While this was a team project on every level, it just got some love and attention on Sole Collector.
Jennifer Hudson's dress was my favorite from the Oscars Red Carpet; very classy!
Being around product design for some time, I had developed the desire to merge into that lane at some point. Then, in 2004, I met someone who asked me to design a "collection" of footwear for kids. This wasn't just one, or two shoes. It was 30 some. It also wasn't just the sketch that I could then pass on to a development team. No, this was the whole kit and kaboodle. This project meant I would be choosing the color palettes and picking materials at a factory in Brazil. I also developed a spec sheet to fill out for each shoe and hand off to the factory. Although, I did get a good base understanding of the core colors and materials from my client; I did some trend research on the high end Euro market, and then applied more of the detailing, colors and textured leather looks to some of the more trendy styles. One of the first little footwear designs from 2004 [ see below ]. It was called the Lickety Split. I was thrilled with how it turned out. The factory got the deco stitch on the toe, pebble grained leather + a little suede collar just right. I designed the little outsole to have a star on one foot and a half moon on the other. It's always very rewarding to see the final product reach the market.
Another first was this boot - called the bon bon. Another thrill, as the supple leather [ called destroy ] gave the little boot a biker feel. I thought the top stitch added nice dimension.
Below is another boot that I collaborated more closely on, with the factory owner - Sergio - from Brazil. I came up with the colors, material, pinked overlay and fur, and he provided inspiration for the wooden button closure system. The factory contacts from Brazil were fun, respectful, loyal, hard-working and team-oriented individuals. I really enjoyed working with them. They were originally from Germany and when I was on a visit - they would be sure to treat me to the best Italian, French or German cuisine in or near Novo Hamburgo. Miss that!
The mary jane below, called the Be Bop, I believe became what seemed like the style guide for the Umi brand for years to come. The x-stitch, tumbled leather, leather brand patch and custom printed lining are some of the unique details that were repeated in various ways and still are.
Because of the combination of textures, black leather and fine detailing, Balmain is a favorite of mine.
I like these ballerina styles from Valentino.
These styles caught my eye as well for the sophistication in design
This table and chair set was a dark grey with a checkerboard top. It had splattered paint all over it from art projects over the years. On a sunny Sunday afternoon I decided to use up some left-over spray paint to re-purpose the old table set and give it some new life. I started out with yellow spray paint, then layered on the eden green color. I used an old stencil to spray on a volt color, and then layered on some more of the blue and green to soften the edges, especially on the table top. The fun of it was that there was no measuring or planning involved – I just designed as I went.
A Mother's Day Tribute
We all know the phrase… "When life gives you lemons....make some lemonade". Sometimes life throws us curve balls – uncomfortable ones – ones outside of the plan – ones we’d never choose for ourselves. For much of her adult life, my mom’s unwelcome circumstance was the C-word. I can hardly say the word, because I hate it so much.
She lived through her first cancer, but part of her colon had to be removed. I don’t remember her complaining at all, but as an adult now, knowing what cancer is, and does… it must have been a fearful, distressing time for her. Additionally, she had six kids to raise up. Imagine doing that without an illness.
She later survived the aftermath of divorce–but it was her last battle that I remember most apropos to lemons and lemonade. She was remarried and settled in to her job at the grade school down the street. I was the one driving her home from the appointment after which she had gotten the news.
Silence. Sadness. Fear.
Dread had overtaken her usual cheerful countenance. C-word had returned to her lymph nodes. I can still feel the emotion today, as I write about it.
But that’s not my point. It’s what she did after that; making the best of a sour situation, sweetening someone else’s life.
There are two things that I remember the most. [First] There was a disadvantaged little girl at the library where she worked who would come and check inside her pockets for a treat. Simple. In the midst of her own difficulty, giving a little was something she could do on a regular basis to bring a smile to someone else. [Second]. This is what she did for a long time. She crocheted; she did needle-point; she knitted things. I don’t even think I recognized it until after she was gone.
Baby blankets – lots of baby blankets – were neatly folded up and found stored away for that time in the unknown future, for the grand children she’d like to hold one day. She didn’t know for sure if she was going to get to see her children’s children; but what she did do was leave a treasure chest; a legacy of what it means to make lemonade from life’s lemons.
This style features one very cool material. The color designer and I decided on the specialized color-shifting upper film for a story inspired colorway. I worked with a vendor to develop a version of it for the kid's model.
I enjoyed working on this shoe with Giorgio, the footwear designer. He had a vision to use a material that had a reflective layer, therefore I went to the vendor and developed the material with an updated elephant print and the original elephant print which is shown below. The strap overlay has an embossed texture that matched the top layer textile. To take the shoe down to kids, we developed a different base material under the textile at a kid friendly price point. This shoe is a good representation of the team coming together to bring a perspective from initial product brief, followed by design intent, material, color, and development input.
One of the things I've loved about working with footwear materials is the gorgeous texture of authentic leathers. Sadesa, Prime Asia and Simona have some amazing specialty leathers and nubucks with various effects applied. Recently I've taken on the task of adding texture and effects to some of my walls with the help of my designer friend, Michele Kler. We decided on a plaster skip trowel technique in the kitchen-family area. I love how the second glaze coat brings out the nuances of the "artistically applied" home made italian-looking plaster.
The second effect is a tissue paper texture in the bathrooms with a copper metallic finish in one, and a gold finish in the other. They resemble the look of a metallic, distressed leather. Both of these processes are time-consuming, however, the elegant outcome is well worth the effort.
I still need to take some great pictures - to be posted later.
View some of Michele's work here:
This summer, I attended the Licensing Expo and University in Las Vegas and had a great time. The following is a simple list of my favorite takeaways.
Emphasize Win | Win Business Relationships
This was refreshing to hear. When entering a working agreement of any kind, the most successful and fulfilling are those that are a Win|Win scenario for both sides. This may seem like an obvious statement, but it was mentioned several times. What does a Win|Win scenario result in? Equal benefits and respect for both parties and the potential for continued long-term relationships.
Gwynth was really down to earth and easy to listen to. She recommends for any brand: Authenticity. “Be yourself, 100 percent.” Everything on her blog, GOOP is tested and approved by her. In addition, she has no roadmap for her blog. She wants it to grow organically. Another interesting point about Gwynth’s brand involvement is that she is an investor in the Tracy Anderson Method – a fitness program you can do at home. By the looks of it, the regime is paying off for this 40-year-old.
Creating a Compelling Brand Guide
This session was packed with tips and ideas for how to create a detailed guide to ensure that your brand is communicated with consistency and accuracy. The speakers reviewed the use of logos, type fonts, photos, artwork and more. The presentation was clear and concise, another easy listen.
ADDITIONALLY, MORE SIMPLE POINTS FOR BRANDS:
Create a vision.
What is your mission?
What types of products suit your program?
Who is your consumer?
Where will your products be sold?
What are your boundaries? RESPECT is key!
Know your point of difference.
All in all the sessions were very diverse and offered at a decent price. I've worked with big and small brands, and found the information very useful.
Bold black and white stripes and patterns have dominated many back-to-school displays in local fashion retail shops. Designers drew inspiration from 2013 runway fashions and retailers jumped on board.
The image below is a collage of pictures from local Portland area shops, H&M, Express and the Gap. Macy's also featured bold black and white on their mannequin group displays in the Junior's section. This trend is carried down equally into the kid's fashions.
As you may have guessed from my website design, I too, was inspired to create my website graphics from the couture trend, and love the black and white combination with a hint of yellow.