The Interview | Mr. Tony King
Tony King & his 1981 Ferrari 400i. Wearing the Rivay River Striped Pocket T-Shirt
It’s been 2 years since we left NYC for the suburbs/country of Westchester County. I was apprehensive about meeting new people in the burbs, but that hasn't been the case at all. Since moving, we’ve met an incredible number of creatives who call Westchester County home.
One of the more interesting people I’ve met and become friends with is Tony King. Tony and his wife Inii King are the founders of King & Partners, the world-renowned, full-service branding and marketing agency. They’re brand obsessed and it shows.
I met Tony when his order came through on Rivay’s website. I noticed his mailing address was only a minute or two from our house. Rather than mail the package I drove it to his house in our 1970 Mercedes Benz 280SL and left it on the porch. I filmed the delivery and tagged Tony. He loved it, turns out the guy is a car nut (more on that below…).
This later became the first of many Rivay Airways Instagram posts where we hand deliver local packages in classic cars. A few weeks later we were having coffee and chatting like old friends. Try meeting someone in the city like that.
I asked Tony to do a little Q&A for Rivay. Here’s our convo:
Why don’t you give us a little intro and tell us about the day job…
TK: Well I run King & Partners, I get to work with all sorts of interesting people who are way more talented than I am every single day. We work with a lot of existing and new hospitality, lifestyle, fashion and luxury brands - either helping create them or completely transform them. I absolutely love what we do - I am also very lucky to get to work with Mrs. King every day, so our work life and fun life has blended into one existence. K&P is based in NY, LA and Miami and we spend 75% of our time in NY, 25% in Miami and we never go to LA! We need to fix that!
You founded K&P in 2010. Every founder has the scrappy “I-ate-ramen-for-two-months-straight” anecdote when they first started their business - what was yours?
TK: I had just come out of exiting my first agency - CreateThe Group. I bought a bike and cycled all over the city meeting old clients to get their take on the sort of company they wanted to work with, I also didn’t pay myself a cent for the first three years of K&P, everything we made was invested back in.
You’re a car guy / general lover of things with motors, how about a rundown of your current stable?
TK: OK don’t hate me, starting from oldest to newest:
1971 Mercedes Benz 280 SL - Pagoda roof like yours!
1981 Ferrari 400i
1985 Mercedes Benz 500 SEC
1992 Fiat Panda 4x4
1994 Lancia Delta Integrale Evo 2
1996 Ferrari F355 GTB – gated manual
1997 Land Rover Defender 90 NAS
2008 Ferrari 430 Scuderia
2023 Land Rover Defender 90 V8
2023 Porsche 911 GTS
I’m clearly a car enthusiast, always have been. Driving these machines is something that keeps me sane, keeps me out of trouble. And as time goes by, I find myself moving away from the more modern stuff to the iconic and slightly niche cars I had obsessed over in my 20’s. I’ve made so many friends and had incredible adventures through the world of cars. Inii got the car bug a few years ago, so it’s really fun to finish work early on a Friday and take a couple of them out for a spin. We spend most weekends doing something car related.
Do you have a favorite?
TK: The Lancia Delta Integrale Evo 2 is the favorite. From a design point of view, it’s the perfect representation of form following function - there’s a reason for every line and shape on the car. When I was in my early 20s and lived in London, I lived opposite a Delta specialist and I would wake up, open my curtains and stare at them every morning. In terms of the way it drives it’s such a pure experience, sure there are way faster cars, but on curvy country roads there is no better feeling than driving that car.
Is there anything you dislike about driving it?
TK: Well, 90’s Italian machinery isn’t the most reliable. I think it’s about choosing the right tool for the job - for example, I took the ’81 Ferrari 400i down to the Jersey Shore, it’s not the most inspiring journey, and the combination of the exhaust drone and heat made it absolutely miserable.
But I have to say, I have almost as much fun toodling along in the Fiat Panda at 40mph as I do in the Scuderia at triple digits.
The road you drive to take your mind off things?
TK: I have a certain loop I take from my house in Bedford, takes in some really curvy switchbacks on Pea Pond Road, quick blast up i684 and then off onto sweeping curves next to the Titicus reservoir and puts me into North Salem.
I’ve also driven out West a lot, I’ve shipped cars to Denver and then spent a few days driving through Colorado, Utah, Nevada to California, etc. I had an amazing experience where I was driving my 911GT3 into Monument Valley with a friend following in Ferrari, we were doing around 150-190mph on long straight roads, past the famous Forest Gump running scene location - to come around the corner and down the long, long straight towards the Monuments was incredible.
Car you most regret selling?
TK: In my early twenties I had an Alfa Romeo 33 Boxer Cloverleaf, it was a pain in the ass, constantly breaking, but it had so much personality, it would be fun to still have that. I had a phase where I got in and out of cars every few months, but now I’ve gravitated towards the older cars, and the more iconic rare cars I’ve been keeping them. So, I don’t really regret selling anything, I am happy to be able to build a collection of the cars I love.
You have one hour to escape your normal day, what do you do?
TK: Pick a car and drive my loop as per above! From my house, up to North Salem and back.
Now you’ve got 2 weeks…
TK: If you are asking me what we do now with two weeks, then it’s not super exotic but we have a place in Bay Harbor Island in Florida. I love to spend time down there - we have a small boat and two cars there so it’s fun to explore new places and soak up some fun, get some exercise, eat some different food.
The one hotel that you judge all others by and why…
TK: I have to say, I think it’s the Vik hotels in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay. They have three hotels all fairly close to each other - Playa Vik, Bahia Vik and Estancia Vik. We stayed at Bahia and visited the others for dinner and days out. They perfectly represent the idea of barefoot luxury - all with the most amazing architecture, set in the beautiful nature and with outrageous food and wine.
You can teleport to any bar in the world right now, where to?
TK: I’ll see you at The Bankes Arms, in Studland Dorset with a pint of lager top. Nothing would make me happier.
What’s your drink?
TK: Well, Champagne Tony, as they used to call me is dead and buried, I’m now coffee obsessed and in love with our La Marzocco Linea Mini.
What will we always find on your nightstand?
TK: An empty coffee cup, and a pile of books about design that I haven’t read yet.
Do you have a travel hack for everybody out there?
TK: Don’t over organize your trips, it will just stress you out and you’ll end up cancelling 50% of it.
Where’s your hometown?
TK: Born in Poole, Dorset, UK - a beautiful part of the world!
Place we’re most likely to find you if we’re looking?
TK: Hayfields in North Salem. Seriously, I’m there all the time.
Place we’d never find you?
TK: In Da Club.
Okay, speed round.
What’s on the wrist?
TK: Hodinkee Swatch or ’72 Pepsi Rolex
Rocks or neat?
TK: Rocks (with my coffee)
Last Google search?
TK: How to spell La Marzocco
Biggest risk ever taken?
TK: Leaving a really nice life in London and moving to a country I’d never been to - where I didn’t know a single human being and I had no money. Actually, sounds quite stupid but here we are! It worked out.
Go ahead and follow @tonykingnyc, @kingandpartners, @iniikim and @wejustlovedriving (Tony & Inii's car centric account) - Just don't try to follow Tony in his 430.