Graphic Fix >> High Design for Low Effort Meals

I cannot believe these are microwave meals.  Can.  Not.  Believe.  I saw these and assumed it was one of those really well-designed things you come across online and then the info says "student project" and it turns out it's not actually a real product.  Not so here.  These are sold in the UK by COOK, and in addition to being so, so beautifully designed, they sound really delicious, and there's a sticker in the top right corner telling you the name of the chef that prepared the meal.

These would be pretty as stationery!  So the fact that it's packaging for something generally so commercial-looking, usually using glossy, over-saturated, close-up photos of the steaming meal you are about to buy and big slogans zinged dramatically across the front to grab your attention, these are so refreshingly simple, classic, and photoshop-free.

Designed by LOVE Creative.

Interiors >> Chalkboard, Exposed Brick, Leather, Wood, Filament Bulbs


Tastemakers >> Gwyneth

Love this shot of Gwyneth from Vogue... and really love those PJs!  I'm a pajama set fanatic and particularly like sets that look like men's pajamas.  Here are the ones I'm currently wanting.

SpY Does It Again >> Street Art for the Non-Seeing

Oh this really touches my heart.  Interesting that no one has done this before (or at least not that I know of, which may mean nothing).  Street artist SpY has made street art for blind pedestrians...

Braille label-maker

"Mambo Kings"

 Stickers placed on surfaces highly-used by blind pedestrians.

Also reminds me of the scene in Amelie where she leads around the blind man and describes everything to him... looove that scene (and movie).


Graphic Fix >> Dress the Part

"Unsheets" for classics we can identify solely by the trademark outfits worn in them.


Cause-Related >> New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward:

An interesting article from GOOD Magazine on Brad Pitt's Make It Right organization working to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward.  Here, a few excerpts:

"Their vision is more ambitious than those of the other nonprofit organizations and government agencies that came to town after Katrina. Most were hoping to shelter homeless families; Make It Right wants to model a new paradigm of sustainable low-income homeownership."
"It's a surreal scene: a hyper-modern housing development in the middle of nowhere that answers some of New Orleans's oldest building challenges even as it clashes with the city's traditional patina."
"'People who lost everything, they want their memories to come alive again," says Carol McMichael Reese, an architecture historian. "And so in that way, I think the clients of Make It Right have been very brave, really, because they've sort of embraced the future.'
She was talking about the modern design of the homes themselves. But there's something even braver about moving into a modern home that's one of, for now, just a few residences in an expanse of empty lots."
You can read the rest of the article here.
Make It Right website here.

Must See >> Still Bill

[Poster by Scott Campbell]


Masters and Their Crafts >> Richard Avedon

"Fashion is one of the richest expressions of human desires, ambitions, needs, frailty, insecurity, security.  What we wear is an indication of our sense of ourselves."

I particularly love his portraits:

Tennessee Williams, New York, 1969

Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Waldorf Astoria, Suite 28a, 1957

Beckett, Paris, 1979

Brando, New York, 1951

Duchamp, New York, 1958

Cole Porter, New York, 1950

Dylan, New York, 1965

Tastemakers >> Jeanne Lanvin

From the library of Jeanne Lanvin, shot by The Selby.


Graphic Fix >> Blue Note 1537

Designed by Reid Miles (see the signature?).

Arts Visuels >> Art For a Cause >> Re:Form School

Last week, redu, a movement aimed at rebuilding America's public school system, sponsored a huge collaborative arts show, called Re:Form School, aimed at raising public awareness about the need to reform our school system.

WK, one of the participating artists, created this awesome installation at a New York City public school playground using photos he took of kids at the school and drawings he collected from them.

Check out this video from WK to hear more about it...

And this one to see the photo shoot with the kids.. pretty cute.

Love that even the art world is helping focus attention on our public schools right now!

LustList >> For the Library >> Forget Me Not

The Huffington Post column "Let's Bring Back," authored by Lesley M. M. Blume, is about to be released as a book!  In the column, Blume features vestiges of bygone eras that have been forgotten along the way but deserve to be brought back.  Such as:

Silk Stockings: “... Once the most divine mistress gift, along with chocolates, roses, and that sort of thing.”
Radio Dramas:  “... A picture may be worth a thousand words, but radio plays let the imagination run wild.”
Femme Fatales:  “Hollywood used to be absolutely heaving with them.”
Skating parties:  “Best when followed by hot buttered rum and a divine after-party supper.”

I'm particularly obsessed with this one:

The Stork Club: "...Each little table sported a discreet telephone on which you could call the other tables.  That is a charming feature."

I'm dying to work on a project in which we could incorporate this idea!  Now I'm all panicked that someone else in the business is going to read this same article/book, and in like three months I'm going to read about a cool new bar in New York that has phones on each table.

(Click image for slightly more legible text size.) 

Fashun >> Monique Lhuillier RTW SS '11

Maybe the most "I-want-to-wear-that-right-now" pieces I've ever seen in one collection.  Monique Lhuillier just makes the most beautiful dresses I think I've ever seen, right up there with Valentino and Oscar de la Renta... all masters of the feminine.  They're not reinventing the wheel, they just make consistently beautiful things that make women look beautiful.  Genius.  

I LOVE the silhouettes, every single one looks flattering, and the fabrics and flourishes are gorgeous.

Click through for more...


Working On >> A Wine Country Cottage Inn

I've gotten a few messages from readers asking more about my job, so I thought I'd share a little bit from a current project I'm working on.  It's a new development that will be a wine country inn composed of lots of cute little white board and batten cottages, along with a restaurant, gym, spa, and pool.  

Above is the inspiration board I put together for the project, which gives a general idea of both the aesthetic we're going for (cottages/old boarding houses/barns), and also the feel for the whole environment-- retro, family-friendly, good clean fun.  

Think bingo nights, picnics, shuffleboard, movies played on a screen on the side of the barn, rocking chairs on porches, bike rides around town, etc....

Click through for more...

Well Said >> Why I Write

"I write entirely to find out what I think, what I'm looking at, what I see, and what it means."

-Joan Didion (one of my favorite authors), from her essay, "Why I Write"

Captured >> Upstate Hoedown

Ok so it's not actually a hoedown, but I can't get over how FUN this wedding looks, as captured by Josie Miner.  Yes, it partially has to do with the fact that they are gettin DOWN on the dance floor, but I also love the style of the photography... a little bit more photojournalistic than a lot of wedding photography.

Ok actually I love everything about it, because the outdoor dance floor with strings of lights is pretty great, and this band below looks pretty classic.

Click through for more...


Must See >> The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Speaking of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (see two posts down), if you haven't seen it, you really must.  It's so incredibly beautiful and moving.  It was directed by Julian Schnabel, who once said that with his art, he's "aiming for an emotional state, a state that people can literally walk into and be engulfed."  This film certainly had that effect on me.

I like that the trailer doesn't give too much away, so I won't either.  I think it better allows you to be completely absorbed into the "emotional state" Schnabel describes.  

And as a film with a heavy emphasis on story-telling (narration by the main character is a large component), I liked that I was lead into the narrative without any preconceptions.  Remember how when you watched the Princess Bride when you were little, you hated when they would break the story and go back to the grandfather and grandson at bedtime, because you were so into the story? This film evoked that same feeling of total immersion into a story.

It also won best director at Cannes, was nominated for four Oscars, and appeared on over twenty top-10 lists of 2007.  So if the little heart-strings argument above didn't get you, I hope the critical acclaim will...

PS-- Don't give up if at the beginning you think it's super slow.  It picks up.

Tastemakers >> Vanessa Traina's Living Room

Vanessa Traina, brand ambassador for Chanel, daughter of Danielle Steele, and model for Louis Vuitton.

Love: the simple palette, LV trunk as coffee table, camel velvet sofa, gallery wall.

You can see the rest of the apartment here, although this was by far my favorite pic.  The rest is a little overboard for me...

[Shot for Harper's Bazaar]

Graphic Fix >> It's Never Too Late

...to be what you want to be.

When I first saw this print, I thought it was a movie poster, like the "unsheets" I've been posting.  Doesn't the format, with the line along the bottom and what looks like tiny credits underneath, lead you to think so?  And for a French film, the design would be perfectly suitable.  It kind of looks like it could be for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, no?

And it turns out it's just a lovely print with a lovely meaning by an artist, and unlike the general genre of "inspirational posters," not cheesy at all.  I particularly love the (unsentimental) typeface.

["Unsheet" movie poster 
posts herehere, here.]

Listening To >> The Black Keys

Having listened to this song plenty of times on the album, I sort of had an idea in my head of what I imagined the video might be like.  Well, this is not what I would've guessed in a million years.  It's pretty cute/funny, just not at all what I imagined.  To start with, I didn't picture something that could be described as cute/funny.  Would you?  I'll let you judge for yourself.


Yes to All >> Le Mepris

Drink About It >> Spirit of '77

OMFG Co., design firm behind the Ace Hotels' collateral materials, does it again with the new Portland sports bar Spirit of '77.  Love the giant sign and scoreboard, and did you notice that the wall behind the bar is a basketball floor?

One reason I find my job (hospitality design) so interesting is that for hospitality interiors (bars, hotels, restaurants), you are combining interior design and branding, creating not just a space, but an entire world, from scratch.  The interior design has to be well done, of course, as it would be in a home, but at the same time you are reinforcing a brand message at every turn.  

And I don't mean putting the establishment logo everywhere.  What I mean is that every single aspect, from the fonts on the signage, to the paper products (menus, in-room binders, door tags), to the food and drinks, to the kinds of glasses and silverware you choose, all have to speak the same language, constantly reminding the visitor what the place is all about.

OMFG Co. does such a great job of this.  If you've ever been to an Ace Hotel, you know what I mean.  From the second you walk in the door, it's a full on experience that is so specific because every detail supports the experience.

Arts Visuels >> Zac Freeman ...a knock-off of Vik Muniz and Chuck Close?

Found item collage portraits by Zac Freeman combine pointilism, impressionism, and mixed media by using film canisters, telephone parts, gears, and other odds and ends to create faces that are the sum of their parts.

I like... but... also kind of just feels like a mash-up of some of Chuck Close and Vik Muniz's work:

Chuck Close, "Phillip Glass," 1977, Watercolor and Acrylic on Paper

Chuck Close, "Big Self-Portrait," 2000-2001, Acrylic on Canvas 

So Chuck Close has got the pointilist portrait thing going on...

Vik Muniz, "Self-Portrait (Back) (Pictures of Magazines)," 2003, Chromogenic Print

Vik Muniz, "Toy Soldier," 2003, Chromogenic Print (of toy soldiers)

 ...And then Vik Muniz takes the idea to the collage realm, using hole-punched bits of magazines and toy soldiers and everything in between to make portraits (as well as recreations of Old Master pieces).  So while Freeman's work is impressive for its tedium and is interesting to look at, and he certainly has an eye for light and dark, I kind of feel like he's ripping off two other great artists... do you?  

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