Monday, September 18, 2017

Repurposing an Icon

At this time last September, I was traveling with my mother in London. And as we come upon the 1-year anniversary of that trip, I thought I'd share a fun article about one of the city's most beloved icons... the red telephone booth.

With my love of vintage design, it's not surprising that I was instantly drawn to the classic structure and simple charm of these often lonely looking booths. 

This universally recognized icon of London was first introduced to the city's streets in 1924. But while smartphones have made them obsolete as a communication device, they also made them a favorite backdrop for selfies, appearing in feeds around the world. 

But as the booths fall into disrepair, the UK telecommunication company British Telecom has introduced an "adopt a kiosk" program, embracing their pop culture cult status and hoping to give them a second life. 
By selling these booths to entrepreneurs, they can turn them into brand new businesses. Around the country, old telephone booths are being repurposed as cafes, neighborhood libraries and retail kiosks. Some are even maintaining their communication service, by becoming internet hotspots and workstations on street corners. 
These unexpected uses bring communities together and protect the heritage of the city—creating new pride in an already cherished symbol of London. 

Learn more about how entreprenuers are preserving these booths through reinvention on
*image source

Monday, April 10, 2017

Shag Carpet. Plaid Walls. Floral Prints. Oh My.

I love looking at houses— inside and out. I especially love home decor, and seeing how trends change, progress and circle back. Quite often I wonder how someone ever thought these were good ideas. Wallpaper on the ceiling? Carpeted bathrooms? 

Want to see some of the tackiest rooms since 1950? Check out The Worse Decor Trend From the Year You Were Born on I'm sure you'll see something you wish you hadn't. 


See the full list at

Thursday, March 23, 2017

TV Reality, not Reality TV?

Television often spoofs real life, but what happens when life starts spoofing television?

Heinz Ketchup is preparing to run an ad campaign that original appeared on the fictional drama Mad Men. A pitch the client was reluctant to sign off on on the show. 
Heinz Will Run Don Draper’s Ketchup Ads From <em>Mad Men</em>
The campaign is simple – mouthwatering images, without the paragraphs of text. It relies on one single line, "Pass the Heinz", and, remarkably, doesn't even show the product. 

Sterling-Cooper's all-star executive Don Drape sells the idea that it's a "testament to ketchup that there can be no confusion." 

I think the move is brilliant – 1. it's a great campaign. Period. And 2. lifting it from a hit TV show gives it an automatic PR spin... people were talking about the ads before they were even printed. 

You can watch the original pitch here:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

But Do They Notice?

As a graphic designer, I spend most of my day rearranging elements around a page like a puzzle; hoping to convey the message in a hierarchical, readable, non-offensive way. What I do doesn't save or change lives... I just try to make things look pretty. So... do people notice?

Well thanks to a recent 99% Invisible episode*, I can take comfort in the fact, that at least Roman Mars does....

"I firmly believe that people do care, even if we don't know why, even if we don't know how to articulate it, we feel the effects of bad design, whether we consciously notice it or not....  Once you get people to notice bad design, your annoyance spreads like a virus." 
               – Roman Mars

In the episode, Roman talks with Kate Wagner of the website McMansion Hell; an architectural critic, focusing on ostentatious homes that are built to present an ideal image of wealth but give no consideration to the grammar of design. 
Wagner wants to empower people to have opinions based on design, rather than marketing. But mostly I think she enjoys that others now have to suffer with through her shared annoyance of bad architectural design. I mean, no one wants to suffer alone. 

I can relate to this, since over the years, I have introduced many a friend to Papyrus. And I am pleased that they now cringe every time the encounter it. 

So I will go forth and design on, in the happy knowledge that Roman Mars approves. 

*99% Invisible is my favorite. The fact that there are people out there who are constantly curious about random topics makes me love human beings a little bit more.

Update and Repost: Dimensional Fashion on Display in Grand Rapids

So I went back to the GRAM for another look at Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion
(yes it is interesting enough to warrant a second look!)
And I took the time this time to watch the footage of her runway shows. On mannequins, the dresses have a beautiful fascination, but when you watch someone try to move in them, you get a grasp of their absolute absurd ridiculousness. 
Honestly, these women look so uncomfortable and miserable. Mostly it's the shoes. The insane heelless shoes. I simply cannot get over them. I can't stop watching these 9-foot-tall toothpicks wobbling down the runway. And when someone is concentrating that hard on simply walking forward, it becomes less sexy and more degrading. 
So please, go see the show and enjoy it as art and sculpture, be awed by the materials, but I'm going to stop referring to the pieces as clothes now!

Original post published December 22nd, 2016  
If you find yourself in Grand Rapids during the next few weeks, I must urge you to check out the Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion exhibit at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

On display, are about 100 innovative pieces from Iris van Herpen, a cutting-edge fashion designer from the Netherlands. The stunning craftsmanship of Van Herpen's work is not overshadowed by her use of unorthodox materials, such as umbrellas and metal screens. But she is perhaps best known for creating the world's first 3-D-printed couture fashions.

The 3-D printed clothes, don't look particularly comfortable and I don't anticipate seeing them hanging in our closets anytime soon, but they don't fail to enrapture. The futuristic styles compliment the human form in an organic manner, yet create designs that function more like sculpture than apparel. 
Van Herpen revealed her first collection in 2007, after graduating from the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in the Netherlands. Since then, her work has appeared on international runways and she has designed couture pieces for fashion powerhouses such as Lady Gaga, BeyoncĂ©, and Bjork.
Van Herpen believes "Wearing clothing creates an exciting and imperative form of self-expression." This exhibition features outfits, while outrageously "different", are undeniable beautiful. 
The GRAM exhibition continues until January 15th. I cannot recommend a visit strongly enough. For a listing of hours of operation, visit

Monday, December 26, 2016

A New Year, A New Battle

When I sat down to make my 2016 holiday cards, I wanted an image that rallied strength and hope for things to come, but also reflected on the year that's passed. And let's be honest, a little bit of a lot of us was hoping that someone would swoop down and save the day before inauguration. 
So you combine that tiny bit of optimism, with my recent Halloween costume, and my sincere love for the US Postal Service, and the card just sort of happened. Yes, that's right, my holiday card was inspired by a postage stamp
The hand-painted image of a very buff, wonder(ful) woman punching out 2016 recognizes the challenges 2017 offers, and vows to fight on. 

Stay strong. Game on 2017. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wrapping up the Holidays

Looking for a simple, non-traditional way to decorate your holiday packages this year?

Try adorning your packages with hand-cut and hand-painted, paper feathers. This idea was inspired by Lia Griffith, who's gold-tipped feather wrapping is absolutely gorgeous and elegant
It took me about an hour to create 2 dozen feathers. I choose a set of feathers from Google images, cut from my selected paper—vintage sheet music for White Christmas—and then painted a variety of color accents. 
Paired with clean lines and solid kraft wrapping, the feathers add a whimsical and non-conventional touch to holiday gifts!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Free Hotel Kitsch

"Nothing dates a [hotel] room more than old art and floral bed covers." 

Well at least Mike Mueller, Senior VP of the Super 8 motel brand, is both -honest and aware. 

The budget hotel Super 8 may not be known for their modern decor, but as the hotel chain undergoes a redesign, the "not-so-super art" is being removed and replaced with a more contemporary style. 
But across the country, there are thousands of Super 8 rooms, so what do you do with all those discarded art pieces?  You let hipsters fight over it....

Super 8 is holding a series of "Super 8 Innov8te" art shows across the country, and is giving away the most eclectic pieces from their collection. The free art is available on a first come first served basis. 
The brand recently had shows in Miami and New York City, where Mueller says, “We had people literally fighting over pieces of old hotel art. It’s really retro and ironic, and I think that’s what people like about it.”

As the hotels rebrand, the rooms will incorporate hyperlocal black and white photography into their furniture and decor. 
There are 1800 Super 8s across the country, by early 2017 they anticipate the new look will have touched every location. So maybe it's time to revisit a Super 8.

In the meantime, be on the lookout for a chance to grab some historic hotel kitsch at an art show near you.