Q+A with Neal Whittington, founder of PRESENT & CORRECT

Good design has always been deeply embedded in our brand DNA, from our beautifully minimalist packaging to our uniquely architectural stores to our artist-inspired holiday gift sets. Since inception, we've had the fortune of connecting with other brands and founders who share this love for aesthetics. One such brand is London stationer and design curator, present / & / correct. Located just a short walk away from our Islington shop, present / & / correct is a showcase of "sundries for the modern workspace" – colorful stationery, vintage office supplies and more. Ashima Jain, our vice president of creative, sat down with founder Neal Whittington to dicuss the inspiration behind the shop and the importance of design in his life. 

Neal, can you tell us a little about yourself? and how present  / & / correct came to be?

I went to art school, studying graphic design, then worked in the branding studio at Winkreative/Monocle for about 6 years before starting P&C. I’ve always been someone who would collect paper, stationery, etc. and make things. My business plan was naively basic: to turn that love into a shop and sell my work alongside anything else which made me happy, within the realm of office supplies.  


what does your typical morning routine look like?

I get up at 7, take coffee back to bed, then spend too long looking at the news, social media, anything shop-related that happened overnight! Most days I walk to the shop, along Regent's Canal, which is good waking up time. Mornings in the shop are the time for packing orders and getting them shipped before we open. The space is small so it’s usually just me and some music.

Present & Correct stationery shopPresent & Correct stationery shop

what inspires you in life + in work?

My Nana had this saying "you’re like a dog at a fair" and that sort of describes me in the way I am constantly looking and getting excited by things. I’m inspired by so much, beyond the obvious galleries, stores, books, buildings, etc. It's useful that I’m intrigued by very mundane, overlooked aesthetics. I like infrastructural systems like cables and pipes, print markings, anything which is perforated or gridded and then everything more directly related to my work – like stamps, forms, binding, packaging. There’s a really great Instagram hashtag #super_ordinarylife and it’s about beauty in the every day. That sums up where I find inspiration. 


why is good design important?

Good design is life-enhancing, across the full spectrum of its definition. And I believe in design as something that is for everyone, though it is often hijacked by money and status.  It can assist and aid but it can also give pure enjoyment. If something looks great and makes you feel good, then that can be function enough!  


what do you keep on your desk?

Our desk at home has nothing but a Mac and a notebook. My desk at work is a whole different story. It’s an off-brand carnage of new finds, cups, things I intend to scan. I use sticky notes a lot but also have a bad habit of leaving objects around as reminders. I also have an Anglepoise, a candle and a really nice whitewashing brush that I found in Spain.


if you were going to a deserted island, what item could you not live without?

A laptop with broadband. I’m an Internet junkie.


what is your earliest memory of design/art inspiring you?

Aside from Lego and a magic set, almost all of my toys were art supplies and craft sets. I would cut and make things all the time. I loved drawing and painting. From the library, I got grown-up crafting books on everything from graphic design (old school 1980s techniques!) to candle-making. Serious nerd alert, but they made me happy.

what do you do for the holidays? do you have any holiday traditions?

We alternate between Norfolk, for my parents, and New Zealand for my partner, Mark's. This year it’s a very English Christmas. So turkey, dark days, wild nieces and nephews, The Snowman and Scrabble. My only real holiday traditions are old cooking shows (Delia, Fanny, etc.), Home Alone, icing the Christmas cake and eating Stollen [a traditional German bread] for 24 days.


finally, what would you say is your biggest vice?

Aside from stationery? Food (I’m not fussy) and cooking equipment. For my 40th I got an Iitala casserole dish and a really nice balloon whisk.