All Posts in Helen Young

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.

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 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.

November 12, 2015 - 8 comments

A Creative Collective

Summer of 2015 was a busy season, so busy we are blogging about it in November! EnZed Design hired Ligia Teodosiu, designer and talented illustrator, Helen finished her term as president of AIGA Colorado, and we moved to a new beautiful space at 2626 West 32nd Avenue, just around the corner from the old Tejon location. The new studio is a store front in a small shopping district surrounded by stately Victorian homes and refurbished bungalows as well as restaurants, coffee shops and small boutiques. And lest we forget, the North High School tennis courts are just steps away.

Helen and Ligia are enjoying the company of several creative firms, the same crew from before. Two digital designers—Matt Crest of ACL Software and Chris Arnold of Authentic Form & Function—and two print experts—Jason Wedekind of Genghis Kern and Maura Gauthier of The Paper Guppy—are the primary office mates. There are currently 6 more desks available for other creatives to add to the buzz.

The Furniture Creative Coworking space came about a dream realized by Jason Wedekind to have his letterpress shop under the same roof as his design studio. (If you’re wondering about the Furniture reference, it’s a letterpress term.) When the space came up for rent, he pounced and the renovation began. The new space is has lots of natural light, high ceilings and an open floor plan with designer touches throughout. There’s a private conference room with sliding steel framed walls, a phone booth room with a wall that glows blue when in use, and a sizable kitchen with a garage door in lieu of plate glass window in the back. Jason’s contractor, Sam Brown, salvaged ceiling planks to cover divider walls and built custom 10-foot steel doors for the press room. Wood floors, exposed brick, white walls and stripes of steel lighting give the place an airy open feel with edgy industrial finishes.

Although the LoHi neighborhood is constantly changing, this area is more settled with established store owners flanking the studio. There is lots of street parking on 32nd and the side streets. Look for the original big blue “Denver Fine Furniture” sign.

We hope you’ll come for a visit and explore LoHi a little, too.

 

July 2, 2014 - No Comments!

High Tea and High Fives

Aspire awards brown palace hotel denver, Helen Young

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in June, the ladies and I gathered at the Brown Palace for high tea. We had our pretty summer dresses on and arrived to a room filled with roughly 200 gorgeous people looking freshly scrubbed and happy. Our plates were ready, full of adorable tiny sandwiches and sweet petit fours. The tiny purple macaroon immediately caught my eye, topped with a blackberry and a little gold leaf garnish. I was saving that one for last.

“I want to nominate you for the Aspire award and I need a bit of information to complete the entry.” my accountant, Beth Ann Bethel, had told me a month before. I’d seen the promotional email from my financial advisor, Laura Rumans, a few weeks prior. Trilogy Financial Services was planning Aspire: Celebrating Denver’s Women of Distinction. The award recognized women with four key qualities — ambition, perseverance, humility, and influence. I liked those adjectives, but breezed passed it trying to get control of my inbox.

A few weeks later, I discovered I was a finalist — one of six women to be honored at the awards ceremony. It was a lovely event. Nick Richtsmeier of Trilogy served as emcee and introduced the keynote Pui Kalyanamitra to kick things off with an entertaining story about her mother’s ambition to provide opportunity for her girls in a freer society. The program continued with three women from different backgrounds sharing their stories about building a business, overcoming obstacles and challenges, opportunities earned, lessons learned, and work-life balance. Each story was unique and had a memorable message or outcome. Then Nick introduced the finalists, describing their achievements and challenges with a surprisingly meaningful and personal delivery. I was really touched to hear him describe my own and each woman’s experiences. This room was hopping with life and passion.

Many simple truths rose to the surface during the two hours together sipping Earl Grey and daintily nibbling on cucumber sandwiches. One is that we’re in this together. Each woman’s story was about how she had struggled and found support or had others whom she supported in their struggle. Challenges, success and failure are part of life and growth, whether in health or home or work. Another theme was how defining one’s life on one’s own terms is a large part of being a woman. When work, family and life passions are combined, an infinite number of combinations become available, and we don’t need to fit within a defined role. Most of the women presenting started with an education pointing them in one direction and evolved their careers into something quite different. There was no straight path, no set of predetermined steps. Each woman chose her signature route.

The award went to Jolene McKenna; her story was of overcoming challenges, generosity and resilience. I came home with a finalist trophy — an engraved glass pitcher ready for mojito season — and a feeling of empowerment from being surrounded by good energy--both from the sparkling guests who attended and the special women at my table who are both inspiring and supportive. Thank you to Joy Lowe, Cyndi Maupin and Beth Ann (along with Linda and Katherine) and Carla Carwile (there in spirit) for being part of my tribe, now and over the years. They have helped me realize my potential, navigate obstacles, and reach out to others.

I may have left that day with a few scones tucked into the trophy box, but what I really took home was that everyone there could be an Aspire winner — which truly is inspiring. And with all those pitchers, that could make for a pretty good party.