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


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.


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.


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


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.

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!

We’ve Moved!


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


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


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.


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

Recent Work: The Rise, Only at Descanso


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.


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!

creative inspiration: expand your brand touchpoints

i’ve been looking at some beautiful brand systems lately and i’m really itching to create one with all kinds of tools, gifts and clever industry aids. we fetishize these lovely spreads, but they don’t have to be designed from the ground up. if it’s time for a brand refresh, revising a list of touchpoints and applying a theme in-line with your mission is a great next project. we’ve written about how to brainstorm and build a list of brand touchpoints before, but i thought i’d post some selections that i think really carry a strong theme, and have potential for great add-ons.

device stationery


a simple example to start with, device creative collaborative’s stationery set. aside from a really bold design, this set is also rather interactive, with some nice surprises like a printed envelope liner for recipients of mailed items. they also have a designed worksheet with a custom punch, which looks like it might use some nice industrial binder. some of these items are clearly props, but it’s a starter set for so much more! we see everything together here, but in the client experience, they might get a business card upon first meeting, a nice mailer follow-up, project notes on the custom worksheets, and custom invoices in these awesome envelopes. see the full set at

idlewild books


this spread for idlewild books is a great rendition of library and vintage office ephemera with a travel twist. the stationery is full of surprises with color blocks on the back of the first sheet, a stripe down the 2nd sheet, and a converted envelope which allows for a topographic texture inside. little add-ons of date and logo stamps give the materials a handled and worn look. custom bookmarks and tickets with inspirational quotes about travel are a great connection point. see more at

litchy guitars


a classy collection for litchy guitars in cream with brown, craft paper and wood themes is a great example of style and simplicity. they have a few working logos that are used sparsely, and they’ve created all paperwork associated with sales in the same style. there are many tools in the music trade where these materials could expand into gifts or utility sets. similarly, they could create ink or emboss stamps for customizing secondary subsequent materials.

so, how do you get started? think about the tools of your own trade. can you make something useful that tells the story of what you do? think about the people in your target markets, can you make something that bridges what you do to what they do?

if you’ve been thinking about expanding your brand and you’re ready to take the plunge, let’s talk about the possibilities!



awhile back, my neighbor asked me if i’d ever had tepache, a homemade fermented pineapple drink. he does a few home fermentations, and this one is a family recipe he brought from mexico. he shared a glass of his latest brew with me on a hot day last year and i was hooked! tepache is a basic countertop fermentation of pineapple skins and sugar in a large, wide-mouth glass jar covered with cheese cloth. it ends up tasting like a pineapple-scented kombucha of sorts, and is often brewed with a cinnamon stick.

a little online research revealed that there are lots of variations on the recipe, so i think anything goes so long as you like it. some people use the whole pineapple while others only use the skins. some favor piloncillo [an unrefined sugar shaped into a cone] others table sugar, and i’ve had similar success using honey and coconut sugar. some advise to add a beer to get it started and drink after 2 days, others stir regularly over a week or so using only the natural yeasts on the fruit and in the air.

i like my neighbor’s recipe best because i get to reserve the tender fruit and make a live fermentation out of just the scraps! until i get to try piloncillo, i’ve been happy with honey, coconut sugar, and raw sugar. it seems the fermentation process eats most of it anyway, i should be clear, this is NOT a sweet drink. it’s more of a tonic, a wild fermentation with a bit of an aquired taste, and less than 1% of alcohol, if any. very refreshing on a hot day, over ice, mixed with ice tea, or even as a shandy with beer. i bet it would also make a weirdly wonderful tepache-mosa with champagne. here’s my neighbor’s method, below:

tepache – makes 1 gallon

skins and core of 1 pineapple
up to 1 cup sugar of your preference
.5 tsp baking soda
.5 tsp salt

1-gallon wide-mouth jar
mesh fabric or cheese cloth
large rubber band or chef’s string

gently wash your pineapple to remove dirt or debris, but not with soap in order not to lose the natural yeasts that come with the fruit, which will get the fermentation going. cut the top and base off the fruit and discard. trim the skins off the fruit, cutting off as little fruit as possible. cut out the core using your preferred method [i quarter the fruit lengthwise and cut the core out of each quarter lengthwise on an angle]. chop all these trimmings into large pieces, about 1″ square or so. reserve the remaining pineapple fruit for another use.

place pineapple scraps, salt & baking soda in a 1-gallon wide-mouth jar. add the sugar you prefer, up to 1 cup. i say this, because i’ve used quite a bit less with similar results. i use about half a cup currently. fill the jar with water, stir and cover with a mesh or cheese cloth, tie it down around the mouth of the jar, and set on the counter to ferment. stir regularly, “whenever you think of it” my neighbor says, to keep pineapple scraps from sitting at the surface in the air. you may see a thin white film form on the surface. this is common to countertop fermentations, just stir it back in and keep going.

taste after 5 days. it should be tart and robust, similar to kombucha. i’ve left it out up to 10 days, again with no problems. flavor should become sharper the longer fermentation continues. when you like it, strain and refrigerate.

my neighbor serves it over ice on a glass with a salt rim. try it straight first, and then pair it up however you like. enjoy!