Carl Cardinelli is the Managing & Creative Partner for UTOPIA, a Design & Advertising Agency in Cape Town, South Africa.

What path has your career taken?

A windy one. Following my first university stint and advertising qualification I moved to London for a year. I woke up one day and realised that six years had flown by – where I built the foundation of my career with media, design, fashion and sales companies.

I moved back to South Africa and got back into studies specialising in writing. I hustled from copywriter to creative director, and since have spent the past eight years building Utopia, earning global recognition and being dubbed the number 1 small advertising/design agency in South Africa.

What brought you/brings you to Amsterdam?

It’s my forth time in this city. Whenever I’m travelling Europe, I’ll be sure to carve out a healthy portion for some Amsterdam time. I find it to be one of the few cities that never stops giving. Hop on a bike, a tram, your feet – and you’re guaranteed to find something new/different. Move away from the tourist attractions and debauchery (don’t get me wrong – I love a good razzle as much as the next) and Amsterdam is jammed with culture, gorgeous design and unbeatable scenery.

How long have you stayed at Zoku, and what were you thoughts?

I spent some time here about two years ago and am here for 10 days now. What can I say that you don’t already know? I’ll honestly never stay anywhere else while in Amsterdam. From being so central to the incredible rooms, the aesthetic to the work spaces, the friendly atmosphere to the beer on tap. It’s all here, and unlike anywhere I have ever stayed/remotely worked (I expect my cheque is in the mail for this plug).

What’s a life-changing song, film, event or book you’d like to recommend to others?

Book: The Order of Time – Carlo Rovelli (the next time someone says the sun is rising – correct them and explain that the earth is simply turning to a point where we can see the sun)
Song: The War on Drugs – Red Eyes (listen!)
Film: Life is Beautiful (if you haven’t seen it – watch it – without reading any synopsis/watching trailers)

Event: AfrikaBurn (go – and get used to sandy drinks)

What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?

Go easy on yourself in your 30s. Perhaps do a sit up or two. Drink more water. Get some sleep. Learn an instrument. Things will get easier. Things will get harder. Nothing in life is that serious when you consider the big picture. Oh and shave off that fuzz from under your lip.

Which book/product have you gifted the most, and why?

The Little Prince – it was gifted to me (thanks Jess) and I adore the style and sense of wonder in tackling life’s most difficult questions. No matter who you gift it to, no matter where they are in life, no matter the questions they are pondering – the text provides!

Has your time at Zoku helped you in business or in life? If so, how?

I’ve met some amazing people, life long friends and giants of industry within these walls. That’s more than anyone could ask for when seemingly simply looking for somewhere to rest your weary bones.

If you could pick one project to work on for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Doing more writing for myself. One thing I’ve learned is that we spend our lives making other people rich/ famous/happy (our clients, our suppliers etc) – it’s important that you carve out some time to apply your talents/passions to yourself and do something for you. Go on – you deserve it.

What does home mean to you?

I’ll tell you when I know.