Tag Archives: New Year

Design Resolutions for 2013

Image from betype.com

Happy New Year everyone! 2013 is finally here, and with each new year begins the tradition for most of us known as resolution-making. I don’t usually make a serious list, but I thought I’d take the time this year to think about a few things I want to accomplish in my design life.

Read More Books

Image from blog.jennibick.com

Books gave me my first subconscious experience of design, in the form of illustrations and book cover designs. I still have a great affinity for traditional paper books, even as e-books have gained popularity in the last few years. The physical book to me is a sensory, intimate experience, and reading more of them can be enriching mentally and visually as well.

Image from fontsinuse.com

Read more about the best book covers of 2012 as compiled by the New York Times here.

Enter a Design Competition

Image from homemadedessert.com

Graduating from graduate school and moving into the workforce was a smooth transition for me, but I sometimes miss the flexibility and ability to conceptualize design ideas with an “unlimited” budget. Entering a competition will give me this opportunity, as well as allow me to be exposed to other designers’ ideas.

Work on a personal design project

Image from For Print Only

I’ve always admired designers who have clever personal logos and interesting portfolios. Most of the time I’ve designed my personal materials such as my portfolio, resume, and logo on the fly, and never really took the time to sit down and conceptualize a solid visual identity for myself.

Attend more design events

Image from Howdesignlive.com

As is typical with most professions today, developing a good professional network is important for any designer to keep up with contemporary culture in design today. Although I don’t really fear talking to total strangers, I still get a little intimidated when I attend networking events. While I don’t plan on attending a design conference every month, I think aiming to attend one design-related event every other month might be good for professional development.

I suppose I could make an infinite number of plans I can attempt to accomplish this year, but I think for now this seems like an achievable list. Have you all thought about creative resolutions for the new year?

Whatever your plans are for the next twelve months, here’s hoping your new year is filled with lots of creative energy!


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Putting Your House in Order in 2013

Happy New Year!

To get an early start on my resolutions, I spent the last few days of 2012 tidying my apartment before school starts. As a reward for my hard work, I tuned into a marathon of House Hunters International. Having lived abroad, it always makes me laugh to watch North Americans bemoan the lack of storage in the typically smaller homes found in Asia other parts of the world.

But we can learn from these tiny spaces, especially as condo prices rise and square footage shrinks in cities like Toronto.  I love to tour model units for design inspiration but I always wonder if I could find room for all my stuff. After all, I have the luxury of splitting it between my permanent home and my apartment at school!

Image: mi casa via homedit

But I am trying to pare down in both locations. When we downsized from a spacious three-bedroom house to a cozy two-bedroom condo almost 10 years ago, I packed up several boxes that went straight to storage and were forgotten. When I opened them several years later, I couldn’t imagine why I had kept any of the items inside. One of my resolutions is to edit every few months.  For each Christmas present that I received, I am looking for something that I no longer use to donate, sell, or throw out depending on its condition.  I apply the same system for clothes that I don’t wear for an entire season.

Image: I love my apartment on tumblr

We have slowly replaced our hand-me-down furniture with new purchases and always try to pick pieces that have built-in storage, like our bed frame with large drawers or the chest that holds our board games and serves as our coffee table.

Image: Greentea Design via Facebook

Multi-functional furniture has been our godsend, allowing us to keep our open-plan first floor a lot less cluttered. I am coveting the wheeled bench in Greentea Design’s soon-to-be-released collection. I can see it in the front hall with a bin on each end for hats and gloves, or wheeled into the living room for extra seating at parties, or even an impromptu sideboard at holiday feasts.

Image: Wayfair

Perhaps the most important thing I have been doing over the last few months is spending a few minutes at the end of each day putting everything back in its place. Of course, that means that everything we own needs a place. Sometimes this takes a little creativity but the vast array of organizational products out there really helps to maximize nooks and crannies. I have a few seasonal knickknacks that I swap out from time to time but I try to keep this to a box or two.

Image: Dear College Student

There are still a few wayward items that I need to deal with but at least I feel like this might be one resolution that gets accomplished, at least until I have to consolidate my two homes!

Korean Humor: Resolution Inspiration

Seosu, a cute and lazy bridge guard. Found in Young Jae Kyo bridge which crosses the Kum Cheon stream

Midori’s post about one-word resolutions a couple of years ago changed the way I approached new year’s resolutions. And as January rolls around again, I would like to take some inspiration from Korea, all because I came across this thesis by graduate student Sungmi Han about humor in Korean tradition, and was intrigued by it.

Asian culture is one steeped in history and tradition. We think emperors, dynasties, martial arts, silks and ceramics. The very idea of “Asian culture” seems serious, and exotic, and a tad highbrow. The last thing one would associate with it is humor.

Enter Korea. This country has taken influences from Japan, China and the Western world and put its own quirky spin on them. For all we know, fun and whimsy may be how Korea has weathered the storms of its history.

The country had a troubled past. There were conflicts to deal with, both external and internal. Geographically, it was stuck—sandwiched between China and Japan—and over the centuries it was bullied and battered incessantly one or other of these two neighbors. In the past 5 millennia, Korea was attacked and invaded a whopping 998 times! As if that wasn’t enough drama to grapple with, there were inner upheavals as well, which eventually broke and shattered the nation in two.

But laughter is cathartic. Throughout the centuries Koreans have used humor as a fortress to shelter their innate optimism, as an antidote to misery, and as a way to break free from what confines them.

A Korean king may have used a 14-faced die like this one to inject some comedy at work, probably in some version of truth-or-dare. Each side contained instructions for some kind of dare, like “make a funny face,” “dance silently” or “down three cups of liquor in one gulp.”

Chinese stone lion

Korean stone lion

Take the mythical beasts that we would find standing on guard outside palaces. The ones in China look ferocious, kind of like the gargoyles in Medieval churches, with their glaring frowns. These figures are meant to inspire fright. But the Korean versions are actually quite… cute. They’ve got gentle eyes and goofy toothy smiles.

They’re so round and adorable that we’d actually want to hug them, despite the fact that they’re made of stone.

Monument for a king's umbilical cord

It’s is probably only in Korea that one would find a monument built for a King’s umbilical cord and placenta. It’s not so odd to find turtles in tomb markers (they’re as ubiquitous as crosses and angels in cemeteries in the west), but none have the gentle smile that the one here has.

Frog crawling out of a stone planter

In a garden in Changdeok palace, there are a lot of these stone planters, and in some of them, we’d see frogs coming in and out of a pot, probably in search of their princesses.

Common folk in Korea used to carve their own changsung or spirit posts to protect against bad spirits. It seems that scare tactics were replaced by bids to win over the evil by making them laugh with these funny faces.

Upside down house. By Julianne Eirich via Real Simple.

With its history, Koreans could have become a belligerent, hardened, jaded, joyless, and un-spontaneous people, but no! They rallied and fought to keep their naïveté, optimism, and sense of humor. And as they evolved as a people, they acquired certain qualities which developed into an aesthetic that spoke profoundly of their culture’s resilience and grace. This, I think, makes Korea a worthy inspiration for a New Year’s Eve post.

All images via Sungmi Han except where indicated.


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2013 Calendar Roundup

Screen Printed Calendar by humunuku

The last few days of 2012 are upon us and that means it’s time to retire your old calendar and start a new one. I look forward to putting together these calendar posts every year and I swear the newest crop of calendars just keeps getting better. Letterpress, papercut, and silkscreen; these calendars are meant for showing off all year round.

Harvest Calendar by Darling Clementine

The Scandinavian inspired illustrations on Darling Clementine’s 2013 calendar are bright and joyous. I love a calendar with beautiful artwork; it dresses up your wall in a new way every month.

Home 2013 Calendar by Papersheep

If your tastes lean more towards clean and simple this letterpress calendar may be your pick. These line illustrations of various residences explores how we live and how varied the definition of home can be.

Succulent Paper Cut Calendar by Curious Doodles

I love the graphic quality of this extraordinary paper cut calendar by etsy seller curious doodles. This calendar is definitely worthy of framing.

Gold Foil Prisms Calendar by Julia Kostreva

Here’s another modern and clean calendar with a little bit of glitz. San Francisco artist Julia Kostreva has an eye for graphic design and this golden prism calendar showcases her talent to the fullest.

Beer Food by redcruiser

My favourite calendar of the year is this Beer Food one by red cruiser. Every month it suggests a pairing of beer and food. The illustrations are wonderful and the pairings, while sometimes unexpected, are always tempting, like Porter and S’mores.

Zodiac Tea Towel Calendar by hello tenfold

A practical and collectible tea towel calendar makes an excellent housewarming gift. I’m loving this zodiac one by hello tenfold. Use it for drying dishes or hang it on the wall as textile art.

Calendar of Silly Holidays by dirty bandits

I love holidays, even made up ones, and that’s why the calendar of silly holidays is another one of my favourites. Need an excuse to throw a party? This calendar has twelve great excuses to do just that, like “Leisure Suit Day” and “Name Your Car Day”.

Vortex Letterpress Calendar by Ink + Wit

Lastly is this stunning calendar featuring beautifully rendered illustrations depicting scenes from all over the world. This calendar is a limited edition and doubles as gorgeous wall art.

Hope you’re making the most of 2012, and may the coming year be full of all things wonderful!

Happy Friday Everyone!


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A Gem of a Year: Pantone Picks Emerald for 2013


It’s official. According to the style gurus at Pantone, Emerald Green should be the colour we all crave in the New Year.

Image: Times Online

I must admit, I’m not entirely convinced. Last year I wrote about the lauded 2012 hue, Tangerine Tango, which I adore. But I tend to be attracted to warm colours. While I like greens, I have avoided them in my home décor.

Image: Perrywinkle’s Fine Jewelry

I find Emerald to be particularly difficult, because the only thing it reminds me of besides the actual gems (which are lovely, but I can’t afford them) are wild St. Patrick’s Day celebrations (a day upon which fashion is the last thing on anyone’s mind). Thankfully, Pantone’s hue has a little blue to it, so it’s not so in-your-face.

Image: Brunch at Saks

I must admit, it pairs well with bold patterns, the whole becoming more elegant than the sum of its parts.  And, when coupled with pink, it provides a preppy punch to a bedroom.

Image: Doug & Gene Meyer via Nok Hoo Hoozits

As part of a jewel-tone palette, Emerald can be overwhelmingly luxurious. This is the kind of room that I could hibernate in all winter.

Image: Splendid Sass

But I think it is most sophisticated when matched with a pale charcoal grey. You could style this combination to match either a traditional or contemporary home.

Image: Lamps Plus

However, if you are like me and an entirely Emerald room is too much, choosing a few well-chosen accessories will keep you current without breaking the bank.

Image: Capel Rugs

Lamps, throw rugs, pillows, and linens are all great options. It’s not the easiest colour to find right now but my guess is that it will be everywhere in a few months. For example, JC Penny has announced that a Pantone-inspired bedding collection will be released in February, 2013.

Image: Little Green Notebook

If you really want to adopt the gem-like colour, look for lush accent pieces made from the semi-precious stone malachite.

Image: Q Weddings

But if your budget is limited, pick up some Emerald Green vases, which can look as chic as the real thing.

Image: Cocoonwonen.nl on Pinterest

So, does Pantone’s choice leave you green with envy or green around the gills? Will you be adding this colour to your world in 2013?


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