Welcome Back, Sunshine.

I’m determined to greet the new year with a positive attitude and optimistic outlook. Those that know me may be like “what else is new?” (admittedly, I have an annoying habit of keeping it sunny an inordinate amount of the time already). Still, I choose to be additionally deliberate in cultivating a genuinely happy and hopeful disposition. The video I’m sharing today does just that. This flash mob at Heathrow airport was selected as the British Arrow Awards winner for “Best Television Commercial of the Year”. Some may say it borders on cheeky and teeters at the edge of sap, but I can’t get enough. Created by Saatchi & Saatchi London and director Henry-Alex Rubin for T-Mobile UK. (Full screen, please, with the sound up.)

Today’s Track – 20 Dollars, Angie Stone

Is anyone else feeling a little light in the pocketbook after a spectacular bout of Holiday shopping shenanigans? Perhaps the fact that a routine furnace inspection two days after Christmas morphed into a dreaded “red tag” (which, it turns out, is a very bad thing), thus necessitating a quite ill-timed purchase of a new boiler. Makes me think of this piece of seemingly effortless soul. Quietly bluesy, achingly honest and smolderingly smart.  20 Dollars by Angie Stone from the album Mahogany Soul, 2001.

Charitable Cheers

This season, local advertising agency Colle + McVoy released the “All-Set Card Set”; a limited edition collection of letter-pressed greeting cards. Featuring a copywriter’s sensibility and a typographer’s touch, they’re unlike anything you’re likely to find at retail these days. Extra perks? 100% of the sales are donated to the United Way. And they’ll even set up automated e-mail reminders so you never miss an occasion. $14.99/ set of 8, including: Happy Holidays • Thank You • Birthday • Valentines Day • Congrats • Fathers Day • Mothers Day • Wedding •

New Year, New Calendar

I know that we all have calendars built into our various electronic devices, but somehow, this doesn’t stop me from needing several paper versions scattered around my home and office. I even go through an annual tradition in which I think it would be a good idea to have a Lotta Jansdotter tea towel version. This coveting evokes a yearly intervention by my friend Amy, who sees a high level of absurdity in my desire and puts the kibosh on the idea. But this year, the rebel in me just had to do it. And as I was about to add the lovely textile to my shopping cart, I noticed the fine print: SOLD OUT. Sigh. Maybe next year. Until then, I’ll be quite satisfied with an assortment of these fine options…

Pistachio Press – Letterpress Cross Stitch Calendar, $31
Pistachio Press (expanded view)
Loria McKee – CD Style Desk Calendar, $15
Loria McKee Calendar (expanded view)
Fabien Barral + Lettera Magical Letterpress Calendar, approx $59
Fabien Barral + Lettera Magical Letterpress Calendar (detail)
Fabien Barral + Lettera Magical Letterpress Calendar (detail)
Fabien Barral + Lettera Magical Letterpress Calendar (detail)
Rifle Paper Botanical Wall Calendar, $27.95
Rifle Paper Botanical Wall Calendar (expanded view)
Typodarium 366 Fonts Daily Calendar, approx $24
Typodarium 366 Fonts Daily Calendar (detail)
Snow & Graham Grid Calendar, $27.95
Snow & Graham Grid Calendar (expanded view)
Kate Spade Wall Calendar, $26
Blushface I Will Be Calendar, $22
Blushface I Will Be Calendar (expanded view)
Blushface I Will Be Calendar (expanded view)
Paper Source Letterpress Desk Calendar, $18
Paper Source Letterpress Desk Calendar (expanded view)
Edubarba Spanish Poster Calendar, approx $13.50
Edubarba Numbers Poster Calendar, approx $16
Jolly Good Fellow UrbanCal Helsinki Calendar, $30
Jolly Good Fellow UrbanCal Helsinki Calendar (detail)
Jolly Good Fellow UrbanCal Helsinki Calendar (expanded view)

Festive Holiday Mini-Films

T’was the day before Christmas Eve, and all through the house, we were so busy wrapping – yes, even my spouse. Somehow, though, it doesn’t seem quite as glamorous as this Kate Spade video, nor as artfully crafted as the Not Design & Chronicle Books videos…  Wishing you all a festive holiday weekend, filled with family, friends and frolicking good fun!

Today’s Track – Carol of the Bells, Bird and the Bee

I couldn’t help serving up a little more Chistmas fare, just in time for the holiday weekend ahead. This moody bit of alt chill is likely not getting it’s fair share of playtime this season. Carol of the Bells by The Bird and the Bee, 2007.

Interior Trends: Fall/Winter 2012-2013

One of my favorite trend forecasting companies for Home Interiors and Kid’s Lifestyle is the UK’s Trend Bible. I adore their pragmatic approach and unpretentious attitude, but mostly I appreciate the fact that they consistently get it right. So, here are the directions they’re predicting in interior lifestyles for the cozy seasons in 2012-2013.

Getting the Holidays all Wrapped Up

Hopefully, you’ve got the bulk of your holiday shopping behind you and are moving into phase 2: the official gift beautification process. Through which – if done correctly, can lift even the most mundane of presents (did my hubby really ask Santa for deodorant?) to the sublime. Here are a few lovely contenders to get you started…

Smock Paper Mistletoe double-sided gift wrap, $8/2 sheets
Smock Paper Pagent double-sided gift wrap, $8/2 sheets
Marimekko Praliini Silver Gift Wrap, $7.95/roll
Oopsy Daisy - Handprinted kraft wrap, $4.50
Paper Source Red Winter Berries gift wrap, $2.50/sheet, $7.95/roll
Target Blue Green Holiday Pattern gift wrap. $2.50/roll
Target Modern Ornaments gift wrap, $2.50/roll
Whimsy Press Modern Wonderland double-sided gift wrap, $4.50/sheet
Winter Trees recycled gift wrap, $7.95/roll
Whimsy Press Festive Forrest double-sided gift wrap, $4.50/sheet
Emily Hogarth UK Christmas Robin gift wrap, approx. $3.25/sheet
Heidi Pine Cone gift wrap $9.99/4 sheets
Heidi Dovey gift wrap, $9.99/4 sheets

Designer Gift Giving

Usually when people talk about designer products they mean luxury fare with exorbitant price tags. I had something different in mind… Here are a few gift ideas for the designer types in your life. (As always, click to shop!)

Helveticards (detail), $10/deck
Helveticards
Plastique - KERN Ring Set, $13
Nick Schmitz - I Heart Typography 14" x 20" Letterpress Print, $22
Artefacture - Will Pay for Good Design T-Shirt, $28
Objectified DVD - A Documentary Film on Product Design, $8.49
Inhabit - Eames Chair Pillow, 18" x 18", $58
Plastique - Command Z Necklace, $19
Asien - T-Shirt (Letters form the Asian continent in German. Random!) $30.74
Geekware - Apple MacBook Cufflinks, $59.95

Today’s Track – I Wonder, Spherical

I don’t know about you, but I could use a break from holiday music. It’s quite possible that I’ve been spending a wee bit too much time in retail environments, and the remixes of “Santa Baby” are starting to get old. Enter Spherical‘s “I Wonder” (Not to be confused with “I Wonder as I Wander”, “Winter Wonderland”, et al…): a groovy cut of downtempo electronica out of Hamburg, Germany that you can still bake cookies to. Give it a go. I Wonder by Spherical, 2009.

It’s Child’s Play

An eclectic collection of design-influenced holiday gifts for shorties.

One of my favorite brands, for girls and boys alike, is Zolo. They make tons of tremendously awesome kid’s products with a designer’s flair. I’m featuring one of their building sets – sort of a “Legos meet the Art Museum” kind of a thing.

Zolo - Zolo-a-go-go Building Set, $39.97
Zolo-a-go-go (detail)

I was big into books as a child. While I had an enormous collection of truly unique titles, none stands out as much as Arm in Arm, by Remy Charlip. This imaginative romp, which the New York Times described as “verbal and visual witticisms… as joyfully illustrated as it is absurd.” was first published in 1969. Luckily, this playfully wacky ’60’s triumph been reissued in paperback.

Arm in Arm, by Remy Charlip, $8.99
Arm in Arm (Interior Spread)
Arm in Arm (Interior Spread)
Arm in Arm (Detail)

In a word (or four): the world’s best dolls. In a market where unattainable perfection and slutty biotches take up an absurd amount of shelf space, Groovy Girls still stand out as the most innovative, playful, trendy friends a little lady (or lad) could have. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I am totally biased, as I served as the VP Creative at Manhattan Toy – the company that designs and produces these fabulous products – for a few years.) Groovy Girls are special. These relatable, yet still aspirational, little treasures have an unique appeal. I’ve watched as children – from ages 2 to 10 – engage endlessly with them, never seeming to tire of “playing Groovy Girls”.

Groovy Girls Dreamtastic Soft Dolls, $20 each
Groovy Girls Fashions, $12 each
Groovy Girl Doll $13, Accessories $12-$13
Groovy Girl Furniture, $22-$35

Designed by Minneapolis’ own Sharon Werner and Sara Forss of Werner Design Werks, Alphabeasties is a typographers delight – oh, and it plays well with children too.

Alphabeasties Book, sale $8.81 (regularly$19.99)
Alphabeasties (detail)
Alphabeasties (detail)

And for the electronic generation, a charming & design-y new app for iPad and iPhone, designed and developed right here in Minneapolis. Monster Coloring Book features 150 different monsters kids can design using colors, patterns, stickers and other cool stuff.

Monster Coloring Book App, $2.99
Monster Coloring Book (detail)
Monster Coloring Book (detail)

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And finally, a tried and true design-led approach to gift giving. Simply provide the tools to inspire little minds to explore, imagine and create. I like that this set has pencils, paint and oil pastels, and that it can be toted around and stored easily. A high-quality, wire-o bound sketchbook is the ideal complement.

Color and Co Young Artist 68 Piece Discovery Set, $34.75
Strathmore 9x12 Wire-o Bound Sketchbook, $10.95

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