Article of the Week

When to Wordmark? from Print Magazine

Here’s a situation every brand designer comes up against time and again: sometimes the research and vision of a client’s future brand points to a wordmark rather than an icon, or icon & wordmark lockup as a logo. Such was the case in our most recent brand exploration for Descanso Gardens, but that doesn’t mean the question of an icon or other image didn’t come up.

This piece, by Sagi Haviv, is a great rundown of several strong brands that rest on a word rather than an image. I’m of the very same mind and have found myself saying these same words: Creating a symbol can be a great design exercise, but we try to be very disciplined about only developing a symbol when there is a compelling strategic reason to do so. Indeed!

Enjoy.

Case Study: Chevalier’s Books Brand & Identity

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I’m excited to be a part of revitalizing a neighborhood bookstore in their 75th year of operation! Chevalier’s Books is a mainstay of Larchmont Village and beloved by the locals, though they’ve been struggling in the age of Amazon and changing times. Enter new owners and dedicated bibliophiles Darryl Holter and Bert Deixler with great plans, energy and funds, to give Chevalier’s just what it needs to come back in a big way.

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Our main goals with redesigning this store brand was to appeal to everyone who loves books, bookstores, and keeping LA history alive, and give them a comfortable space to shop, meet, and convene for readings and events. The space is inviting and comfortable, with a great selection and an expert staff. We gave them a very literary wordmark, with a sign-off that reiterates their founding year, which is easily versatile enough to adapt for their 75th anniversary. To follow it out, we have matching business cards, gift bookmarks, merchandise bags, and an economically friendly canvas bag.

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For the web site, we wanted to give them all the blogging and writing capabilities they’d need to promote readings, signings, intimate concerts, book club meetings, and membership, bringing some of the store experience online. The wordpress platform is simple enough for employees to update and integrate with social media, and the look packs all the information they need into a very clean, streamlined layout.

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In the first few months after re-opening, Chevalier’s was reporting record sales numbers in the holiday season. I’m excited to see where they take things in the coming years. In the meantime, check them out online!

You don’t need to be a new business to need a new brand & identity. Most of our clients are looking for a refresh & recharge approach, integrating previous efforts seamlessly into an elevated look going forward. If this sounds like just what you need, let’s talk!

Recent Work: A New Look for LA, For Descanso Gardens

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There’s a lot going on over at Descanso Gardens, and we’re excited to watch the transformation! Native and drought-tolerant plants abound in their latest endeavor: a redesign of the Center Circle garden, exhibiting a beautiful low-water landscape.

There are so many good ideas here! I especially like the compact gravel surrounded by rock, transitioning to mulch and grass with broken stones. There are also some lovely color pops in flower and foliage that will eventually spread and cover much of the mulch below. I’m really in love with that paprika yarrow.

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As an accompaniment to the unveiling, Descanso outlines all the steps you can take to reducing water use in your own garden: A New Look for LA, and a field guide to the plants they’re using in their own Center Circle.

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Pick up a copy on your next visit, or download the brochure and field guide here.

See more of our work for Descanso Gardens.

If you’re looking to produce a project like this, or figure out what might be your best bet for engagement with customers, let’s talk, hash it out and make it happen!

Recent Work: Natural Curiosities Product Catalog

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Taking a spin through some of our recent projects, today’s feature is a full-color catalog for Natural Curiosities, a unique art house tucked in the back of the Jensen Building in Echo Park.

Natural Curiosities specializes in producing high-end prints, application art and sculpture to interior designers and home design stores internationally. After undertaking many months of photographing and styling their favorite pieces, we created this 154-page full color catalog, to give their clients a heavy-hitting piece that showcases the full spectrum of their capabilities. At 12″ x 12″ in size, it makes a very effective presentation piece.

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Full-color cover, with a gold-foil stamp on the type.
Interior Spread
First interior spread, a peek into life in the studio.
Product Spread
Product spreads feature full page photos, with related pieces to the right.

Product Spread

Product Spread

Product Spread

We completed this project in 2014, but due to its success as a central piece in a solid marketing plan, a 2nd edition has been ordered for 2015. See more work for Natural Curiosities here.

If you’re looking to produce a project like this, or figure out what might be your own marketing centerpiece that keeps clients coming back, let’s talk, hash it out and make it happen!

We’ve Moved!

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It’s been a long time! I’m sorry, on behalf of our dear little studio, that we’ve been out of touch, but so many things were going on, we just had to focus on them and take a break. But we’re back, and after 10.5 years in Echo Park, parlato design studio has relocated to Montecito Heights in NorthEast LA!

It all started when my partner and I decided it was time to shop for a home—a simple idea that turned into taking on an epic shopping journey, and a roller-coaster escrow, landing us with a fixer renovation. Truly, it’s been like having a 2nd job, and though it has been difficult and stressful, it’s also rewarding and fascinating. I’ve been keeping a chronicle on a blog dedicated to the house if you want a look behind the scenes.

What’s going to change? From a business / client perspective, not too much. We’re still here in LA, still local to our clients, and still helping put great small businesses on the map with smart design strategies. However, we have a lot more yellow in our lives. We’re now a mere stone’s throw from the Gold Line, and fortified with lemons. Let the making of lemonade begin!

You can still contact us by phone or email, same as always.

Recent Work: Descanso Gardens, Appeal 2014

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As we come around to the close of the year, it’s time for one more push for support for Descanso Gardens. This year’s appeal mailing package was printed on French Madero Beach paper, a natural tone with delicate, unobtrusive particulate that puts source materials right in your hands.

This simple-yet-effective mailer includes a letter, a general run-down of what members helped accomplish and what they can look forward to, with a tear-off section that allows for various types of contributions. I’m pleased to hear that Descanso is reporting yet higher commitments than last year. Bravo! See more photos of this project here.

+ See more recent work here.
+ See more of our work for Descanso Gardens here.

Recent Work: The Oak Woodland Opening

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Last week, Descanso Gardens hosted private openings for their newest garden, The Oak Woodland, dedicated to native flora and fauna, on a part of their grounds never before open to the public. This garden is very much in line with the top-of-mind concerns about water conservation, with a contemplative focus on the plants that have co-evolved with our southern California landscape. Following a path that encircles a lake and connects to two other gardens, this space offers closeup views of colorful salvias and coast live oaks, as well as meditative vistas of the san gabriels.

To announce this great unveiling, we created a versatile invite enclosure with a variable insert, showcasing the oaks, and all on natural-tone paper. On site, we created garden entry signs that explain the history of the land up to this point.

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This garden also has a printed field guide, as well as a full-page pdf of all the plants that can be found here. Download a copy and go explore! See more photos of this project here.

+ See more recent work here.
+ See more of our work for Descanso Gardens here.

Recent Work: The Rise, Only at Descanso

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It’s been really hard not to shout about this project all year long, but now that it’s complete: these gala materials have been one of our most fun projects to date! As the only west coast host to The Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns, Descanso set their fundraising gala ahead of the public event as an evening garden wonderland among the carved pumpkin sculptures. We decided to glam it up by printing metallic copper on cream paper, adding an elegant twist to fall festivities.

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The calendar leading up to this exclusive event is a long one, so we got started more than 6 months out with an overall look & feel, and initial commitment materials in the form of an extended letterhead set. Next came a save-the date invite, and eventually the event invitation, finishing up with on-site collateral. We definitely had a budget to keep in mind, and managed to create really beautiful pieces by going 2-color and running together on similar stocks, and layering specialty papers together.

I’m really pleased with how these pieces work together, and Descanso Gardens reported that this gala garnered increased commitments and donations from the previous year.

+ See the complete project here.
+ See more of our work for Descanso Gardens here.

friday fun: word crimes

Weird Al’s newest video is both a typographic and infographic triumph, while also a funny run-down of all the grammar crimes we let slip buy every day. Point taken, Al, perhaps I’ll start capitalizing again. Enjoy!