After a summer well spent exploring parts of the planet where the sun is far more forgiving, and tending to the inner workings of R&D, we've jumped back into the fire with full force. We were contacted by Downtown Tempe, (Tempe, Arizona), and asked to create a new video that revisited much of what we'd highlighted in the first, as well as cover many of the new activities and developments that have seen fruition since.

We were able to work with some of our favorites, as well as add a few more to the list. Sarah Hubbell, (EMMA Magazine), and Hudson, made it out to show us around the Guard, Groomer, and Restful Rabbits. Jayarr and copilot, Dominique, gave us a sunrise tour of Tempe Town Lake; and a sunset with his CRAP Ride Tempe cycling group. Geof, Donjay, and Erin Ware worked effortlessly to show us a good time at the new Pedal Haus Brewery. And of course, no DT piece of ours is complete without the musical excellence from our friends of Jared & The Mill; of Tempe.

It's always a pleasure to work creatively alongside Downtown Tempe. More from R&D and DT to come. View our original video created for their #TempeRising campaign with AWE Collective last fall, here (extended), and here.


Grid layout of R&D-made, vinyl-inspired Jazz & Snacks Menus, by @ryannealcordwell via @royalanddesign (Instagram).

While most of our time in Arizona is occupied with creating digital photography and cinematography, there isn't much we enjoy more than holding something we've made by hand.

We recently has the pleasure of working on this menu for a collaborative jazz dinner between local (Tempe) multimedia outlet, The Paper Knife, Crêpe Bar's Chef Kraus, and neighborhood Phoenix music venue, Crescent Ballroom. The objective was to construct a simple food menu for the dishes that would be prepared and served to guests during live music performances at Jazz & Snacks, held August 3, 2015.

In the usual Royal & Design way, we took what could have been a simple, paper menu, a few steps further. We wanted to ensure that the menu would be something all contributing parties would be proud of; something tangible worth taking home rather than being used as a drink coaster. Inspired by the mid-twentieth-century jazz style, we meticulously combed through our collection of accompanying vinyl covers in effort to emulate the same type of originality that was used by the artists behind them. We created art inspired by one of our favorite photographs from our culture series with Crêpe Bar, and decorated it with era-typefaces to depict the event's information. We created a physical 8" vinyl sleeve from 80 lb stock, and with the help of Chris, (@cwgalli) scored, adhered, assembled and stuffed each of the thirty menus prior to the event. The food items were then hand-written by Ryan, per chef's request, and completed as doors opened.

The success of the evening was carried with music by The Reid Riddiough Quintet and Dick Nixon and The Crooks, on Crescent's stage, as Chef Kraus's food kept a salivating crowd, asking for more.

The Reid Riddiough Quintet, Jazz & Snacks, Crescent Ballroom, August 03, 2015

Photography by Ryan Neal Cordwell, 2015


Homepage of the new Cartel site ( Feat. the R&D Studio, Phoenix, with Technical Director and co-owner Dylan Brabec.

Cartel Coffee Lab barista, Michelle Johnson serves Cartel staff, and guest, Jody Johnston, at Cartel Ash.

Cartel Coffee Lab's roaster, Paul Haworth loads coffee into the SF at Cartel Ash, Tempe, Arizona.

Today is a very special day for Cartel Coffee Lab. Following countless cumulative man-hours with design and developing from Alex Leiphart, the direction of Jules Tompkins, and our photography efforts. Cartel have launched a new site. It showcases information on Cartel history, location and sourcing, as well as educational resources developed by Cartel staff, and the ability to order Cartel online. Our photography is featured throughout the site- locations, elements, and scenes; from all Cartel shops.

With the announcement of the new site, Alex recognises day one of his new position as Social Media Coordinator (@cartel). This is the beginning of a new chapter for one of our favourite coffee communities, and an evolution of our ongoing relationship. Expect to see more collaboration in the near future.


A Japanese man stands looking out over a section of Ryuo-kyo (Dragon King) Gorge. Ryan prepares the cinema camera (bottom right) to capture footage for the By Nippon documentary. Photograph by Dylan Slater Brabec, 2014.

With a week to our backs, we departed Tokyo and fled to Nikko (lit. sunshine), a gateway city to the Tochigi Prefecture. Tochigi is popular amongst Tokyo residents looking to escape the weight of metropolis life. It sits approximately 140 kilometres north of Tokyo- a few hours by train- and embodies countless cultural artefacts and natural landmarks.

During October of 2010, Ryan visited Nikko for the first time and befriended local riverside hostel, Zen Hostel, owner, Scout. Summer of last year, Scout learnt of our impending return and encouraged us north. Nikko seemed an obvious destination as we began to gather footage for By Nippon. Despite each of our moderate educations on the Japanese language and Kanji, rural transit outside major cities can be somewhat of a gamble. Most Airbnb hosts in Tokyo provided us mobile WiFi hotspots, from which we could connect our phones, however; we'd left Tokyo with little luck at train station networks in reaching Scout to confirm our time or a meeting location. Expecting about a twenty-percent chance success, we were relieved to find him anticipating our approach, at the station gates. We adjusted our fares, and loaded his compact van with our bags. To this point, we had been led by a small oversight, miscommunication, or lack of entirely- that we'd be staying in the hostel with Scout, despite him having closed it for the winter. As he excitedly greeted us with open arms to a very cold and cloudy, city of sunshine, we began to understand this was not to be the case.

A stop by the 100-yen store,to stock up on snacks and supplies was strongly recommended. This only further alluded to a departure from our understanding of any plan made prior. Scout drove us then to one of his favourite, though not-particularly-interesting, Okonomiyaki restaurants in the area. (Okonomiyaki, お好み焼き, is a savoury Japanese pancake, consisting of grilled ingredients to your choice, on an open tabletop griddle). It was perhaps the same particularly-uninteresting nature of the restaurant, that allowed for the sort of comfort and satisfaction we felt. Stowing one's shoes in dank, wooden lockers, and sitting floor-level to embrace some unfiltered, Japanese culture was somehow incredibly familiar; rewarding, even. It was here that we inquired of the plan. There was no plan.

It was brilliant. What we'd failed to notice were Scout's bags, also packed into the van. Somehow, in all of our preceding spontaneity, through islands and fields and monkey-villages, we'd assumed a plan was in place. He suggested we drive deeper into one of neighbouring the mountain villages of Tochigi in search for a ryokan- a traditional Japanese inn. It being fairly late into the evening, he phoned his wife, to aid in the search. Being Japanese, she certainly helped in our efforts. But ultimately, the search became another gamble- a gamble well-decorated with Japanese tradition and culture.

Following a night of wonderfully-affordable, high-end Japanese whisky, mountainside onsen (hot springs), and rest in a hotel- akin to something of a Ghibli film creation- we awoke to a lobby lined of old-world monkeys harvesting wild yuzu outside the door. Scout led us to a day of exploration and adventure, starting with Ryuo-kyo (Dragon King) Gorge. As we could have only hope for, we were bestowed a set of mossy and icy experiences only best described, without words. Enjoy a glimpse into our journey with the Dragon King.

Photography by Dylan Slater Brabec, 2014FungiBy Nippon.


Tokyo Tower, from Facebook & Instagram offices, Tokyo.

We began, with coffee. To be blunt, however; specialty coffee ranked second in priority, only to our reunion with hot water and toilet seats.

The Land of the Rising Sun, is a loose interpretation of "the sun's origin," translated from Nippon, or, what most of us refer to as, Japan. Discussing its largest prefecture- the largest city on Earth at thirty-eight million, many draw assumption on what to expect from what visitors call the future of the 90's. And while in truth, Tokyo, may be laced with amber-lit ramen corridors, compartmentalised complexes, and flashing sidewalks, decorated with self-aware vending machines, it, and its country, embrace so much more- yet to be understood even by their own inhabitants.

This cultural shift is largely responsible for our draw to Japan, and the execution of our first feature documentary- By Nippon. (Nee-Pone). Boarding the metro at Shinjuku Station, a complacent working class of black-suited salary men make for a strange backdrop to the citruis-dotted, miniskirt-manifesto that is Japan's female throng of cram-school students. The country's recent natural disasters see to the employment of a utilitarianism workforce. All the while, the world's growing demand for fish from a climatically challenged planet recast the nylon nets of Japanese fisherman, as political ones. And somewhere in it all the Japanese chef humbly practices his mastery, abstaining from industry ferocity and performing at such exacting degrees, the gods know only as perfection.

Our first week was spent trekking and reallocating with the fast-paced, unforgiving flow of the city. A few missed trains and mistranslations, and we felt at home. While the iPhone in its entirety has drastically altered the selfless nature of the culture we learnt to love five years ago (and accompanying billboards), we made do with our new friend, Google Maps- which lead us successfully to each coffeeshop on Dylan's list.

It was while in transit, however, from Airbnb to Airbnb; we explored the famous Bear Pond Espresso. Stowed away, down a gloomy Kitazawa, Tokyo, you'll find behind the tiny bar and his self-built La Marzocco espresso machine, Katsu Tanaka. He will determine if you're allowed to stay and sit in his shop, whether you know it or not. Fortunately for us, we have a penchant for coffee, and made long-lasting conversation as he told us of his time in New York, at ASU, and on A Film About Coffee. He allowed us to stay after 2PM, (though he refused to pull a shot, as he felt his calibrated machine fell too far out of precision beyond this time), and shared with us his unfathomably intricate sketch pad, where he records his new findings and configurations- every morning. He claims he's not tried another coffee than his in Tokyo, for twenty years, and on his return visits to NY, he withstands from eating for seventy-two hours, to prevent any sort of digestive irregularity. Katsu is a character, if we've ever met one, and we expect to visit him on our return, to Tokyo.

Japan is intriguing. It is alluring. It is always content and never satisfied. We love it, and align with it. We pay the $7 for a cup of coffee, and smile at the bag for $38.

Photography by Dylan Slater Brabec, 2014