Cafe Artum

Cafe Artum Christy Lakeman
Cafe Artum

Coffee and music is a way of life for Birmingham urbanites, and there are no finer connoisseurs than the guys at Cafe Artum.

The Dutch have a word – Gezellig. It has no real English translation. Coarsely, it means just existing, chilling, reading, ordering some snacks and generally being content. This is what you get at Cafe Artum. Pure, unadulterated, shameless Gezellig.

Local music and hospitality magpie, Christy Lakeman, is the person to thank for this innovative, charming cafe. When his favourite record shop closed down, he looked to the internet for vinyl salvation. This guy loves buying records. What he didn’t like however, is not being able to look at the full sleeve before he made his purchase, and of course, the postage and packaging fees.

He took to the trains, planes and automobiles to discover what Europe had to offer in terms of spaces in which music-lovers could relax, listen to records, grab a bite, perhaps a coffee, and chat to like-minded people. He coffee-shopped and record-stored his way through Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig and Barcelona. Back in the UK, he took inspiration from Sounds of the Universe in Soho, Eastern Block in Manchester, and Brilliant Corners in Dalston.

At The Minimalist we love it when someone spots a gap that really needs to be filled. Weaving in Christy’s love for music with his love for people, food and good-times, he figured out that the real need was for a space where you could buy records and do the coffee shop thing by day, then crank the speakers up, take the tables out and host some DJ talent by night. Now, any DJ worth their wax that comes to Birmingham, always plays a little set at Artum before taking to the bigger, headier venues.

Cafe Artum Interior

“I love the cafe culture in Amsterdam, and when I spotted the open-window shop-front on Corporation Street it took me back there in my mind… I thought it was perfect.”

cafe artum logo
Cafe Artum Records

It’s no slouch though, as far as music venues go. Do not be fooled by the plants and the Scandinavian furniture. Cafe Artum can hold sixty people in the evening, and it packs a stunning Martin Audio sound system. It also has a concrete block that doubles up as a home for food during the day, and a pair of turntables at night.

Christy: “Our Kickstarter was like market research. And it turns out, everyone wants to get behind a passion project. We rewarded them with records, T-Shirts, Hare & Hounds donated free annual passes! Local artist Alex Rhys Boardman and photographer Tom Bird donated prints, and a friend of mine, David Stanley, made this killer film. I got the sense that the local community was bored with all the same high-street stuff, and wanted to go and sit somewhere different. So that’s what they got.”

If you’ve never been to Cafe Artum, then we would forgive you for asking a few questions beforehand.

  1. Is it a coffee shop? Yes. But it isn’t Starbucks.
  2. Is it a record shop? Yes. But not in the John Cusack, Jack Black, High Fidelity sense. Incidentally, if that’s your bag, check out Swordfish Records
  3. Is it a bar? Sometimes. When the owner turns it into one. The rest of the time, it isn’t.

To find out more about Cafe Artum, visit

Cafe Artum Events



When Gerry Sondh got his first Sony Walkman, aged nine, that’s when everything changed.

“I had this crappy one before,” he says, sipping espresso, “but then my parents got me this Sony one with an equaliser on the side. It was beautiful, it sounded amazing, and it gave me control over the sound in a way I had never experienced. After that, whenever I wanted to buy something, I’d research it.”

In adulthood, that translated into an ethos that Gerry swears by. Form and function are everything to him. Affordability doesn’t matter. “There are plenty of cheap glasses out there.” He says, gesticulating. “I don’t think the world needs more cheap glasses.” I think the world needs more beautiful glasses, with better engineering.”

When he met Matt Rose, they were both successful opticians in their own right. Both of them had thriving local practices in Harborne, Birmingham, and Peterborough. Using Matt’s local knowledge, combined with Gerry’s eye for frames, they engaged Peterborough-based design agency Visual Etiquette, and the Glimpse brand was born.


Gerry’s favourite city is Paris. “You know what I really love?” he says. “That film – Midnight in Paris. If I could live it, I would.” Gerry’s never going to be in a Woody Allen film, but he does spend lots of time getting lost in cities, eating, drinking, absorbing the culture, looking at the buildings. “I love those weird, Northern European 1960s buildings that look kinda shit, but when you dig a bit deeper they house an amazing community, and are filled with beautiful, light-filled offices and apartments.” He also likes any building with art up the side. As I found out – scrolling through his photo library.

When asked where he likes to eat, the response is way less specific than I expected. “I like anywhere that serves good quality seafood. Outdoors if possible. With a bottle of Pouilly Fume or Sancerre.”

I can tell from the way he describes food, buildings and places, that although he gesticulates, and appears flippant sometimes, this nonchalance is entirely studied, practised and executed with poise. What he really craves, and strives for, is exactitude. He doesn’t care about the product (whether that’s a film, a building, a plate of seafood or a pair of glasses) anywhere near as much as he cares about the experience.

And as we know, experience is the difference between a nice product, and a successful brand.

To find out more about Glimpse, visit them here.


david sturgeon

David has actually been cutting hair since the age of eighteen. He admits that in England, men-only barbershops used to have quite a dodgy reputation. ‘You wouldn’t just walk-in and chance it’ he says. That said, David has made a real niche for himself in Birmingham, by offering both old-fashioned wet shaves, and a good modern haircut.

One thing that has really worked in his favour is the fact high-street chains really didn’t know how to do mens grooming. He realised there was a market for someone who specialises in a neater cut, done carefully and reliably. With Shepherds, he’s taken everything he always loved about the traditional barbershop, and added a modern twist.

‘All our staff are local’ – he says, ‘and the talent-base in Birmingham is really strong.’ It’s clear, on a heady Friday lunchtime, that the team at Shepherds put on their waistcoats with pride every day, and It’s a joy to watch them meticulously cut, wash and shave as the sunlight turns into artificial light, and the musical tempo and atmosphere become more lively.


When David walked into a local barbershop to buy grooming products he was overwhelmed by choice and underwhelmed by the packaging. So it was that he created Shepherds grooming products, a mens grooming range, with the help of a team of researchers and experts in the UK. Made with high-quality materials and natural extracts, Shepherds offers four product ranges:

  1. Hair Washing
  2. Hair Styling
  3. Beard
  4. Shave

‘Many barbershops and salons offer grooming products now’ – he says, ‘but we really wanted to make our own, to compliment the services we give, and to leverage our brand.’

The design of Shepherds packaging by top London agency The Council means its little white pots, tubes and bottles are fit to adorn guest bathrooms, office drawers and gym-bags.

‘I wanted to shake up the market by offering something pared-back and premium when everything else was so saturated and ‘in your face’ – Says David.