The days are slowly but surely rolling on as we work and create from our homes. Whether it be on the lounge, dining table, bed or for the lucky ones, a home office, the will to stay inspired day-to-day is a guessing game. Though it is okay to have days when it all seems too hard, we hope to fill the void, even just for a few fleeting minutes of this article. In a fresh series, ICON speaks with industry creatives – be it music, style, dance, writing, or even social media – on how to stay inspired during self-isolation. And hopefully a handful of tips for you, the reader, on the way.

If there was anyone to speak to on staying inspired, it would have to be Zaim Kamal, Creative Director of Montblanc. Heading the German Maison, Kamal explains he is to “never allow design at Montblanc to become complacent”, and when it comes to working from home, the same discipline should apply. Currently in the UK, we tap the visionary on how to stay inspired during the pandemic.

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ICON: Can you explain what your role entails, day-to-day?

Zaim Kamal: I see the role as a stewardship to maintain, contribute and enhance style and aesthetics of the Maison. My role is to push the envelope and never allow design at Montblanc to become complacent. Only by threading outside out comfort zone will we develop and stay relevant in the perception of clients.

How has your daily routine changed since lockdown?

ZK: The biggest change has been that I have been in one place since two months ago. Before lockdown I used to travel every week to our design studios in Hamburg, Florence, Le Locle and Paris. So at least once a week I had to face-to-face interaction with a team. Now we have daily design calls with the entire team as well as individual calls to discuss specific projects. It works well but I do miss the travelling now.

What are three items you have with you whilst you work?

ZK: My sketchbook, my drawing pencil which is a rebuilt Montblanc propelling pencil and my vintage iPod.

How are you staying creative during this time? Where do you look for inspiration?

ZK: I am fortunate to be able to travel and meet many people from different cultures. This exposes me to many points of views from many different disciplines and visualisations. So my mind is constantly learning and experiencing new input. I store these impressions as visual, tactile, vocal references in my mind, drawings, pictures, music etc. So even in a time like today where my travels and interactions are severely limited, there is no shortage of references. Inspiration doesn’t come in a flash but is a result of a continuous process of trials and dialogue.

Do you have any advice for people struggling with the transition of working from home?

ZK: For myself personally I build my day around rituals to bring structure to the day. I think of going to my studio as a ‘commute’ so I prepare myself accordingly. This helps me mentally move from home mode to work mode. It is also very important not to sit in a front of a sketchbook or the screen all day, but to also walk around and look at the sky because it recalibrates the mind and resets the focus and for me, it is very important to have music. Embrace the change in pace and enjoy it…

You can read Part 3 with Australian comedian, Aaron Chen, here.