Yesterday we published our 47th guide and shipped out the last copy of our first.
When we started Herb Lester, not so very long ago, we had no office; we had no money for an office. The two of us would meet in coffee shops around London and make plans. Back then the options were limited; there were a few independent cafés but mostly it was the big chains. As much as we longed for our own base that we could work from without interruption, we also longed for an escape from the chains with their terrible music and insipid coffee. And so we decided that the first project for our fledgling enterprise would be a guide to places to meet and work – not just cafés but any space that met those requirements.
At that time no such directory existed, so we just made a list, asked some friends and started writing. We included places that had alcoves or nooks to provide privacy, some that had service so poor you could linger for hours unnoticed, places that were quiet, places to make you feel productive even when you weren’t.
We then looked at magazines trying to find a designer whose style would work to turn that list into a guide, and in Good spotted a chart by Michael Newhouse. An email was followed by a phone call, and we were off. It was a astonishingly simple process, that first guide. Londonist wrote about it on their site, as did Ace Jet 170 and Daniel Gray, and people started to order copies, design bookstore Magma agreed to sell it in their shops, and quite soon after we decided to do another.
We’re often asked if we have a favourite guide; we don’t. But You Are Here was the most exciting to do, and as we sent out the final copy yesterday we felt a certain sweet sadness. Those days are gone. Onward.