Brooklyn-based Conor Brady, of digital agency Huge, oversees the company’s creative teams throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America in his role as Chief Creative Officer. He started his career with Random House by helping to create the first 100 book covers for Vintage Paperbacks, and then moved onto designing record covers at Universal Music/Polygram. Since then, he’s worked with some of the most recognizable brands in the world, like Pepsi, Nike, Audi, Intel, Hilton, VW, BBC, Bank of America, P&G, and Condé Nast, where he follows his belief that the best work comes from “the intersection of great design, user experience, and beautiful narrative.” As a devoted cyclist, Brady not only spends time racing, he runs, with his wife, Elcyclista, a journal devoted to good design and bike culture. Now, let’s see what keeps this busy creative inspired in this week’s Friday Five.
Growing up in Northern Ireland was definitely different. Things like getting searched by the army on the way home from school was considered “normal”. Or waking up as a kid to find a soldier standing at the bottom of your bed in the middle of the night was something to laugh about. We were all affected by it, and wherever possible looked for ways to escape it. I found that escape in maps. My first book was an atlas, in which I spent many hours imagining other places and learning weird and unpronounceable town names. Yet despite living in a world of Google maps I have ended up collecting paper ones. From cheap, sponsored driving maps to hand drawn rarities. My favorite is a watercolor of the Amalfi Coast, painted as the artist sailed down the shoreline. It’s more of a story than a way finder.
I started racing when I was 11 and ended up on the Irish Olympic cycling team (though I missed my shot at competing in the 1996 Atlanta Games because I tore a tendon in Belgium weeks before the Opening Ceremonies—one of my biggest regrets). I tried to go pro for a little bit in Europe but realized I wasn’t going to get very far without “juicing” so returned to finish my design degree. I continued racing for Ireland as an amateur and still bike up to 250 miles a week, though now it’s just to stay in shape. Being on the open road is where I think, where I design. It is pretty common to see me pulled over at the side of a country road in upstate New York emailing myself an idea so I don’t forget it by the time I get home.
When I was 18, I went to France for cycling and confused everyone by drinking British tea. Bike culture in Europe is so intertwined with coffee culture and the inevitable “espresso stop” on every ride. It was here I got introduced to the Bialetti, the classic Italian workingman’s stovetop coffee maker, and I’ve had the same one ever since. It’s been everywhere with me, still works great and is one of my favorite mementos.
I love photography, and I love my Leica M9. Leica has an incredible heritage as the camera of choice for war photographers like Don McCullen, one of my heroes. The M9 is beautifully mechanical and digital at the same time. The rangefinder forces me to slow down, compose, and consider what I am capturing more than a typical point and shoot.
This is a simple knife that I’ve carried around, in one version or another, forever. An artifact from childhood, my grandfather gave me my first one, which I proceeded to slice my finger on. I suppose—with a million uses, from peeling an apple to plucking lunch crumbs out of my keyboard—you never know when it will come in handy.