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August 30, 2008

Fantasy Fonts

Graphic designers are in love with type.

Fantastic Fonts

And for good reason. Fonts fulfill fantasies and dreams and conjure up images and moods in an intensely beautiful and fun way. You can really go to town with fonts. This latest foray comes to me from a project I am working on for my client, cabaret singer, Karen Kohler (more on that in the near future). No matter how long you work with fonts, like all subjects and artistic pursuits with real depth, there is more to learn, explore and enjoy. Fonts are as varied as the people who draw them. Combine their versatility and numerous options with your own imagination and you won't be able to sleep at night for the fun you will have with fonts. One of the boons of computers is that people who previously weren't exposed to the magic of type design are more aware of its lure. The trick is to use these extravagant font styles in combination with simpler ones and create a beautiful interplay of luxury, surprise and legibility for a masterful piece of graphic communication.

August 28, 2008

More Skyline Views

Went to the rooftop bar called New Eden last night.

Eden Rooftop Bar in nyc

Another pretty New York nighttime view is available here. As you can see above, the rooftop area is on the cozy side compared to two other NYC rooftop bars I've visited this summer (230 Fifth and the rooftop bar at the Parker Meridien), but still welcoming and a really nice change from the indoors. Once again, it was a gorgeous summer evening with perfect temperatures and wind levels. Ahhh.

August 27, 2008

Gorgeous Old Paint

Color on old painted surfaces seems extra intense.

Gorgeous Old Paint

This type of chipped painted surface holds my interest and takes me in. The lure of antiques is similar in that they have a past and sometimes pull you into their mysteries. The texture and vibrancy of chipped paint on wood is especially entrancing and seems oddly luxurious even in its state of disrepair. Maybe that's part of it. Maybe it seems to be living the high life with its clearly sordid or at least rich past. Not sure. Locks, bolts and keyholes seem extra intriguing too. I bought a couple pairs of old painted doors that are gorgeous in color because of this minor obsession. I've displayed them in various apartments and even hung a set in my last apartment's kitchen. They have depth and character besides astonishing color.

August 26, 2008

Berry Nice

Berry colors are bounding in for fall.

Berry Colors

Above are dresses by one of my favorite designers for dressier occasions, Nicole Miller, with the bottom right design by Muse. Go berry picking as the leaves start to change and bedeck yourself in scrumptious hues.

August 25, 2008

Eye Contact

Been thinking a lot lately about relationships and what makes them work well or, in other words, what is a “well designed” relationship.

Eye Contact

People who look others directly in the eye, without flinching, and enable you to feel that you are in that moment being seen and listened to are keen. I was reminded of this likable trait by something I heard today. And since I've been doing a lot of thinking about people lately, what with refreshing summer gatherings, both business and social rendezvous, I was struck by this comment — direct eye contact is a great thing. As much as we need each other, we are often scared and uncertain and avoid this simple unspoken means of communication. Go for it.

August 24, 2008

Everyone Loves Van Gogh

Van Gogh is apparently the world's most popular painter.

Agostina Segatori in the Cafe du Tambourin by Van Gogh MOMA is hosting a new Van Gogh exhibit this September, called Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night.

For art lovers and Van Gogh afficianados, this show is sure to be a welcome fall event.

Van Gogh's universal appeal is all the more touching considering he was a pauper during his lifetime and never achieved financial security, let alone riches. His story is one of those that makes you shake your head in disbelief and at the same time gives confidence to artists of all types struggling to make their way amidst uncertainty and anonymity.  

Above: “Agostina Segatori in the Café du Tambourin” painted by Vincent Van Gogh

August 23, 2008

Natural Aids

Talking to my neighbor today, she mentioned that her mother used to use tea bags as a natural way to reduce circles and puffiness under her eyes. Her mother also used egg whites as a facial masque and had beautiful skin. We both had experience with olive oil healing scars.

natural health and beauty aids

These simple remedies and aids remind me of the wisdom that can often be found in unlikely places. I was truly amazed to find that olive oil healed scars I had had for several years. I was once talking about it in the gym and a small crowd gathered and several people said they'd had the same experience. While new scientific discoveries and formulas can be great, let's not overlook these easy aids that can be found with almost no trouble and can help us be the timeless beauties we are meant to be.

August 22, 2008

A Place for Everything

And everything in its place.

Kitty in Shelf

When I first got this cool bookcase, which has wavy shelves (from Design Within Reach), I specifically envisioned my cat making herself at home in its nook-like shelves. (The bookcase comes in separate shelf sections that you slide together and each section weighs 200 lbs, literally. I assembled it myself on the floor and then got some guys to help me stand it up.) Cats being independent, however, she never hopped in, even when I put a soft blanket in a shelf. However, several years later, she is hanging out in it regularly. I guess it has to do with where the bookcase now stands and other factors, such as getting away from her sister, although her sister will follow after her. At any rate, I was forced to clear out this shelf for her or else have my tops constantly askew, found on the ground etc. My feline enhances my view.

August 21, 2008

Below the Surface

There are many cases in life and in people where the most interesting, scary, revealing, important or surprising elements lie beneath the surface.

Below the Surface My scientific client, Pratt & Whitney, makers of engines for aircraft and numerous other purposes, often uses diagrams and charts to explain concepts. And I'm not talking about diagrams of equipment; I mean conceptual diagrams. One of their standard diagrams is called an “Iceberg Chart.” The meaning of this may be apparent, that much of what is important in a project, approach or undertaking lies beneath the surface. And the information and needs that are below the visible surface must be taken into account for a full, productive, even safe picture and a successful outcome.

Like many business tools, the point may seem simple and obvious but the real meaning is deep and useful. I have recently been confronted anew with the startlingly obvious and important fact that much of what is important about people, both good and bad, lies hidden beneath the surface. If we don't pay attention to our own interiors and to those of others, we are walking through a world that is only a small percentage of what is actually there. Not to mention, we will be constantly confused because the real action and motivation lies beneath. So take a dive with me and uncover some real juicy stuff. 

August 20, 2008

Mojitos and Mosquitos

This summer has been filled with mojitos and mosquitos.

Delicious Mojitos I'd like to keep the mojito part and lose the mosquito part — no surprise there. I'd heard of mojitos before — they're strong — but hadn't really sampled them. The best ones I've had so far are pineapple mojito concoctions made at the expensive bar at the Soho Grand Hotel, where the NY chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) meets for our local briefings. At $14 a pop, they better be good — and they are!

Strong and flavorful, biting and soothing both. Yum.

August 19, 2008

Enough Suffices

Appetites and Satisfaction — as humans, we all have appetites for life's bounty.

Candy Curls by Will CottonWhether it be food, money, sex, power, control or some other pursuit with big draw, we all struggle with the right mixture of hanging on and letting go, giving in and resisting, taking and receiving. This wrestling is more and less profound depending on the topic and risks involved. And people play mind games with themselves about these things on a regular basis.

 


Contemporary realistic painting, “Candy Curls” by Will Cotton

Philosophers like Sokrates and Plato were grappling with these concepts among others; the challenge is intrinsic to man and womankind. I've always been intrigued with what makes a happy life. What is that perfect balance of things that combine to bring real satisfaction. And as one becomes smarter, one's tastes, goals, wishes and challenges presumably also become more refined.

Enough suffices or enough is sufficient is a phrase that comes to mind. I heard this first in college and it captured my attention as the simplest response to these questions. I believe this simple phrase eloquently sums up these big struggles and challenges and is the key to much happiness. Discipline and order are the paths to a bigger satisfaction than indulgence and immersion. It can be a very hard lesson but can bring the satisfaction of the ages once embraced.

August 18, 2008

Magical Children's Books

Children's books are a great canvas for creative illustrators and thinkers/writers.

Zin, Zin, Zin, a Violin

The book pictured at left is currently being made into a DVD by my friend, Jacqueline Gordon and a newly formed company called Little Symphonies, Inc. headed by Lisa Cohen. The DVD voiceover is by Angela Lansbury, with a combination jazz/classical music track by noted musicians. I happen to own a copy of this book in my collection of children's books, which I unwittingly compiled over the past approximately 10 years of graphic design work, being captivated by the color, creativity and imagination in the best children's books. This type of picture book seems to be an ideal framework to allow imagination to run wild while keeping concepts spare and simple in humorous and inventive ways. The field is blazingly inspirational to a designer and lover of words cleverly paired with artwork.  

August 17, 2008

Affordable and Flexible Furniture

This nice green sleeper couch from CB2 comes at an affordable cost.

Affordable Sleeper Couch At $1,000, this couch costs about a quarter of what most good-looking and functional modern couches weight in at. There are many great looking sculptural couches out there but they are very expensive. Other nice sleeper couches can be found but they are also pricey and tend to come only in blacks and greys, besides looking very much alike.

August 16, 2008

Reliable Upper West Side Dining

Henry's is a restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that residents rely on for delicious food, calm ambiance and gracious service.

Henry's on the Upper West Side Henry's is the right mixture of formal and informal, always pretty but fine for a casual pop-in. I went there for the first time in over a year for a business dinner tonight and it brought back warm memories and was as satisfying as ever. Henry's possesses that magic mixture that most restaurants would kill for, just the right combination of elegance and informality that make it a staple for the neighborhood. And in a neighborhood like New York's Upper West Side, where establishments come and go like subway stops, it's a small miracle to stay successful for nine years, as they have.

August 15, 2008

Qwerty Keyboards and
Technological Progress

The latest generation of cell phones feature QWERTY keyboards to make text messaging, using e-mail and doing internet exploration easier than a usual phone keypad.

Qwerty Keyboard Cell Phones

Pictured above: the Sidekick from T-Mobile

These mini keyboards are cute to look at and do work much better than the previous generation of cell phone for typing purposes, although using them as a phone can be awkward in some cases and they are necessarily heavier than the last wave of cell phone designs. I'm surprised the cameras aren't better, given the current superb state of digital photography; I assume this is because of marketing. My favorite part of this trend is hearing people say QWERTY keyboard who would never have known the phrase before. I first learned about the QWERTY keyboard when I plunged into graphic design and found its roots very interesting. Since I love to touch type, it's amazing to me that it's considered a difficult setup and far from the best choice that could have been made. Like many things we grow to love for its/their faults, however, the QWERTY keyboard appears here to stay and it's nice to see such an entrenched piece of history forging forward hand in hand with the latest technology.

August 14, 2008

Jewelry from the Garden

Nature lends constant inspiration for artists.

Jamie Cassavoy Jewelry

Jamie Cassavoy is one of my favorite jewelry designers and she takes her primary cues from her garden. She says, “I try to replicate the strong, yet ethereal nature of the flowers growing in my garden. I strive to find nature's perfection in its imperfection.” Besides being beautiful, Jamie's jewelry evokes a strong mood, endowing it with an atmosphere of lush maiden-like grace. Many of her pieces are exceptionally light, something about which I care, as I won't wear earrings that pull down earlobes. She comes up with constantly inspired imagery, much like nature herself.

August 13, 2008

View from Above

The rooftop bar at 230 Fifth showcases an amazing city view.

230 Fifth Avenue Rooftop Bar

The bar scene doesn't feel like New York, though, as most reviews note. It's got a Miami feeling and design, with palm trees wafting. The place was packed when I was there for an event last Thursday and the bartenders and waitresses kept up with the crowd. It was another perfect night in terms of weather and we had a fantastic time. Downstairs one flight in the “Penthouse Lounge,” you can catch a retro funky purple bar that looks a little airport-y to me, although still fun and cool, besides being vast.  

August 12, 2008

Cool Stools

One of the coolest looking stool designs is by artist Eric Ziemelis.

Coolest Stool Designs

Available through the Artful Home online, this sculptural seating is handmade of cherry wood and chrome-painted steel. There are some other beautiful stool designs at this source too.

August 11, 2008

Cute Monsters

How cute is this guy?

Daily Monster

Clever, colorful, original, cute and fun, check out the videos on Daily Monster for your daily dose of imaginative make believe critterhood. 

August 10, 2008

Satisfying Storytelling

Monarch of the Glen is a BBC television series set in the Scottish Highlands that lasted seven years.

Monarch of the Glen

Extremely popular in Britain, the series deftly portrays a family cast with constantly entering and existing characters. Unique in its mixture of comedy and serial intrigue, the setting is almost an additional character. Central to the plotline is the fact that Archie McDonald has become the new laird (lord) of Glenbogle Castle. The laird system is a holdover from hundreds of years ago that lives on in parts of Scotland. These huge castles are impractical in today's world, costing a fortune to maintain and requiring constant upkeep. The laird and his family are an important part of village life, being the landowner of many surrounding homes and a sort of royalty. This series makes you feel part of the family. You come to understand the draw of Glenbogle, whose real life counterpart is alive and struggling in Scotland. A very enjoyable and satisfyingly long series. The father, Hector, played brilliantly by Richard Briers, is my favorite character. He is so great, it's hard to know what to attribute to the writing and what to the actor; he makes throw-away lines masterful.

August 9, 2008

Sorbet with a Kick

Ever heard of sorbet infused with wine?

Sorbet with Wine

Wine Cellar Sorbet is available in six flavors and I sampled a few. They were all good but my favorite was the Riesling. The sorbet doesn't contain enough wine to get you tipsy. An original idea for a party. Best part of the deal? The black cat logo, I'd say.

August 8, 2008

Pretty Purples

Pretty purples are popping up for fall.

Purples for Fall

Two gorgeous purple bags: L to R: Marc Jacobs, B. Makowsky

Purple is a great color in that it goes with every other color. I often use purple in websites because it goes with both red and green, whereas most, if not all other colors do not (except black, grey, white and tan, which are not vibrant). I'm really glad to see purple showing up in luxurious accessories this fall. The shade makes a big difference too. These are rich and deep but still vibrant, not too dark eggplant or too sweet lollipop looking. Look for more great shoes, boots and bags in this luscious shade coming to your wardrobe possibilities soon. 

August 7, 2008

Bridging the Gaps

Bridges can be taken for granted, though we depend on them.

Brooklyn Bridge then and now

Above: The Brooklyn Bridge in 1899 and circa today

The Brooklyn Bridge is one that people walk across more than many. For New Yorkers who don't know Brooklyn well, a stroll across the bridge might be a good way to get acquainted with the borough. This bridge plays an integral role in the life of its neighborhood. It is a presence and character, not just a means of transport. It has personality besides good looks. Hail to the engineering and design that goes into such a monumental feat as building a bridge. If our mental bridges can be as sturdy and elegant as the Brooklyn Bridge, they will no doubt serve to link precarious gaps between difficult concepts and constructs that deserve easy access to each other's benefits, as do the worthy next door boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

August 6, 2008

Mermaid Spotting

City Island is the perfect spot for a mermaid to relax.

Mermaids on City Island

It's great to walk down to the secluded and quiet beach at the end of the block late at night, around 10:30 or so. Tonight a few guys were having fun doing night fishing and I realized that mermaids would be around. You can see four twinkling New York City bridges from the end of my block — and the graceful flick of mermaid tails sparkling in the lapping water every now and then if you catch the light just right.

August 5, 2008

For the Fun of It

Harry the doggie is having a helluva good time.

Harry the doggie at Highland Kennels in New Jersey

Photo by Susan Farley

Harry is the spokesdoggie for my client, Andre Degarmeaux and Highland Kennels in New Jersey. We're completing a photo tour for Highland Kennels' website, hosted by Harry. This is one of my favorite shots, taken after Harry got a deluxe grooming session and had to go outside and mess himself up a bit. The superb photographer captured Harry's delight so well. This image shouts summer and vacation and playing outside.

August 4, 2008

What Are You Into?

My favorite part of designing websites is the diversity of the subject matter.

Houlihan Tattoos by Tommy Houlihan

Here is my new client, Tommy Houlihan of Houlihan Tattoos. Tommy is a talented artist and working with his art is a blast. I'm looking forward to showcasing his originality in an outstanding website. You never know what the next site is going to be about: engineering, politics, painting, singing, photography, design, psychology, writing or tattoos. And if they're good enough at it or interested enough to create a website, you can bet there's expertise and passion involved, which is the spark that creates greatness. If you ever think life is boring or repetitive, check out all the different things people are into and it'll get your juices going again.

August 3, 2008

Anthropomorphise This

Best talking cats



In case you were in any doubt as to whether or not cats are people, this should put your wondering to a stop.

August 2, 2008

Balance

In the part of Brooklyn known as South Slope sits a fantastic restaurant called Applewood.

Applewood in Brooklyn Applewood offers a delicious menu; prices are the steep side of “regular” but are worth it for a treat. Nestled on 11th street between 7th and 8th avenues, the decor looks like an intelligent East Hampton place while the food is more refined still.

My friend and I went here the other night and had a great time. We talked about Park Slope and South Slope in Brooklyn sporting constantly opening and closing venues.

He always loved to go out; I preferred to stay in; now I've been going out more and he's been staying in. It made me think how many times things take cyclical turns. We often seem to need to go in extreme directions first before learning to strike a harmonious balance like a cultured menu.

August 1, 2008

Summer Garden Series

MOMA — the Museum of Modern Art in NYC on 53rd and 5th — is holding its summer garden series.

MOMA summer garden

Music sets go on at 5:30 and 7:00 p.m. every Thursday night in July and August. Cocktails of a summer bent are served. Musical performances are eclectic. The setting is pretty. Outdoor summer events offer a special New York view; the weather and setting combines to produce memorable experiences.