With the arrival of 2012, I look forward to the opportunity to display a new calendar. Like most of us, my days are full of much to keep track of. It is a joy to display a beautifully designed diary. When you think about it, this piece of art is one referenced multiple times, each and every day. Why not make it beautiful, as well as useful?  I have posted images of two of my favorites. One new, and one old.

The first is a classic. Above, the Stendig calendar is designed in 1966 by Massimo Vignelli and part of the Design Collection of the Museum of Modern Art  in New York. After thirty five years, a design from the sixties endures as an example of excellence in modern graphic design. The clarity and graphic punch make it truly timeless.

The year at a glance format by Felix Ng of Singapore design studio SILNT is beautifully presented. It features a horizontal layout (for marking project schedules) and a typeset in Akzidenz Grotesk. It is understated and elegant, and I love the tri-fold-go-anywhere format printed on 150 gsm Curious Particles Snow Paper in an edition of 250. 2011 pictured. Look for the 2012 version due out soon.

Images found at SILNT, and Stendig.


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Thoughts for the New Year

Earlier this year the AIGA interviewed John C. Jay, Wieden+Kennedy’s executive creative director. He offered “10 Lessons for Young Designers”. I saved this list and revisited it recently. It seems especially appropriate at this time, as we consider the passing of the current year, and look ahead to self awareness and improvement as we embark on 2012. I believe this list is broader than its title, and is applicable not only to young designers, but to a person of any age or occupational discipline. We can all benefit from John’s words of wisdom.

1: Be authentic. The most powerful asset you have is your individuality, what makes you unique. It’s time to stop listening to others on what you should do.
2: Work harder than anyone else and you will always benefit from the effort.
3: Get off the computer and connect with real people and culture. Life is visceral.
4: Constantly improve your craft. Make things with your hands. Innovation in thinking is not enough.
5: Travel as much as you can. It is a humbling and inspiring experience to learn just how much you don’t know.
6: Being original is still king, especially in this tech-driven, group-grope world.
7: Try not to work for stupid people or you’ll soon become one of them.
8: Instinct and intuition are all-powerful. Learn to trust them.
9: The Golden Rule actually works. Do good.
10: If all else fails, No. 2 is the greatest competitive advantage of any career.

Best wishes for the New Year.
Image:  AIGA


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I am Thankful For…

There are many reasons to be thankful. Thanksgiving offers a moment of respite from our day to day, to reflect and acknowledge that for which we are thankful. In our home, we are starting a new tradition- The Thankful Tree. There are many great examples online of this tradition which involves documenting the things, people and moments in our lives which are deserving of our thanks. Some do it daily for the month of November leading up to the Thanksgiving Holiday. Others take a moment out of their Thanksgiving gathering to jot down their thoughts, to share with those gathered. Whatever the interpretation, it seems a lovely tradition, focusing on the important things in life. The great thing about this project is it can be created simply from the fallen branches of the season displayed in a vase, or even on a ribbon hung across the mantel. There is a great sense of community created as each guest or family member displays their tag and shares their gratitude.

While searching for inspiration, I realized this element in our home was an expression of our family. I designed a ‘tree-tag’ above with that in mind, interpreting the colors of fall and a modern spirit . If it suits you, feel free to print it and use it for your celebration as well. I have also included some options below from Jones Design Company, with a more traditional flair. You can download their printable tags to incorporate into the design of your Thankful Tree, or use on your Thanksgiving Tablescape.

May your Thanksgiving be bountiful, shared with those you hold dear.

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Functional Play

I’m lucky. I have two sweet nieces. Lovely little ladies they are. When selecting a gift for them I can’t help but look for well designed,  useful and experiential objects. It is a joy to share with even the youngest among us, the power of great design. Elements of color and composition, graphic clarity and playfulness must appeal to this set of inquisitive thinkers. Don’t you think? I personally find these designer blocks to be irresistible! Not only do these indestructible playthings invite us to build and explore, they offer a lesson in Modern Architecture and Graphic design.

Above, Eames House Blocks.
Each set of 36 replenishable Michigan-grown basswood blocks represents 29 separate hand-pulled screen passes. In the true Eames spirit, your kids can create a ligneous yard sale on your living room rug while you’re in deep conversation with your guests, then build this living landmark.

Debossed Neutraface Slab Pattern.
“This compact set of 12 Neutraface Slab alphabet blocks above will transmit subliminal stylistic messages to young impressionable minds.”

Alexander Girard Alphabet Blocks
Created by House Industries in a collaboration with the estate of renowned mid-century designer Alexander Girard, the 28 wood blocks feature alphabets based on the Alexander Girard font collection and a cleverly-adapted House Industries factory logo puzzle.

Photo Lettering Blocks
Handmade with House Industries own Photo-Lettering library.


All the block sets above are offered by House Industries.

  • Made in the USA
  • Replenishable Michigan-grown, kiln-dried basswood.
  • Printed with non-toxic, lead-free child-safe inks.

All images and excerpts found at House Industries website.




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Design For Kids


I recently learned of a great design series for kids. Book producer Pamela Pease has released Design Dossier. A book for each topic, the reader learns about graphic design, interior design, the world of design, architecture, and fashion. (Paintbox Press, $24).  The series is geared for ages 10 to 15, but I feel that it’s never to early to get imagery, and tactile tools in the hands of children. These new books have both; lots of opportunity to explore and learn experientially and visually, as well as strong color and graphic storytelling, which is engaging at any age. This set is perfect for the budding designer or artist, as it ‘explores the elements of design, including shape, color, and typography; discovers milestones of 20th century design, as well as top contemporary designers who shape our world today.’ It does seem like there are resources available for very young children that describe an artists work, or challenge creative thinking. But, for the student of life ready to dig a little deeper experientially, great tools  of inspiration, seem harder to find.



These books are packed with information and projects, not to mention famous designers, their philosophies and examples of their work. What a great resource, for kids, parents and teachers. It is packaged in such a transportable size, I can imagine it would be a favorite collaborative resource to take to a friends house, or dare I say, even a party.





Images and excerpts http://paintboxpress.com


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