Engagement Announcement with a Vintage Floral Design

Posted 29 November 2010 at 10:22 PM | Comments (5)

When Mona asked me if I would design her engagement announcement, she barely finished her sentence before I started visualizing the design. She and Vahid exude the keywords that were going through my mind: modern classic, elegant yet fun. Rich colors over bold ones. Dignified without making it too serious. Sophisticated but with personality.

Vintage Floral Engagement Announcement

You can see that I added a gradient overlay on the floral pattern—the pattern gets lighter as you read, “We’re engaged.” I did that because I wanted the viewer’s eye to move right across the image and then down. The stripe behind “Mona & Vahid” has the same purpose, moving your eye back to the photo. A good design does that—it moves your eye from one place to the next and back around. The viewer should never feel like they don’t know where to look first.

Oh, and we did a second version of the announcement, which was sent to their inner circle of friends and is so perfectly them:

Vintage Floral Engagement Announcement with a Little Joke

We Have to Go On Holiday

Posted 28 November 2010 at 2:49 PM | Comments (8)

Of the eight-plus years we’ve been married, we’ve owned a car for only 1.5. The rest of the 6.5 years, we’ve been pedestrians.

There’s something magical about having no choice but to walk to the store (except when it’s over 100 degrees—that’s not magic, it’s just nasty), but we’re about to leave that lifestyle behind. Now that we’re staying abroad for a while, we’ve decided to buy a car. Because I don’t know how else I’ll be able to continue lugging around two kids, a stroller, and a diaper bag and feel some semblance of sanity.

Anyway, since we’re foreigners, the only way to qualify for buying a car is to have our passports re-stamped. Which means we have to leave the country. Which means we have to take a short holiday. Oh, pity!

After some back-and-forth, we finally decided on four days in Rhodes, a Greek island in the Dodecanese. We’ve explored much of Greece already, but the short plane ride and package-deal were pretty enticing.

So we’ve pulled out the ol’ Greece travel guide, and I’ve started making notes… not just on the sights, but on my travel wardrobe. Yep, that’s right, my travel wardrobe. I never take a trip without one. It helps me pack lighter, faster, and more appropriately for each day. Here are my wardrobe notes for Rhodes:

Four days in Rhodes, Greece Travel Wardrobe

Now all I need to do is pack (easy!), take a trip (fun!), and then we’re off to buy a car (bittersweet!).


Posted 20 November 2010 at 11:20 PM | Comments (5)

I really like Gwyneth Paltrow. She’s talented and smart. And she’s classy, not just as far as celebrities go, but as far as people go. I’ve seen her movies, liked her in the last episode of Glee, and subscribe to her GOOP newsletter.

That’s why I feel bad saying that I’m not a fan of her branding.

I’m always talking about relevance. Not everything always has to make sense—ever seen a Salvador Dali film?—but when you’re building a brand, relevance becomes extremely important. For example, let’s say Phil’s Burgers has the slogan: “They’re smoking hot!” The slogan is so unrelated to the name that it might as well belong to any generic burger bar.

They’re smoking hot!

But let’s say we change the name to:

Our burgers are smokin’!

Or even:

Smokin’ hot!

Suddenly the slogan no longer sounds like a bizarre afterthought. Both it and the restaurant name are relevant; they mean something; they’re practically made for each other. And whether or not we realize it at the moment, Phil’s burger bar suddenly sounds a whole lot smarter.

Okay, back to Gwyneth Paltrow and her admirable (though highly criticized) creative undertaking, GOOP. I’m aware that “goop” is flanked by her initials, GP. But the Os seem to have little relevance here. Why not GLOOP? Or GLOP? Or GIMP? (Don’t answer that.) At one point there was some kind of statement on her website, but I can’t find it now. It was something like, “Life and all the goop in between.” Whatever it was, I had no idea what it meant, and it just sounded hokey and arbitrary. And GOOP’s slogan—“nourish the inner aspect”—didn’t clarify anything, either. Anything.

by Gwyneth Paltrow

If I was Gwyneth, I’d think about what those Os could mean. Here’s an example:

out in the open
with Gwyneth Paltrow

Which is perhaps not the most brilliant solution, but it elevates the name to something more than a hokey word. Not only does “goop” become more relevant, but it gives us new information—that this is Gwyneth Paltrow, personal, honest, and out and about. It practically becomes a mission statement.

Okay, the second thing bothering me about her branding is the design itself. It’s clean—that I like. Otherwise, it’s uninteresting, somewhat expected, and worst of all, feels like it came straight out of the 90s. (I swear that my first paid design project looked exactly like this.) Maybe she started mapping out this idea in 1997 and never revisited it? Anyway, with the resources she has, I’m sure she could hire a graphic designer to bring her website into 2010 and beyond. If I try to get more specific, it could take me all day, so I’ll leave it at that.

But I’m not a hater. I admire Gwyneth for wanting to share her perspective (even if I can’t always relate to it).

Wanting to share her perspective. Huh, I guess that’s what I’m doing with this blog. Or pretending to do. Anyway, my point is, I can’t judge, because I absolutely understand her intent. It’s the execution that needs some work.

Avant Garde Baby Announcement

Posted 18 November 2010 at 3:26 PM | Comments (1)

Kristin and Jean-Pierre* didn’t want a traditionally girly baby announcement. They wanted something unique and modern, and they definitely didn’t want it to be pink. So that was my starting point.

Of course, inspiration can come from multiple sources. That Kristin loves block-printing and that their daughter would be born in Paris aroused a ton of new ideas. It could be more than unique and modern—it could be, at the risk of sounding pretentious, avant garde! And to incorporate block-printing, it could look almost stamped.

This was my first draft:

Baby Announcement Modern Rectangles Design

I honestly loved it so much that I almost didn’t show it to them. But it didn’t seem right to use this announcement for my baby when it was, really, designed with theirs in mind.

Anyway, they liked it (darn!) but wanted to make some changes to the color palette. Instead of the 1950s-ish color palette I used, they preferred this one (below), which is perhaps more 1960s:

Baby Announcement Modern Rectangles Design

At first I didn’t think I’d like the new colors, but I did! I do. It was a bold change, and I think they made the right choice for their little girl. I love it when a client pushes me to go in a direction I didn’t think of, at least when I stand back and see that it works.

*Names and details have been changed.

Color Combinations on the Spring 2011 Runway

Posted 17 November 2010 at 11:58 PM | Comments (5)

Compiling yesterday’s blog post was so exciting that I rushed to publish it before I could get to the really fun stuff.

So let’s recap. Here are Pantone’s top ten colors for spring fashion:

Pantone's Top Ten Colors for Spring 2011 Fashion

While Pantone may not have picked the perfect shades, I can’t disagree with them completely, because their colors did show up all over the runway. And they didn’t just show up alone. Color is so big this season that two, three, four or five bright colors were combined to create one amazing statement.

Like hot pink and blue, perhaps the most sumptuous color statement this season, from Chapurin, Peter Som, and Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti:

Spring 2011 Runway Color Combinations: Blue and Hot Pink

Hot pink was also combined with yellow, in a look that makes me want to cha-cha. Three completely different looks from Leonard, Giles, and Aigner are all joyful:

Spring 2011 Runway Color Combinations: Hot Pink and Yellow

Yellow had several good friends this season, the freshest pairing (and my favorite) being yellow and orange. Tory Burch, Jasper Conran, Damir Doma, and Marithé et François Girbaud did it right:

Spring 2011 Runway Color Combinations: Orange and Yellow

I love how Frankie Morello, Jonathan Saunders, and Prabal Gurung all combined orange with turquoise and yet, not one of these looks is the same. Sexy, prim, or sophisticated:

Spring 2011 Runway Color Combinations: Orange and Turquoise

Oh, look—turquoise is also paired with yellow! Three elegant looks from Chapurin, Leonard, and Prabal Gurung:

Spring 2011 Runway Color Combinations: Turquoise and Yellow

It’s also paired with brown, thanks to Blumarine, Tim Van Steenbergen, Richie Rich, and Christian Siriano:

Spring 2011 Runway Color Combinations: Brown and Turquoise

And actually, brown was combined with pretty much every other color on the list. Here you see it with hot pink, orange, and pops of yellow by Lanvin, Veronique Leroy, Les Copains, and Loewe:

Spring 2011 Runway Color Combinations: Brown and Brights

Pale pink was also, surprisingly, paired with brights. The pink and gray look from Badgley Mischka is somewhat expected (though lovely!), but I would never have thought to pair it with orange, in a look from Timo Weiland, or yellow, by Emilio Morena. Now you know how to give your powder-pink dress some edge this season (uh-oh, I feel a wedding inspiration board coming):

Spring 2011 Runway Color Combinations: Pale Pink with Brights

Lastly—though you know I could go on forever—I love how J. Mendel and Ralph Lauren used trend colors sparingly. Both went heavy on the gray and light on color. This is a look for those of us who aren’t quite ready to take a walk on the Bright Side:

Spring 2011 Runway Color Combinations: Gray with Pop of Color

Whew. Done! Like I said, I could go on forever, but I think that’s enough fashion talk for a while. It’s somewhat depressing to talk about fashion, anyway, considering that all I wear these days is jeans and my farmer’s market t-shirt.

So next time I’ll try to highlight a recent project… for my one reader out there (hi, Mom!).

*All runway images from Elle.com.

Pantone Colors on the Spring 2011 Runway

Posted 16 November 2010 at 11:33 AM | Comments (5)

Friends often ask what inspires my design work. I could give a thousand different answers to that question, but if you held a gun to my face and said there could be only two answers, I’d say: color and fashion. Everything I do is inspired by those two forces. Everything.

So, it may come as no surprise that, every season, I check Pantone’s Fashion Color Report and compare it to the runway shows, partly because it’s fascinating, and partly because I’m curious how accurate their predictions are.

I have yet to enjoy my fall wardrobe (yep, still wearing sandals and tees), but I’ve already gone through the spring 2011 collections. On the whole, the clothes are dominated by black, white, and variations of khaki, but when color does appear, it’s bright and punchy and surprisingly joyful. Pantone got that absolutely right. As for the rest of their predictions…

Beeswax. Yellow has a monopoly on spring color, but the majority of yellow hues were more acidic than Pantone’s honey-toned prediction. Still, it was there, and my favorite Beeswax looks were from Cynthia Rowley, Prabal Gurung, and Nanette Lepore:

Pantone Beeswax Yellow on the Spring 2011 Runway

Coral Rose. Orange continues to gain popularity and was probably the second-hottest color on the runway, but Pantone’s version was more yellow-based, whereas most designers favored a red-based orange. Of the Coral Rose looks out there, I loved these from Guy Laroche, Elene Cassis, and Costume National:

Pantone Coral Rose Orange on the Spring 2011 Runway

Honeysuckle. Hot pink was all over the place. It was fuchsia, it was magenta, it was neon. No particular shade of hot pink dominated, but when it was Honeysuckle, I admit it looked fresh and new. Hello, Jason Wu, Christopher Kane, and Gianfranco Ferre:

Pantone Honeysuckle Pink on the Spring 2011 Runway

Regatta. Blue is still hot right now, and it’s in every tone and shade, from royal to pastel. Pantone chose Regatta as one of its top ten colors of the season, but I’m not convinced they’ve chosen the right blue; it wasn’t easy to find these images from Angelo Marani, Costume National, and Philosophy di Alberta Feretti:

Pantone Regatta Blue on the Spring 2011 Runway

Blue Curacao. Just like Regatta, Blue Curacao joins the ranks of turquoise on the runway but might not be the most accurate shade of turquoise. Perhaps the point here is that turquoise is still popular, whatever the shade. Cynthia Steffe, DKNY, and Costume National were part of the handful of Blue Curacao out there:

Pantone Blue Curacao Turquoise on the Spring 2011 Runway

Peapod. Unlike the other colors I’ve mentioned, green wasn’t everywhere—but man, when it was, it felt so right! It was tough to find these images, but I have a feeling this shade of green is on its way up. Bravo to Lutz, Pin-Up Stars, and Cynthia Steffe for grabbing it early:

Pantone Peapod Green on the Spring 2011 Runway

Russet. I would never have noticed this color if I wasn’t looking for it. And wow, I’m glad I was, because here’s another color that feels really right for spring. My favorite Russet looks were from Amanda Wakeley, Hermès, and Ter et Bantine:

Pantone Russet Brown on the Spring 2011 Runway

Silver Cloud. When I said that black, white, and khaki were big on the runway, I should have included gray in that statement; it was nearly impossible to narrow it down to three. But I did it, and I chose these looks from Badgley Mischka, Sergio Zambon, and Elena Miro to best represent Silver Cloud:

Pantone Silver Cloud Gray on the Spring 2011 Runway

Silver Peony. Pale pink was like the underdog of the spring runway. It was there, but it was subtle and sporadic. Some were peachy and some were close to champagne, but of those that matched Pantone’s Silver Peony, my favorites were Antonio Berardi, Dennis Basso, and Oscar de la Renta:

Pantone Silver Peony Pink on the Spring 2011 Runway

Lavender. Oh, lavender. It’s so pretty, yet this is where I think Pantone may have made a mistake, because its presence on the runway was miniscule. You can see that I couldn’t even find images to match Pantone’s hue—but I did my best with Elena Miro, Bebe, and Marchesa. Perhaps Pantone would have been better off making their tenth color a neutral khakhi. Even a strong, jewel-tone purple was more prominent than this pretty pastel:

Pantone Lavender Purple on the Spring 2011 Runway

And then there was Versus, whose charming spring collection looked like a page right out of Pantone’s Fashion Color Report and makes me want to end this post with applause:

Pantone Colors Versus Spring 2011 Runway Collection

*All runway images from Elle.com.

Grate and Tile

Posted 9 November 2010 at 10:38 PM | Comments (2)

Like everyone else in town, our apartment windows at risk for break-ins are covered with a metal grate. Fortunately, the design is as pleasant as it is practical (or maybe I just think so because I’m used to seeing these everywhere?):

Mediterranean Apartment Window with Metal Security Grate

When we move back to the U.S. (can’t wait!), I will, no doubt, be constantly looking for ways to recreate this Mediterranean experience at home. That’s why I’m triple-bookmarking this gorgeous vanilla art glass tile from Edgewater Studio:

Edgewater Studio Madeira Vanilla Art Glass Tile

On a related note, our move back to the U.S. has been delayed by, oh, about two or three years. Though I’m 100% confident that we’ve made the right decision, and though I absolutely love our life here, I’m a little heartbroken-slash-homesick. So if you bump into me on the street, feel free to give me a hug.


Posted 6 November 2010 at 10:30 AM | Comments (2)

One of my main sources of work is e-mail announcements. I often (and disappointingly) have to reject larger, ongoing, or long-term projects, because with a toddler and a newborn, my time is unpredictable, so it’s necessary to keep my commitments down. E-mail announcements, on the other hand, are quick and easy—I can actually accomplish one or two in a naptime (and even get in an episode of Glee. I’ve just started Season 2).

Plus, in my ongoing effort to beautify the world (hey, I can hear you stifle a laugh), I like knowing that one more e-mail announcement I design means one less message in my inbox using smiley faces, Comic Sans, and blinking text.

E-mail Announcement for Household Giveaway and Sale

The image I used in this invitation came from here.

Refined Navy and Gold

Posted 5 November 2010 at 10:40 PM | Comments (1)

When I saw this startlingly beautiful navy and gold dress from last year’s Donna Karan resort collection, I immediately plunged into a wedding inspiration board. I could practically see the letterpressed invitations, gold rose bouquets, and the hotel reception bathed in dim, gold light.

Traditional autumn color palettes have been done a million times. Navy and gold feels like fall, yet it’s much more refined. Especially in an indoor setting where changing leaves and warm fall light don’t have much of an impact on atmosphere, and especially when the couple wants to avoid reds and oranges, this wedding color palette is my new fall favorite.

Refined Navy and Gold