inspirations

Eye Travel: Peru
September 15th, 2011
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For this new series of posts, we’re inspired by Diana Vreeland, Gustave Flaubert, and Walker Evans. DV said: “The eye must travel.” Flaubert remarked: “God is in the details.” And Walker Evans told us to: “Stare. It is the easy way to educate your eye.” Travel is such a powerful inspiration for us, but it is the small details and textures — not the broad postcard vistas — that we’ll be exploring in these visual essays.

First up: our trip to PERU this time last year.


We’re smitten by this rich orange/grey combo: lichen against the Imperial Stone Wall at Machu Picchu … a silver bracelet (right) from a local jeweler in the Pisac market, and the royal alpaca scarf we wore everywhere (Peruvian silver and textile craftsmen trace their history back to Inca times) …


… isn’t the chipped marquetry of this signage from Bar Cordano in Lima so chic and evocative of art deco glamor gone by — we’re tempted inside for a Pisco Sour …


…. we love how the textures and colors of these succulents in a garden in Urubamba … complement the vivid crewel work on a table runner …


… a beautiful brass handle that seems to float on a glass door at the Hotel Monasterio in Cuzco … and how romantic is this heavy room key with a tiny hand clutching the keyring (and yes, that date does read 1692).

We hope your eye enjoyed the trip! Here’s one last image, since no picture of Peru would be complete without a llama. This little fellow, silver inlaid with turquoise, and once again the work of Pisac market craftsmen, is only 2.5″ tall: a tiny memento of a big trip.

Summer Mood board: Fleeting, Happy Moments
August 31st, 2011

Just before we take down our ‘High Summer’ moodboard on this last day of August, we wanted to consider these images once more — and also what makes the season such a favored one.

A central aspect of summer’s joy is always to be found in color. Whether it’s rich yellow sunshine, shimmering blue pools, or ice cream colors, when we think of summer our minds automatically flash to a color. And, like drinking tea on a hot day to cool down, somehow hot fashion colors work especially well as the temperature intensifies.

It’s not surprising summer is also a season when painters can arrive at their most luminous work. To our mind, Georgia O’Keefe and Pierre Bonnard (both equally underrated) are two of the most significant colorists of the 20th century — to experience their paintings firsthand is to see pure joy in, and a deep inquiry of, color. On our board (lower left), we pinned O’Keefe’s New Mexico summer sky, and Bonnard’s nude of his wife.

What makes summer particularly sweet is its fleeting nature. While winter goes on and on, summer never lasts long enough. The afternoon spent on a sailboat, the lazy ride on a ferry, or the delicious afternoon dozing on a sofa — these are moments to savour before the real work of back-to-school Autumn begins.

* Selected sources: Hotel du Cap feature from WSJ Magazine, photo of Brigitte Bardot on Hydra from Paris Vogue, ice cream paint palette from House Beautiful.

Postcard heaven in Vancouver
August 12th, 2011

When people hear that we run a card company, the conversation often turns to postcards. As in: what ever happened to all the wonderful postcards you used to be able to send? Well, now I know. They’ve all gone to postcard heaven: Stella Chapman’s tiny (and by tiny, I mean no more than 10′ square) little shop on Vancouver’s Granville Island.

We felt like Dorothy falling down the rabbit hole into a magical place. Unexpected postcards and the little stories they all hold. It was hard to stop at four.

Clockwise (from top left): a typically quirky Elliott Erwitt photo from ’56, a delightful Dutch fashion pic from the 60s, a charming doodle from the French illustrator Serge Bloch, and a piece of advertising from the 70s designed to look 30s from Jean Villemot. Villemot is a discovery for me. French, 1911-1990, the master of many Orangina posters in the heyday of French poster art. He’s very collectable these days.

Serge Bloch is fast becoming one of our favorite illustrators. That French ease and insouciance charms us. Check out his site here.

Elliott Erwitt’s website is also well worth visiting. Yes, he’s the guy that took that famous shot of the couple kissing in the car’s mirror.

* The Postcard Place, The Net Loft Building, Granville Island, Vancouver. 604 684 6909

New Month, New Mood board: Pink, Blue & White
August 1st, 2011

We probably spend way too much time on our mood boards at J. Falkner. Maybe it’s our background in magazine design, but we are constantly tweaking the scale and the colors to arrive at the right ‘mood’.

This summer, we are cooled by the combination of a rose-petal pink and a cerulean blue, like the chic Celine outfit (top right). We also noticed how much fresher everything looks with a crisp white border — whether it be the collar and cuffs on the blue, or the white ‘jackets required’ sign from the famously pink Lyford Cay Club in the Bahamas. Isn’t it better with the white grid? It’s one reason we like to sit our cards in a frame of white (for example, our flamingo).

And check out the Florida style 1920s pavilion (lower left): a maze of white lines in the ceiling and the furniture brings such air and light into the room. The pair of birds sitting on cherry blossoms, from the lobby of a swanky apartment building in Honolulu, are another delightful example of dusty pink and white. And the lovely folded bedding on the white shelves is from Canvas.

* Sources: Town & Country (April 2011), House Beautiful (March 2011), Vogue, shop.canvashomestore.com, chanceco.com.

Natural inspirations
June 9th, 2011

The garden of the Four Arts is one of the most beautiful places in Palm Beach. The plantings have such beautiful details. For example, if you look closely at this little patch of green it is actually full of the most wonderful textures and shapes. I was especially delighted by all the clovers, and thought that this could be a charming pattern for a card. And there you have it – the inspiration behind our ‘Aren’t We Lucky?’ Anniversary card.

Stunning Sonia Delaunay Show in NY
June 5th, 2011

The exhibition posterA detail shot to see the vibrant color play

Before I left New York after the Stationery Show, I ran uptown to catch the Sonia Delaunay show at the Cooper Hewitt. It was revelatory. All those beautiful pulsating colors. Delaunay was a Russian artist who settled in France and whose most popular medium was in textiles. She adored color and believed it was ‘the skin of the world’. A principle of her art was ‘Simultaneity’ … which was the sensation of movement caused by putting certain colors together. Sounds complicated, but look at how her patterns come to life and you immediately see what she was getting at.

Personally I was struck by how modern & unexpected her color combinations were: lime & grey – royal blue, black & red – deep navy with lime and orange accents. 80 years ago she was right on today’s trend of color blocking in fashion. Truly inspirational stuff – so don’t be too surprised if you see some Delaunay-worthy color combos popping up in our next collection of cards!

If you miss the show, there’s a great book you can amazon – Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay.