Brilliant and imaginative reviews for The Life Negroni

The Life Negroni is a project purely from the heart, straddling the world of spirits and mixology, of art and design, of fashion, people and places… even the motor car. Co-authored by me,  a book that traverses through history and across cultures to explore a simple cocktail.

And it has been receiving some wonderful reviews too! Thank you to all the critics out there, my colleagues from design and lifestyle magazines, food and cocktail publications for your kind and imaginative words!

Here are snippets of some of the best…

‘The Life Negroni is a gorgeous book offering voyeuristic insights into a way of life which may never have existed anywhere other than the imagination, but one that is no less intoxicating for that…. As a publication, I was reminded of Luc Sante’s epic No Smoking of 2004, a masterpiece of book design. It is an album, a love letter, a guide, a memoir and a rich source of graphic delight, ‘ design critic, aesthete and author Stephen Bayley wrote in The Spectator.

Like the drink, the book drips European post-war cool… and it’s just possible it might make you a little thirsty,  Teddy Jamieson printed in The Herald Magazine.

‘Be warned: this is a gripping read,’ said Time Out.

Jonathan Bell in Wallpaper* wrote: ‘Mixing up a monograph about a single cocktail seems like a tall order, but the Banks’ celebration of all things Italian, bitter and sweet offers a life history of a famous drink.’

Bar Magazine printed: ‘The revival of the classic Negroni has given it a cult status that is celebrated over more than 300 pages in a lavish new book.’

‘The Life Negroni is an ode to this cocktail, recounting the fascinating history, examining ingredients and the people, music, art and fashions it’s inspired,’ wrote Olive Magazine.

‘It’s like going on the Negroni grand tour. La dolce vita!’ Urban Junkies.

‘It explores the influence the Negroni has had on style, fashion and etiquette, as well as the part it has played in music, art and luxury hotels,’ Brummell magazine printed.

Plus Icon magazine dedicated the ‘Obsessions’ page of the July issue to The Life Negroni authors. Thank you Icon!

… and for the best of the rest Material GalleryDesign Week, Form Trends, The Spirits Business, Saucy DressingGin FuelledBoots Shoes and Fashion, Fine Dining Lovers

Nargess Banks

This is The Life Negroni,

Learn more about The Life Negroni here

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Min, The New Simplicity in Graphic Design

Graphic design is having a minimalist moment. The new wave can be explained in a number of ways – minimalism offers a moment of respite in this age of volume visual consumption; perhaps it is an expression of our modest social and economic times, the post-bling society. Whatever the reason, it is a welcome trend.

Min sets out to explore the renaissance. Written and art directed by Stuart Tolley of Transmission and published by Thames & Hudson, this insightful book showcases work from around 150 contemporary designers. It also reveals the sheer complexity of this genre of graphic design.

Minimalism requires incredible restraint. Far from being simplistic, it takes a highly skilled creative to produce noteworthy minimalist graphics, and there certainly have been some striking recent examples as displayed on the pages of this book. The selection here are hugely diverse, ranging from independent magazines and album covers to corporate identity, branding and packaging.

Min analyses today’s movement in its wider historical context, tracing the evolution from the 1960s. The book also offers insightful interviews with some of the leading practitioners and proponents of minimalist design, including Jessica Svendsen, Made Thought and Eric Hu.

Min, The New Simplicity in Graphic Design is written by Stuart Tolley, and published by Thames & Hudson.

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Wa: The Essence of Japanese Design

European modernism’s simplicity pivots on rationality. Modern society demanded a change in our relationship with objects, and western modernism found new forms to express this. Here modernism fought against superfluous decorative design. The simplicity of Japanese design, however, comes from somewhere entirely different.

A quite style had begun to emerge as far back as the mid-fifteenth century in Japan, following the ten year ?nin no Ran civil war that saw enormous cultural loss with most Buddhist temples and monuments destroyed. It was also around this time when Zen Buddhism was introduced from China. The ancient Japanese believed that it is in nature that we find wisdom, and that humans must live by virtue of that natural wisdom.

All of which contributes to a unique Japanese sensibility that Wa: The Essence of Japanese Design refers to as ‘emptiness’ – an emptiness that invites a variety of interpretations from the viewer. The N? mask used in traditional Japanese musical theatre, for instance, has no expression; this depends on the context of the play. To understand Japanese design today, we need to grasp this concept of emptiness, say the authors of this new book that delves deep into the cultural history of Japan.



Written by leading scholars of Japanese art, design and culture, Rossella Menegazzo and Stefania Piotti, this is a beautifully crafted book that has set out to explore contemporary Japanese design through its complex cultural history. The title Wa refers not only to the simple form and natural material of an object, but also to an internal approach to craftsmanship, art and life in general, found at the heart of this culture. The six chapters pivot on the material used in design and architecture since it is the treatment and relationship with material that is fundamental to understanding Japanese design.

For instance in the chapter on wood the authors explore how the Japanese favour the material for construction for its lightness and impermanence as opposed to stone in the West that signifies solidity and permanence. ‘The material has shaped the country in a continuous process of construction, destruction, displacement and reconstruction,’ says Wa. New rulers would transfer central power to a different place and with it dismantle and rebuild existing temples in the new site. The grand Shino shrine in Isle (pictured), for instance, dates back some 1200 years ago but has been destroyed and rebuilt every twenty years.

Even though contemporary Japanese design has taken on a more global language, materials remain at its soul. It is respected in its every sense – sight, smell, touch, taste – as is the relationship between the object and the space around it, and the object and the user, hence this emptiness.

From Edo period lacquer, to wood Bento Boxes and Shiro Kuramata’s postmodern acrylic chairs – and from eighteenth century hand-painted silk robes to the deconstructed resin and polypropylene dresses of avant-garde fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, Wa demonstrates that whilst diverse, at the heart of Japanese design lies the concepts of simplicity and emptiness.

Made with craft paper, featuring a cover that evokes lacquer, and bound in the traditional Japanese method, this is also a beautiful designed object in its own right, and it shows that there remains a place for the printed book in the digital age.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Wa: The Essence of Japanese Design is published by Phaidon and written by Rossella Menegazzo and Stefania Piotto. 

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