The Monocle Guide to Good Business

say hi to_ Gestalten

Whoever said print was dead is certainly no friend of ours. Not only do we have an obsession with design, we also have a bit of a shopping problem when it comes to books. 

There’s nothing like holding a beautifully crafted (physically or lyrically) book, tossing it in our bag and heading down to the local café for a café crème or nearby jardin to take a break from the office - which has become one of our daily rituals.

One of the most beautiful things about being your own boss is dictating your hours and schedule. Productive work time in the mornings, coffee, people watching and reading in the heat of the afternoon and continuing to work and meet colleagues and designers in the late afternoon until the end of the work day where retire to the nearest terrace for apèro with friends. 

With that being said, even though we are based in France which is notorious as the land of long lunch breaks - I personally feel a slight pang of guilt and lack of productivity if I break for an hour and a half (or sometimes two), mid work day, to read.. so I always try to choose something that I can learn from. This gives me a chance to discover, unwind and learn something new and relevant to my business, all at the same time.

We are very proud to announce that we've partnered up with one of our all time favourite book publishers, Gestalten, to curate a years worth of our absolute favourite titles in one book review a month. Topics ranging from Creative Entrepreneurship to Modernist Architecture to Branding to How to Collect Art on a budget and much more. We will start off the year with The Monocle Guide to Good Business. Read more below!

say hi to_ Gestalten

say hi to_ The Monocle Guide to Good Business


The Monocle Guide to Good Business copyright Gestalten 2016

I’m very excited to review my personal creative business bible and source of inspiration, The Monocle Guide to Good Business, for our first instalment of Gestalten book reviews!

I’m a lover of everything Monocle. Their range of books are a bit like Pokémon, once you have one - you have to get them all. The god fathers of good living, know how to lead the way and bring us into the lives of contemporary creative entrepreneurs. Bound in beautiful fabric and embossed with gold type, the quality of the exterior hints at the quality of the content which certainly does not disappoint. 

There are many books, blogs, magazines (hi!) which cover the lives and work of creatives internationally. What I love most about The Monocle Guide to Good Business, is it’s ability to get the most out of a very diverse pool of different creative's stories, in a concise way. It perfectly balances stories of creative entrepreneurship, facts, photos and illustrations to inspire and inform no matter what part of the business journey you may find yourself on.


I specifically love the organisation of the book. The way the book is broken down and organised is very concise and it is easy to skip around when you are in need of inspiration on a specific topic. My copy is littered with post-it notes taking little tips from all different creative's stories.

The Monocle Guide to Good Business copyright Gestalten 2016




Something I personally find very interesting in different creative entrepreneur's stories are certain standout qualities, aversions and or circumstances which form and influence their career path. For instance, on say hi to_ we often times like to dig into what it is like to run a business with a partner, make it big at a young age, switch careers completely...

In The Monocle Guide to Good Business, each portrait of a different entrepreneur is told depending on one of their standout qualities covering a designated topic. Topics range anywhere between how a Swiss book publisher got started, looking the part, running a startup from a small city, traditional artisan mentorship in Italy to how to build an office which reflects your company. There is literally something for everyone and something to learn from each unique portrait.

“You need to do something unique. There’s so much noise out there.”

My personal favourite was the portrait of founders of type and design agency from Copenhagen, Playtype. It was really refreshing and inspiring to hear the story about an agency who thought outside of the box and presented their product and business in a completely unique way. An agency specializing the digital product of typography and the sale of fonts, opened a brick and mortar shop in Copenhagen. 

“We needed a clever idea that could get people’s attention” says Ibfelt

“So instead of using our budget on traditional advertising we used the money to buy a physical store”

The shop serves as a must see for any type fanatic, as well as a brilliant platform for mother design agency, E-Type, to showcase their work.


The Monocle Guide to Good Business copyright Gestalten 2016

The Monocle Guide to Good Business copyright Gestalten 2016

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10 Things I learned from The Monocle Guide to Good Business

say hi to_ Gestalten

Choose the right city and community for your HQ.

Monocle Manifesto (pg. 12)
“Choose a HQ capital city that also delivers the quality of life you want; balance urban efficiency with pleasure. A company should be part of the community that it sits in.”


Careful curation sets you apart from the crowd.

How to Run a Design Shop (pg. 26)
“I like to know your point of view when I walk through the door, not that you have 7.000 kinds of mugs” - Sam Hamilton of March

say hi to_ Gestalten
say hi to_ Gestalten

Be smart about how you manage your money.

How to Start a Furniture Company (pg. 30)
“If you’re working for investors, shareholders or private companies then they define what success means. The more control you have, the more you can define what it means”.


Stick to your ideas. Commit.

How to Build a Business (pg. 41)
“Don’t dawdle. After you have spoken to everyone, don’t get blown off course. Your head will spin if you ask too many people for advice. Let’s say you want to start a small wine company with links from vineyard to retail. A survey of opinions will push you up and down market from Chile to Italy. But if you know your passion is for selling Spanish wines to Japan or Brazilian ones to Canada, stick with it.”

say hi to_ Gestalten
say hi to_ Gestalten

Have only what you need.

How to Build a Business (pg. 44)
“If you do not need your own office or shop from the get-go, start small. Too many retail concepts, for example, fail because people just start off too big, paying rent for floorspace they don’t need. Conversely, there are lots of shops no bigger than a few square metres to raise the bar in terms of inventiveness”


Learn through apprenticeship and mentors.

Trailblazers (pg. 78)
“We need to invest in the youth and help them grow.”- Antoinio Liverano of Liverano & Liverano

say hi to_ Gestalten
say hi to_ Gestalten

Attention Managers: Roll up your sleeves when team leading.

Surprising Lessons (pg. 118)
“When you start off, do everything from ordering the stationary to helping unload the truck. Make the company grow around you and imprint your business DNA on it all; from fonts to furniture, you need to shape what this enterprise looks like. As your team grows they will admire a boss who expects everyone to work as hard as each other. Lead from the front and you will always know when colleagues are getting it right.”


As a manager be conscience to show gratitude and recognition for team members.

The Long View (pg. 130)
“Never under estimate your co-workers’ needs to be seen and noticed. It’s more important to praise than criticise because criticism is something people are very good at giving themselves.” - Eva Hamilton of SVT

say hi to_ Gestalten
say hi to_ Gestalten

Research what your city has to offer for creative entrepreneurship.

Business Cities - Small Cities - Palma, Spain (pg. 180)
“The council has reduced red tape and fast tracked provisional licenses for new businesses, making it easier to set up shop.” 


Live up to what you promise.

Words of Wisdom (pg. 198)
“ Now more than any time in recent decades, there’s an opportunity for new businesses to flourish if they’re willing to live up to their stated mission. But not living up to the basic tenets you set out for yourself is a recipe for failure” - Barrett Austin

say hi to_ Gestalten
say hi to_

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