No Use Dwelling on What You May Have Been
Taking a look at the cutest little seafood bar, inky works of art, shape-based branding, chaotic restaurant design, and lots more.
Let’s talk about blogging.
Back in April of 2007, inspired by the likes of K10K, Kottke, and Cool Hunting, I started a little blog called Kitsune Noir. I was 25 years old, lacking a direction in my life as to what I wanted to be, so I started sharing the things I found interesting. There was no plan, just me throwing things at the wall and hoping something stuck. And well, it did, thanks to investing a lot of time and creating interesting formats like the Desktop Wallpaper Project and my mixtapes, as well as projects that readers could enjoy. Like with all things in life, we experience ebbs and flows, and in time, I gave it up. The person I was wasn’t the person I became. Now, nearly 16 years (WTF) since I started that little blog, I feel like I’m ready to hop back in the saddle. There’s a few specific reasons for this.
The first is that, at this point, most social platforms are gross. Facebook and Instagram is a place for ads, not friends, and I’m morally against helping those platforms or their owner. I discover a lot via Twitter though it’s hard to look past the racism, sexism, and homophobia that permeates the platform. I tried Tumblr for a few weeks, it’s a ghost town. TikTok is pretty amusing, though I think about it more like TV, not a place I want to create for as it’s so transient, you must feed the feed and hope the algo finds you. I’m tired of playing that game (which I can never fully get away from, we all play Google’s game).
Second, I’m tiring of Substack. A newsletter format is interesting, and I love that I can control what my readers see, I don’t have to fight an algo for eyes. That said, Substack does a poor job of curating, and they really only highlight those with large paid followings. Again, why invest my time and energy into someone’s else’s platform?
Finally, I want more flexibility and freedom to create in my own world. Hindsight is 20/20, and now I can see that what I had built with The Fox Is Black was an amazing community of creative folks. I want to do that again! What does The Desktop Wallpaper Project look like in 2023? How do mixtapes come together? Interviews? Collaborations? International events? Like, my mind has been in a flurry these last couple months thinking through the possibilities.
So I’m looking for collaborators to help me build this new version of The Fox Is Black. I definitely need a web developer (paid, for sure) who can help me build this thing out, who understands current blogging platforms. And if there are folks out there who are interested in writing with me, I feel like that could be fun to open up as well. My goal is to build a site that feels like an ongoing examination of current creative culture in all it’s facets. One that folks can feel like they’re part of, and that they want to keep coming back to. If that’s you, please feel free to email me and reach out with ideas!
📌 — I’m always on the lookout for intimate spaces where people can eat and drink. Think of listening bars in Tokyo or small coffee shops like Cafe Regina in San Juan. So I was bowled over when I saw Citrons et Huîtres, a seafood bar in Paris designed by Marion Mailaender.
Intentionally designed to look like market stall, with stainless steel countertops and the scattered tile floor. Overall, the space feels like it’s part of the sea thanks to the cyanotype prints by Mailaender's husband, the artist Thomas Mailaender. Like last week’s feature on Paul Westwood, you have those terracotta stools that absolutely pop in contrast to the cool tones. How about that oyster door handle? Absolutely the coolest.
📌 — Michelle Armas is an Atlanta-based abstractionist painter who makes these inky, organic works filled with vibrant tones and unusual compositions. Her Totems series, an example above, are absolutely stunning. I love her ability to let the colors mix and blend together to create these visceral compositions. They feel to me like mushrooms you’d find on the bottom of the ocean during an intense acid trip, if that makes sense?
📌 — The folks over at Manual are coming out hard in 2023 with this identity design for Louisa Parris. Since the clothes themselves are so bold and graphic, made up of unique shapes and patterns, the new word mark follows form. Utilizing only straight and semi-circle lines, you get these undulating forms which give the mark so much energy, reminiscent of art deco or Bauhaus. I kind of got a Byredo vibe as well, as both feel to me like nouveau stencil typography.
📌 — I love a bit of chaos in branding. Mauricio Garza worked with Mexico City café/bar/restaurant Ardo to create an identity that takes a kitschy, maximalist approach. The logo, which you can kinda see in the middle there, is Masahiro Naruse’s Falling Script, which falls into that “wtf” type category yet still maintains that legibility. In addition, there are some check patterns, which come in unique styles, as well as the eclectic color palette of deep reds, purples, and a crisp mint green.
I took a somewhat similar approach back in 2018 for the pop-up restaurant I created, Le Filou. It was all about wild color combos, bold patterns, and really trying to see how far I could push the brand.
🍃 — A few weeks back I chanced upon Ghosts, who I assume is a living person, creating these mind-bending black and white animation loops which are filled with abstract forms and environments, paired with intense music.
🍃 — I was surprised to learn that Burial’s iconic track “Archangel” is actually sampled from a Ray J song released 2005. I wonder how much time it took him to figure out this arrangement of lyrics?
🍃 — The National Portrait Gallery has gone through a rather extensive rebrand. There’s a beautiful new, bespoke logotype by Peter Horridge, inspired by a mark seen throughout the museum, as well as an updated visual identity by Edit Brand Studio. Overall a tidy and effective refresh.
🍃 — Incredibly charming embroidered illustrations by Iyo Okumi. I love the folksy nature of these. It’s wonderful that she’s able to get such contrast and dimension in her pieces. Don’t miss her colored pencil pieces either.
🍃 — Some strong work from Smörgåsbord for The Canton Cutler, a self-taught bladesmith creating bespoke knives. They ended up developing a contemporary black letter that pairs nicely with an overall mimial, Braun-esque graphic approach.
🍃 — M/M (Paris) have a show up at Air de Paris that looks fantastic. Spanning 30 years of work, you get an in-depth exploration of their seminal careers. How I want to hop on a train to see this! Show ends 25 February.
🍃 — Need some gift ideas for Valentine’s Day? I though T Magazine’s gift ideas were spot-on, including ways t spice up dinner, beautiful signet rings, affordable art, and erotic books.
🍃 — Nicolas Godin, who you may know as one half of French band AIR, scored the film Fire of Love, which follows the lives and careers of volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. A solid soundtrack for your day.
First, I loved K10K, and I miss that internet. Second, I feel you. It’s time for people to bring some of that curated, DIY goodness back. I’m happy you’re doing it. And third, if you need an art contributor, I’d be happy to help in any way I can.
Very excited to see what you create - I think it's a great direction. I started using substack late last year to share my favorite albums, mixtapes, playlists, and all things music related. However I'm already 'tiring' of substack - it's just like you said - why waste my time and energy into someone else's platform? I'm looking forward to your new blog and I'm sure you will provide inspiration for me to make a similar move, in fact you already have.