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June 13, 2018 - No Comments!

Patterns in Culture: Japan

My love for travel started before I was two years old, when my parents flew me from New Zealand to Chicago, the beginning of what became their 30 year adventure in the United States. Each summer, we traveled. My brother and I made a nest in the back of the station wagon and we’d motor around the vast countryside of America or we’d hop on a plane to vacation overseas, taking advantage of my father’s light summer workload to see the world. Even as a child, I took in new cultures through small details and remembered each state or country by their textures, textiles, buildings and gelato flavors.

Today I see patterns everywhere I go, whether at home in Denver or in foreign curiosities. I've learned that each country reveals itself through the people’s expression of art, pattern and design. What is rendered are revered items of daily life or spiritual aspiration. Through my adventures, I’ve discovered that culture is not contained in a museum, but open to all and constantly evolving — simply walk, wander and take it in.

Patterned Roof in Kyoto Japan EnZed Design Helen Young

Japan

On my recent trips to Tokyo and Kyoto, I found objects rich in color and variety of pattern. The Japanese attention to detail is highly symbolic of their respect for others and their surroundings. Their connection to the Earth and its energy is part of their spirituality and expressed via the vermilion, gold and colorful patterns on their Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. There’s a rhythm to their spaces, creating visual patterns in three dimensions. Most of the printed patterns you find on papers and fabrics are representations of nature — flora, fauna, water and sky. Many are symbols associated with spirituality, luck, abundance and good fortune. This Kiriko clothing company article shows the most prevalent patterns, explaining their names, symbolism and origin.

Azaleas and Gates in Tokyo Japan EnZed Design Helen Young

The Japanese mix patterns and color expertly, which is especially notable in the multiple fabrics layered in their kimonos. You also see this in their fine art. They combine patterned papers as borders or mattes on hanging paintings and within hinges and borders on painted screens. Patterns are inlaid on boxes and painted on ceramics. Their combinations of pattern scale and object shapes within them is deft and often unexpected. Most of us are familiar with origami paper collections that fan out a gorgeous mix of patterns. The variety of these origami packs in Japan is dizzying. When I visited the iconic stationery shop Itoya in Ginza, Tokyo, I spent nearly 2 hours combing through 12 floors of paper, washi tape, journals, cards, bookmarks, pens, and shaped sticky notes. My Pinterest board on Japanese Design has an array of eyecandy featuring items with innovative simplicity or intricate decoration — all with a deliberately delicate touch.

Shoes in Kyoto Japan EnZed Design Helen Young Patterns

What’s particularly interesting to me about Japanese pattern is the motifs are ancient yet very contemporary. This mix is evident everywhere in their culture and takes many forms. In modern Tokyo, it’s subway riders with heads bowed absorbed in their phones balanced by their custom of bowing in greeting. In Kyoto, it’s a hunger for shopping high-fashion brands balanced by young people renting kimonos and queuing for tea ceremonies. (Side note: The shoe selections in Japanese department stores are on a scale I’ve not encountered before. Wowza.)

Kimonos Kyoto Manhole Cover Tokyo Japan EnZed Design Helen Young

Harmony and beauty come from this knack for balance. A quality I love about the Japanese people is their utmost respect for one another and their surroundings. You’d be hard pressed to encounter brash personalities or see careless littering. At the end of a rainy day, Tokyo’s subway train floor was shiny and spotless. The city’s manhole covers are famously shared on Instagram. Consumerism is high and space is precious, yet patience and civility underpin the culture. As the world capital of cute, with a love of animal ears on everything and hats on cats, I surmise that people strive to find small joys in many places or moments, especially in Tokyo, one of the world’s most densely populated cities. I’ll have to explore the country more to test that theory. Until then, enjoy these 20 photos + 20 haikus expressing my impressions of Japan (3 minute video). Arigato.

April 17, 2018 - No Comments!

Giving back is always in style

This month, Barbara & Company is celebrating their 35th anniversary. EnZed has created advertising for the women’s clothing boutiques since 2005. Back then, we crafted their tagline “The best collection is yours” during a brand update to position the retailer. Currently, we design monthly advertising in the form of emails, print and digital ads and social media assets, and write blogs promoting new arrivals and a myriad of fundraising events for the local retailer. 

Their secret to longevity? Giving back. Owner Kathy King is a true champion of the community, using her stores to fundraise for nonprofits — from an annual food drive and fashion show fundraisers to specific causes like breast cancer research and aid for Boulder flood victims in 2013.

As a small company ourselves, we enjoy supporting small businesses as their design partner — collaborating to create consistent, affordable marketing that connects with their customers and drive sales. Read the latest blog Hemlines and Timelines and enjoy a look back at our designs for Barbara & Company over the years.

February 7, 2018 - No Comments!

A Distinctive Start to 2018

FCC Services Calendar 2018

For the third year running, we’ve had the honor of designing a custom desk calendar for FCC Services. Each calendar combines inspiring imagery with practical pieces – conference and program schedules – to create a valuable addition to their clients’ desks. The goal is to provide a beautiful, useful tool and keep the FCCS brand visible the full year.

For the 2018 calendar, we took cues from their theme, “Your Year of Distinction.” Teaming up with copywriter Carla Carwile, we gathered fascinating facts, thought-provoking quotes and prompts for self-reflection and problem solving for each month. For example, a “wink” is one revolution of a lighthouse’s lamp. And did you know the U.S. produces some 2,500 varieties of apples?

FCC Services Calendar 2018

These items were complemented by illustrations, photographs, or graphics. A special interactive section, “The Stretch,” encourages recipients to contemplate how to distinguish themselves in the new year. Resource pages included lists of FCCS conferences, programs and events, plus room for thinking and strategizing their approach to work challenges. Complete with a ToDoodle page, this practical tool with an interactive flair is a popular piece with FCCS clients.

August 8, 2017 - 5 comments

A Scroll Down Marian Lane

It was 2011 and I was showing pictures of rubylith and T-squares to a tittering crowd at the MCA, recounting the many acts of Marian Halliday. This everlasting pillar of Colorado’s creative community was about to receive the coveted AIGA Fellow award, and I had the honor of introducing her to the audience. Highlighting her achievements was easy; the difficult part was doing justice to her shining personality. So I opened with her signature “helloooooo” and the rest took care of itself.

Fast forward six years to the lobby of Gensler. I’d convened the Advisory Board for their first meeting of the new year and we were gathering at Amy Siegel’s office. I was excited to spend time with Amy as I’d always admired her for being a founding member and great mentor in our community. Marian was there, being a valuable fixture of the chapter, always the “doer”, the helper and connector. That was when she draped an arm around each of our shoulders and said, “Guess who are the newest AIGA Fellows?”

It was now May 19th, a snowy, cold spring day turning to dusk. I was sitting in Room and Board, wearing the dress Karl and I found in Rome on my 49th birthday six months before. Rotating delightfully in a half-round, chartreuse chair, I surveyed the setting. Marty had the microphone talking about 1985, incoming president Victoria and outgoing president Jess beamed in the background, and past president Elysia was running the laptop. My posse was poised in front of the screen — the EnZedders, treasured collaborators, clients, friends and college roomies coming from out of state. Alexis was live streaming it all for my family in New Zealand to see on Facebook. To the other side, a swash of Fellows were seated with familiar and new board members, volunteers peppered in amongst them. I could see my 27-year-old-self in some of their faces, full of anticipation of what might come next with party lights in their eyes. AIGA had brought the lifers, the newbies and the mentors together in one room.

Amy’s video rolled. Her path was different than mine, discovering commonalities and friendships through swimming, developing talents and mentorship programs through working. But our roads were now converging. After a heartfelt tribute from her boss and an elegant acceptance from Amy, my video rolled and Marian took the floor. She had a scroll with a large red ribbon. She untied it and, like Santa’s good-girls-and-boys list, it unfurled dramatically and dropped down to the top of her toes. And so began my introduction. Marian asked. I said yes. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat... A yes is what plunges you into all sorts of interesting things.

The AIGA National Fellow award program is a means of recognizing seasoned designers who have made a significant contribution to raising the standards of excellence in practice and conduct within their local or regional design community as well as in their local AIGA chapter. The areas of education, writing, leadership and reputation as well as the practice of design are given equal consideration in measuring significant contribution. AIGA is the professional association for design with more than 25,000 nationwide organized in 72 chapters. Colorado’s chapter was established in 1990.

AIGA can act like a mirror. If your career is stagnant, it will present those who are doing what you aspire to, sometimes providing inspiration, other times frustration. If you’re in a place of change, it can provide the springboard to inspire new thoughts, approaches and collaborations. If you’re feeling your power, it offers you a way to give back or reconnect. It’s all about your view of your situation and how you choose to engage with those opportunities around you. I’ve gone through all those stages and I expect I’ll do so again. Thankfully, I can’t say no to you, Marian … ahem … AIGA. But I can say, no regrets.


Photos by  Jim Darling Photography and Hashtagitude

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June 20, 2017 - 1 comment.

Tennis, Anyone?

With Colorado’s tennis league season in full swing and Wimbledon approaching on July 3, there’s no better time to celebrate our favorite sport here at EnZed Design.

We’re hard at work on a brand refresh for the 2017 Colorado State Open, our state’s most prestigious and well-attended tennis tournament. (We had the pleasure of rebranding the tournament entirely in 2016, which you can see here.) Adding animation to our repertoire, we’ve created a video teaser to bring the dynamic motion of tennis to the tournament’s vibrant brand. Watch the video below.

Mark your calendar for September 15–24, 2017 to catch the action and see our work on display. In the meantime, check out another tennis branding project, TennisAdvisor, whose logo represents the converging of coaching, the game, and the junior player.

June 1, 2017 - No Comments!

Catching the Conversation

Strike up a casual conversation with a stranger and you may well find you share a good friend or favorite experience. Kismet? Coincidence? We’re not sure, but we do know that same, wonderful connection often happens in design. Gather a team of designers, writers and clients for a brainstorming session and they naturally bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives to the table. The result is a far richer journey into the communication challenge.

Last summer EnZed Design welcomed a new talent to our team. Peter Williams was a recent design school graduate with a keen eye for iconography and a keen ear for syncopation. Adding his skills to our bag of tricks, we initiated an in-house project to experiment with audio and animation media. Some of you have met Peter in person or via email, but for those who haven’t yet, here’s your opportunity.

We sat down together to chat about design, our other interests and life experiences and how they intersect. Take a listen.

Tracking Thoughts Episode 1: Match & Mix was produced by EnZed Design with music and animation by Peter Williams. View Peter's video described in the interview.

Where do your passions intersect? Please comment below. We’d love to hear your story.