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Posted by Moa Dickmark  |   2 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)


A few years ago, I saw a picture of a desk that captured my eye. I can't remember exactly where I saw it—perhaps it was this very blog—I just remember not being able to stop thinking about it. I searched the Internet to find out who had created this lovely desk and ended up on the website of Manoteca. Now, when I see something that I like, I have to tell the person who is behind it that I like their creation (or what they are wearing, or what they are singing, or what they are drawing, etc.) Call it what you will, OCD if you wish.

So I found the e-mail address for the person behind the brand, and it turned out to be a young woman called Elisa. Since then, we haven't written much, but my curiosity for the person and the visions behind the brand is still there. So, here comes the second article about young ambitious entrepreneurs working within the creative field.


Core77: What led you to start Manoteca?

Elisa Cavani: Before creating Manoteca, I was working as a visual merchandiser for fashion companies, for more or less ten years. I traveled a lot and gained a lot of information. In those ten years, I met very respectable people with so much talent. Yet the structure of big companies crushed them—I saw many people forget the things they believed in and give up any kind of talent. I was scared because I could feel that it was happening to me as well, so I decided to "fire" myself and create something that I had had in my head for so long.

This was the beginning. I moved the furniture in my apartment and for a year I worked, lived and slept in the middle of tools and sawdust. To me, the pieces of my first collection represent the freedom of expression. I loved them so much. I spent my evenings watching them, cleaning them one by one, every single hole and crack in the material. I really treated them as if they were the most valuable things I owned. In fact, they still are.


Did your ten years of experience as a merchandiser have any influence on how you started your brand?

I didn't think so initially, then I thought again and came up with a better answer. The visual merchandisers work with the visual language, they communicate feelings and moods but cannot use words. There is so much of this in Manoteca. There is a maniacal attitude, for which everything have to be perfect, and a meticulous attention to every detail. There is the organization and optimization of the time. There are the administrative and commercial skills, which I unwittingly absorbed and modified in favor of the brand. There is the knowledge of foreign markets that I have followed for a long time, the awareness that every person have different habits and cultural characteristics that you need to know, otherwise it is impossible to communicate. There are errors that I have made in the past, from which I can benefit today. There is a predisposition for solid and professional structure, which hasallowed the project to go around the world.

In retrospect, I should say 'Thank You' to my past.



Posted by Allan Chochinov  |  21 Dec 2013  |  Comments (1)


It is with great sadness that we share the news that one of the great contemporary minds of design, Bill Drenttel, has passed away. Bill contributed to design discourse, thought leadership, and progressive action in myriad ways, and was a beacon to so many of us in the design community.

Perhaps best known as the publisher and co-founder of Design Observer (along with his wife Jessica Helfand and Michael Bierut), he spearheaded and championed many other organizations and initiatives. The Winterhouse Institute created outstanding works of design and advocacy, and was early in celebrating and creating meaningful work and dialog around design for social change; his teaching at the Yale School of Management fortified the growing link between design and business; and his design directorship at Teach for All evidenced his commitment to education reform around the world.

As a former trustee of the Cooper-Hewitt, president emeritus of the AIGA, and chair of Aspen Design Conferences, Bill gave time and wisdom consistently and generously, creating ripples of impact across multiple contexts.

Bill was a tireless, fearless proponent of the power of design. Through his journey from advertising to publishing to advocating to teaching, his belief in design as a positive, social force was infectious. He was uncompromising and diligent. He brought people together who had shared interests, and carved out spaces for conversations if none existed. He paid attention in a way that was remarkable--when you worked with Bill it was always show time--and he inspired people around him to do their very best. That may sound like a cliché, but it was one of his design superpowers. His bar was high. And he played for keeps.

Bill was also a friend, and a great friend to Core77. I will cherish every moment I've shared with him, and will think of his wife and two children as acknowledgments and warm thoughts surround them at this difficult time.

Bill was one of the great intellects of design, practitioners of design, and advocates of design. The design world was a better place with Bill Drenttel in it. And he will be missed. But his teachings and his enthusiasms will live on in everyone he's touched, and he will be remembered deeply, fondly, and often.

Posted by erika rae  |  11 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)

DavidSmith-Jameson.jpgPhotos courtesy of David Smith

We love getting into the brains behind design, whether it's with graphic designers like Jessica Walsh, Yoshimoto bladesmith Murray Carter or expert blacksmiths like Tony Swatton. This time, we've got a video that takes a us back in time to the art of signage and goldleaf application. David Smith, a traditional signwriter, has been practicing reverse glass decoration and ornate gilding for more than 29 years. His designs are featured in pubs, liquor labels, businesses and album art, of all things.


Smith is currently based in Torquay, United Kingdom. He runs his own signage and gilding shop specializing in all kinds of embossing from vehicle graphics to 3D installations—but he's kept his signature style of reverse glass gilding in all of his work.

DavidSmith-KingsofLeon.jpgThe final version of Smith's work for the Kings of Leon

It won't take you more than a couple of minutes to appreciate the detail in his work. And this special attention hasn't gone unnoticed—Smith has designed album art for the Kings of Leon (Beautiful War) and John Mayer (Born & Raised). You can also find some of his intricate designs on seasonal Jameson whiskey labels.


Posted by erika rae  |   3 Dec 2013  |  Comments (2)


You might know Jessica Walsh for her graphic design work, but it's more likely that you religiously (and tearfully, at times) followed her viral side project "40 Days of Dating" with fellow designer friend (even post-breakup) Timothy Goodman. The latter project has blasted her name around the Internet and in conversations worldwide—Warner Bros even recently bought the film rights to the project. But her graphic design starts a conversation on its own. The attention to surreal detail in her ad campaigns, subway posters and branding projects puts her on the "designers to follow" radar.