Valerie & Mark

Last spring, my sweet cousin Valerie broke the news that she and Mark, her long-time boyfriend, got engaged. She soon thereafter contacted me for advice on graphic design and photography for the big day. She wanted my insight on her shortlisted photographers so we went back and forth via email. In the end, she chose Jen Huang. I am thrilled with the result and so thrilled for her and Mark. The wedding and reception (April 28th, 2012) were absolutely gorgeous. Valerie looked stunningI loved the attention to detail. The photos really captured it all beautifully. The photos were even featured in Style Me Pretty magazine this June issue (pages 112-119). 

The Highlands Country Club in Garrison, New York was such an elegant setting for the reception – one of the best that I've seen. Plus, it was also so much fun! The evening included making smores around the firepit outside – white pashminas and cigars that were provided for everyone was a nice touch. 

A big congratulations again to my cousin Valerie and Mark! xoxo Love you both. 



just now on instagram

It was clear that the moment I started taking photos exclusively with my iPhone and decided to post them via Instagram, my interest in blogging decreased significantly. After more than three years of blogging and decades of photo-taking, I embraced this change. Although I resisted at first, it does make sharing my photography and point of view that much quicker and easier. In addition, I use the Camera+ app to edit photos on my phone – it's the best! This is the digital age. An increasingly seamless one. We ARE also more impatient (I know I am). Anyone else out there feel the same way? 

The bottom line: Instagram is blogging without all the work and pre-planning. Like it or not, they're doing something right. They are up to 25 million users to date! The only glitch is Instagram makes your entire stream available only via their app and to people following you via the app. So I've set up a page on my site that streams my latest photos no matter where I go, in real-time, all in one (clean) space. I will likely continue to blog occasionally, but for my most up-to-date posts, check here.

bill t. jones : a good man

Watch Bill T. Jones: A Good Man on PBS. See more from AMERICAN MASTERS.


After recently seeing FELA, I became interested in the work of Bill T. Jones. His Tony Award winning choreography for FELA moved me to tears. I came across this documentary about his new project: A Good Man, and had to share. It is an incredibly inspiring and intelligent film about dance, choreography, performance and storytelling. This is a must-see for anyone interested in creativity. Works like this make me wish I had pursued dance more professionally. I am completely in awe. 

"I used to say that I want grace. That my reward in this life were to be to find what grace is. But now it's all choppy seas. Grace is for the saints. I'm not a saint, I don't aspire to be one yet. I'm a two-fisted maker." 
– Bill T. Jones. 

the goodwin nyc

Earlier this year, an immensely talented interior designer and friend, Larah Moravek, told me about a restaurant/bar project she was working on in New York. She asked to see whether I might be interested in working on the branding for it. The owners were also interested in working with me and I didn't even hesitate. This was the type of a project that I wanted to work on but don't often get a chance. Particularly, when I know the interior design is guaranteed to be fantastic.

The Goodwin will be located in a brownstone building on Hudson Street in the West Village and is slated to open next year. The interior space is currently being gut-renovated and reconfigured. I began the design process in July of this year. I first learned about the history behind the selection of the name. Apparently, the restaurant is located on land where there used to be a 300 acre tabacco farm. The name of the tabacco company was Goodwin & Co. This illustration below (an ad) was given to me by the owners as inspiration. The owners wanted to capture and essence of the location and name's history while making it modern. This is in line with the direction for the interior design of the space. 

I decided to do a lot more research, visually and otherwise, about the Goodwin & Co. I looked at typographic treatment, packaging design and layout of all the reference material I found from the same era. I also looked at cigar labels and loved the unique shapes they came in. I really wanted to capture the history while making it clean, modern and relevant. 

The client LOVED the result. They felt I had captured what they wanted right away. Needless to say, I was thrilled. We ended up on the 'crest' as well as a wordmark. I am about to start working on the stationery system, menu design, website, etc. So this is really just the beginning. I don't often share my own work here on my blog but this was one I am particularly excited about. The storefront window posters and awning have been installed as the construction continues so I am now finally able to share this work. I will post more results later in the process! Also view this project in my portfolio identity case studies


drawing on the slate

My apartment decorating is currently on a bit of a delayed schedule. But I am making some progress! I've put together some mood boards to solidify my thought process. Clearly, this grey and gold thing isn't going away anythime soon. It's the colour combo I've had on two different business cards over the past several years – including my most recent letterpress version. So why fight it?  

I have been searching deep and wide (literally) for an affordable sofa. Most of the ones I've been drawn to have been modern, some leaning toward mid-century modern. Then I unexpectedly came across this Bliss sofa, from West Elm. I knew I wanted comfort and this satisfies all my requirements: extreme comfort, deep/wide seats and grey linen fabric. It won't be available in Canada until December, so I will have to wait a bit longer. 

Over all, I want to offset the boxiness of my space with a lot of organic shapes and a lot of softness. I want to give shape to the idea of warm, organic modernism that I love so much. I've been drawn to the idea of live edged or raw edged wood for a while. The look of ABC Kitchen in NY epitomized it to me. I am currently looking into getting a custom counter table made as well as (potentially) a headboard and platform combo. It would be ideal to work with someone locally in Toronto who works with reclaimed wood slabs. I am open to suggestions!   

It's been tough to be patient with this whole process. I want to just complete this but it takes time! I'd love to hear your thoughts, esp any designers out there :) 

Images sources

(top mood board) 
Bliss sofa photo
Top right painting by Eric Blum
Slab table by BBDW 

(bottom mood board)
live-edge counter on Pinterest 
Top right painting by Eric Blum
Branches Chandelier by Brothers Dressler
Living room photo on Pinterest
Nakashima-style table on Casa Sugar




white after labour day

A few friends co-organized an official Diner En Blanc (dinner in white) party in Toronto. It was held on Tuesday evening, the 27th of September at the historic Distillery District. It was such a beautiful event. The weather could not have been more perfect for an outdoor event. It was more like a mild summer evening than early fall. 

To give a bit of background on Diner En Blanc, it was started by someone in Paris back in 1986, I believe. It is an elegant picnic held in a venue known for it's history (and not revealed to guests until shortly before). Everyone is REQUIRED to wear white. The original thought behind the white attire was so that the guests would all recognize one another as they gathered in the secret location in a park. Since it's inception, it's become a global, yearly event. Guests bring food for themselves or to share. Everyone is free to decorate their white table elegantly. There are many rules to adhere to for the event to be considered an "official" one. This year was a first in Toronto and attended by nearly 400 guests. 

The white ensembles, tables, food and candles against the backdrop of the Distillery District were irresistible to photograph. The media buzzed around the party like flies. All my photos were taken on my iPhone (not planned). I had the honour of being seated around a few wonderful friends who also happen to be fantstic chefs. Champagne and wine flowed (unfortunately onto many a white outfit, too). So the food was fantastic to boot. It was such a wonderful evening all around. The best party of the summer happened in the fall. One of my favourite moments was around 9pm. We all lit sparklers. At the risk of sounding vomitous, it was pretty damn magical

Here's the offficial video of the evening


art in architecture : new york

Here are some of the things that caught my eye this past month in New York. The architecture is often as interesting as the art. It's really about our points of view as well as the way we edit down to the essence.

Left to right, from the top: 

MoMA (from the inside out)
A Brooklyn apartment building entrance
"Everything's going to be all right" – stairwell at the Ace Hotel
MoMA (from the outside)
Older woman seated at Bertoia chairs at the MoMA
Stairwell, Citibank office on 34th and Broadway
Passage (study) made of NYC police barrier, butterflies made of found aluminum cans by artist Paul Villinski 
Seated ballerinas at Alvin Ailey 
Stairs at Museum of Art & Design 

A few more to come.


I can't even begin to count the number of times I get asked the "Are you going to live here permanently?" question. It's been happening a lot lately. I was asked constantly by visiting friends in New York during the nearly 12 years that I was living there. To some, the idea of permenently living in New York was inconceivable. My answer was and still remains: "I have no idea." I never actually PLAN how long I will be somewhere. I've lived in seven cities and four countries in my lifetime (if you count my leisurely month long stay in Paris in 2005). My theory is that people don't feel at ease unless you give them an absolute. People can't grasp the idea of impermanence. I even had a recent email conversation with a friend about this very same topic. He sees it as people not being able to accept that your plans (or the absence thereof) are not the same as theirs. Is the idea of not knowing how long I plan to stay in any particular city somehow threatening? People can be very myopic. We are also repelled by and need the idea of permanence at the same time.

I'm a romantic like most people. For women, the idea of "settling down" is pretty much shoved down your throat, expected. Tradition dictates that you're not a 'real' woman until you've found a man. Well, guess what? It's 2011. I'm not prepared to "settle" because I'm expected to. I've never made it my job. I'm too romantic for that. Besides, I just moved away from New York, a city that is all about impermanence – even when it comes to dating/relationships. It's always been about growing careers and being onto 'the next big/hot thing' – same goes for the way people approach dating there. New York dating suffered from attention deficit disorder. Frankly, it was an unbelievably disheartening experience. 

Look, I am an idealist. I DO want to fall truly and madly in love. I might even stay put if that were to happen. But I'm also a realist. I know relationships are hard work. I've witnessed enough dysfunctional relationships to avoid getting into one myself. I would never end up with someone who did not have strength, character and dynamism. I want to find someone who will make me actually WANT to stay. So until I find the love of my life, I can live wherever I damn well please and for however long I choose! I might even move away with someone should we choose to – for an indefinite period of time. People can continue to feel uneasy and even threatened by it. They can continue to ask me, my answer will remain the same. 

Moving and change, in general, is hard. It always has been. My dad would say to me as a kid, upset that we have to move again: "Nothing is permanent." I would get so incredibly upset when he'd say this to me. I never fully understood it until I got older. It never gets easier to move, but I've done it many times. You inevitably become "the new kid" whenever you move – which can be painful and scary. You don't always have kind, compassionate people around you to give you space and time to readjust. But there are always important discoveries to make when a major life shift happens. I realize now that my dad was only trying to teach me to not become too attached to anything in life. And to accept that change is what's permanent

My recent move from New York to Toronto has changed many things. I will probably always miss it there for countless reasons. I've had to let go of important people, attachments and ideas. Full disclosure, I would not write off the idea of moving back. But ever since I've moved, I've noticed an incredible shift in my creativity (for the better). It's an exhilarating time for me both creatively and professionally – in ways I had no way of foreseeing. As much as I loved living there, I realize now just how much I stagnated during my last couple of years in New York – personally, professionally and creatively. It was begging for a shake-up. Despite it still being a struggle, my recent move is starting to feel like a great beginning to my next chapter in life. I look forward to seeing what's next. 


less curating, more creating



A recent article's provocative title on PSFK recently caught my attention. After I read it, it unraveled something in me. Are We Becoming Inspiration Fetishists? was written in response to a blog post by Stephan Boubil at The Apartment. The original article talks about how the creative industry and the internet has in a sense has turned us into 'inspiration fetishists' that are more concerned about inspiration behind creative work rather than actually creating the work. I stumbled upon the quote above on The Mavenist and I felt it truly captured this whole line of thought. 

As a creative person and a blogger, I feel that I'm always working. My blog does help me document my creative experience and my point of view. Although my blog started out purely as a documentation of my design and aesthetic preferences, I realized over the past couple of years that this isn't really what makes it interesting to read or follow in the long run. Considering the name of my blog, I was forced to question whether or not I have turned into an 'inspiration fetishist.' The answer is 'no.' Well, maybe a little. It's been great learning over the past couple of years through blogging – and discovery of other blogs – that what's most compelling is actually writing about and photographing my own life experience as a creative person. I have noticed that 'blogging' has become increasingly part of everyone's vocabulary. People are spending more and more time curating and maintaining their Tumblr or Pinterest accounts. Our Twitter streams feed us endless links to more inspiring visuals, topics and work. Sure, these sites can/do provide a great deal of inspiration (visual and otherwise) when needed. Some of it can be very seductive. But don't you get exhausted? I know I am. The point we're starting to miss through all of the bombardment is this: when are we/people actually CREATING when we spend so much time collecting and glorifying someone else's work? So much so that it's become so commonplace to appropriate someone else's images and/or text without the courtesy of crediting the author. Perhaps, to some, it has become a fetish. Consider this for a moment. It's something that has stuck with me this week. To rephrase Stephan Boubil's point about how he's tired of the word inspiration... what happened to action, awakening, motivation, ambition and influence? At the end of the day, what's more interesting to me is original content, real stories. As a blogger, it's certainly more interesting for me to share my own experience and my own work. It's about creating original content as opposed to only reposting someone else's. Good questions to ask might be: What's the ratio of time spent this week on collecting inspiration vs actual creation? At what point do you feel compelled to originate work? There isn't anything wrong with curating/collecting existing content and sharing it. I just believe that it shouldn't be taking away ALL our creative energy. What do you think? 

nothingelegant : vintage book masking tape

Creative gift-wrapping ideas are always fun to come up with. What I typically do is keep a large roll of kraft paper around. I use that as a blank "canvas" and add other elements from there (i.e. large circular stickers, beautiful fabric ribbon, different colored raffia, etc). I was thrilled to discover these old vintage book printed masking tape by nothingelegant on Etsy. These would look amazing on top of kraft paper as gift wrap! The possibilities are endless.