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.
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.