The ultimate car accessory could be this Negroni Trunk

A little while ago I co-wrote a book entirely dedicated to the sweet side of life – much of which existed purely in the imagination. The design critic Stephen Bayley generously wrote of The Life Negroni: ‘It is an album, a love letter, a guide, a memoir and a rich source of graphic delight.’

With a sweet spot for any project that defies convention and (even better) isn’t made for profit, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this one: A product created entirely out of a deep passion for a classic cocktail, love of cars and a thirst for adventure.

This Negroni Trunk – by New York men’s style fixture and founder/editor of lifestyle magazine WM Brown Project Matt Hranek – is designed entirely to make life just that little bit more pleasurable. It certainly works for me.

Take a closer look at the project here.

La Vita Campari tells the story of Campari

Davide Campari was a fascinating character. In the early years of the 20th century the company heir set out to explore the potentials of art and ideas in creating a strong, global brand. Eschewing conventions, he joined Milan’s artistic circles, becoming intimately linked with the avant-garde who helped create product design such as the brilliant Campari Soda bottle, daring poster art and advertising – design that were hugely radical for their time and remain fresh today.

Federico Fellini made mini films for Campari; Marcello Nizzoli, Leonetto Cappiello, Bruno Munari, the Italian Futurists and, in particular, the brilliant Fortunato Depero all worked with the company in creating art work – Munari’s 1963 Declinazione grafica del nome Campari now hangs in the MoMA, New York. Today, Campari continues to endorse the arts, most recently working with The Great Beauty director Paolo Sorrentino for the Campari film The Killer in Red.

La Vita Campari tells the story of this pioneering brand. Written by me and created by Spinach with Campari, it is about a company immersed in arts and ideas – one with a unique vision to use great design, branding, advertising (and an intriguing product) to help build a global brand.

For the book, the team went to Milan, the city in which Campari was born and remains so closely linked. They took on-location photography capturing Campari in its ideal setting, within a city that is at once beautiful and brutal. At the studio in London, Spinach photographed the classic Campari cocktails – Milano Torino, Americano, Negroni, Boulevardier, Negroni Sbagliato, Milanese G&T and Campari Tonic. Elsewhere, original poster art and advertising from Galleria Campari offer a glimpse into a brand immersed in the creative world.

La Vita Campari was launched this month at Campari Creates as part of Design Junction and London Design Festival.

Nargess Banks

Design Talks | The Textile Building | 29a Chatham Place | London | E9 6FJ | UK
Design Talks is published by Spinach Design
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The Life Negroni, an ode to the sweet life

This month saw the publication of a book that I’ve been working on for over a year. The Life Negroni is a labour of love. We travelled through Europe and beyond to meet almost everyone featured in this book, and it has been such an exciting and rewarding project to be involved with.

The book straddles the world of cocktails, spirits and mixology, of art, architecture and design, film, politics and poetry. It delves into the Negroni’s past, discovering the stories behind its component ingredients, and reviews at its timeless influence on art, design, fashion, music, cinema, politics, poetry… the avant-garde.

We go behind the scenes to meet the king of bitters Campari at its stunning modernist headquarters on the edge of Milan. Here we witness the company’s involvement with the Italian Futurists, and see one of the richest collections from this period.

We learn about Vermouth di Torino at Cocchi, and at Martini & Rossi, in an idyllic spot in the beautiful hills surrounding Turin, we see how design and branding were utilised at a time when such concepts were in their infancy.

In London we visit Beefeater, Tanqueray, Sipsmith and Sacred – craft distillers large and small who are preserving the tradition of London Dry gin, and we squeeze our way into the smallest museum dedicated to all things gin at the Ginstitute.

We sample some of the purest and adventurous Negronis at the Bulgari Hotel in Milan, and Fusion Bar and St Regis in Florence, The Connaught, Artesian, Blue Bar, Salvatore’s at the Playboy Club, Shangri-La at The Shard and Frank’s Cafe in London, the Negroni Bar in Munich, and at the Waldorf Astoria, Lincoln Centre, Parker Palm Springs in America.

Above all we meet the custodians, the guardians of the Negroni. Mixologists, bartenders, fashion designers, car designers, yacht makers, filmmakers and artists past and present who champion this simple cocktail.

The Life Negroni is ultimately an ode to the sweet life – a celebration of the pleasures of living told through a humble classic cocktail.

Hope you enjoy!

Nargess Banks

… and the reviews are coming in. Read what The SpectatorTime Out, Urban Junkies and Form Trends had to say about the book, have a browse through the testimonials here, follow us on facebook, twitter and instagram @Thelifenegroni

Purchase a copy here.


…. and some kind words by some of our reviewers and readers:

Absolutely stunning! This book is destined for greatness,’ Sam Galsworthy, co-founder of Sipsmith

‘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. … 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. Only hedonists would enjoy such a thing,’ Stephen Bayley, aesthete, design critic and co-founder of London’s Design Museum

Be warned: this is a gripping read,’ Time Out, London

The book is FABULOUS!’ Gary Regan, author and mixologist

‘… Like the drink, the book drips European post-war cool. It even manages to juxtapose Florence’s Ponte Vecchio with the Playboy Club…It’s a book in thrall to the Italian idea of sprezzatura, a kind of off-the-cuff stylishness that you can trace back to Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courier. And it’s just possible it might make you a little thirsty,’ Teddy Jamieson.

I am obsessed with it, pouring over each beautiful page, and carrying it all over my home. I may even change my Facebook status to “In a Relationship” with…’ Mariena Mercer, chief mixologist The Cosmopolitan of Los Vegas

It is struck me as a reminder of how sweet and beautiful life in Italy has been and, in spite of our chronic financial and political dire strait, still is… It brings out elements of the charm and elegance of our country and of our lifestyle that we Italians sometimes have the tendency to overlook or to forget,’ Maurizio Stocchetto, owner Bar Basso, Milan

‘I love the look and feel. The drink itself had me convinced a long time ago!’ Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group director of design

Absolutely stunning book… already can see that I am going to love every single page and image,’ Paula Champa, author

The book arrived but I could only see it very briefly because Luca Bassani liked it so much that he took it home!’ Monica Paolazzi, on the owner of Wally Yachts

I see you found a page even for me… I am honoured,’ Chris Bangle, car designer

The Life Negroni is no ordinary cocktail book – it documents the historical, avant-garde, and artistic element to the drink, even down to its botanical origin. It’s like going on the Negroni grand tour. La dolce vita!’ Urban Junkies, London

Mille Grazie for taking me on the journey,’ Michele Fiordoliva, co-owner Negroni Bar, Munich

It is an honour to be in such a great book with the best bars and colleagues from all around Europe,’ Marco Vezzozi, bar manager Fusion, Florence

Liquid history. The Life Negroni, finally out. Honoured to be part of the journey,’ Valentina Dalla Costa, The Unseen, Milan

It is even more gorgeous than I thought it would be! I love the size, the canvas feel to the cover… the illustrations inside are just amazing, one after another. It is hard to put it down!!!’ Azadeh Maroufi, New York

It is such a beautifully produced book (but I knew it would be),’ Hilary Whitney, Sacred

A celebration of the sweet life,‘ Yashu e Prem, Italy

‘The glamour oozes off every page. I was transported to another place and time – one which I wished I could inhabit. I could hear the chink of hand-cut ice cubes, see the perfectly cut suits and smell the waft of expensive perfume. And God did I want a drink!!’ Graham Biggs, BMW Group

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ | UK
Design Talks is published by Spinach Design

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Pop in to The Life Negroni pop-up shop

We have a pop-up shop in London next week, for five days only, dedicated to all things The Life Negroni, our latest book. Located in the heart of Shoreditch, in Old Street, the space is designed to excite any true bon vivant and aficionados of the cocktail. Here on sale will be copies of The Life Negroni, and unique prints and posters inspired by the art, design and advertising featured in the book.

The Life Negroni Pop-Up Shop

The Life Negroni Pop-Up Shop

Published by Spinach Publishing, The Life Negroni is the story of the illustrious cocktail and the world it represents. This delicious 300-page coffee table book is the story of the history, ingredients, personalities, music, art, design, fashion, poetry and politics.

And we’ve been receiving some incredible reviews!

Stephen Bayley wrote in The Spectator: ‘It 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…’

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

The book takes the readers on a little road trip of sorts around the world to meet the distillers, mixologists, drink historians, aficionados and aesthetes who champion the Negroni. We visit craft gin distillers in London, makers of Vermouth di Torino in Piedmont, and the king of all bitters Campari in Milan.

We trace the drink’s history to 1919 and its alleged birthplace in Florence, and meet with the ancestor of the contesting Corsican family. We explore a world far beyond a cocktail – one that has been the patron of the arts, has embraced pioneering design, branding and advertising, of free spirits.

The Life Negroni is a story that spans generations. It is a story of Italy, of la dolce vita, of Futurism, of aperitivo. It is a story of love and duels, fought to preserve the spirit of a cocktail. It is, above all, a celebration of the pleasures of living.

To quote Stephen Bayley once more: ‘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. Only hedonists would enjoy such a thing.’

The shop will be open from November 30 to 4 December in Old Street Underground Station, London EC1Y 1BE.

Read more about the book here.


Campari, the art of advertising

Campari is closely linked to Milan. Come aperitivo time, when the bustling city settles to enjoy a drink or two in celebration of the start of the evening, the distinctive bright, red hue decorates almost every bar table in town. Milan is a true aficionada of its local product.

The love affair owes more to just the unique taste of this bitter spirit. It has to do with Davide Campari, the son of Gaspare the liquid’s inventor, and the man who made the company a global brand when he took over at the start of twentieth century. Davide had strong brand vision. He understood the power of design, of advertising, of collaborating with interesting, and at times radical and controversial artists, designers and filmmakers.

We are at the Campari headquarters researching for the book The Life Negroni – Campari being one of the three spirits (and the only one that rarely gets exchanged for a rival bitter) that makes up this archetypal Italian aperitif.

Situated at the very edge of Milan, the brick red façade of the original site is visible from the road. It is a little imposing in this quite suburban setting, certainly striking and a reminder of the architecture of the time it was built in early last century. This is all that remains of the old production site. This and the big, bold graphics spelt out in cast iron that read ‘D. CAMPARI’.

The new headquarters is the work of Swiss architect Mario Botta and the vast concrete construction that greets visitors continues the sense of modernist grandeur. One of the highlights here is Galleria Campari, created four years ago to celebrate the 150 anniversary of the company. It is a visual treat and a wonderful lesson in not only Campari history, but also the development of advertising and branding in the last century.

Gallery director Paolo Cavallo fills us with colourful tales of Davide’s ventures. We watch clips of promotional films made by the likes of Federico Fellini, see actors David Niven and Humphrey Bogart perform memorable campaigns – the latter a parody of Casablanca. The sheer volume of work is exhaustive.

Cavallo explains that ‘Davide was focused on what was happening in the world.’ He had an astute eye for the avant-garde working with Italian artist and chief designer for Olivetti Marcello Nizzoli, poster designer Leonetto Cappiello, illustrator Ugo Mochi, American graphic designer Milton Glaser, best known for the I ? NY logo… to name a few.

Up until the 30s, it was customary for artists to author their own type. Davide, realising growing competition from other spirit companies, stuck with a single logo for immediate brand recognition. In the 60’s Campari took on a new graphic approach, created by Leonardo Stroppa, Guido Crepax and Franz Marangolo. And in 1964 Bruno Munari produced the manifesto Declinazione grafica del nome Campari (Graphic Declination of the name Campari) for the opening of the first subway line of Milan. It caused a sensation.

Davide’s most notable association, though, was with the Italian Futurists, in particular Fortunato Depero, who created some of the most evocative work here. Amongst other strong beliefs, the movement challenged artistic hierarchy by dissolving barriers between fine and commercial art – and so working in advertising was encouraged.

Painter, sculptor, graphic designer and writer, Depero was arguably one of the brighter members of the Italian Futurists. His approach to the movement is documented in Depero Futurista, written in 1927 and sponsored by Davide. The book features a mechanical binding system with two bolts holding the pages together as a reflection of the Machine Age that characterises Futurism in the early 20s. There is a wealth of typographic inventions inside too– the text forms into various shapes, and different papers and colours are utilised throughout.

Depero’s ads for Campari were also experimental. By the 30s adverts had to be digested on the move, from buses, trains and automobiles. People no longer had the time to linger and ponder. Graphic design therefore had to be bold, be clean and the message at once understood. Depero not only opted for striking colours, he employed dynamic block letters, sometimes arranged diagonally. His black-and-white work celebrated the modern world and Manhattan skyscrapers.

Depero designed the mini bottle for Campari soda in early 30s, which remains in production almost to the exact shape, as well as lamps, trays and puppets – all of which are on permanent display here.

Today Campari continues this legacy, championing international designers, the likes of Matteo Thun, Tobias Rehberger and Markus Benesch, to name a few, as well as sponsoring new talent in the Art Label project.

Nargess Banks

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK 

Design Talks is published by Spinach Design

All rights and labelled images are covered by ©