobby Solomon

October 27, 2014 / By

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