Eye Travel

When our cards popped up in Norfolk, England …
August 4th, 2014
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Nothing thrills us more than great friends starting new businesses, so when the uber-chic London stylist Liz Thody (above, with her shop) floated her idea of a pop-up shop in Norfolk, our immediate response was: “We’re in!”

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Norfolk is a few hours drive up north from London. Rich agrarian land means the county has become a bit of a foodie hotspot, and, with its northern boundaries hitting the North Sea, Norfolk boasts some of England’s most beautiful beaches — notably the famed Holkham Beach (above) where the Queen is known to run her horses or, depending your reference preference, where the concluding scene of “Shakespeare in Love” was filmed.

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The shop was positioned at Wiveton Hall, just outside of the little town of Holt. Wiveton Hall has a very popular restaurant which serves up some of the freshest food in the county (like my meal of grilled heirloom tomatoes on toast).

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Liz called her shop Little Donkey Pop-Up, and her whimsical donkey logo was branded on bags (above), with neon tassels she sourced in Morocco. (If you speak fashion, then you might say Summer 2014 is all about a tassel.)

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The shop itself was an ingenious piece of construction. A simple wheelbarrow shape, it held cashmere sweaters, children’s dresses, hand-embroidered beach bags, trays of bright summer bracelets — and, of course, J.Falkner cards.

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Liz chose bright summery cards from our line to complement her product mix, and we love how our range of friendship cards sat among the pastel cashmeres and retro bathing caps (see above).

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For us, Little Donkey Pop-Up provided a welcome chance to nose around a part of England we’d never visited. The tree-shaded country lanes, the happy cows, the sun slanting over fields of hay — Norfolk was picture-postcard English countryside.

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I even found myself reconsidering pebble siding, which can go so very wrong in London suburbs. Here in Norfolk, however, it has an authenticity and simplicity that was actually rather beautiful. (For example, this cottage in Burnham Market below.)

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Goodbye for now, Norfolk — hope to see you and your wide wind-swept beaches again!

Our news from New York? It’s All About Color
September 21st, 2012

Manhattan during Fashion Week is a wonderful thing to behold. It hardly seems to matter if you actually go the shows, because there is more than enough fashion on the street to go around. And the trend is clear: no outfit seems fresh or modern without an electric pop of color.

Even the grey façade of Bergdorf Goodman (above) got in on the act, wrapping itself in an enormous lavender ribbon to celebrate its 111th birthday. (And also, we admit, setting a new bar for completely random anniversaries.)

If you wanted the attention of the style bloggers at Lincoln Centre, the epicenter of fashion week — and weren’t, say, Anna Wintour or Carine Roitfeld — you threw on some color and hoped for the best. It certainly was a wonderful carnival to watch.

It seems the trick to making color seem new is to use it sparingly, as the grace note of an otherwise neutral outfit. A splendidly patterned skirt with a khaki blazer, or a bright blue fedora with simple shirt and pants (in the crowd, above).

All over the city, windows beckoned with their latest … shoes. Coral pumps and cobalt heels looked as delicious as candy at JCrew (above).

Nor did color ignore men at Cole Haan (above): neon blue or yellow soles, anyone? … Anyone?

But the stop-in-your-tracks best window came from Barneys (above). It was a marvelous color story: bright pink Louboutins swam with real pink fish in brilliantly lit tank. This kind of wit and imagination reminds us why our eyes always want to visit Manhattan.

Of course it was marvelous to see color’s continuing resonance, because here at J.Falkner we love to bring on the brights. For example, our playful Parrot birthday card in lime (above), or our happy pink Pig (below). With many more colorful cards to be found at our online store, here.

A Fishers Island outpost for J.Falkner Cards
August 26th, 2012

While normally we try not to indulge the green-eyed serpent, we confess to being a bit jealous that our cards may be having a more glamorous summer than we are.

The cards that were delivered to a cool restaurant/boutique nestled in the Napa Valley? Sure, we’d love to join for a glass of crisp Chardonnay. Or the shipment that just went to Alaska last week? We, too, are raring for adventure in the northernmost state.

But for sheer exclusivity, the cards that flew to Fishers Island, NY (above), set a high bar. Fishers Island, situated at the entrance of Long Island Sound, is the kind of classic high-WASP-at-leisure place that seems staged by Wes Anderson, with quirky locals, rustic-chic amenities, and a collection of windswept lighthouses. Or so we hear — unlike our cards, we’ve never been.

Fortunately, our cards are keeping fine company in Fishers Island. They are staying at the CJ Laing store (above), a great Palm Beach label (see their fabulous stuff here) that popped up on Fishers Island for the summer season.

We adore the easy, beachy look that they created for the store. A stand-out is the wonderfully sculptural counter (above), made by the designers themselves, from driftwood collected nearby.

When CJ Laing approached us about selling J.Falkner cards in their pop-up store, our enthusiasm got the best of us. Not only did we design some cards exclusively for them (above), we also created a logo that they used on hangtags and signage (below). What can we say? We just can’t resist a good nautical theme.

While some cards were a limited release for Fishers Island, we have a nautical collection available at retailers across the country, and here online.

The Magicians of Fifth Avenue
June 5th, 2012

Midtown Manhattan at night is one of the sleepiest spots in the city that never sleeps. But, look closely, as we did on our recent visit to New York, and you’ll discover magic afoot. Up and down 5th Avenue, the elves of window display are creating their wonders in the midnight quiet. (Above, a sculptural creation takes intricate shape at Zegna.)

We’ve always been fans of window display. Perhaps it’s their ephemeral nature: enchanting us one day, then gone the next, like butterfly inspirations. It’s no surprise to us that design supernovas such as Raymond Loewy, Halston and Giorgio Armani all got their creative starts as department store window dressers (at Macys, Carson Pirie Scott, and La Rinascente, respectively).

The team at the Louis Vuitton flagship were amused to be spotted (above) fixing hundreds of arrows at exact intervals.

And the very next morning, after untold hours of work, we could enjoy a bright forest of arrows to do Robin Hood proud (above).

Bergdorf Goodman’s windows are legendary, but to us, the simplest ones are often the most sublime. The chic restraint of this conversation between bronze parrot and metallic-robed mannequin is one of the more inspired windows we can remember. (And — trend alert — if gold was a big fashion story for summer, when quite frankly it doesn’t make so much sense, just imagine how huge and opulent it will be for Autumn/Winter.)

Bergdorf also had a wonderful salute to the big costume show at the Met, featuring the designs of Schiaparelli and Prada. We’ll definitely catch that show on our next visit — it’s had great buzz — but meanwhile these windows were a wonderful taster (above).

Naturally, beautiful, witty display is not only the remit of the luxe boutiques. How enchanting is this display of peonies, each blossom floating in its own glass bubble?

And a cheeky surprise from Banana Republic, with this witty window at their Soho street store (above). What a relief to be spared another display of sensible biege suiting.

Color Symphonies at Sea
April 2nd, 2012

We recently had the occasion to sail the high seas on a Caribbean cruise. Sure, the buffet plates were the size of serving platters, and the best-dressed couple on the boat were the Italian magicians, but surrounding us — and soothing us — was the bluest of blue seas we ever did see.

In fact, simple blue quickly became an inadequate description, as the approach of each island seemed to bring its own unique shade of sea.

The promenade deck was pole position to watch the constantly shifting colors of the sea. The navy cushions and varnished teak chairs (above) were appropriately nautical chic.

Arriving at Eleuthera (above), in the Bahamas. This emerald green reminds us why, for many centuries, the oceans on maps were depicted as green, not blue.

The flash of a white boat (above), against a deep rich blue sea, seems to welcome us as as we cruise into the port of St Maarten.

How adorable is this dolphinfish tile work we discovered along one of the pretty streets of Marigot, le capital of St Martin.

Look at this palette of blue laid out in the harbor of one of the Turks and Caicos islands (above). The progression from inky blues to rich cyan to shimmering turquoise could be a masterclass in color.

John Burroughs, the 19th century American naturalist, wisely remarked: “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” We know when our senses begin to align, because fresh new ideas start to bob up to the surface.

And naturally we were card-inspired on this trip. The result is this anniversary card (below), which celebrates the beautiful colors of the sea we saw, and the sweet serenity we felt, cocooned in our little portside cabin.

(This card will become part of our new card collection that we’ll be presenting at the National Stationery Show in New York at the end of May. Stay tuned for more card sneak peeks to come!)

Getting our Glam On in Palm Beach
March 5th, 2012

Our favorite Fred Astaire song is “Top Hat”, particularly the first verse:

I just got an invitation through the mails/
“Your presence requested this evening/

It’s formal, a top hat, a white tie and tails.”/
Nothing now could take the wind out of my sails …

We are of the same mind: nothing delights us more than a formal invitation. And this one (above) promised to be especially tony: Palm Beach Illustrated, the glossiest of the Florida magazines, was celebrating their 60th anniversary.

So last Thursday we threw on our dinner jacket, tucked in our orchid boutonniere (above), and off we went to the Flagler Museum on deliciously balmy evening. (Too hot for a top hat.)

The Flagler Museum (above), formally Whitehall, is the grand Beaux Arts residence of the man who essentially founded south Florida, Henry Flagler (1830-1913). Now it’s a historical landmark and museum — and also a pretty swell place for a party.

Through the enormous bronze gates (above) we stepped into the Grand Room, at 5,000 square feet the largest room of any of the mansions of the Gilded Age.

Doesn’t everyone look better bathed in rosy light? The West Room (above) was staged to sparkle, its 27-foot vaulted ceilings humming with the high spirits of the crowd.


Vintage PBI magazine covers decorated the room, and two of our favorites were: Jacqueline de Ribes, that most aquiline of the society aristocrats, in a splendidly modern silk dress (above, top), and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the couple Palm Beachers love to loathe, but somehow can never resist celebrating (above).

Later, the crowd spilled through to the veranda overlooking Lake Worth, shadows dancing against the white stucco façade (above).

Palm trees lit against the wide Florida night sky, a full moon high above — a pitch perfect Palm Beach night (above).

To help celebrate their birthday, the editors of Palm Beach Illustrated asked us to design a special birthday card. We got a little carried away and designed three, all of them decked out in the classic Palm Beach combo of pink and green. (above)

And we’ve had such a terrific response to the number-juggling flamingo (far right) we are planning to put it into production this summer.

Our Magazine Visit in New York
February 21st, 2012

When the good people of Redbook magazine — who featured our Peacock Thank You card in their March issue (above, top right) — invited us to visit them in their snazzy offices in the Hearst Building, we were there in a New York minute.

Hearst, one of the Big Three magazine publishers (Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire and Cosmopolitan to name just a few of its titles), has since 2006 a glittering new HQ that outpaces its rivals, and we were keen to see it.

Norman Foster set a very-21st century skyscraper into the shell of Joseph Urban’s original 1928 landmark (above). It’s a wonderful combination of old and new that The New Yorker called “the most beautiful skyscraper to go up in New York since 1967.” And it is truly marvelous to behold on a sparkling New York day.

It’s also a very “green” building, with extensive use of recycled materials. The fountain in the 3-story atrium (above) that greets visitors, for example, circulates filtered rainwater that has been collected from the roof of the tower.

(Mind you, the building can be a little bossy, in that “green” sort of we-know-better way. To take an elevator you must input your floor on a central panel, whereupon you are directed to a specific elevator for your trip. Don’t try to skip this step. You’ll find there are no buttons inside the elevators themselves, which is all a bit Space Odyssey for us.)

Fans of mood boards that we are, we were immediately drawn to the wall that the Creative Director, Holland Utley, put together to steer the design vision for the magazine (above). Redbook had a big relaunch last summer, and these boards were used to help communicate the new direction.

The magazine is for women in their 30s and up, leading full lives, busy with relationships and families. We like the positive, spirited feel of these images — the couples, cozy and loving in lots of cashmere (above), and families at play (below). Okay, no one really lives like this, but mood boards are meant for inspiration and day-dreaming.

The Peacock card featured in the pages of Redbook is available as a thank you card, or blank (ie. without greeting), and can be found at our online store, here.

New York Card Stories
February 17th, 2012

It’s always a thrill for us to see a card’s progress: a simple idea sketched in our Palm Street studio, that then emerges from the printer in vibrant color and, finally, migrates to a happy home in stores across America and Canada (now 50 shops and counting!). Our trip to New York this week was the perfect chance to pay some of these places a visit.

We confess we’re rather touched, for example, to see our little green snail (above) making a slow but sure path through a thicket of cards at The Green Cottage in upstate New York.


Canvas, which recently opened a new branch in Chelsea (above), specializes in a palette of organic neutrals, and our boxed cards, printed on ivory stock, sit well among these soothing colors.


The uber-luxe furniture shop Ochre happens to have one of our favorite doors in Soho. Look how beautifully patinated it is (above), and how the distressed wood artfully sets off the clean type of their signage. In this store, our cards make a colorful swirl in a teak bowl set on the counter.


* The Green Cottage
1204 State Route 213, High Falls, NY.
* Canvas 123 West 17th St, NYC.
* Ochre 462 Broome St, NYC.

Design to Delight in Atlanta
November 19th, 2011

We had a brief but beautiful November weekend in Atlanta, and were impressed and inspired by the vibrant design work throughout the city. Here’s our visual postcard of the city, with fabulous gates, shiny turtles and even a topiary teddy bear.

The gates at Piedmont Park (above). We didn’t realize what a spectacular Autumn arrives in Atlanta. We loved how the silhouette of leaves, punched through the iron work on this gate, lead the eye to consider all the different shapes they will find in the park itself.

Aged Antebellum beauty (above). Yes, there are far more pristine examples of the Southern neoclassical style, but somehow the faded, paint-peeled character of this neglected chapter of the DRA (Daughters of the American Revolution, where have you gone to?) seems to hold greater mystery for us than its spruced up neighbors.

Popping color at the High Museum. Richard Meier’s building is piercing white against this blue sky, and the triptych of Warhols provide a jolt of color.

A “zoo” at White Provisions (above). This site was originally a meat packing plant that dated from 1910. Nearly a hundred years later, it was reborn as a restaurant and retail hub for the Atlanta cool crowd. It’s a marvelous success. And the ghosts of animals past seem to have let loose a preponderance of animal imagery. We sipped on “Bee’s Knees” cocktails at Abbattoir (top right), were charmed by the big white pig signage, and loved the topiary teddy bear that sat outside a children’s store (below).

But most impressive might have been the glass-eyed, gleaming sea turtle (above) that greets customers at Sid Mashburn’s eponymous shop, a destination for Atlanta dandies. This is the kind of wonderful, singular store that requires a memento: we chose this belt, with its unexpected brass hook closure. Check out Sid Mashburn’s charmingly designed and illustrated website, which also includes women’s offerings from Ann Mashburn.

No visit to Atlanta would be complete without a drive through the rolling hills of Buckhead to peak over hedges into the lives of the other half (or, these days, the top one percent!). Swan House is one of the most exquisite; how beautifully the ironwork arcs into swan-like shapes.

Aurevoir, Atlanta! We definitely hope to see you again before too long.

Eye Travel: A Palm Beach Weekend
November 5th, 2011

When we first started J. Falkner, not even a year ago, and before we’d designed a single card, we had our concept: color. And our philosophy: share color, spread happiness. The wonderful colors of Palm Beach, where we’re located, always lift our spirits. Here are some pictures we took today on a sunny stroll of just a few blocks along Worth (which runs the width of the island, hitting the Atlantic ocean, above) and Peruvian Avenues.

Any discussion of the singular beauty of this island has to start with Addison Mizner, the architect who in the teens and twenties brought a Mediterranean flourish that has become the trademark Palm Beach style. Mizner was quite literally an enormous character: well over 6 feet and nearing 300 pounds, he often stepped out with his pet monkey, Johnnie Brown, on his shoulder. (The little monkey’s tombstone can be found just off Via Mizner.)

We were touched by the monkey detail in the ironwork which celebrates Mizner’s beloved pet (above, right). And how marvelously the signage for the via (above, left) mirrors the organic flow of the bougainvillea.

Wander the alleys that link Peruvian and Worth Avenue to discover the most enchanting details. We love the syncopating colors that make us want to dance up these stairs (above left), while the curving coral staircase (right) that leads you to Sarah Gavlak’s art gallery could itself be a painting by Georgia O’Keefe.

As Northerners, we never fail to be astonished by the orchids that grow in such abundance and variety along the Avenue.

Peruvian is the sleepy sister to glittering Worth, but it’s also home to the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach (above left), renowned for some of the chicest events on the island. And Peruvian Avenue features this mysterious blue door (right), our favorite. We’ve never seen anyone going in or anyone coming out, but when we do we’d like to imagine it will be a Contessa of ancient Venetian descent, swathed in Fortuny.

And, yes, certainly there is shopping to be had. Of course all the big fashion heavyweights are here, but why bother when local designers, with a genuine feel for the light and style of this place, are doing it better?

How fabulous is CJ Laing’s lovely new shop (above)? Designer Jack Laing celebrates color and terrific ikat prints in his designs, and they also feature a wonderful mix of accessories. But, be warned: it’s the kind of relaxed, sun-filled store you never want to leave.

When friends visit Palm Beach, they often ask (or want to ask), “Why is everyone walking around in their bedroom slippers?” The slipper trend just happens to be back for Fall, but Stubbs & Wootton (above) are the Palm Beach originals. With a wide range of whimsical motifs (above right), we like to think of Stubbs as stationery for the feet.

Even the dogs on Worth Avenue get their own little Mediterranean Revival flourish. The charm of this dog bar never fails to make us smile.