Friday Five With Jonathan Notaro of Brand New School

04.17.20 | By
Friday Five With Jonathan Notaro of Brand New School

In 2000, Jonathan Notaro founded Brand New School shortly after graduating from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). As commercial director and Chief Creative Officer, Jonathan quickly made Brand New School a creative force as well as a leader in visual storytelling and design. He still holds his position as one of the driving creative forces in design and has received innumerable top awards in the ensuing twenty years. Some of Jonathan’s past work includes international campaigns for clients such as Apple, Jack Daniel’s, AT&T, Nike, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, and UNICEF. He’s has also had the opportunity to work with artist Barbara Kruger and French rock band Phoenix on visual projections, as well as tackled many digital/experiential installations. Today Jonathan is joining us with five of his favorite things in Friday Five.

1. Punkt MP02
I returned to work after a tech sabbatical feeling incredibly focused and more aware of the things that distract. Convenience certainly has its consequences. So, I’m exploring the benefit of not having a computer in my pocket. I discovered the MP-02 phone by Jasper Morrison which seems to have the best chance of getting me off my iPhone. The funniest moment is when you find yourself saying “I’ll check my email when I get back to my desk and let you know”.

2. Otl Aicher
An old German friend introduced me to this Ulm school superstar and I’m forever grateful. A true renaissance designer, he created everything from type and logos to architecture. A highlight is the ‘72 Munich Olympics branding, disciplined grid systems meet an illustrated dachshund mascot!? He also aged well and created a consultancy from his farm called Rotis, the namesake of a famous typeface he designed.

3. Postalco Snap Pad
I bought one 10 years ago and it hasn’t failed me, paper refills in plain or gridded line, it makes writing as fun as sketching. The paper is thick, which adds some drama to make good decisions. I also appreciate the fact that I can’t purchase it on Amazon and have to walk to the one stationery store in town to get it. A pencil aficionado in her own right, my daughter Imogen usually tags along knowing dad is a sucker.

4. Byrdcliffe, Woodstock, NY
What I love about New York is that a place like Woodstock exists only a couple hours away from Manhattan. Byrdcliffe is a failed arts and crafts colony in the Catskills from the turn of the century, and where hippies were invented. It was a paradoxical dream of an industrialist’s son and student of John Ruskin. Many of my idols live in the area – and after 15 years of living here – I see why.

5. The Genius of John Hughes
I’ll provide specifics… In the crescendo of the “twist and shout” sequence of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – the visual irony of a guy with a very small mouth screaming at the top of his lungs!? Or in The Breakfast Club opening with a quote from David Bowie and constructing a narrative that takes place almost entirely in a high school library. John Hughes shaped my generation and I learned a lot about myself watching his films. While the cool kids were watching Sci-Fi, he was making films about creative weirdos like myself. He’s my Yoda.

Kelly Beall is Director of Branded Content at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based writer and designer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, from Fashion Plates to MoMA and far beyond. When not searching out the visual arts, she's likely sharing her favorite finds with others. Kelly can also be found tracking down new music, teaching herself to play the ukulele, or on the couch with her three pets – Bebe, Rainey, and Remy. Find her @designcrush on social.