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The Monday Media Diet with Louis-Marie de Castelbajac
On Guy Debord, Radiooooo, and the Gers region
Louis-Marie de Castelbajac (LDMC) is a friend of WITI and a French designer and entrepreneur. His Armagnac brand is growing in Asia, and he’s always got an interesting collaboration or passion project brewing. We are delighted to have him with us this week. -Colin (CJN)
Tell us about yourself.
I am a designer and Armagnac maker, passionate about bridging the gap between tradition and modernity. I have a background in fashion and art direction and have designed a workwear collection in France known as Lafont, the pioneer of French workwear, originating 20 years before Levi's. It’s led me to recently designing the uniforms for all the new Michelin-starred chefs. I’ve also been having fun launching a new interpretation of Armagnac, the oldest distilled spirit in the world, in creative and unexpected ways.
From a more general perspective, I would describe myself as a conceptualist.
I have always had a deep appreciation for the power of ideas, as well as the creative process that gives birth to these concepts. I find great pleasure in engaging with my surroundings, always seeking the positives that can offset the negatives. As Immanuel Kant once wisely said, "Thoughts without content are empty, and intuitions without concepts are blind."
I genuinely hold this belief close to my heart, as it represents the more humane aspect of my nature. In the world around us, we can readily observe instances where things are created not out of genuine necessity but to fulfill the demands of consumerism and to address the needs that society has imposed upon us. Furthermore, I consider it of utmost importance to infuse a sense of poetry and a message of value into our ideas. In today's world, it often feels like a jumble of recycled content that exists solely because it is statistically likely to sell.
Imagine if we could harness the talents of the most skilled advertising executives for the cause of saving our world, rather than driving consumption. Perhaps, in such a scenario, saving the world would be just as fashionable as acquiring your next Supreme jacket!
Let us return to the realms of poetry and values!
Describe your media diet.
I try to gather news in small increments, both through newspapers and television. It has become increasingly challenging to form a balanced and informed opinion due to the proliferation of new technologies and bias in the media. I suppose we are turning into receptacles for information from all directions. To avoid being ensnared by a one-sided belief system, one must possess a strong will.
What’s the last great book you read?
To be honest, I had a few years of hiatus from reading. I had a strong urge to experiment and apply some of the knowledge that books had imparted to me in real life. I had always been more of a historical fiction (Dumas) reader, captivated by grand gestures and the pursuit of the impossible. This might have influenced my self-description as a 'sensationalist,' always seeking the most out of life in every nook and cranny.
What are you reading now?
I've actually returned to a beautiful classic, "The Odyssey." I find its theme of being guided by love and unwavering hope on a challenging journey back home quite poignant. It also carries a strong message about values, something I believe is often undervalued in today's world.
What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?
I love to pick up a book or publication and open it to a random segment or page. I feel that's a true test to see if it holds up all the way through.
Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?
I feel that there's a somewhat lesser-known book by Guy Debord, who was associated with the situationist movement, which is extremely visionary in the context of today's times. It provides remarkable self-revelation and paints a detailed picture of the world and how it has evolved. The book is called "La Société du Spectacle."
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?**
Nomo Cam and Radiooooo.
Nomo Cam: is a great app that replicates the look of old analog cameras, giving your photos a nostalgic feel.
Radiooooo: is a fantastic time travel app that allows you to select music from different continents, countries, and eras. It's a simple and well-designed app that lets you become a music archaeologist and discover lesser-known genres from various time periods.
Plane or train?
I've been walking the Camino de Santiago for a few years now, completing it in stages with close friends. This experience has made me realize the fractal nature of time, where each mode of transport reveals a different perspective. Taking a plane provides a grand, almost "Sims" game-like view from the outside. Trains immerse you in the colors, shapes, and vistas of a country. Biking allows you to hear conversations and see distinct smiles in quaint villages. Finally, walking establishes a deep connection with nature, where you can observe centipedes on leaves and savor the morning dew.
Of the two, I would choose the train, but ideally, I prefer walking!
What is one place everyone should visit?
I may be a bit biased, but I'd recommend the southwest of France in the Gers region, where part of my family comes from. It's often referred to as the "French Tuscany." This is a part of France where time seems to have stood still. You can stroll through untouched 13th-century villages, capturing the essence of d'Artagnan's hopes before his journey to the big city. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Pyrenees and its neighbor, Castilla y León in Spain, while sipping a calming glass of your beverage of choice. It's a definite must-visit, and the people are exceedingly warm. This region was a significant inspiration for developing my own Armagnac.
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.
Armagnac! It has been a passion of mine for several years now, particularly in telling the story of my region through Armagnac. This craft has been in my family for centuries, but I realized a few years ago that the story of the world's oldest distilled spirit had not been told extensively, especially not in a contemporary way. Therefore, I set out to retell the story and repackage some of our century-old Armagnacs. As I delved deeper into this treasure trove of traditional elements tied to Armagnac production, I wanted to share a more universal narrative about the spirit and the people behind it. During this journey, I had a kind of awakening, emphasizing values and simpler aspects of life, appreciating what is. We're looking to expand our offerings beyond Armagnac, featuring products from the region or crafted in the region.
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Louis-Marie (LMDC)
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