I'm excited to introduce something I've been working on for the past little while: Raya Goods - a new product line featuring my own illustrations printed on baby onesies, bags, t-shirts, etc. RAYA (pronounced rah-yah) in Tagalog and Spanish means a drawn or printed line or stripe. In Sanskrit Raya means flow of a river, zeal, ardour, quickness, force or velocity. Raya also means king, prince. My little Rumi is the inspiration behind all of this, of course. I can't wait to share them with you in the next few weeks! Please follow @rayagoods on Instagram to check them out.
I'm very excited about my new limited edition letterpress recipe holiday cards BEAUTIFULLY printed by Graven Feather here in Toronto. They feature recipes by my husband, Chef Rudy Boquila. You can now purchase (single cards or packs of 6) online on Etsy or Gravenfeather.ca.
They are also available at the following Toronto stockists:
I got a hold of a limited selection of the beautiful waterfall necklace once again! You may have seen these beaded gems on my blog before. They are hand stitched by women of the T'Boli tribe in the Philippines. I've received a few inquiries from people since I last sold a few. Please contact me here if interested. They are $50/each + shipping fees. I can ship globally and accept cash or Paypal. First come, first served. So let me know asap if you'd like to purchase. The total lengths of each colour are as follows:
BLACK (2 in this colour): 21" and 23"
Photos of the actual necklaces below.
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 stunning. I 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.
TORONTO: I am selling a pair of these responsibly harvested, bar-height outdoor RUSA chairs from Design Within Reach. These chairs are less than a year old and barely used (and mostly used indoors or in storage). They retailed for $450/each without cushions and I am selling them for only $125/each including Sunbrella cushions in Linen (canvas colour, see second photo below). I am moving and will no longer have a balcony to put these in. View the RUSA Collection at DWR. The bar height table is on sale!
Please email me asap, if interested. Cash only, local pick-ups only.
I'm thrilled to announce that The Goodwin officially opens its doors this week. It's been an amazing project to have been part of. It's such a joy to see everything come together. A huge congratulations to owners Andre Jones, Richard Wise and the entire team!
The interiors by Larah Moravek look so fantastic. It's as gorgeous as down-to-earth gets. Warm and inviting. The space features beautifully custom-designed cozy baquettes. Larah also designed those divine lighting fixtures on the ceiling (in first photo) made from steel tubing. Materials from the original landmark building were repurposed as wood paneling for "The Grange" (back dining room/event space). Old license plates from the 30s and 40s that were found in the basement were used as wall decor. Even the buidling's old boiler tank was upcycled as a planter (seen through the back window). There was a high level of sensitivity to the building's rich history that remains in the new space. The interiors have an earthy, restrained elegance. It's been a great journey seeing all the sketches and swatches take form. It's been so exciting to take part in the design and work in tandem with such a talent.
Another reason to look forward to dining there is the menu prepared by Chef Colin Kruzic – formerly of James in Brooklyn and Bouley among others. The menus are currently available for download on The Goodwin splash page. Or if you are in New York City, definitely stop by.
Back in October, I posted an old photo of my maternal relatives. It's a lot more unusual for me to see old photos of my father's side of the family. I loved seeing these. It may very well be the first photo I've ever seen of my great grandmother (center) and the first time I've ever seen such a large group photo of my paternal relatives.
Take a WILD guess which one my father is. It's so obvious, it's hilarious. He's the man with the thick framed glasses on the left (he's standing directly behind his dad, my grandfather). Funny that decades later, we would share similar taste in eyewear! I love the suit and the hairstyle as well. Well done, Pa.
I also love this photo below. I love how handsome my grandparents look here. My dad is second from the right. The look on his face already showing a faint defiance – a hint of the little trouble maker he apparently grew up to be. Ha!
I have begun the (slow) decorating process of my new Toronto digs. My refusal to settle for crappy furniture has caused a slight delay in filling my place with furniture. Tough when you need furniture, want quality and on a limited budget. Needless to say, the delivery of my custom built table this week had me thrilled. Thanks to Craig Marshall of The Uncarved Block, a beautiful, live edge (or raw edge) table now sits nicely in my kitchen/dining area. Craig even let me tag along with him to shop for the perfect slab at Urban Tree Salvage. The UTS showroom was great and their pricing very reasonable. I highly recommend it if you're looking to have furniture made from local salvaged wood.The final product is precisely what I wanted. It's incredibly well made. Even the non-glossy varnish is just as I requested. It actually brought out the colour variations in the wood, which I LOVE. A lot of the slab's unique character were left in (like saw marks, natural markings). I can't seem to stop touching it!
Although I had originally intended to have a counter height table made, after sitting and working up high for a couple of months made me realize I much prefer a normal table height. The depth of the table is perfect for my small space. The choice to have a live edge on the table adds to the organic warmth that my apartment needs. So next on the list are the chairs. I know exactly what I want and will be able to get an incredible deal on them, thanks to a designer discount! I will post an update when those are delivered.
Thank you to Craig and Robin from The Uncarved Block!
p.s. the photos are all taken with my iPhone. I'm having some photo download issues on my camera today.
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.
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 :)
I had dinner at Colonie in Brooklyn Heights last week with my friend Jenna of Whimsy & Spice and I was blown away by the food. Colonie's been open since February 2011 and apparently received almost $16k of funding via Kickstarter before opening. Pretty impressive. The space was beautiful (very Brooklyn, urban barn look) and utilizes many recycled materials. I love the living plant wall, too. The menu features all local and seasonal American menu. I can see why they've received so much attention. The food was so delicious, very vibrant, flavourful and inventive (we both just wished the portions had been a bit bigger, esp. the main course).
My Foodspotting links are below:
Dessert was a short walk away at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream on Bergen St. I had the Rosewater & Cardemom Ice Cream (tasted like kulfi! Delicious!)
I'm having quite a decadent visit here in NYC this month. There's no shortage of spectacular food. Still among the places I've had the pleasure of trying (low-end to high-end), there are standouts. I initially wanted to write one big post on the food but I decided to break it up a bit.
ABC Kitchen was (deservedly) named Best New Restaurant of 2011 by The James Beard Foundation. My expectations were high and it did not dissappoint. The food was fantastic. They have a prix fixe lunch for a reasonable $28 and it was so GOOD (see my Foodspotting links below). The local and organic menu was undeniably fresh and so delicious – esp. that perfect gazpacho. The dessert was probably over-the-top for a lunch menu but I still nearly fell out of my chair when I tasted it. I also can't overlook the fact that it is beautifully designed to fit right into the ABC Carpet and Home aesthetic. GORGEOUS. All around a drool worthy spot.
First course: Gazpacho with Summer Fruit, Olive Oil and Basil
Second course: Steamed Hake, Goldbar Zucchini, Nasturium Vinaigrette
I can hardly believe that after the massive upheaval my life has undergone this past year, I have finally moved into my own Toronto digs. In more ways than one, this is my clean slate. It's the official start in my new city. What proved to be a stressful process resulted in a place that's precisely what I wanted (and more). It's all thanks to a fantastic real estate agent and serendipity. Not only is this condo/building brand new, it comes with great amenities, it's very close to work and it has the all-important ensuite washer/dryer. The space also has nice finishes. I love how sunny and airy the space is despite it's relatively modest size (under 600 sq. ft + 100 sq. ft of balcony). I now understand the draw of living up high. The big balcony is perfect for admiring the VIEW. And to my New York friends, it's for A LOT less rent than anything comparable in New York City or Brooklyn. Which is amazing.
This blank canvas is already my newest design project. I cannot wait to decorate it. As you can see, I don't really have any furniture yet! Now that I've decided to start from scratch, the possibilities are endless. All I know right now is that I will keep things very simple and very comfortable. Stylistically, warm modernism is what I am most drawn to. The older I get, the more important quality and craftsmanship become, too. The challenge will always be finding a balance between quality and price. The task of careful furniture selection is probably what I'm looking forward to the most. It's so exciting! So there will undoubtedly be upcoming (fun) blog posts on home design :)
See my follow up post here: drawing on the slate
I loved my friend Jacquelyn and Robert's DUMBO, Brooklyn wedding party this past May and loved the photos too. How adorable are they?! It was a fantastic and memorable evening (and week in New York) with my friends. What won't be posted here is the photo of my teary-eyed face after hearing the bride's twin's speech. To be clear, virtually the whole room was reduced to tears after that speech. It wasn't just me!
Congratulations, again to Jacquelyn and Robert! Much love and happiness to you both. x
All photos by Clean Plate Pictures.
p.s. And what a coincidence: the bride and I had the SAME pair of shoes on!
September will mark one year, the first, that I've (ever) lived in Toronto. The city, for the most part, has welcomed me with warmth and open arms. I have learned a great deal and have had a very successful year thus far with regards to all aspects of my work. I am immensely grateful for this and all who have been supportive. It hasn't been without it's challenges. One of which is figuring out my place in it in my own time. Quite distinct from trying to fit into someone else's expectation of what I will make of this new city (and inevitably disappointing them). I do believe that in order for me to truly make Toronto my own, to be able to carve out my OWN version of it, I need my own space. New York was easy to make my own. Perhaps that is the nature of the city. Perhaps it's because I didn't go into living there with someone else's preconceived version in mind. New York was all mine to carve out. I had nearly 12 years to do so.
So the official hunt for my own Toronto digs is ON (not ready to own just yet, but to rent). Starting this weekend. It's all VERY exciting.
My Brooklyn apartment building is over a hundred years old. I've had that place for eight years. There are things everyone is willing to give up to live in New York. I had a good amount of space in Brooklyn, so that wasn't an issue. I'm realizing (for reasons that include my age) that there are conveniences I am no longer willing to do without. Namely, an en suite washer/dryer situation. I loved the charm and character that my Brooklyn apt had. And perhaps down the line, I will be more interested in a fixer-upper, renovation project type of apartment or house. But for now, I want new(ish), clean, modern, bright and easy. Why not? Between my 9-5 work and freelance projects, it doesn't leave me much time these days. But I'm hoping it's doable (maybe with a little professional help). The idea of decorating a whole new space is BEYOND exciting. I can't wait. I will, no doubt, be documenting the process. Stay tuned and wish me luck!
The last time I had a bicycle to call my own, I was about 14 in southern California. I was in 7th grade. The kids at school made fun of me and my bike. They would sing the Pee Wee Herman theme song whenever I rode by. NO ONE rode a bike to school in my part of the world then. It wasn't considered cool then. But I really couldn't care less what other kids thought. I liked my bicycle. It was new, cream coloured and had a basket in the back. Fairly non-descript. I rode that thing to school until I started catching rides on the back of a friend's Vespa a year later.
After I got a taste of cycling earlier this month, I knew I had to get one. I had planned to start off with a used bike but got a GREAT deal on this new one. It had very minor scratches. I knew I had to strike a balance between aesthetically appealing, modestly priced, easy/comfortable to ride. Theft is apparently rampant these days, so I invested in a good lock, too. This was perfect. As soon as I saw it, the afternoon of shopping was over. I had to have it. Of couse, my favourite part is the leather seat and handle bar covers (if there's a proper term for this, I don't know it).
Eventually, I'd like to get a beautiful wicker basket similar to the one below by Nantucket Bike Basket Co. instead of the mesh one. The bike shop employee mentioned that the wicker baskets actually last much longer than the powder-coated metal ones. Who knew? They even have baskets designed for pets. Too adorable.
I rode my new bike into work today and I love it even more. It was a summer defining move to purchase this gem. I'm calling my bike Belinda. For some reason, I heard Belinda Carlisle's singing one of the Go-Go's songs when I saw the bike. I have absolutely no idea why! So the name has stuck.
p.s. I don't plan to join any Toronto hipster cycling cults worthy of an episode of Portlandia. I'm still essentially that nerdy 14 year old just enjoying the ride and the sunshine.
Cheers to summer!
An old friend sent me this BBC Series British Style Genius (from 2009) a week or so ago and I've been devouring every episode since. It is fascinating. It's an incredibly well produced, showcasing the most concise documentary on (any) fashion history that I've ever seen. I even love the title sequence design. Some of my favourite segments and episodes are below.
The bit about the 60s Mod movement was of particular interest to me. I was hanging out in high school with a group of kids that revived this whole look/lifestyle in California during the late 80s. I also knew 20-something year old guys in Vancouver into the early 90s that (quite seriously) subscribed to the same look and lifestyle. It all centered around 60s, slim-fitting Mod suits, skinny black ties and creepers. One of my closest friends in high school, Barry, would wear Fred Perry shirts, skinny dress pants or jeans and dress shoes to school everyday. He also had the signature vintage Vespa scooter which I rode with him to school everyday. We listened to a lot of ska, Brit pop and punk. It influenced the way that I dressed then, too. I wore a lot of vintage and homemade 60s miniskirts (some tartan) with preppy sweaters, pointy patent flats — and yes, black TURTLENECKS (that's when the turtleneck love began!). Back then, I wasn't as aware of the whole history of the Mods. I didn't question it, I just enjoyed dressing up in the particular style. I still don't really know why the Mod look was revived then. It's interesting how it was (re)done the same way – but in suburban southern California. Perhaps it was a west coast thing. Does anyone know? We did feel that we stood apart from the popular fashion in high school back then (which at my school was comprised of Hyper Color cropped Tshirts, MC Hammer pants and lots of neon). I wish I had photos to share. So I loved seeing the way this documentary series illustrates and gives context to where/how it all began. It all makes sense to me now!
One conclusion I drew from having watched the series in it's entirety: I believe that the days of such influential and distictive fashion "movements" growing from the streets is gone for the most part. The globalization of fashion trends is likely to blame. There is still a lot of street fashion that influence the styles that end up on the runway, but they don't end up evolving from movements with fiercely loyal followings (not unlike gangs) in quite the same way that it did back in the 60s. It was a time when younger generation made their clothes. New styles were created and evolved more organically on the streets. They weren't simply following what they saw on tv, music, magazines or celebrities (many of whom receive many of their clothes for free from fashion designers). I feel as though retailers like American Apparel and Urban Outfitters are the ones dictating the way young people dress these days. Hoards of young 'hipsters' are merely dressing in uniforms-of-the-minute as dictated by these retailers. That doesn't define edgy to me. I don't believe there is as much actual origination or innovation on the street nowadays — at least not as much as there was between the 60s-80s (and not in north America). So much of what's out there now tends to be an appropriation or remix of everything that has been done before — primarily from the 80s.
If you didn't see this series the first time around and can get a hold of it, I HIGHLY recommend doing so. It's amazing and not to be missed.
If there was a jewelry item that I become very attached to, it's rings. I purchased this ring last year and I've literally worn it to death. I call it my "lady brass knuckles." It's been commented on more than any other ring I've ever worn – particularly by men. I was getting it replated every few weeks at a local jeweler (for not much money) only for the it to fade not long after. This jeweler suggested I get the ring replicated in real gold. He explained that the reason the replating didn't last is because the ring wasn't made of real gold on the inside. He gave me a great price. Apparently, it's done with a rubber mold to precisely match every angle and crevice. It was a simple enough design. It was done in two days and the result is amazing! It looks FANTASTIC. Even the engraving on the inside was replicated. I love the idea of giving a favourite piece of costume jewelry and making it something I'll actually want to hang on to and wear for way longer than a season or two. I think I've outgrown disposable fashion. I just want to try to have less of it and just have more of things that endure.
Eyewear is kind of a big deal for me. My glasses are on my face 365 days a year and all of my waking hours. I've worn them since the age of 13. So it's become part of my identity. Choosing frames can be a time consuming (and expensive) endevour. Back in August of 2010, when I was preparing to move from New York to Toronto, I came across Moscot Vintage Eyewear – I believe it was mentioned in an article in New York magazine. I learned that the company is a New York institution that's been around since 1915. I loved the Originals Collection, all consisting of styles created between 1930-1970. I tried on the Mangito frames before I left and knew I had to have them. They were exactly what I have been looking for. They have that classic/nerd-chic element that made a bold statement but did not completely overwhelm my face. It's a lot but not too much. They have a subtle cat-eye angle on the corners that I love, too. I also couldn't help gravitating toward these purely from a naming standpoint (considering my last name). I learned that these frames were inspired by a Moscot family member, Gladys Moscot, who in the 60s "left New York's Lower East Side and for a life of drinking Cuba Libres and smoking Cohibas in Havana." Mangito is also Cuban slang for sexy, hot and fresh (apparently). Ha!
A month before a trip to New York, I found out via Twitter that these very frames were 30% for the month of April. It was perfectly timed. I knew I had to get them. Happy birthday to me. I placed the order and picked them up when I arrived in NYC earlier this month. They're also the most well-made pair of glasses that I've ever purchased – and I've closely examined many a pair of designer frames. You can see and feel how well constructed they are. They just do not feel mass produced. Not only that, Moscot custom-fitted them for me with nose pads – perfect for noses like mine with small bridges. I haven't come across many eyewear companies that does this. I love these new frames!
What do you think?
One of the highlights of my New York trip was getting to experience the Alexander McQueen | Savage Beauty show at The MET. It was insanely busy as it was the first weekend it opened to the public. But it was so worth it.
The show was, for me, a celebration of McQueen's exquisite craft. It was a celebration of beauty – however melancholy or dark. It's impossible to cast aside the brilliance and complexity of the ideas behind the work. There is no doubt that this falls under the category of high art. Being allowed to see his thinking and his inspiration was eye-opening. I was so thrown by how beautifully executed and tailored everything was. His pieces required undeniably precise detail and quality. He respected and studied the rules and, therefore, knew how to break them. The work is so modern and yet so rooted in tradtion at the same time. Looking at these dresses as I walked through the show, I saw the intensity of McQueen's passion for beauty. He not only put powerful women on a pedestal, he wanted women to be powerful in his clothes. The show itself was billiantly curated...stunning. Possibly the best exhibition of art & fashion I have ever seen. McQueen is awe-inspiring. He was a genius.
If at all possible, go see the show before it closes in July and see where it might be traveling to next. Or at least check out the site. Looks like they're having trouble keeping the book on the shelf (pick one up if you can).