Archive for August, 2011

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.

Palm Beach Press!
August 29th, 2011

Forgive us for tooting our own horn here, but we couldn’t resist sharing this good news. Today we discovered a great piece of press in this month’s issue of Palm Beach Illustrated, the glossiest of the glossy magazines here. What particularly thrilled us? That they really saw what we’re trying to do with our cards: to deliver a “fun, fresh perspective” with “bursts of color, and witty words”. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

Marvelous Maira Kalman show!
August 25th, 2011

Last month we caught the Maira Kalman show in New York, and though it’s now closed, we’re such huge fans of her work and it was such a lovely show that we had to share our enthusiasm with those who might have missed it.

Maira Kalman achieved fame with her now-iconic New Yorker ‘Newyorkistan’ cover, and then further renown with her illustrated coverage for the New York Times of the last election. There is also an ever-growing band of us that pass around her inspirational book ‘The Principles of Uncertainty’ like samizdat. (We’ve given so many copies as gifts, we’ve had to start a list.)

Maira Kalman’s first plan was to be a poet, but, with characteristic honesty, decided her poems were terrible. Instead she found poetry in everyday objects, and now her illustrations lead us to find bursts of joy in items we might otherwise not notice. She opens our eyes to the delightful way duvets are folded in an Austrian hotel (lower right), or the rather poignant simplicity of Le Corbusier’s sink (top right). The exhibition also has a room full of the actual objects that she has collected and painted over the years, and these are marvelous to behold (middle left).

What also inspires us about her work is her rich use of color. Our favorites: her vivid chartreuse (check out Edith Sitwell, middle right), lush vermillion and pulsing pink — often used together in the same piece. But she also has a beautiful milky white and beige that serve as counterpoint.

The exhibition is informed by her modesty and sense of wonder, which brings a sense of charm and intimacy you rarely find in an exhibition. As Kalman says, “Good things come of incomprehension”, and what fresher way to celebrate the world than that?

Sources: Kalman has several books that are widely available, and you can follow her fabulous blog. Whigby also do a great range of cards with her illustrations. And of course there is

* Maira Kalman, Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World), Jewish Museum, NY, exhibit now closed.

Just Because: Roses, Pink & Orange
August 22nd, 2011

We normally like to give snippets of useful information in our posts. But sometimes we run across an image or two so delightful or visually intriguing, we need to share. Just because.

Like these roses we bought yesterday. Not fancy — they’re the $10 grocery store find — but just so pretty because of the color combination. (Here we’ve cut the stems down to around 6″; this allows even less expensive blooms to open more fully, and last longer.) Pink and orange. It’s fascinating how this pairing works regardless of the intensity. A lush orange and soft pink here, but equally a hot pink and bright orange are fab together.

A picture of roses also allows us to trot out one of our favorite quotes. From J. M. Barrie (who wrote ‘Peter Pan’): “God gaves us memory so that we might have roses in December.” (Now if that doesn’t call out to be featured on a card, we don’t know what does.)

Stand-Out Shop: Front & Co., Vancouver
August 20th, 2011

Sometimes, a good store can introduce you to a whole new neighborhood. This was our good fortune last week when we visited Front & Company, in the mid-Main Street section of Vancouver.

The names of shops alone could be a sourcebook for quirky, hip businesses. Within two blocks we found: The Lip Lounge (adorable sundresses and makeup), Smoking Lily (cool kid’s clothes), Barefoot Contessa (Vancouver meets Antropologie), Life of Riley (cute tops), Bob Likes Thai Food (yep, thai food), and — puns are our weakness — the café Bean Around the World. Definitely make a visit to this area if you’re drawn to local, independent style.

Front & Co., established in ‘93, is the one that is credited with starting it all. We’re delighted they carry our line (bottom left), and they have a wide range of spirited cards, including Canadian card superstars Whigby.

Their decorative accessories exhibit a great eye. Check out these great plates from the National Gallery in London (middle left); a Fornasetti effect for a fraction of the price. Jewelry is also standout, with great affordable ideas. How cute is an oversized brass ring with Mickey Mouse ears (lower right)? Definitely $15 worth of cute.

Inspiring to us? The sense of whimsy and delight in owner Flora Cheung’s buying, and also the fresh, energy of the area: young businesses, sharing their own individual brand of creativity.

* Front and Company, 3746 Main St, Vancouver, BC. V5V 3N7. (604) 879 8431.

So chic: Bernard Villemot
August 16th, 2011

We found another fab piece from Bernard Villemot’s collaboration with Bally in the 70s that we had to share. Look at this wonderful color combination: yes, the scarlet and tobacco brown are marvelous together (that color combo was all over the runways for Fall), but I wouldn’t have expected the powdery pink and the denim blue to work in there, too — and yet they all do.

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 York windows: A trio of shoes
August 11th, 2011

We have always had a bit of shoe addiction, but when we started to realize how much ink and paper we could buy for a pair of Pradas or velvet slippers from Stubbs, we had to curb our ways. So now we’re firmly in the window-shopping camp. (So occasionally we slip. Tell no one.)

Believe us, having styled a fair few accessories shoots in our day, shoes are among the most challenging. How to enhance them with props, without overwhelming them. Here are three recent ‘windowscapes’ we loved. Left to right, Cole-Haan with a jar of paint brushes, little girls’shoes swim with jellyfish at Bonpoint, and tiny men try to commandeer a pair of Prada flats at Saks. This last one was a particularly clever use of scale — you are immediately drawn into the fine details on the bow of an otherwise simple shoe.

Stand-Out Shop: Green Cottage, High Falls
August 4th, 2011

We were recently staying with friends in the Catskills, and this gave us the chance to visit one of the stores that carries our cards. Green Cottage is refreshingly true to its name: it is indeed a charming little cottage painted green — and just the kind of shop you hope to find when you are winding through the sunny, rolling roads of upstate New York.

This is a store that reminds us just how pleasant and recreational shopping can be, far from the urgency of 5th Avenue. And, yes, it certainly helps when you are greeted at the front door by a life-size deer in dayglo orange.

Dennis Nutley and David Urso created Green Cottage back in 1997, combining their worlds of flowers and jewelry, respectively. These two categories still inform the store and it boasts some of the most marvelous flowers and lovely jewelry in the area. But it’s remarkable what else they pack into a relatively small space.

Candles of all shapes and sizes? We love the orange tapers from a Danish company Erik & Ester. Lovely tactile clothing? A friend found her favorite paisley scarf here. One-of-a-kind art? That white bust (top right) is actually a vase from local artist Lora Shelly. And a card to go with that last minute hostess gift? You are spoilt for choice: our line, but also charmers like Rifle Paper Co., and Austin Press.

What inspires us: the unapologetic use of color (chartreuse with purple and red trim? sure!), and the product-packed environment that encourages the eye to explore. It reminds us how pleasures can be amplified when they are unexpected. It is in the charm of a little unnecessary detail.

* Green Cottage, 1204 State Route 213, High Falls, NY 12440. (845) 687 4810.

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,,