Well-designed websites are a good thing. I’ve surfed my fingers to the bone over the past few years, only to find that most websites I come across are either too flashy, wordy, boring, noisy (eek!), ugly, bare, unprofessional, ad-based, or pop-up insane. I know it’s hard to build a website, not to mention expensive and a big burden to maintain, so my heart goes out to those that require one to build a business. I have to give props to all that do invest in a good web presence. When I do come across sites that are designed well on all levels, I instantly bookmark them and return again and again. I guess it gets back to the Blueprint discussion we had earlier. If something is well designed, it attracts attention, even if you’re not exactly sure what it is about it that lures you in the first place.
I think we should have a little ‘best website’ shout out. I’d love it if you’d cast your votes. I’m talking about content, usability, beauty… I’d like to see how you define a well designed website. I already have some in mind, but for now, I’ll refrain from my list and just share one that I’m voting as a top 10 site. Hands down, Rock Paper Scissors designed by genius design studio Breviloquent, totally rocks. I’m not a fan of the sound they have on their home page because people do surf when they should be working and man it’s scary and embarrassing when you forget to turn off the sound and loud music or other misc. sounds start streaming out of your computer. Busted! But, outside of the typing sounds (I like them but again, a web designer has to think about people who surf on the job), Rock Paper Scissors has a clean modern vibe that I’m totally feeling. They’re easy to navigate and have some fabulous product shots.
If anyone is reading this and has a website of their own, I have one pleading suggestion. If you have a website as well as a brick and mortar store, pahleeese put photos of the interior and exterior of your storefront somewhere on your website, preferably under location or contact. I can’t tell you how much consumers appreciate seeing a store in advance. It also helps me to identify it when I’m driving down the street with a big map in hand.
What are your favorite well-designed websites?
(images from rock paper scissors)
I’ve been straight out all day working on a few projects, so forgive me for going MIA. When I peeked at my inbox a few minutes ago, I was so overjoyed to see an email from the Nama Rococo wallpaper studio because they are one of my top favorite new American paper designers. There are so many patterns out of London and Paris that appeal to me, but with the growing number of American designers stepping up, design in this country is raising eyebrows all over the world. The attention is starting to turn towards our shores because let’s face it, when it comes to design, America is only getting hotter.
Nama Rococo is one of those companies that at first glance, you may say, “They must be from Paris or Berlin” because their designs are bold, some may call them over the top, a little edgy, very Euro apartment/Elle Decor UK posh. Only after browsing their website do you discover that Nama Rococo is actually designed in Massachusetts (yeah!). Again, a common misconception that boutique style wallcovering would only come from abroad. Things are a changin’ – amazing design is suddenly closer to home.
To learn more about Nama Rococo, visit their website. The above shot shows their French Dot paper in Ooh-La Black featuring “watercolor like” one-of-a-kind hand painting overprinted with black repeat. Love that it’s shown on screens vs. on the wall. Perfect solution for apartment dwellers that need mobile focal points. At $180 per sheet (25″ x 38″), you can paper one wall or a few screens and viola! you have art and a decadent focal point.
(image from nama rococo)
Like me, I’m sure most of you are eagerly awaiting the next issue of Blueprint magazine, due to release in a few short (ahem!) months. When I first flipped through the premiere, I was intriqued and even excited on some levels, divided on many others, but one strong feature made it stand out to me, the swirly ornate typefaces. I read reviews on various websites and blogs, some called them “cluttered”, “fillers to make up for lack of content”, and “unimaginative”. I’m willing to stand up in defense of Blueprint, I think the swirly curly type made the issue.
As someone majorly drawn to cursive handwriting, I sing in praise of the various types found in Blueprint and feel as though the real charm of the magazine centered around them. Afterall, like a design blog, a good design magazine should be beautiful, right?
No matter how many magazines, blogs, or popular stores try to sway me, I’m not buying into the lifestyle promoting only clean modern design. Yes, I enjoy it on many levels, and pepper my home with nooks that are very clean and quite modern. I’m even an avid reader of Dwell and Architectural Digest. But, despite the attraction, I can’t fully commit to pure modern design because I rather fancy my random piles of projects on my desk and the jars of stamps and buttons and spools that I collect on my shelf. I couldn’t live without a fresh stack of dog-earred magazines positioned on the floor, waiting to be held and loved. My antique linens, porcelin vases from Germany, and porcelin teacups given to me by my husband mean so much. My home is not a DWR showroom and I’m certainly not a minimalist. I’m not even 100% sold on mid-century modern design either, although I do enjoy many parts of it. On the flip side, a home that is completely decked out in traditional, french farmhouse, shabby chic, or packed to the rim with clutter or loaded with lace and antiques would make me jump in my car and drive off the end of the earth. Where does this leave a girl?
I guess if I have to categorize, I am a lover of Vintage Modern. Not the Target line by Thomas O’Brien, but the combination of old meets new. And much like the design I enjoy in my home, you’ll also find it in my wardrobe, combining modern low rise jeans with vintage-inspired blouses and velvet blazers with satin piping. To take this even further, I’ve figured out that this is exactly why the Blueprint typeface captivated me on so many levels. It’s clean, classic yet modern, feminine, old-fashioned, and charming – all rolled into one. Not so clean that it lacked character. Not so curly that words were illegible. It was just right.
If you’re a graphic designer, you’ll really appreciate this. Sure, I did way more research on Blueprint typefaces than I needed to, but here’s what I unearthed. Fans of typography rejoice and read In Use: Flight For Blueprint Magazine, a short but sweet article written by the folks over at Font Shop dishing about the typefaces used in Blueprint along with photos, descriptions, and links for purchasing them (fling, falstaff, filosofia, kursivschrift (which has its roots in German mapmaking), and the gorgeously lavish missionary font).
Did all of this make you think a little about typefaces and have you given much thought to which ones lure you in? If so, good… It’s always enlightening to have an aha! moment. Honestly, until Blueprint hit the stands, I had never really thought much about this subject, but now that I have, it’s fascinating to see how closely it relates to my overall design aesthetic.
Ah. The power of a good photographer. Showing you the beauty that lies in the ordinary. The strength of the mundane. Have you ever heard of Jennifer Causey? If not, visit her etsy store called photobird. She creates cards and prints from her Brooklyn abode that free the soul, stimulate the senses, stir the heart. And I bet for her, it comes so easy. I’m sure she’s a natural, you can just tell.
Jennifer comments, “These works represent my continuous journey to live simply.” She adds, “To slow down and discover and celebrate the beauty in everyday life. I am inspired by nature, design, form and color.”
Jennifer stays true to her mantra, clearly evident in her photography. I can totally see her shooting for Real Simple or Martha Stewart Living. Maybe she does, who knows. I’m smitten by her style. Positively smitten.
(images copyright 2006 photobird)