Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Design: The Chenault Life Blog Redesign

This past weekend I finalized the redesign of my awesome sister-in-law's blog, The Chenault Life. Sarah was an AMAZING and easy client. She had an elegant, modern, and fun inspiration board that led the process, but she was also open to many of the creative ideas I dreamed up. This is officially my first blog design (other than mine, of course). We worked on a simple, organic pattern based on a fabric that Sarah fell in love with, and kept the header really simple with a lot of white space. When you visit her blog don't just look at the design, you should check out her blog posts too. The Chenault Life is a fun, down-to-earth, creative blog that is worth the read :)

I cannot wait for Sarah to move to Chicago next year...
I see guest blogging in our future :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pigeons, Illustration and the Moving Image

This past Sunday while Reid was reading the NYT Magazine, I caught a brief glimpse of a striking information graphic where illustrated birds were used to represent famous tweeters and their influence. As soon as Reid put the magazine down, I ran over to investigate. The graphic was done by the famous and incredibly talented La Tigre, from Italy. If you aren't familiar with his work you should be. His designs are always beautiful and almost always embody a touch of playfulness.
La Tigre via NYT

As I was exploring his site, I noticed his new self promotional video (seen below or here). I have such a soft spot for pigeons. But even if you hate the dirty, little pests the video is very worth watching. Hope you enjoy!

Tales From The Basement from LA TIGRE on Vimeo.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Inspiration Overload: Abstract Patterns by Wanda Kamarga

 Oh my goodness...

Today while doing my daily inspiration search on pinterest, I stumbled upon the above watercolor pattern by Wanda Kamarga. When I clicked over to her blog/website, I was instantly hooked. Wanda seems like a seriously creative, renaissance lady. I love her style, her art, her design and her ambition. Plus the yellow pattern really made my day!!! Below are a couple of other patterns from her site. They are beautiful!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chena Website Redesign is Up and Running!!!

It's official...
The Chena Design website is up and running! It has been a long project-in-the-making, and I am beyond-thrilled to introduce it to you! I hope you enjoy and a VERY Happy Friday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wrapped in Web!!!

My deepest apologies for being incredibly MIA lately. I needed to spend some time catching up with all sorts of design projects. Plus, I have been neck-deep in the final stages of my website redesign. It is REALLY almost done. Well, in all honesty, it is done. I am just tweaking one minor, last minute technical thing – I found out today that I need an updated server. Oops...

Web design ruled my world today and, honestly, I have a HUGE headache from it all. The technical side of stuff is not my forte. Instead I like to focus on the beautiful details of things. Take for example the above images of hand-crocheted spider webs from alovelything. Aren't they gorgeous?  I wish I knew the artist, and I wish I could see these in person. In my eyes, these webs are much more beautiful than all the code I looked at today.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Beauty of Natural Light

Over the weekend, Reid and I took the first baby steps towards buying our first home. We are (or I should say were) both a little intimidated by the whole process, and so we decided that for our first time out we would just stop by a couple of open houses in one of our favorite neighborhoods. Turns out that looking at homes is a lot of fun! We saw about five houses yesterday, and the daydreaming that came with it was wonderful.

We saw one home in particular that I cannot get out of my head. Why? Because it had an amazing little studio space with TONS of natural light. I didn't realize that crazy amounts of natural light was on my wish-list, but turns out it is. So, I have been aimlessly daydreaming about how my day-to-day work life would change if I had a plethora of natural light streaming in.

Here are some pics that only encourage my wishful thinking. Enjoy!

Wowzers! I could work really long days here...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Design: Lauren & Sam's Save the Date

Lauren and Sam emailed me a few months ago about designing their winter wedding save-the-dates. After exchanging just a couple of emails, I knew that Lauren and Sam were going to be a joy to work with! Their wedding sounded right up my alley – they are getting married in an "urban chic" gallery space in Chicago. Lauren wanted something modern with a twist of tradition that also incorporated her elegant color palette of rose and charcoal. I had a blast designing their photo save-the-dates, and am really looking forward to working with this awesome couple on all of their stationery. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Perfect Camera Bag

One of my main goals since starting this blog, is to actively document my life and the inspirations I find while living it. So, for Christmas Reid gave me an adorably tiny camera that I can carry with me always. This camera has made photographing my life so much easier. Before it's presence in my life, I used my iPhone for everything, but was disappointed with the resolution. This camera is the exact same size as my phone, but is a master at high-quality, quick photos. But because it is so small and my normal purse is SO big, I almost always struggle to find my camera. Not to mention, it gets beat up by everything else in my bag including keys, lipstick, pencils, etc. Which means, I am currently on the hunt for a good camera bag. Here is what I have found so far...

 These are my favorite, but there is only a holiday themed case on Hine's etsy site right now :(

This one is cute and simple. Plus I LOVE coffee!

This is another favorite. As you can tell from the picture it is for an iPod, but my camera is about the same size. Would it work?

Another iPod case. Cute, understated, pink houndstooth. 

Last, another favorite, the vintage feed bag coin purse. I think it would hold my camera, right? I may have to run over to Renegade this weekend to see for sure. This could be the winner if all works out.

Do you have any recommendations or ideas?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Inspiration Overload: A Natural Wedding

Farmers Market Wedding - simply stunning!!!
Hands-down, one of the best things about my job as a stationery designer is my clients! It is so important to me to develop a relationship with each one of them so they get exactly what they envision. I want them to be an integral part of the design process.

When I get a new client, we normally start by discussing  in detail (over coffee or dessert) their dreams, desires and inspirations about their special day, whether it is a wedding, the birth of a baby, or a simple celebration. We look at pictures, talk about favorite things, establish likes and dislikes, etc. It is truly fun and instantly helps me gain inspiration.

I recently met Jill, who is getting married this summer at a California vineyard (jealous!). She let me know before we even met that her ideas where all over the place, and she really wanted to narrow down her vision. After meeting with her on a brisk afternoon and discussing all her likes and dislikes over hot tea, we finally narrowed down what was important to her (and her fiance) for their wedding.

The main words she kept saying: Natural, Farmers Market, Fun, Rustic, Whimsical...

This sounded like a perfect wedding that was right up my alley. I ran home (ok, walked and then took the train, but you get the point) and starting looking at images for an inspiration board for Jill. I compiled the images on a pinterest board (you can see the whole board here). Below are some of my favorites so far.

image via

Oh, Martha, you have done it again!
So pretty and delicate!

Handwritten and Beautiful
I can't wait to show you the entire wedding suite once we are complete!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chicago: as the Focal Point

I am still soaking in the fact that we are staying in Chicago! And I am barely staying afloat this week with all sorts of new, exciting and fun design projects. Plus it's the end of another term at school which means grading, grading and more grading. So, I thought I would just share some beautiful design pieces that focus on my hometown: Chicago. (I just love saying that). Enjoy!

From the Amazing Starshaped Press

I really love the simple beauty of Chicago. This beauty can be found on etsy.

Love it!

Wish I knew the illustrator here, but I found it on Pinterest (my new fav place)!

Another cutie from etsy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chicago is Where the Heart Is...

image via

You know the saying, "Home is Where the Heart Is"? Well, after many debates, discussions, pro and con lists, and some tears; Reid and I have decided to stay in Chicago. We are very excited that we have finally made our first long-term decision. I LOVE the city of Chicago and am thrilled to call it home!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Letters of Doyald Young

Can you believe this was done with pencil? (1966)

As I was researching typography for today's post I found out that the typography great, Doyald Young, passed away yesterday. I am terribly saddened by his passing, but know that his beautiful letterforms will live on for generations, and continue to inspire letter lovers like myself.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Design Process: Baby Dewar Monogram

Last week, I was involved in a sketch workshop with current graphic design students at Westwood College. A bunch of instructors (myself included) gave quick presentations about our creative   process. It was quite stimulating to see how others work and really got my creative juices flowing.

Since then, I have been thinking a lot about the fact that I should share my hand-lettering process to others. So here it is. My first "Design Process" post...

Right before the new year, a friend from high school emailed me about a custom monogram for her "soon-to-be" baby girl's nursery. She wanted something cute and feminine to put on the wall above her crib. I was thrilled at the opportunity to create a large-scale monogram and grabbed my pencil and tracing paper immediately.

My design process for monograms goes a little like this...

Step 1: frantically research letters
I typically start by searching on the internet, in books I own, and from the letters that I see around Chicago. I also look at font foundries, historic monograms, and random samples of handwriting. Some of my previous posts have actually been examples of the monograms I find during my explorations.

Step 2: Figure out letter structure and relationships
It means a lot to me that the letters in my monograms "love" each other. Basically, I want the letters to flow in and out of each other seamlessly – as if they have formed a special connection with each other. So, I spend lots of time figuring out what makes a letter special and unique, and how the letters can structurally work together.

Step 3: Sketch Sketch Sketch
I then begin serious sketching. We are talking tons and tons of tracing paper, and lots of pencil sharpening and erasing. I work best with a super sharp pencil! And, I do most of my lettering by hand (which includes tiny tweaks and changes) before I move to the computer.

From these sketches, I normally send a client around three pencil roughs, so they can choose a style and direction to move forward with. Below are the examples from Ashley's monogram...

Step 4: Finesse the Letters
After talking to the client about the pencil roughs, I have a better direction of where to go to suit their needs. I make the last few tweaks (which normally take me a long time, but, hey, I am a perfectionist, or in my husband's words, I have "obsessive lettering tendencies").

Step 5: Digitize the Monogram
Once the final pencil rough is approved, I move to the computer. Since I do so much of my drawing by hand, this step is normally pretty speedy. At the end, we have a final vectorized monogram that can be used at any size and anywhere.

Ashley's nursery wall is a grayish purple, and we laser-cut the monogram on white vinyl. The final size is about 3 feet square. Ashley is hoping to put the monogram on the wall this weekend and I cannot wait to see pictures. Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Found Monogram: Laurens Girard's Aristocratic Monogram

Last weekend Reid and I went to the Art Institute of Chicago to check out the new Kings, Queens, and Courtiers exhibit. I was instantly drawn to all of the illuminated manuscripts and early printed books, but after awhile I discovered the above monogram from 15th century France. The image does not do it justice. Imagine a dimly lit room filled with old French aristocratic paintings and books, and then this glass roundel backlit on the wall. It was like a tiny glowing orb pulling me in to look closer. While the ladies holding the letters are not my cup of tea, the monogram itself is completely mesmerizing. Beautiful!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Doily Trend?

I am going out on a limb here, but unlike everyone else, I like Melissa Leo's doily inspired dress by Marc Bouwer. Of course, I don't know if it is a great Oscar gown and I think it would look a LOT better short, but I like the big bold doily-inspired lace. Below is a picture from Bouwer's Fall 2011 Look Book. Pretty awesome, huh?

Maybe it's just me, but I am totally digging lacy doilies lately in both fashion and design. What do you think about the new trend?

I saw this dress a couple of weeks ago in Miami at BCBG, and I instantly fell in love. The doily detailing is stunning. In my opinion, it would be the perfect dress for an outdoor rural wedding.

I am not sure I would ever need or want to stencil my windows, but I thought this was a neat and unique way to use a lace design.

Lights + doilys = beautiful and simple decoration. Love it!

Oh Martha, how do you make it look so easy? Martha Stewart has so many beautiful doily inspired ideas.  We can make most of them ourselves when we find the time, right? Above are beautiful lace votives. You can find out how to make them here.

These doily-inspired place mat and center-pieces are also from Martha.

And... I wanted to end with my favorite. What a great liner idea for invitations, right? I am so inspired by these liners and hope that I can find a bride in the future who will let me design something similar!

Boy, doilies have come a long way since the elementary school days when I had to make Valentines cards out of paper doilies.