Matthew Taylor
Footwear designer | Founder + Creative director of Auxiliary

All posts by Matthew Taylor

Creativity in Captivity – Notes from Designers on Creative Life in Isolation | 03

It may shock you to know that today has been Monday. In the current circumstances its easy to let everything blend into one, nights into days, weeks into weekends, I was surprised to find out there is a bank holiday this weekend, who knew? In a world where most of your structure is going to be self imposed, we hear from 3 designers on various ways to think about or implement structure in various aspects of your life from workspace to personal hygiene.

Raf Godfrey, Head of menswear, Norse Projects

Mostly for me it’s about keeping routine, and having time allocated to my day. It very quickly becomes easy to not focus on anything properly, and for me that is difficult mentally, so I keep my routine pretty stable. 

Ironically, my immediate social group has expanded these last weeks, it shouldn’t have taken this to realise all those friends are always just a phone call away, but for creative thoughts and inspiration, I can’t think of a better source.

I also really see the positives to working in a more isolated space for portions of the day, and really see that as an opportunity to step away from the open plan chaos for a bit, it really doesn’t give you any space to think… So this isolation has really helped give me some clarity of ideas to take into face to face (online) conversations.

David Filar, Design & Development Manager, Vibram

The challenge with creativity is that it runs differently for everyone. And now that we’ve been handcuffed into a specific working environment for the unforeseen future, it makes it even more challenging. In a non-quarantined time, I would say travel because I think that’s the greatest form of inspiration to provoke creativity.  
With that being said, I’ve found a few tricks that work for specifically while at home.

1. Listen/ watch something unfamiliar.

I’m generally a big podcast guy – but while my work station is right next to my tv, I put on Youtube videos in the background. And they’re videos that have very little to do with design or footwear. They’re usually about how to make something – like screen printing t shirts, someone talking about how to make a business successful through marketing, or an interview with a rapper who has struggled their way through 20 years of life. All those examples are complete opposite to one another but they share one thing in common – they stretch my brain to think about something completely new to me. That sense of unknown thought actually helps me come up with previously unknown ideas.

Here are links to some random content I’ve recently consumed to really get my brain thinking and inspired.

2. Build a space for you.

We are going to be in this situation for at least a few weeks, it’s super important to spend the time building a space comfortable for yourself.

For example – I can’t work facing a wall. I love being able to see 180 degrees around me. When I’m facing a wall or a corner I get really tense about not knowing what is going on around me. But the take away is not about how much facing walls sucks, but rather understand yourself and how you work.

3. Move.

Have you ever seen the movie Zombieland? Rule #18 – Limber up. Start stretching, shake out your arms, try to touch your toes (haven’t been able to do that in 28 years) all throughout the day. The challenge with WFH is you get consumed by your computer or Cintiq tablet because you have nowhere else to go. But it’s key to move around to have your brain focus on your body versus your work, even for a few moments.

4. Do not disturb.

This feature is on both the Iphone and Mac. I’ve grown incredibly fond of it especially when I get in the zone of creating, I can’t have an outside force disrupt that. So I put on do not disturb on the devices that can hinder that.

5. Actions lead to creativity.

You will feel uncreative. Don’t judge yourself when this feeling hits, and it will hit. You’re surrounded by Netflix and food all day long, all you want to do is sit on the couch and do nothing. And although you’re completely unmotivated and uninspired the key is to DO. At your lowest point of motivation, any sort of action towards your job or work will lead to another action. Actions lead to motivation, motivation creates inspiration, inspiration formulates creativity.

Sam Reynolds, Footwear Designer, Paul Smith

Shower… again.

No matter how close those four walls feel, you’re not starring in a Jamiroquai video. So when it gets too much, no matter how clean you are; take off that furry fedora and get in the shower.

Appreciate that feeling, everything you have and have a cleanse…

9 out of 10 times the EU-f**king-REKA moment comes to me in the shower when my mind is miles away. Whether it’s the groundbreaking idea that concludes the concept or a lacing system that will please the stylist, factory AND the buyers.

Look, it’s insanely inconvenient & everything’s wet. You’ll have nowhere to sketch but in the condensation on the mirror and maybe your reflection will mock as you clumsily draw those groundbreaking ideas in the fog.

These are the ideas that might revolutionise footwear so stay strong, look past your distorted reflection and go make history.

Feel free to share your thoughts on Creativity in Captivity on the Conceptkicks IG and stay tuned for more insights.

Creativity in Captivity – Notes from Designers on Creative Life in Isolation | 02

Its Friday… but when every weekend is a weekday and every day is the weekend, what does that mean? In the second of the series we take hear from designers experimenting with a more recreational approach to creativity in captivity.

Surco Makino, Sneaker Designer, Louis Vuitton

I did some ceramic years ago in Hackney Farm but I didn’t build any technical skills, it was more like a get together activity with friends. At that time I didn’t realise what that first contact with argil did to me. Clay day has become a smooth intermittent venture during reclusion days at home. I began playing few months ago making shy trials of busts as new exploration method to continue creating my ‘Guerrilla boys’.

Last summer traveling across Japan with my younger brother I lost a notebook I carried with me for about some time. I used those pages to draw everything that crossed my mind, it was a vehicle to represent how I felt in certain moments when I struggled facing reality. It was not a self-portrait, it was the ‘guerrilla boys’ telling my story. Losing the notebook I believe it was part of the journey as well.

Today in the corner of my living room that has become a little workshop, I’m able to build full bodies. They are not sketches anymore and through still dynamism, they tell a story that one day we all will remember as those days we couldn’t go out and socialise as we used to do.

Mathieu Hagelaars, Founder, Studio Hagel

Be disciplined and don’t fall back in the same habits! During these days of quarantine I stick to my daily routine as much as possible. I wake up early, have breakfast, start working on my projects and exercise. Normally I like to walk around, see other people and work in my studio to keep my mind fresh, but during these days my surrounding is most of the time the same. So I try to find newness in other things. I listen to music a lot and keep on searching for new music. That energy I get when I find an obscure hidden gem, can keep me going all day. For my projects I keep on doing research on the internet, on instagram, youtube or even by watching a movie. Everybody has their routine of blogs or accounts to check, now is the time to find new sources of inspiration. Next to that I cook a lot. I’m trying out new recipes and ingredients to not fall back in the same pattern again.

Improve and learn new skills! As I’m working from home, I don’t have my machinery, tools and materials that are in my studio. So I draw a lot of ideas and when working on my projects I have to draw these instead of making ‘m. My drawing skills are improving.  The good thing about the quarantine limitations is that I have more time to invest time in new skills I always wanted to learn. I’m want to learn new skills for my making process like embroidery or so. These are things I can learn easily at home and apply these skills on my future projects when this whole thing is over. I also just order a dj-set because I always wanted to learn to do that. Let’s how that turns out 😉 

Kitty Shukman, Footwear Designer, YEEZY

I think my best advice is to respect how you feel day to day. You can’t push yourself to be creatively your best all the time. Especially with this added anxiety and isolation. Try to be kind to yourself if you are feeling less motivated. Find small ways like simple sketches, researching things you’re already really into as a starting point or my favorite thing to do when I’m stuck; picking up some clay and just playing with shapes to slowly ease myself into a creative mind set.

When you do feel in a creative space, let yourself be and enjoy it as much as possible. I think it’s a special ability we have as creatives to zone out of reality and let our minds take us somewhere else.

Feel free to share your thoughts on Creativity in Captivity on the Conceptkicks IG and stay tuned for more insights.

Creativity in Captivity – Notes from Designers on Creative Life in Isolation | 01

I think its safe to say most of us have come to the realisation that its best for us all to stay indoors for a while. Without wanting to downplay the significance of this fact, are there some positives to be taken from this situation? Sometimes the world is a strange place and with it can come some strange challenges, such as what to do with ourselves for prolonged amounts of time in Isolation. Here are some thoughts, musings, tips and ideas from designers on how we can make the most of our isolation.  


Ryan Lovering, Senior Footwear Designer, Paul Smith

Firstly, remember working remotely is creative in itself – especially if it requires finding innovative new ways of working or of fire-fighting the inevitable problems we’re all facing.

My experience is that really successful projects can be realised from home and being under pressure usually enhances creativity. When I designed Alexander McQueen’s oversized sneaker, the schedule was super-tight and most of the design was done after-hours in my London apartment where being forced to make do with anything I could find at home to generate the concept in 3D was actually fun: Screws, duct tape, plumbers’ sealant…

Stay grounded by embracing this time away from the studio or office as chance to explore new ideas. And focus positively on the future by working them into shareable form.

Take the opportunity to be creative with the people you live with too. Making art with our two small children has helped us pass the time and also given us permission to ‘play’ with our own ideas.

My other tips for getting through: keep checking in with colleagues, stay connected, make sure everyone is ok. And, as if anyone needed reminding, listen to Bowie and enjoy some wine. X


Thibo Denis, Senior shoe designer, Dior Homme

It’s interesting because it’s a different process.

I like to go to the office knowing what I will start with and I will for sure think about any drawings in the metro or when I shower.

Here it’s more spontaneous… I take time to look at books and magazines I didn’t open in ages … I also have to optimize my time so when I start something I finish it.

For calls, when I speak with pattern makers I will be more focus … it’s all about trying to not repeat what we usually do.

It’s all about adapting and finding ways to create without the tools we have.

I’m not sure I will be back with amazing drawings… but I’m sure I will have the ideas clearer…


Solene Roure, Design Director, Primury

During these strange times, I personally find it very hard to get out of bed.

Work projects and photoshoots are on hold, we still need to design and think about upcoming seasons yet the future is more uncertain than ever. Social media tell us to use this time to be creative and come up with our best work ever, yet anxiety can make even small tasks paralysing. I am personally trying to take it one day at a time, even if they can seem particularly long…

So in an effort to keep you (and myself) at a level of sanity, here is survival checklist:

  • Get up at the same time every morning
  • Get dressed everyday
  • Exercise once a day (online exercise class are easily found on youtube !)
  • Avoid anxiety snacking and cook healthy meals
  • Call one at least one person/friend per day to check on them
  • Try not to get addicted to Super Smash Brothers on Nintendo switch in my spare time

Now the fun stuff !

Here are some recommendations to keep you informed within the realm of sneakers and fashion

Listen to : Group Chat podcast

Group chat hosts provide a serious yet fun take on the corona virus spread from a streetwear business owner perspective, 3 times a week. (They used to discuss all things pop and business culture…)

Watch : Marc Jacobs  and Louis Vuitton by Loic Prigent from 2007

Before Virgil Abloh, before Nicolas Gesquiere, LVMH bet on Marc Jacobs as one of the first independent designer to be taken to superstardom. This documentary was the first to open the curtains on Lthe ouis Vuitton’s fashion house. It’s very fun to watch.

After that you’ll be tempted to follow Loic Prigent’s youtube page for his unique, comedic eye inside the fashion world.

Read : If you are looking to improve your fashion and business knowledge here are some enjoyable reads :

  • Yvon Chouinard : Let my people go surfing (the education of the reluctant business and founder of Patagonia)
  • Joan Juliet Buck : The price of illusion (A memoir by former French Vogue editor)
  • Emma Gannon : The Multi Hyphen method (An easy read about starting one or more side businesses)
  • School of life : How to think more effectively (actually any book by the School of life is great support, I highly suggest you check then out)

Now is also a great time to update your portfolio, so if you need any tips, check out this article

Stay safe out there !



Feel free to share your thoughts on Creativity in Captivity on the Conceptkicks IG and stay tuned for more insights.