Necessities: Joe Levy Of I Love Ugly
Zayyar Give us some insight about yourself Joe, what do you do and where are you based?
Joe: Sure thing, my name is Joe Levy, I’m 25 years old, born and bred in Wellington and currently based in Auckland. I’m the Designer at New Zealand menswear brand I Love Ugly.
Zayyar: Where are some of your favourite places to hang out in Auckland?
Joe: On weekends I like to get out and get some fresh air, so I’ll typically head to the Waitaks to spots like the Kitekite Falls, Bethells Beach, or Huia. Or north to spots like Matakana. Definitely one of my favourite things about Auckland is its huge variety of beaches, bush walks, hilltop views and space to escape the city.
For my coffee fix, basically anywhere that serves Coffee Supreme filter coffee. I’m into chilled eateries like the Fed Deli, Simon & Lee, or the champs at Williams Eatery. I’m also getting back into my vinyl so I’d also have to mention the iconic Real Groovy.
Zayyar: What does your day to day entail at I Love Ugly?
Joe: My day varies quite a lot depending on what I’m working on, but typically it’ll start with a coffee, clearing emails, and plotting a plan of attack for the day (via teuxdeux).
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The everyday tasks usually take priority first, so creating the day's social media content, booking photoshoots, keeping an eye on the online store, product fit meetings, and any small design tasks from product trims to in-store collateral.
It probably sounds a little strange but Creative Director Valentin Ozich and myself tend to do most our product design from home, so I’ll quite often take work home and attack it at my own pace at night or on weekends.
Zayyar: Haha so you’re definitely busy all the time - what kind of music or audio do you put on to spark those creative juices?
Joe: I take my role as the self-appointed ILU Studio DJ pretty seriously haha... so I like playing a massive mix of everything. I go through obsessive periods so right now I’m heavily into Pink Floyd’s Pulse. I mix that up with fresh stuff which at the moment is heavily centred around James Blake, Toro y Moi, High Hoops, Khruangbin.
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In addition to music, podcasts have become super enjoyable of late. I dig the Joe Rogan Experience for the variety of guests and the general insight into some really interesting topics, and for a laugh. I’m also a massive football fan so I love throwing the AirPods in and tuning in to some football stuff while I work. I also got gifted a subscription to Blinkist for Christmas, and that’s been really awesome. It's essentially an app that condenses books into 15-minute audiobooks.
Zayyar: That’s epic, I’m enjoying that James Blake album a lot too. I Love Ugly has always had a deep relationship with graphic design and modern art, who are some of your personal favourites?
Joe: Man, where do I start!? I’m a huge proponent of Modernism, so I’d have to start with the Bauhaus - one of the founding figures of the international style. So I take a lot of inspiration from Bauhaus members and pioneers Josef & Anni Albers, Mies van der Rohe, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.
In today’s age though I’d have to say I’m a huge admirer of creatives like Ines Longevial (Painter), Chester Holme (Illustrator), Mirko Borsche (Graphic Designer), Reg Sylvester (Painter), Veronica Fuerte (Graphic Designer).
Zayyar: Yeah the Bauhaus movement is definitely a personal favourite of mine as well, I can definitely see the inspiration within I Love Ugly. So as apart of the series we got you to pick out five products that are things you can’t live without, could you explain what each one is, where you got them from and what they mean to you personally?
1. Apple MacBook
Feel like most creatives will have this as their number one… This is my daily tool, and something you pretty much can’t live without in our digitally-driven world.
I guess I’ve got an addictive gene in me somewhere because ever since discovering single origin coffee back at university by way of the good folks at Coffee Supreme (shout out Customs) It’s pretty much become part of my daily ritual. I love the aroma, the process, the story - it’s way more than just a caffeine hit.
3. Apple AirPods
My latest tech ‘side-arm’ - I kinda thought these were a bit of a gimmick until I was gifted a pair. But yeah, AirPods are awesome.
4. White T-Shirt
The basis of my wardrobe...
I read most nights to feed the brain and also help me relax mid-week. I’m really into bio’s and non-fiction. Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog is probably one of my favourite books. I’m currently reading Mary Beard’s SPQR on the history of the Roman Empire, which blows me away that I’m often re-reading the chapter I just finished. I’m also pretty invested in my design library with books on some of my favourite designers like Poul Kjaerholm and Naoto Fukasawa.
Interview: Zayyar Win Thein
Photos: Cyrus Chow