Nigel Sielegar is the founder of Manhattan design firm Corse Design Factory, but his second gig as a food entrepreneur is all the more surprising because he admits: "My family doesn't cook at all."
Moon Man started by accident: his web site client, Queens Night Market, a Saturday night open-air market located in a corner of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, was launching in April 2015.
In January, Nigel spontaneously asked the Queens Night Market's founder if he could have a booth. The founder gave it to him, puzzled what a design firm would do with it. At that moment, Nigel didn't know either: "If you're giving it to me, it's my problem!"
On a three-month deadline, Nigel tested a lot of recipes in his apartment kitchen, with the goal of selling something he grew up with in Indonesia but couldn't be found in the US. He decided his best shot was coconut pancakes, which at a couple of minutes' cooking time, didn't take as long to make as other candidates.
Nigel studied how ethnic foods always had the same naming formula: "You take a word from your language or culture and then appropriate it for the business." He decided to go a different route:
"I was drunk. It was a giant mojito at [Thai restaurant] Ayada. I was sketching and brainstorming ideas while munching. In my head, 'If it's not anything remotely Indonesian, maybe it's not remotely to earth either.'"
I've been collecting these. I got this in Chicago and then I brought it to New York City.
This one, the Caslon Bold, actually came from the ATF (American Type Founders) warehouse sale.
Some of them, I got from the public library. They were cleaning up their warehouses and they found some of these and I was like: "I'm taking it!" I got some of these for free.
There's all kinds here: mostly serif. You can see a lot of modern type. Times is here. This is slab display, actually. It's called Rockwell. And these are custom ones. They were just running around and I picked them up.
These are from the 1920s. I keep them in my apartment, in my living room.
Being a graphic designer, this has always fascinated me. Having this in my office all the time reminds me that it's OK to get your hands dirty.
It's a good reminder that the way people do it back then is not always the worst way of doing it.
I feel like in the era of all the designers, especially the newer ones, they all go to digital way too quickly. I think having some manual units like this is always a good reminder.
For me, design is for life.
PEOPLE ARE STILL
GOING TO BUY
MY COCONUT PANCAKES.
There is a problem in the design industry. People hire my design firm because I'm in it.
The point is that when I'm stepping out from my design firm, it's going to be detrimental to how the business functions.
But whether I'm in this booth or not, people are still going to buy my coconut pancakes.