Search This Blog

Man About Town: Stay Awake

Took me a while to get to the point of being totally aware of what existed around me. Its interesting to me how the phrase "stay woke" has taken on this new meaning of political awareness and correctness. But to go in depth from a personal stand point, I'm woke when I'm fully absorbing my surroundings; when all of my senses are active and I see something special in the things people tend to walk by and ignore. I mean people, places and things. Even before technology evened the playing field creatively and socially, it was still perspective that separated people with imagination. Most of us have eyes, less of us are using them for vision, and a few are recording or unearthing the magic that is hidden in plain sight. The more I started travelling the more I started to realize how inspiration and information are available to download (around you) at all times. You just have to stay curious, stay open, or stay...woke?

Above: I souped up this 1981 BMX Norco back in July. It obviously isn't what you'd take to a marathon, but it looks fire with white or gum tires. I made sure to grab a pair of both.

Above: Design as a weapon according to Philippe Starck. 18 karats that obviously remind me of a cheat code from Goldeneye.

Below: How to Build a House Museum by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates. This was a powerful exhibit and a great use of space at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Curated by Kitty Scott.

Above: We were coming home from Prince Edward County and ended up in a small town that was screening The Tragically Hip's final concert at the Air Canada Centre at this drive-in theatre. I didn't realize how many fans they had, but more importantly, legacy is a very very important thing, because the world will only study, celebrate or remember what you leave behind.

Filed Under Film (Full Movie)

Filed Under Film is a mixtape of music videos, vignettes, and interviews both lo-fi and hi res intentionally sequenced into a mosaic of inspiration. Throughout the film, these bits and pieces explore the process of creativity, challenging the notion of art and ideas that have inspired my outlook, approach, and practice. When we first screened the film at Shopify's headquarters back in August, it ran just under an hour, not including the silent pre-screening that loops before the film actually starts.

Afterward, I felt a little more ambitious about how to contextualize the film. I chose a vintage theatre to screen it the second time around, extended it, and added previews to make it really cinematic. I considered uploading the original version earlier, but my worry was that the message would be compromised. In a theatre its just different; you cant't fast forward, rewind or download. You have surround sound, cinematic dimmed lighting, and this particular theatre—floor covered in tacky 80s carpet—bleeds nostalgia. It wasn't easy getting people to the movies to watch a film that I still have a tough time describing, let alone a screening at midnight, so I'm thankful to everyone that came out.

So here it is, the full extended version of the movie mixtape. Please please please don't skip through it. I know this is the internet, but please take the time to just watch it in full. The transitions and tone throughout is intended to be viewed in one piece. I'm almost finished part two, and still thinking about a clever way to share it once I'm done. I think because I'm working on the new one, I've become less attached to the first. And look, you may not feel anything after watching this, you may have opposing views on whats being said, or you just might like it, but I hope within the hour something inspires you how it has and continues to inspire me. Enjoy.

Highsnobiety Issue 13

These are images from a recent interview with Highsnobiety, where I spoke about everything from shipping containers and thrift shopping, to working at Nomad when it was still on Richmond Street. The story is written by Jian DeLeon, who ironically, was instrumental in NEEDS&WANTS getting it's first acclaim back in 2013.

Photos from the spread are c/o Othello Grey and Michael Rousseau. This issue is available now at fine retailers (worldwide) and for purchase online, here.

Grand Touring

When the first Gran Tourismo for PlayStation was released, I played it religiously as a kid. So much so that I eventually knew each track turn by heart. I loved driver simulation games—not because I ever wanted to own an Italian made car, or be in a high speed chase—but because I was obsessed with the concept of cars. I'm fascinated by how they are built, the thoughtfulness behind luxury design, how far the idea of motor vehicles has come—and how much further it can go.

Around this same time, I collected NASCAR Diecast models; totally unaware of the millions of dollars spent decorating the real vehicles in corporate logos, or costly engineering modifications in each car. To me, a car was more of a muse than a means, and thats as far as it went. I'm the guy that would own a Mercedes 300-SL and still ride a bike to work.

Fast forward a couple decades and my fixation for cars hasn't depreciated, but has evolved. I still love cars, only now I'm able to intersect my personal sentiments with design. Grand Touring, as a collection, you could say, is a result of all the hours spent on PlayStation, watching the Daytona 500 on TSN, and all the other imagery I managed to save to my subconscious hard drive.

This past June, I stumbled upon the film Senna, a documentary about the legendary F1 driver Ayrton Senna, a guy I'd argue was is the Michael Jordan of automotive racing. The world famous Monaco Grand Prix had already happened in May, but I was so inspired by Senna's story that I was ready to pack my stuff and fly to Monaco just to experience a race. Yo, God forbid I get to a point where I don't have the time to take my time, because to make something definitive, fine details and execution really have to be considered. My first experience this close to any real race track was the Honda Indy this past Summer. Most fans of motorsports will tell you theres a significant difference between the Indy and Formula 1 cars, so I'm fortunate to have experienced both fully immersed.

Above: A view from the pits at The Honda Indy. Its pretty interesting to watch an entire team of people service a vehicle being pushed to its limits, maintaining its highest performance every few laps—in record time. Even the smallest amount of dirt or debris on the front wing of the car can alter its aerodynamic advantage.

Below: The jacket named after Ayrton Senna from NEEDS&WANTS Pre-Fall '16. Throughout a decade, Senna would claim 3 championships, 65 pole positions, and 610 career points. Gold seemed pretty fitting given the context.

Above: We sampled onboard footage from Senna's record lap in Monaco for this teaser. The text was purposely exported in low resolution to match the quality of salvaged VHS.

Below: The Monaco jacket from NEEDS&WANTS Pre-Fall '16, crafted entirely in suede. We also did a red, white and black rendition. Ironically, loop zippers and other oversized hardware are trending in high fashion, but my inspiration for the loop zipper was a vintage Goodyear jacket I found on eBay.

Above: Product packaging and presentation—my other obsession. I always want to have product packaging people won't throw away and is still functional. This semi-transparent metallic bag allows you to see its contents when held up to light, plus its air tight and tear proof, too.

Below: I wouldn't have seen the correlation between racing and Brazilian music until watching the Senna movie. Immediately afterward, it became the soundtrack to the Grand Touring collection and the rest of my summer. I put this mixtape together for NEEDS&WANTS including some of my personal collection. Download it here.

Once I shot the Pre-Fall lookbook and the collection was released, I thought I had done all that I needed to. That was until a friend of mine in Amsterdam put me on to the Historic Grand Prix in Zandvoort, Netherlands. Thank you, Lana. The timing couldn't be more perfect, I had just scheduled a meeting in London the same week. The Historic Grand Prix was nothing like The Hondy Indy at home—not necessarily because it was bigger, it just felt like the real thing. The cars were 10 times louder, the track perfectly manicured, and the circuit park in Zandvoort sits right next to the beach.

I have never seen so many Porsches in my entire life; I'm talking an entire lot full of them, lined up in rows by year. We had access to everything at The Grand Prix, which was different from my experience at the indy, where even an "all access" pass only got you so far before you had to finesse. But in Europe, nothing was off limits, I could capture anything, so I made sure I did—film and digital. Just as I was leaving, there was a vintage Lotus Honda 99T on display, covered in Camel Cigarettes branding that Senna drove on that very track. Wild. There it was, propped up like some symbolic monolith of my childhood reminding me to hold on tight to my childlike sense of adventure. 12 year old me would be ecstatic.

Mexico City

Not being able to find an Airbnb in or close enough to Havannah, Cuba, for four people was the last minute deciding factor in how we ended up in Mexico City. Looking back, it's obvious that initial dilemma worked itself out. The image above is what Mexico City felt like (for the most part) in one photo, but the entire place was visually polarizing. Colourful, rich in culture and even below overcast skies everything still felt bright. On one hand, the city's aging busy streets felt like foreign film that would be Oscar worthy for best cinematography, then we'd drive for a few blocks and be within one of the world's most progressive design capitals. Ignore all the myths and bullshit Yelp reviews about the "dangers" of Mexico City—its heaven on Earth, let no one tell you different.

Above: The Museo Soumaya, designed by the Mexican architect Fernando Romero with over 60,000 works from 30 centuries. The top floor of the museum has one of the largest collections of sculptures I've seen, including Rodin's. As a bonus, the Museo Jumex is literally across the street, with a huge Jeff Koons piece in front, you can't miss it.

I'm going back someday soon. I didn't make it to the Teotihuacán Pyramids, Archivo Diseño, or La Casa Luis Barragán. Mexico City is one of those movies with so much detail that you can't really grasp all the nuances until you've watched it a second or third time.