Mike Lemanski


Talking favourite places and things to do with Mike Lemanski, designer of our Havana guide.

What are some of your favourite places around where you live?

I live in an interesting position whereby I have five large cities within a half hour/hour’s drive or train ride: Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford, Sheffield and Manchester. Oh, and of course Huddersfield! From this point of view you’re kind of spoilt as each has its own individual sense of place and culture while at the same time all being connected.

As a kind of foodie (via my wife) I would have to choose her own venture, the North Star Coffee Shop and General Store at Leeds Dock, where she has an outlet for her bakehouse Noisette and also curates the ever-changing flavour-forward food menu. There is an on-site roastery headed up by North Star, it’s the perfect coffee/food/cake situation.

For the shop I’m going to stick with Leeds and choose Colours May Vary, an independent shop who stock design/art/typography/illustration books and magazines alongside stationery, prints and homewares. They also have an exhibition space so there is always plenty of inspiration to be found. In fact it’s hard to not come away inspired or slightly light of pocket!

photo by Justin Slee Photography

And some favourite places anywhere in the world?

A restaurant would be Acorn on Main Street in Vancouver – I travel with my wife who is a baker and chef, so when we travel we eat at incredible places that are usually up and coming or hidden away. Acorn is not so hidden, it’s a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, and hands down the best food I’ve eaten anywhere.

Picking just one shop is really difficult. I love bookshops and art shops in particular and there are so many, so I’m going to have to go close to home and pick Calder Graphics in my hometown of Huddersfield. It’s an art supply shop I remember first going to when I was a kid, then through college and university and now in my professional career. It’s small but perfectly formed and always has what you need. It’s also housed within the impressive architecture of the Victorian-era Byram Arcade.

A favourite ‘thing to do’ anywhere in the world is a tough ask. It would have to be a toss-up between walking the High Line in New York first thing in the morning, and walking around the Yorkshire Sculpture Park early on a really cold winter’s day when the lake has frozen over and you have the park to yourself. Both have elements of art and nature as well as peace and reflection.

What’s your favourite city or place to visit?

I really enjoy going to new places, but there are places that I find myself going back to, one of which is Vancouver. I think it has the right ingredients of a modern city, with interesting shops, art, food, culture and history. It also has the enviable position of being in the most incredible setting you are ever likely to see, nestled between coniferous forest mountains and the waterfront harbour, almost making the city an island – it has incredible parks and hikes. And if you’re a sci-fi nerd such as myself, Vancouver is where every sci-fi show of the 90s was filmed; I’m talking X-Files, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, Travellers, the list goes on… it makes things feel familiar in an odd kind of way! A little out of this world, pardon the terrible pun.

Do you have a travel tip to share?

I find ‘less is more’ in general when travelling, so a single sketchbook and maybe a small notebook that fits in your pocket and a small selection of stationery (pens/pencils/coloured crayons/maybe a tiny pan of paint) for when inspiration strikes or you get a quiet moment to reflect.

But most of all, practical shoes. Nobody wants to discover a city while discovering they have brought the wrong shoes, I’ve been there… my feet wish they hadn’t.

You can see more of Mike's work at mikelemanski.co.uk

Photos courtesy of Mike Lemanski unless otherwise stated.

Published 30 January 2018

Our guides are printed in England on 100% recycled paper