City Design Itineraries: Chicago and San Francisco

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Whenever I visit a new city, I tend to approach my itinerary with design in mind — What are the city’s most beautifully designed hotels, restaurants, and attractions? Where can I shop for art and design-centric items? For those travelers who do the same, I’ve created a few weekend itineraries for Paste, starting with Chicago and San Francisco. Stay tuned for more city guides.

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Design Blogging for Paste Magazine

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I started regularly blogging for the Design section of Paste several months ago. Most of the posts are pretty short newsy blurbs, like this one about Wes Anderson posters, and this one about a special edition of Field Notes. And then, inspired by some of my friends who are new parents, I pitched a little round-up of stuffed animals that even adults would love. It turned out to be one of the section’s most popular stories from the last six months. Check it out right here.

Sign Language.

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For this week’s City Paper cover story, I tracked down some of Charleston’s old-school sign painters. This was no easy task, because many of the painters have retired.

Created by a small and informal guild of specialty artists, these signs represent an art form that’s slowly fading away as its practitioners settle into retirement. Business was better for them years ago when hand-painted signs dominated the streetscape, but these days they’re in the minority — and they’re becoming increasingly rare. Most modern businesses opt for cheaper and easier vinyl lettering and digital printing, but there are still a few painters who work to keep the old methods alive. And they hope to pass their skills on to a new generation when they finally do hang up their paintbrushes.

You can read the full story here.

(P.S. The article was inspired by this highly recommended book/documentary.)

Soaking It In.

Design Sponge founder Grace Bonney is just as cool/sweet/smart as she seems. We chatted about her favorite spaces, the evolution of her own aesthetic, and design trends that have run their course.

“I so don’t want anyone to put a bird on anything ever again,” she laughs, referring to an episode of IFC series Portlandia where people are encouraged to “put a bird on” anything to make it more stylish. “I think it’s funny how that saying in Portlandia has sort of revived the bird trend. I think it was finally at its last gasp, and then when that came back, I think people started using that as an excuse to slap birds on anything again under the guise of being ironic, but I think people just kicked the trend back into gear … I think irony in design is a little overused right now. I think it’s sort of a disguise for laziness in the design work.”

Here’s the full interview.