Are You A Creative Genius?

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Are You A Creative Genius?

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge

26 August 2015

Camera? Check. Notepad and pen? Check. Presenting the paraphernalia you need in your life.

Trying to put a label on creativity is, to paraphrase the nuns from The Sound of Music, a bit like trying to catch a cloud and pin it down. It’s such a broad concept, and comes in so many different forms, that reducing it to a series of symbolic objects would be… well, reductive, to say the least.

Nonetheless, that’s exactly what we are about to do, by picking out a few of the pieces on MR PORTER that will appeal to the creatives among you. Looking for the camera that every photographer lusts after? Or the typography nerd’s watch of choice? Look no further...


Sketchbooks – otherwise known as last-gen tablets. Does anybody even use them any more? There isn’t even an “undo” function. For a creative mind, though, the sketchbook is one piece of tech that’s far from obsolete. Think of the benefits. There’s no internet connectivity, for a start – which means no distractions. And if you’re still not convinced, just look at them: if there’s one thing that’s going to persuade you to put down the iPad and pick up a pencil, it’s these beautiful books from the family-run Italian firm Antica Cartotecnica. Based in the Piazza dei Caprettari in Rome, it has been specialising in elegant notebooks and stationery since 1930.

If you do pick up a set, though, please do us and the good folk at Antica a big favour and actually use them. Social media floozies that we are at MR PORTER, we’ve seen far too many Instagram shots of these books remaining in their (admittedly perfect) packaging, shot from above on an artfully arranged desk next to a flawless latte, a pair of thick-rimmed Cutler and Gross glasses and a pack of Marlboro Reds. That #hardatwork hashtag isn’t fooling anybody. And while we’re on the subject, how did you get high up enough to take that photo? Were you standing on your chair?


Welcome to 2015, where everyone is a photographer. First digital photography made film redundant, then the iPhone made cameras redundant and finally Instagram filters made creativity redundant. The bar to entry hasn’t been lowered: it has been taken down and put on the floor. That’s what the purists would have you believe, anyway. What they won’t tell you is that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds: the creative freedom of a fully manual camera, combined with the simplicity of a digital point and click. Say hello to the Leica M-P, seen here in its limited-edition Safari design.

The M-P differs from the M, Leica’s standard digital rangefinder – if it’s possible to apply the word “standard” to such a high-end camera – in that the iconic red logo has been removed from the front of the body. This was apparently inspired by professional photographers, who have been known to tape over the logo as a precaution against theft. Testament, perhaps, to just how desirable these cameras are. We should stress, of course, that having a great camera will not turn you into a great photographer. But having one of the best compact cameras in the world… well, surely that’s not a bad place to start?


Famous for being the official font of the New York subway system, Helvetica is the Marmite of the typography world – you either love it or hate it. This statement might cause a bit of confusion to people outside the world of graphic design (or “muggles”, as they’re known). How, might you ask, could something as banal as a typeface inspire either love or hate? Surely it’s more of a like/ dislike kind of thing? And what’s so bad about Comic Sans, anyway? If you’re asking these questions, it’s safe to assume that this watch is not for you.

If, on the other hand, you’re a graphic designer and Helvetica lover who wears his passions on his sleeve – or, more specifically, his wrist – then you’ll want to take a look at the latest creation from the Swiss watchmaker Mondaine. Its designer, Mr Martin Drechsel, was inspired by the typeface, which he described as having “a quiet, modest beauty”, and you can certainly see in the unfussy design of the watchface a shared elegance and simplicity.


A freelance creative without a MacBook is like a canoeist without a paddle, a violinist without a bow. It’s his most important tool and it deserves the best protection that money can afford – especially if he’s planning on carrying it around with him as he gets turfed out of every coffee shop in the neighbourhood for drinking too slowly and abusing the Wi-Fi.

Such a man might look to this elegant tanned-leather MacBook case, which is made by Tärnsjö Garveri. This 140-year-old Swedish company has been supplying leather to luxury conglomerate LVMH for many years and is considered a world expert in the vegetable-tanning process. This method uses bark extracts to create a breathable, supple leather with a rich colour that will age beautifully.


Tattoos were long the preserve of the creative classes, but have now gone mainstream. A recent study by the Pew Research Center in Washington DC found that nearly 40 per cent of young people in the US have now been inked – and as demand continues to grow, the market is beginning to segregate itself. If you want to be seen to be creative, it’s no longer enough to have just any tattoo; you need the right kind of tattoo.

Back in March, MR PORTER spent a Saturday with Dr Woo, an in-demand tattooist at the Shamrock Social Club tattoo parlour in LA. His fine-line “fashion tats” have created something of a stir in the industry. Tiny, intricate and seriously cool, they’re about as far from a Celtic band as it’s possible to get. Being small, though, they need tender loving care. You don’t want to have spent six months on a waiting list just to smudge the thing. Step forward, Derm Ink: a cream, balm and soap trio designed to speed up the healing process, protecting both your skin and your precious new tattoo.


Le Corbusier died half a century ago today, on 27 August 1965. Of course, you already knew that. And it didn’t take opening your browser to Architectural Digest (your homepage) to figure it out, either; you’ve had it in your diary for months. He was one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, the father of modernism, a “starchitect” before the word even existed. A date as auspicious as this doesn’t go by without you noticing.

There is no better time than now for the architecture aficionados among you to review the life and work of a man who wasn’t just one of the most progressive forces in his field – the word “groundbreaking” seems apt for him in more than one sense – but who also helped to introduce the idea of celebrity and of a personal brand, to the architecture world. (We’ll let you in on a secret: Le Corbusier wasn’t his real name, you know.) Phaidon’s latest tome, written by historian Mr William JR Curtis, is just the place to start your re-evaluation of the bespectacled one.


The Meisterstück, German for “masterpiece”, is a pen with serious cachet. Engraved on the gold-plated nib is the number 4810 – the height in metres of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain. Behind all this cleverly crafted symbolism is a simple, metaphorical explanation: just as Mont Blanc marks the highest point on the continent, so the Meisterstück represents nothing less than the peak, the pinnacle, the apotheosis of the writing instrument. No finer a pen shall ye find in all the land.

You might wonder, after reading all of that, if this is too precious an object to actually write with – but write with it you must. The true beauty of a Meisterstück has nothing to do with the numbers on the nib and everything to do with the nib itself, which yields and moulds itself to your writing style over the weeks, months and years. That’s why, despite popular belief, this is not just a pen for men who sit behind big desks and sign treaties and million-dollar cheques – but for writers, too.