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.

Nautical Summer Dreaming
July 2nd, 2012

As July 4th races towards us, and temperatures edge past 100 degrees across the country, our minds inevitably turn to thoughts of the sea. After all, is there anything that better sweetens a summer than being at the beach?

So it’s no surprise that one of our most popular boards on Pinterest (yes, we’re addicted — check out all our boards at JFalkner Inspire) was our collection of Nautical Themes.

Many of these images (a selection, above) coalesced into cards: anchors, lifesavers, a red-striped bikini, the crisp color combo on a J.Crew bag … and everywhere a rich cyan blue, deep as the sea.

We’re delighted to introduce our new “Nautical & Nice” collection: a boldly colored thank you (above left), a birthday card full of summer spirit (above right) and a devoted pair of fish for an anniversary (below). Blue, white and a punch of red were the only colors we needed.

For this collection, we also spoiled ourselves with a new font. Sitting on the charming side of whimsy, the ropey ligatures of Memimas are also a wink at the nautical theme of these cards.

(And here’s a did-you-know for font fans: Memimas, now a darling of indie fashion labels and invitation designers, was originally created as the standard typeface to teach French school children proper handwriting. Amusant, non?)

Of course, not all nautical is created equal, so for these illustrations we went to our chicest source: London-based fashion illustrator Adrian Valencia (see his delightful portfolio here). In fact, we were so charmed by his work, we couldn’t resist going one step further with this collection and creating a little trio of Nautical Notes (above), with wavy-edged frames and light sea-blue envelopes.

If only we didn’t need to save the stock for our stores (it’s already one of our most popular new releases), this is the stationery we would use all summer long. Order a set for yourself, or any of these nautical cards, here.

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.

New York’s New Color for Spring
March 1st, 2012

NYC never fails to delight our eyes to the latest color trend. But rarely has one shade been seen with such insistence. Dear reader, the message from New York is … mint!

Call it pistachio, call it aqua or even call it celadon if you’re feeling particularly sophisticated — mint is most definitely the color for Spring. We saw it all over the city: on an edgy leather skirt in Soho (above), in a cardigan and belt combo at J. Crew‘s Rockefeller flagship, or luminous in lucite bangles at Alexis Bittar‘s Bleecker St shop (both, below).

The magazines were also full of the color. Let’s face it, the pun-worthiness of mint is a boon for every fashion copywriter. (Below, tearsheets from Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and People Stylewatch.)

And, yes, we’re minting it (see! can’t resist) here at J. Falkner, too. Our ‘Champagne Congratulations’ card and our ‘Peacock’ cards (below) are an easy way to stay on-trend, just in case you didn’t get onto the wait list for that Vuitton sorbet-colored frame bag.

Congratulations cards are available singly (with a pretty lavender envelope), and our Peacock cards come as boxed sets of 8, or as single cards. Check them out here.

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.

4 New Years Resolutions from the Ever-Optimistic
January 2nd, 2012

No, we didn’t step up our visits to the gym last year nor did we arrive at much Italian beyond “grazie”, but we’re still suckers for a good New Year’s resolution. And here are four we will try to honor in 2012.

1. Instate i-free days. iPad, iPhone, iPod — iNough! One day a week we’re going to close our laptop, throw our cell in a drawer and set out with pen and paper to see what ideas might come to us if we give them more space to breathe.

(Resolutions are always better sweetened with a bit of retail: the little leather notebook pictured above is from

2. Walk in wonder. Perhaps it’s our Manhattan training, but when we walk we tend to stride from A to B as quickly as we can. This year we’re going to step to a different rhythm, and not take the palm trees and grazing ibis (like these we saw last week, above) for granted.

3. More poetry, less reality. As a modern design company, it’s incumbent on us to keep up with pop culture. But after we found ourselves repeating Real Housewive quotes — “If you can’t be my friend, please don’t be my enemy!” was curiously hard to resist — we were prepared to agree we might have drunk a bit too heavily from the reality-TV cup. In 2012, we’re going to find our way back to poetry and words we won’t be embarrassed to quote. First up, the new translation of Rimbaud’s Illuminations (admittedly, a poet who might have out-partied Snooki back in 1871).

4. Send a Sunday card. Sunday night is a time for us to take stock of the week and make sure our pencils are sharpened for Monday morning. We’ll add just a few minutes to the ritual and write someone a card, for no particular reason other than to deliver a bit of mailbox love.

(We often dip into our stock of Little Notes for this (above), the perfect size for just a few words.)

Adventures in Gift Wrapping
December 21st, 2011

When we were growing up, the standard in over-the-top excess was generally held to be the Beverly Hills mansion of TV producer Aaron Spelling (above, right). And, for some reason, the symbol of this let-them-eat-cake profligacy became Mrs. Candy Spelling’s gift wrapping room (above, left).

Imagine, went the cries of disbelief, a whole room devoted to packing up gifts. Well, we figure if you happen to have 123 rooms at your disposal what’s so wrong about devoting one to giftwrap? Frankly, after yet another Christmas lead-up spent on the dining room floor wrestling unspooling ribbons and disobedient tissue, the thought of a well-ordered wrapping station is rather seductive to us.

Not that wrapping needs to be complicated, Candy-style confections. Here are three recent giftwrap ideas we spotted that we found particularly charming.

Go monochrome, with one striking accessory (above). The effect wouldn’t have been nearly as striking if the bow didn’t match the paper, and how lovely the teal color draws you to the “eye” of the peacock feather.

Follow fashion’s colors. Neon pink was a big story on the catwalks, often paired with a neutral, and look how modern the same combo looks on a present (from the windows of Bonpoint, above). The reason this works so well is that the paired ribbons are of different widths, so you get a nice play of textures as well as colors.

It really is the thought that counts. This gift (above) was for a celebration in New York, and not only is the paper a map of Manhattan, some of the destinations for the visit are marked with a red dot. You have to admit this is a pretty genius idea — and one we’re definitely filing away for future use.

As this is our last post for the merry season, we send you the happiest of holiday wishes, and let them be wrapped in good cheer!

Giving Thanks — To All of You
November 25th, 2011

This Thanksgiving weekend has helped us to think about gratitude. When we started this company — not even a year ago — we were like Pilgrims on a journey: a bright idea of where we wanted to go, but a little vague on how we were going to make it. So the support and enthusiasm we’ve received this year is well worth celebrating today.

Thank you to everyone who follows this blog. (Or likes it on Facebook, or sees it on Twitter.) Your keen interest has encouraged us to be more ambitious, and expand “Inside J. Falkner” from a little stationery blog into our own (highly personal, we admit) arts & culture magazine.

Thank you to the 36 marvelous stores across the US and Canada who have supported us in our first year. We will truly never forget the shops that took a chance on us. And our heart still leaps whenever we see one of our cards in a shop window.

Thank you to the people who take the time to put a stamp on our envelopes and send our cards. We know you have so many choices, and we’re touched when you choose us to help express your thoughts.

Thank you all, truly.

(And, thank you for asking, yes: all these cards, and many more thank you notes, are available at our online shop.)

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.

Four Fab Things in New York
November 3rd, 2011

With some time to spare in Manhattan last week, we took a cultural spin around midtown. Even in a single day, the jolt of shows and stores in New York gave us a fresh new perspective. Here are four things that particularly captured our attention.

1. De Kooning’s Colors. (above) The blockbuster art show in New York this Fall is unquestionably this enormous retrospective at MOMA. Frankly, for us, a little bit of carnivorous women paintings goes a long way. Instead, what impressed us about the show was how, over a very long career, de Kooning returned time and again to the color pink (often complemented by a mustard yellow). It’s this color that gave his paintings a consistent sensuality. As de Kooning himself said: “Flesh was the reason why oil painting was invented.”

2. Elie Nadelman in the MOMA Sculpture Garden. We can’t believe we never spotted this wonderful Nadelman bronze before. (One of his drawings, above right, takes pride of place in our personal collection.) The graceful stance is pure Nadelman, and how charming is the whimsy of the bowtie, sitting like a butterfly on his chest?

3. Organic shapes at Museum of Art and Design. The show itself — Flora & Fauna, MAD About Nature — was a little lackluster, but we were intrigued by Ted Muehling’s “Thorn Necklace”. (See more of his lovely pieces here.) The way the shapes interlock is striking, but then we noticed a single coral pendant, nearly hidden among the thorns. This made the whole piece that much more arresting. Perhaps the thorns had drawn a drop of blood?

4. Cheap clothing, fantastic stores. Just enough time for a retail dash along 5th Avenue. Forget about Gucci and Armani, the most sensational stores this Fall are the new Uniqlo (above left), with its Blade Runner light show, selling cashmere sweaters for $49.90, and the sleek video cube minimalism of the Hollister store (right), which features $25 sweatpants.