No. The Powerful Word That Creatives Love.

Creative People Say No

Came across a piece over on Medium by Kevin Ashton which I thought made a pretty great point: Creatives know the power of no.

Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?” A sketch? A stanza? A paragraph? An experiment? Twenty lines of code? The answer is always the same: “yes” makes less. We do not have enough time as it is. There are groceries to buy, gas tanks to fill, families to love and day jobs to do.

Learning to say no to the right and wrong things takes time, as does learning the true value of your time, but once you do life gets remarkably better. Personally I’d add my favorite word to the bucket: Why? As a creative director I spend most of my day asking people pointed, specific questions. Why that color? Is that the best way to lay this out? What’s the value of doing something at all? Those two words combined have served me well, allowing my team to focus on better projects and make higher quality work. Hopefully it these words do the same for you.

Bobby Solomon

September 8, 2014 / By

Neasden Control Centre Brings Typography to the Table with Branding for Artisan Restaurant

Neasden Control Centre - Illustration and Branding for Artisan, Manchester

Neasden Control Centre - Illustration and Branding for Artisan, Manchester

UK-based illustrated Stephen Smith has been working under the name of Neasden Control Centre for almost 15 years. One of his most recent projects has been illustrating the menus for Artisan; a hip restaurant and bar in the Northern-city of Manchester. NCC’s approach here has been to serve up a delicious selection of hand-drawn type; presenting a great choice of ‘A’s’ that no doubt echo the variety of choices found within the menu.

Neasden Control Centre - Illustration and Branding for Artisan, Manchester

This is not the first time that NCC has worked with Artisan. When it opened last year he worked on the overall identity for the space. Bringing site specific artwork, illustrations, installations and murals to every corner of the Spinningfields located space. The restaurant covers a vast 12,000 square foot area, so it must have been a massive undertaking for the one-man studio. You can see more shots from the interior on his website.

Neasden Control Centre - Illustration and Branding for Artisan, Manchester

I also think that his work for the set-menus is just as strong and, while I was going to put this down to his excellent choice of a bold black-and-white palette, it’s clear to see that the lunch and kids menus work just as well in color. His choice of bright primary colors add just the right amount of cheerfulness for day-time dinning. I think they look great.

Neasden Control Centre - Illustration and Branding for Artisan, Manchester

More work from Neasden Control Centre can be viewed on Stephen’s website.

Philip Kennedy

September 4, 2014 / By

Cereal Magazine Explores New York’s Under-Appreciated Noguchi Museum

The Noguchi Museum – An Under-Appreciated New York Treasure

I’m pretty novice when it comes to museums and galleries in New York. I’ve been to the big ones like MoMA and The Armory, but it wasn’t until recently that I read there was a museum in Queens dedicated to the work of Isamu Noguchi. The Noguchi Museum opened in 1985, the museum is truly unique because Noguchi himself designed and curated the space, the only one artist created space like this in the U.S.

Writer Daniel Waite Penn recently visited the museum for Cereal Magazine, penning a lovely piece that explains the mystique of the Noguchi’s works and the space they permanently inhabit.

Polished sections and geometric slices are cut into the remaining swathes of their rough, unaltered surfaces, dubbed by Noguchi the ‘skin’ of the stone. Crowbar chips and dynamite holes are evidence of the quarrying process, embracing found qualities alongside a determination to shape the raw material into art. This juxtaposition of deliberate geometry with natural and accidental irregularity gives these works a powerful formal tension, showing Noguchi at the height of his creative powers. He was a veteran artist by the time he made them, and they evince his lack of interest in notions of perfection – a theme he had pursued diligently in earlier phases of his career.

The next time I’m in New York I’m definitely making a special trip out there to visit.

The Noguchi Museum – An Under-Appreciated New York Treasure

Bobby Solomon

September 3, 2014 / By

Stian Korntved Ruud Creates A Unique Hand Carved Spoon Every Day for One Year

Stian Korntved Ruud - Daily Spoon

The spoon. It’s a ubiquitous tool that perhaps most of take for granted. I looked up the definition of a spoon (because when was the last you did that?) which states it is “an implement consisting of a small, shallow oval or round bowl on a long handle, used for eating, stirring, and serving food.” And if there’s anyone who’s testing this definition it’s probably Stian Korntved Ruud, an Oslo School of Architecture grad and former intern at Tom Dixon. He has a wonderful ongoing project simply titled Daily Spoon, where obviously he creates a unique looking spoon every day for one year straight.

Stian Korntved Ruud - Daily Spoon

By repeating the production of a spoon every day for a longer period of time (365 days), the goal is to challenge and explore a spoons aesthetic and functional qualities. I make all the spoons in a traditional way with only hand tools. The point of this is to actively cooperate with the material, in this case wood. In a modern industrial production the machines overwrites the wooden structures and natural growth pattern. When using manual hand tools my hand collaborates with the wood structure during the forming process. This underpins all the spoons unique qualities.

Stian has made big spoons and small spoons, wide spoons and knobby spoons. There are spoons with spikes and spoons with holes. His creations, although all quite beautiful and considered, begin to feel Seuss-ian in their variety. It’s incredibly impressive that he’s been able to create such a diverse number of shapes where I think a lot of people would have given up after doing 50 or so.

If you’re interested in following Stian’s progress you should visit his Instagram where he posts spoons daily, or on his website.

Stian Korntved Ruud - Daily Spoon

Stian Korntved Ruud - Daily Spoon

Stian Korntved Ruud - Daily Spoon

Bobby Solomon

September 3, 2014 / By

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Bobby Solomon

August 28, 2014 / By

Erik Spiekermann: “Being Obsessive About Detail Is Being Normal”

Erik Spiekermann

I have some very strong opinions about the very strong opinions of Erik Spiekermann. To me he comes off as a cranky old man most of the time but he certainly deserves credit for his long-standing work as a typographer and designer. Recently, he wrote on his blog about the importance of details and how he refuses to be “classified as weird and unusual” because of his obsession.

Every craft requires atten­tion to detail. Whether you’re build­ing a bicy­cle, an engine, a table, a song, a type­face or a page: the details are not the details, they make the design. Con­cepts don’t have to be pixel-perfect, and even the fussi­est project starts with a rough sketch. But build­ing some­thing that will be used by other peo­ple, be they dri­vers, rid­ers, read­ers, lis­ten­ers – users every­where, it needs to be built as well as can be. Unless you are obsessed by what you’re doing, you will not be doing it well enough.

I think Mr. Spiekermann really nails it with this statement. My design-focused brain can’t help but obsess over the details. The nuances of the object you’re designing is what gives it character. The importance of details holds true for things like objects, old or new. When you pick up an iPhone you see the subtle detailing that makes it feel special. Or with older objects you can experience the wabi-sabi of it, the wear and patina that gives it an exceptional quality.

Be sure to read Erik’s full post by clicking here.

Bobby Solomon

August 26, 2014 / By

Titillating Luxury: A Champagne Glass Shaped After Kate Moss’ Breast

Kate Moss - Breast Champagne Glass

Historically champagne has been known as a symbol of wealth and opulence. In the 17th century the champagne coupe was invented, elevating the act of drinking champagne, which became in fashion in the 1930s. Cut to 2014 and the coupe is getting a titillating new form in the shape of Kate Moss’ left breast. Yes, you read that correctly. 34, a restaurant located in the Mayfair area of London, has teamed up with artist Jane McAdam Freud to create the coupe, which is decorated with an art-deco pattern, and of course, Kate Moss’ signature.

There’s something entirely ridiculous about this concept that I love. From a press angle view point I’ve seen the story told that the coupe was originally shaped from Marie Antoinette’s breast, though that’s entirely untrue. Still, the extravagance of drinking champagne from a super model’s breast is too funny not to share. Is this the start of a new trend in sex organ shaped drinking vessels?

Bobby Solomon

August 26, 2014 / By

MUJI Lulls You to Sleep With Its Minimalistic New App


MUJI, Japan’s super successful minimalistic “brandless-brand” has recently released a new app, MUJI to Sleep. It boasts a series of natural sounds to help induce a sound slumber, anytime, anywhere. The app is aesthetically awesome, free, boasts a tight design, and last but certainly not least, aids in perpetuating MUJI’s brand values. Other brands take note: this is how you do digital.


The beginnings of MUJI date back to the early 1980’s, when it served as a generic supermarket brand. Since then the company has grown into a well-respected global name, encompassing a huge variety of goods, everything from housewares to fashion. “Muji” is short for “Mujirushi Ryohin” or “brandless quality goods.”


If you’re familiar with MUJI then you can see the irony in this; MUJI’s “brandless” has become quite the well-known brand. In recent years they’ve expanded out of Asia and into European and North American markets, having seduced design-centric crowds, their wares even sold in MoMA. MUJI to Sleep seeks to continue the brand’s successful trend of function meets natural simplicity.


In an ever-increasing digital world, it’s hard to keep electronics out of the bed, even when we know we’re not supposed to. But MUJI’s sleep app defies this logic, using the sounds of nature on your smartphone or tablet to make drifting off easier. It’s a very niche app, thus the interface and design is refreshingly simple and straightforward. You swipe through six calming sounds of nature: seaside waves, tweeting birds, kindling fire, a stream, forest, and waterfall.

Muji-Sleep-11 Muji-Sleep-12

Every sound was recorded on-location, in Japan, using head-shaped binaural microphones to closely duplicate the experience of actually being within the setting. This technique creates an audio frequency gap between the left and right ear that syncs with the user’s brainwave cycle to encourage sleep. Each sound can be set to a timer of 30, 60, or 90 minutes.


This app couldn’t fit any better within the MUJI family. The brand has risen to popularity precisely because of its refined products and tidy stores, which ultimately offer a bastion of calm. MUJI to Sleep reinforces this association with its minimalistic design and simple, yet functional use. The app is clearly a brand-builder, but doubles as a product-seller too.


Accompanying MUJI to Sleep is a fantastic microsite that demonstrates the app’s use when paired with one of the company’s most popular products, the Well-Fitted Neck Cushion. The app appears to have been created to supplement the cushion’s effectiveness (and that of other other MUJI products too). The two compliment each other so well that you feel like you can’t own one without the other, effectively creating need and consequently moving product off the shelves.


This isn’t MUJI’s first foray into the digital; the company has successfully released other apps that work congruent to their physical offerings. It’s an effective means of digital advertising and marketing—I don’t feel like I’m being worked over by the brand as they’re offering me functional experiences to enhance my living.

“MUJI to Sleep” is available now for both iOS and Android devices. Sweet dreams and happy snoozing.

Nick Partyka

August 25, 2014 / By