Movers & Cocktail Shakers at Descanso Gardens

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good cocktail party! Descanso Gardens has been coming up with some really innovative and intimate events, and their latest, Movers & Cocktail Shakers was the kind that puts the fun back in fundraiser.

Held at the historic Boddy House, we celebrated the era of the home through cocktails of the times, headed up by bar director Sean Naughton of LACMA’s Ray’s & Stark Bar. Three handcrafted cocktails told the formative story of the martini and old fashioned through their common ancestor, the martinez, the construction of prohibition-era sours, and the original recipe of the mai thai with hand-pressed almond syrup. Sean told the story of each drink, including interesting info about the ingredients, and gave great mixing advice. After each demo, he taught one volunteer how to make the drink again, so we’d really learn them.

To give some real retro flair to this event, we designed a lockup using period typefaces and used photos of the Boddys as a nod to their home. It’s always fun when you get to depart from current branding to develop a themed look for an event, and this one just happens to be an era I love!

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

Case Study: Character Projects

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I recently had the pleasure of working with my very talented friend, Jonathan Silberman, in helping him launch his latest venture, Character Projects, a vintage lighting and hardware store, period home design services, and real estate specializing in historic homes around northeast LA. This project was very close to my heart, as it took place during our very own search for an arts & crafts-era fixer under Jonathan’s excellent advice and guidance. Talk about getting to know a client’s business! Having first-hand experience allows me to say, without reservation, Jonathan is my top recommendation in all aspects of home restoration with a sensitivity to period accuracy.

Branding for a service business can be tricky, especially one where the customer stewardship will become the most memorable experience for clients. Lucky for the visuals here, Jonathan pairs service with meticulously restored pieces that speak for themselves. At first we created a wordmark that was much more demonstrative of vintage style, but ultimately we decided to back off and go clean and timeless, allowing the products to do the talking.

Cards & Tags
Cards & Tags

Since Jonathan has such rich imagery to show, we went with moo cards, so he could have as many alternate photos as he wants, adding new sets as needed. This business started as an online store, but grew into a physical studio within a few months. Jonathan picked out some nice tags for pricing and product info, and we worked up some stamps he could use in marking these and other materials, such as tissue, stickers and shipping packages.

We gave him a site that allows for changing content on the home page, while putting a spotlight on each of his services on separate pages. His store links directly to Etsy, where he enjoys the overlap of social shopping with targeted demographics there, so all he has to maintain is changing content, which is easy and intuitive on the WordPress platform. Once his site was up, he was all ready to start promoting the opening of his store in Highland Park.

Character Projects is off to a great start, with a small but effective package of identity materials to help Jonathan grow his business. Visit Character Projects online and dare yourself not to consider remodeling your home.

+ See the full project here.
+ Read more case studies here.

If you’re just starting a new business, you’ve got a clean slate to take it in any direction. A starter branding package can get any new venture off the ground, targeting the right materials for promotion without anything you don’t need. Say hello anytime and let us know how we can help.

Case Study: Rebranding Descanso Gardens

Main Identity Set

It started innocently enough, with a simple request to create a set of rules around using their wordmark and design a style guide around it. Just a guiding document for internal departments and external contractors to follow for a consistent presentation of all Descanso Gardens print matter. As with many things, though, that which appears simple has many unanticipated questions and discussions ahead, so we started as we always do, with discovery!

In this case, we did a full identity audit of the past few years of print matter, sorted by type [main stationery set, organization communications, membership campaigns, fundraising efforts, field guides, event collateral, signage], mounted to boards and affixed to the walls for all decision-makers to review and discuss. There’s nothing like seeing everything you’ve put out into the world all in one place to really see what works and what doesn’t. My approach is to collect everything and prepare the boards, along with best recommendations ahead of time, then present to the group and see where the discussion goes. Separately, we did a brand audit interview worksheet for stakeholders to fill out separately, to make sure the forward look of the organization was in line with the mission and the values of their membership. This is often where the best insider advice comes out, when people have the chance to speak anonymously.

Much of their core identity was very strong, it just needed a bit of refinement and standardization. Descanso Gardens’ main mission is to steward the land left by the Boddy estate, which includes in greatest number an impressive collection of camellias and native oak trees. We revised the leaf cluster used previously to reflect those of coast live oaks, and gave them a simple boxed wordmark in their signature green that keeps visual continuity with their previous setup. For social media, everything is further simplified, but the 3 elements are all there.

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Expanding to the full identity set, we have a standard logo setup, address lockup, leaf cluster placements for bleeds and non-bleeds alike. Descanso previously used an extended color palette reflective of the 4 seasons, which we modestly updated and applied to the business cards, specialty communications and membership campaigns.

Finally, the set was complete, and guidelines could be compiled into a style guide. We’ve covered everything from the basics of logo usage and type styles to organizational messaging and positioning. For the in-house departments, we have the basics of 1-sheet and flyer layouts, and for off-site contractors we have lock-ups and callouts and color specs for all color spaces.

Style Guide

We’re really pleased with how everything turned out, and looking forward to seeing how they use it in the coming years.
+ See more of our work for Descanso Gardens here.
+ Read more case studies here.

Is it time to whip your identity into shape? A brand & identity audit can get everything on track and moving in the right direction, and it also happens to be what we do. Say hello anytime and let us know how we can help.

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.

Cover
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 left.

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!

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

Recent Work: Center Circle Identity

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The Center Circle members at Descanso Gardens are a special sector of supporters who donate at a premium and highly value the grounds they help protect. In turn, Descanso has a selection of events, a personalized welcome kit and focused communications that require a unique identity reflective of this group.

We built an identity for Center Circle collateral around one of the main colors in their extended palette and tied it into one of Descanso’s specialties: cherry blossoms. In addition to a stationery set, the welcome kit includes tips on all the ways to maximize the membership experiences, delivers membership cards, and contains a personal note from the director.

See more of our work for Descanso Gardens.