Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Found Objects: Bold & Noble

It's been a really tough week, and it's barely begun! We're in the process of moving our studio and getting organized again has been wearing on everyone. So, we took a mini break one afternoon and decided to cruise around on the internet for some great wall art for our new space. Great typography always perks us up, and we found it at Bold and Noble. I especially like the robot assembled from letterforms. These posters would work well anywhere from a kid's room to a home office.

(images from Bold and Noble)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Curiosities: Yummy Colors

Every year, during catalogue time, I'm faced with the daunting task of having to name product colors. It can be either a fun exercise or an agonizing process, and the funny thing is, I'm not quite sure if anyone really notices!  But, in my experience, stationery lovers tend to notice the little details, and I wouldn't feel quite right about sending off my creation into the world without a proper color assignation. If I think my task is challenging, I can't imagine what the creative teams for paint manufacturers must face during new color launches. I popped onto Behr and Valspar websites the other night, browsing for new wall paint and saw some really creative solutions centered around food.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Found Objects: Trash Ties for Your Hair

I think "Trash Ties" by designer Heather Bailey are an ingenious way to hold your hair in place. Available in different colors and lengths, they're a little edgier than ribbons and give you so many different styling options.  I'm still mulling over color choices here, but as soon as I make up my mind, I'll be sporting these little accessories!

(photo via

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gallery: The Art of Tea

I love autumn. It's my favorite season, and when the weather turns chill, you'll usually find my hands wrapped around a mug of tea. There's a beauty in the ritual of watching leaves unfurl in a steaming cup.
Now through November 29th, the Fowler Museum at UCLA is running an exhibit on the art of tea, featuring its medicinal origins in China to its key role in the development of the British Empire. And, of course, in the the midst of all that, you'll also get to see some beautiful patterns and dainty tea ware.

I'm sure after your tour, you'll probably have that itch to acquire some of your own tea ware. Check out these great options. I love the beautiful colors of the ceramic japanese teacup, the incredibly decorative moroccan tea glass, and the impressive tea-stain pattern cup (the pattern becomes more pronounced with use):

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prêt-à-Porter: Cozy Architecture for the Body

Fall's officially here, and it's almost time to break out all the cozy sweaters that we've put away since springtime! Feels sort of painful, though, to see the bright cheerful colors of summer replaced by drab greys, browns and blacks. Not only that, but it always seems like cool-weather clothing mopes about in the same basic shapes: you've got your crewneck, your turtleneck, your cardigan, your heavier cardigan, and on and on. If it weren't for one beacon of creativity in all this monotony, it'd be easy to sink into sweatery ubiquity. That beacon is Tom Scott. A knitter and crocheter since he was a small tyke, Scott invents the most interesting draped and architectural shapes in knitwear I've ever seen—and it's all extremely wearable (and uplifting). If you can imagine it, he's likely done it. The materials he uses are exquisitely soft and fine, so you'll pay a pretty penny. But if you're willing to save up for it, owning a beautiful and rare piece of knit artwear that you'll reach for time and again, and supporting the artistic efforts of independent-minded small designers, is worth the investment.

(photos via

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Eatables: The Grateful Palate

For all you bacon lovers out there: yes, there is a bacon of the month club. Not only do you get bacon every month, but you also get a pig ballpoint pen and a rubber toy pig (that last one is a real draw for me). Check out the site for other porky finds like bacon popcorn and toilet paper (real mixed feelings on this one)!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gallery: The First Day of Autumn...

Artist: Ed Ruscha
(via New York Times, Op Ed)

Found Objects: Outdoor Décor

Now that I'm moving to a place with actual backyardage (however minimal) and some balcony space, it's fun to be looking at some cool options that would complement a modern exterior. I love the statement that these wall tile planters make. The contrast of strong graphic shapes with organic plant matter create such a dramatic gesture:

These beautiful lighted planters work well anywhere. They come in assorted colors, but to me, the white lights give it just that touch of sophistication along with the quirk.

And this bird bath is clearly only meant for the most discriminating of your feathered guests!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Found Objects: Shadow Play

One of my favorite movies would have to be "To Live." It's a jewel of a movie set during the height of the Cultural Revolution in China—when luxuries were discarded in favor of what was perceived as a more equal society. Much of the movie features beautiful shadow puppetry, known as "shadow play" and the constant struggle to justify their existence.  Made traditionally of leather and controlled by wooden posts, these puppets were first conceived during the Han Dynasty as a way to console a grieving emperor once his concubine passed of an illness. They were his court's creative solution to the emperor's edict to bring her back to life. I've always been impressed by the level of detail found in these beautiful puppets, and how both light and shadow breathe life into them. If you can find a place that performs shadow puppetry on Chinese "Moon Day" (Oct. 2), it'd be a magical way to celebrate.

(photos via and

Friday, September 18, 2009

Beautiful Bargains: Eco-Friendly Office Chairs

It's hard to find a nice looking, reasonably-priced task chair that doesn't scream boring (or designer knock off). I'm not a big fan of black in a home office setting, since it's such a dominating YOU-ARE-WORKING sort of color. Luckily, there are some good options now that are easy on the eyes, the environment, and your wallet. Setu ($579), the newest addition to the Herman Miller line, comes in a light graphite (and other colors) and is definitely my top choice in terms of aesthetics. If you're looking for a pop of primary color, look toward Steelcase's Uno, now on sale for $309. I also noticed that Herman Miller has invaded...Costco! The Caper chair can be found there for $329 (membership required, of course).

(clockwise starting from top: Setu, Caper, Uno)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Eatables: The Chocolate Room

Sometimes, at the end of a long, hard day (or even at the beginning of one!), I feel like the only thing that can keep me going is chocolate! What I mean is the real thing. The stuff that's a blend of deep dark chocolatey goodness with just the right touch of sweetness, and that makes me feel like I'm melting in a pool of momentary happiness no matter how stressed out I'm feeling. The last time I was in chocolate heaven was when I visited "The Chocolate Room" in Brooklyn. Their famous chocolate layer cake is simultaneously one of the lightest and deepest chocolate desserts I've ever had (ethereal cake layers, sumptuous chocolate frosting that isn't the over-sugary topping some bakeries serve up). But what makes me smile most is a cup of hot chocolate with some of their deliciously pudgy homemade marshmallows. Drinking it slowly on my last visit, I thought, this is what it would feel like to get a hug from the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. (Cue satisfied sigh) You can get your hug, too, with a simple online order--instead of trekking all the way over to Brooklyn like I did!

(photos via The Chocolate Room)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gallery: Stefan Hattenbach/ Type Designer

Like most fellow graphic designers, I'm a bit of a type nerd. I have a hoodie embroidered with typography lingo. My deck of font flashcards have softened with age. And for enjoyment, I cull through hundreds upon hundred of typefaces to find that perfect fit for my latest project. It was during one of these sessions that I stumbled upon font designer Stefan Hattenbach's beautiful work.

Founder of Mac Rhino Fonts, Hattenbach works from his picturesque studio in Stockholm, Sweden, where he has produced such notable fonts like Delicato (which I'm using for an upcoming project—more to come in a future post!), Graphics, and Sophisto. Stefan was kind enough to take time out of a crazy schedule to sit down and answer a few questions:
Girl Of All Work: Do you think that most of the typefaces you've designed reflects your personality?
Stefan Hattebach: Yes, they probably do. Not so much as a thought-out plan, but more of a way they got executed. I think it's very hard not to put some of yourself into any kind of artistic profession. Many designers have their style, and I see nothing wrong to show that personality as long as it's a secondary thing. Also, in my opinion, display typefaces can be more "playful" than classic text faces.
G: How does your environment affect the way you design?
S: I work as an independent designer and have run my own business for 15 years. This gives me a lot of freedom and allows me to choose whom to work with. Graphic design is some part of my work, and is gives me the chance to try out and work with type as well.
The rest, about 75%, is more closely type-related, such as logotypes, graphic identities, and of course, type design. I'm not sure if I have a certain "Scandanavian style?" Born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, I've always felt more like a "European." I've travelled a lot, which has given me loads of inspiration overall. Type design is a very odd profession in Sweden, so that gives me a rather unique position. I find that fact very positive.
G: If you weren't designing type, what else would you be doing?
S: I've always been interested in architecture. To me, it has a similar way of thinking—constructing something that has to be a bigger picture. Of course, on different levels. For example, you could see the construction materials as the body parts in a letter and the light and room as the white spaces—that it's also equally important to get a rich and complete end-result.
Another passion is music. I'm a former DJ and listen to music practically every day. I could also very well have seen myself working as a producer or something similar.
G: Please don't cringe...but the difference between established font foundries like yours and a site like
 S: Isn't it obvious?! Most of the typefaces on "free font" servers are:
1. Stolen ideas or "wanna-be's"
2. Overall of very poor quality
3. Single weights and often missing basic characters.
Even if there are many places distributing these kind of typefaces, I don't think they are actually used in professional work that much. So it's mostly an expression of "bad taste" rather than a "plague" within the graphic design business.

G: Your personality during work-mode?
S: Concentrated and playful at the same time. I hate to do something "half-good." But at the same time, I nowadays tend to break the rules here and there. I think we have to get that organic feel back. The computer is great, but has often made things too perfect. I find many good typefaces a bit stiff, because they are too perfect. Lately, I've seen some good signs of playful solutions though.
G: And I have to ask this: what do you think about the switch from Futura to Verdana in the new IKEA logo?
S: In one way, I can understand IKEA. They have made a choice for an acceptable solution to cover web and print with only one typeface. IKEA has had Futura so long that it has become a familiar part of their identity. Now, Futura is not the perfect typeface either when it comes to readibility. Especially in smaller sizes. The web and pdf document will increase and probably replace much of the now printed material. 
On the other hand, I'm sure this is more an emotional reaction from people, rather than practical. Myself included. I have even signed a protest list on Facebook. It won't make IKEA change back, of course, but sometimes it's healthy to just make a stand.

(photos via Mac Rhino Fonts /Stefan Hattenbach)

Prêt-à-Porter: The Modern Bette Davis Look

A few weeks ago, I caught two Bette Davis films, Dark Victory and Now, Voyager. I have to admit, I've never been a Bette Davis fan in the remotest. But in these two old movies, incredibly, the whole range of womanhood flows out from her: tenderness, forcefulness, wisdom, fear, love, loneliness and, of course, passion. All of it tempered with her unusual forthrightness and independent strength. She's magnificent. The acting is great. But I have to admit that the clothing is equally fantastic.

In beautifully chic, close-fitting silhouettes and dark, rich gowns (by costume designer Orry Kelly) that draped in sophisticated fashion across her form, Davis was the height of restrained glamour. That's something that never goes out of style. I actually think a Bette Davis of today would have plenty of good options to pick from. Donna Karan's 2009 fall/winter collection (elegant draped jersey pieces in black or a bold primary color), to begin with. Fluidity undergirded by assertive elegance.

Right: Donna Karan 2009 Fall Collection via

A deceptively simple, silk Bottega Veneta sheath, like the ones designer Tomas Maier sent down the runway for fall, would be perfect. Some of his dresses--with their polish and luxe sensuality--are signature Bette.

Right: Bottega Veneta 2009 Collection via

And finally and most definitely, a modern Bette would look to Paris-based, Australian designer Martin Grant for strong new classics that give old stand-bys (like the skirt suit or the little black dress) a subtle kick in the pants. I can already see his exquisite voluminous blouse on her...

Right: Martin Grant 2009 Fall Collection via

Monday, September 14, 2009

Found Objects: Agelio Batle Functional Sculptures

Who says that stationery can't be a work of art, or in this case, that a work of art can't be stationery? These gorgeously crafted pieces by Agelio Batle are made of graphite and can actually be used to draw or write (they've been formulated to prevent smudging on your hands). Select styles can be purchased here, or you can contact Batle Studio for order info.

(All photos via Batle Studio)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Prêt-à-Porter: Runway Fashion

Being a stewardess used to have some cachet and it showed in the uniforms designed for them. Whether it be the beautiful (or sometimes zany) textiles or stylish shapes, there used to be a fashionable risk-taking involved that was inspired by a new form of transportation. Balenciaga's recent uniform designs for Air Tahiti Nui raised a bit of a furor initially, but the end result was a little bland and disappointing. In any case, if you want to live out the glory days of airline fashion, pop over to and check out the hundreds upon hundreds of uniforms lovingly collected and catalogued on this website.

(left to right: United Airlines/USA, Allegheny Airlines/USA, Delta Airlines/USA)

Air Alps/Austria

(clockwise from left: Egytair / Egypt, Allegheny Airlines/ USA,
Privitair / Switzerland, CSA Czech Airlines / Czech Republic)

(All individual photos via

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bookmarked: Stitches by David Small

If we weren't in the middle of relocating, I would buy this graphic novel now! As it is, I'll have to be patient (so as to be kind to the movers who have to haul out tons of design books and paraphernalia). Fresh from the press, Stitches, by illustrator / graphic novelist David Small, is an autobiographical account of a boy rendered speechless by cancer. His silent desperation is fueled by a dysfunctional family life, with a physician father who exposes him to dangerous levels of radiation in a misguided attempt to heal him and a mother who poisons him on a psychological level. Riveting premise! I'm thinking I'll cave after all and just get this anyhow...and carry it myself.

illustrations by David Small

Beautiful Bargains: Mandate Press

If you're looking for a deal on letterpress business / calling cards, and you're okay with black as your ink color, you might want to try Mandate Press. You get a box of 250 cards for $95, but now, they're offering them on sale for $75! Amazing. You even have the option of supplying your own design if none of their templates strikes your fancy. I could see tons of freelance designers going wild with this option! Turnaround is 2-3 weeks and ships out of Utah.

(individual images via mandate press)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Found Objects: Fran's Gray Salt Caramels

I knew that as soon as I bit into one of these luscious little confections, that my friend Angela was a true friend. She had given me a box of Fran's Gray Salt Caramels as part of my 30th birthday gift this year, and they were amazing. Apparently, I'm not the only convert. President Obama seems to find Fran's creations highly addictive as well.  Fran Bigelow, the artisan behind Fran's Chocolates, creates these award-winning caramels in small batches, using ingredients like organic cream and gray and smoked salt. Yum.

(image by Fran's Chocolates, Ltd.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Curiosities: Follow Your Nose through NY

I go to New York at least once a year, and while I'm walking, say, those 6 blocks to my destination, I catch a whiff of the most delectable smells. Right before I can even fully exhale, the overpowering stench of eau de public restroom mixed in with something utterly unholy greets me at the next crosswalk. Jason Logan, an op-art editor from the New York Times, came up with a cool "Scents and the City" interactive feature that lets you click onto various sections of New York and read up on the various smells that can be found there—from "onion mixed with cough drops" to "lemon balm." You've gotta admire him for the research he put into this!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Featured Retailer: Urbanic Interview

One of the most gratifying things about being in this industry is that you get to meet some pretty cool people. I first met Audrey Woollen, owner of Urbanic, at Girl Of All Work's debut at the National Stationery Show. We were way in the back (with low-lighting), but being the true paper-phile that she is, Audrey was still able to sniff us out, and now you can find a whole range of our products at her hip paper boutique in Venice, California.

Audrey Woollen, Owner

Girl Of All Work: What inspired you to open your store? How did you come up with your name?
Audrey: For as long as I can remember I have loved paper! One of my most enjoyable creative outlets has always been making special notes and letters for the people in my life.  I delight in sending and receiving special mail and have equal appreciation for the sentiment as I do the creation. Owning a shop was always a dream of mine, so when the time was right and we found the perfect spot, our vision came to life.The name Urbanic came about when I started designing my own stationery line. The look and feel of the collection was inspired by the sophistication and modern style of urban living as well as the organic beauty of nature.  I came up with the word Urbanic to encompass both.

G: When did you open your doors?
A: August 2006. Three years ago this month!

G: How does your location influence your store's vibe?
A: Abbot Kinney Blvd is a cool little neighborhood tucked away in the back pocket  Venice. It's known for its unique architecture, forward style, modern art, and creative people. It is a hidden treasure in Los Angles and attracts design enthusiasts of all types.  I love our street and the people who frequent the area.  They seem to love what we pick out for the store and it is great to not have to try to compromise my style to fit the needs of the neighborhood.

G: You must meet a lot of interesting people at your store. Who's one person that pops into mind? 
A: Being in Los Angeles, we definitely have our share celebrities that shop in the store regularly - so that is always very interesting! Truthfully however, so many of customers amaze us on a daily basis.  The shop is frequented by directors, designers, actors, writers, photographers, stylists, musicians, producers and many other creative types. It's really hard to choose one since we are fascinated by so many of them.  One person who comes to my mind that we worked with today is Sarah Brokaw (Tom Brokaw's daughter). We are designing some postcards for an organization she is part of called Women for Women.  It is a non-profit that helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives.  This is awesome.

G:  If you weren't doing this, what do you think you'd be doing?
A: Probably still working in the fashion industry.I was a freelance independent rep for many clothing lines for about 12 years before opening the shop.  I loved that the clothing industry was fast moving and always changing. I thoroughly enjoyed it while I did it and if I hadn't had my "a-ha" moment, I would still probably be doing it.

G: What are you reading or listening to right now?
A: Presently I am reading When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris in addition to a few self-help books on how to be a good mom and an effective boss.  As far as what I am listening to - It is mostly the independent music my husband downloads for us, since I don't have much time to indulge in this pleasure myself these days.  Some of my old standbys however, that I will love forever are.. Pinback, Matisyahu, The Kooks, Bloc Party, Sufjan Stevens, Aphex Twin, The Cure and The Postal Service and Booka Shade.

G: Stationery trends you're noticing?
A: Vintage modern is huge!  I am also seeing a lot of repeat patterns, bold fonts, patterned liners, peacock feathers, graph paper, skeleton keys and typewriter fonts.

Curiosities: Paravent

Just a fun contraption to gain a little privacy. Made from shoji paper and bamboo, so I'd imagine it'd be light enough to drag from space to space.