[Pam Williams] When Mick Hodgson’s not designing, he’s cycling … or tweeting about cycling, or planning his next ride. British-born and California-based, Hodgson finds ways to make his paired passions reinforce each other, whether he’s in the saddle in the Santa Monica mountains or in work mode at Ph.D, his design studio. We flagged Hodgson down and asked him to catch his breath and talk about his avocation and recent experiences at the Tour de France.
You’ve traveled all over the world, Mick. What’s your favorite design destination?
Anywhere I can ride to. I realized about 10 years ago that it’s really important for me to offset all of the stress we have to deal with as designers by doing some kind of workout. It’s one of these ironic things — I actually get less tired if I work out regularly, versus making the mistake of going into the office early and skipping the workout. I swim, run or ride my bike. Having just come back from three weeks at the Tour de France, I realize cycling is my true passion, my great love.
[Hodgson at the top of the Galibier, a famous climb in the Alps. Photo by Mike Powell.]
The more I can get out on the bike, the better I feel — about myself, about the world, about my work. And this focus helps me maintain perspective as a designer; in fact, it often gives me new perspectives. As hard as it can be to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, once you’ve done your ride or your swim or your run, you’re ready to take on the world.
[Early Sunday with the Leigh Riders, U.K.; a full English breakfast follows]
Tell us what you were doing recently on the Tour de France. Were you really a schlepper?
I was working with a friend of mine, Mike Powell, who was on assignment for a book about the tour. Mike’s one of the best sports photographers in the world, and, like me, a British expat. This is his seventh time shooting the tour, and he’s also shot 12 Olympic Games. He was commissioned by PQ Blackwell, a New Zealand-based packager of exquisite books. I went as Mike’s assistant, his driver and, yes, I was his all around domestique, to use a tour term — in fact, I can say I was his super-domestique! It was the opportunity of a lifetime for me.
[Statue, gendarmes, Mike Powell at the top of the Tourmalet]
[Fans writing on the Tourmalet; Andy Schleck in the yellow jersey]
We joined the tour at Stage 3 and followed it from there all the way into Paris three weeks later. I wrote a short piece about the first day that was published on the Rapha blog. Rapha is a London-based company that finally brought style back to cycling clothing.
[Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, lap of honor]
Are there one or two incredible moments you can recall for us?
That’s a really hard question to answer. There were so many, but one of the most incredible was seeing the riders at the Tourmalet mountaintop finish in the Pyrenees. I was 50 meters past the finish line. I could see how completely hammered all the riders were, but Mark Cavendish especially — he was totally cream-crackered, as we say, to the point of almost being sick. Then, two days later, he won the stage into Bordeaux with an incredible sprint. Brilliant. You could see he was on this amazing high. The contrast was incredible. It makes you realize these guys are not only invincible, they’re completely vulnerable.
[Rider Mark Cavendish at the end of the Tourmalet stage and at the end of the Bordeaux stage]
Mick Hodgson leads Ph.D, A Design Office, a studio whose style is self-described as “classic with a twist”: a blend of the bold playfulness championed by his friend, British fashion designer Paul Smith, combined with the casual cool of his American idol, Steve McQueen. Ph.D was a participant in Mohawk’s Feedback Loop Notebook project — look for more on Ph.D’s notebook in the coming weeks. And we’ll also be talking with Mick about his new book, Recycling and Redesigning Logos, which is Recommended Reading here at Felt & Wire. As a devoted cyclist, Mick can’t wait to see Mohawk’s latest promotion, Mode of Transformation.
Photos © Mick Hodgson except where otherwise noted.