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Insights from a Writer and Director: Can Brands Talk? (Sort of)

Insights from a Writer and Director: Can Brands Talk?

What is Brand Voice?

Brand Voice might sound like the robot language of a dystopian future, or the natural result of Citizens United, but thankfully it’s neither of those. Quite simply, Brand Voice is the distillation of everything your brand stands for. It’s a codified set of beliefs that inform every communication your brand puts out, from TV commercials to Tweets, to customer service calls. Defining your brand’s voice means making sure everything your brand says is true to itself.

How do I find my Brand’s Voice?

Brand Voice should be a direct reflection of the brand, it’s employees, customers, and products. When working with a brand team to define their brand voice, I always start with “Why did you start this company?” Most businesses are started by passionate people with an idea, and there’s nothing more powerful than sharing that passion with customers. Then we talk about the brand’s ethos, what does it stand for? Is it about empowering employees, or saving the world, or perhaps letting customers ice their own toaster strudel instead of relying upon pre-iced pastries that only lead to heartbreak and disappointment. We get to the bottom of why the business exists, and how it makes its customers feel. We get to the truth behind the brand, and that becomes the foundation for the brand’s voice.

Making sure Brand Voice isn’t monotone.

I tell clients more than I probably should, when you hire a writer to help define your brand’s voice, you’re hiring them to ensure you don’t need a writer every time you need writing. Defining and understanding your brand’s voice gives you a clear roadmap on how to communicate. It ensures that every message is “on brand” no matter what the medium or subject matter, and perhaps most importantly, it gives your brand a point of view that differentiates it from every other one out there. Brand voice is about articulating what a brand stands for and saying it in a way that’s ownable, distinct, and different, and making sure that every time your brand opens its purely metaphorical mouth, what comes out represents exactly what you intended.

May 03, 2016  |  BY Aleksa Narbutaitis

Dipnotics Dips Packaging Design

Graphic Design USA featured our custom wrap-around packaging design for Dipnotics Dips. These dips don't taste healthy, they taste delicious. Check out the full project on our site. 

April 28, 2016  |  BY Aleksa Narbutaitis

Insights from a Food Lawyer: 5 Important Things to Know About Food Labeling Law

Insights from a Food Lawyer: 5 Important Things to Know About Food Labeling Law

We know starting a food business and working on your food packaging design is hard enough as it is. Throw in the added worry about making sure your labels and packaging design are in line with any required regulations, and many food startups are asking for a headache. We've asked our extended Design Womb team member and legal expert, Lauren Handel over at Food Law Firm to share some helpful insight on what to consider while working on your packaging design and brand's launch.

1. Who regulates food labels in the US?

At the federal government level, food labels are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) (for meat, poultry and processed egg products), the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) (for alcoholic beverages) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (for all other foods). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has jurisdiction over advertising, including websites and social media marketing. States also have authority to regulate food labels and marketing.

2. Can you be sued for your food label?

YES! In the last few years, the plaintiffs’ bar has played an increasing role in “regulation” of food labels by bringing hundreds of class action lawsuits against food companies allegedly for deceiving consumers with false or misleading food labels. Foods labeled as “natural” that contain genetically modified, synthetic, or highly-processed ingredients have been the primary target of such lawsuits to date. But the litigation has expanded to other types of allegedly false or misleading food labeling—such as labels using the term “evaporated cane juice” to describe a type of sugar ingredient, labeling claims about antioxidants and “superfood” ingredients, and claims about certain products being healthy or good for you when they contain lots of sugar or fat. Competitors also can sue for unfair competition based on a false or misleading food label.

3. What label claims may be made about health-related benefits of a food product?

It is flatly illegal to claim that a food product can help to treat, cure or mitigate any disease. Such claims may be made only for drugs, which must go through extensive review and approval by FDA before they may be sold. However, it is permissible to claim that a food product helps to support a normal, healthy bodily structure or function (such, as “supports a healthy immune system” or “builds strong bones”) provided that the manufacturer has sufficient scientific evidence to back up the claim.
FDA rules also set conditions for using the terms “healthy,” “health,” and other variants of those words, when used in connection with a claim about the nutrients or ingredients in the food. It is illegal to use those terms if the product contains too much fat, cholesterol or sodium, or if does not contain enough of at least one beneficial nutrient (vitamins A, C, calcium, iron, protein, or fiber).

4. What claims may be made about the nutrition content of food?

FDA regulations govern claims characterizing the level of a nutrient in a food product—for example, “high fiber” or “low fat.” Manufacturers may use only certain terminology in making such claims—such as, “good source,” “high,” and “excellent source.” You may not say that a product is “packed with vitamin C,” for instance. FDA regulations also define how much of each “bad” nutrient is too much for a “low” claim and what minimum amounts of “good” nutrients are needed for a “good source” or “high” claim. In some cases, a manufacturer may make a nutrient content claim only if it also includes an additional disclosure.

5. Can you say things on your website that you cannot say on the product label?

In general, no. If the company’s web address is printed on the package label, FDA considers a website to be part of the product labeling and subject to the same rules as apply to the package label. Other kinds of marketing materials—such as product brochures and sell sheets—also can be considered part of the labeling. FDA also looks at websites (and, potentially, social media) for evidence that a company intends to market a food product as an unapproved drug. And, as mentioned above, the FTC also has jurisdiction over websites and social media. The bottom line is: be careful about claims you make anywhere you market your products.

Bio: Lauren Handel is a partner in Foscolo & Handel PLLC, the “Food Law Firm,” which exclusively serves farming, food, and alcoholic beverage businesses. Lauren’s practice focuses on regulatory compliance and enforcement matters, commercial contracts, and intellectual property.

February 25, 2016  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Green Girl Bakeshop Packaging Design

The Dieline featured our packaging design work for Green Girl Bakeshop's dairy and gluten free ice cream pints and ice cream sandwiches today. You can see the full project on our site. 

February 25, 2016  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Beachy Cream Ice Cream Packaging

Beachy Cream Ice Cream Packaging Pints Pinup Girl Los Angeles California Organic Ice Cream

Thrilled to share The Dieline's feature of our packaging design work for the Beachy Cream ice cream pints today. You can see the full project on our site. 

February 17, 2016  |  BY Nicole LaFave

We have an intern! Meet Aleksa.

Aleksa Narbutaitis Design Womb Design Intern 2016

Aleksa Narbutaitis has joined Design Womb as an intern for the first half of 2016. We are thrilled to have her as part of the team and asked her to write a little entry to introduce herself. Enjoy!

I’m Aleksa. I’m a Cleveland, OH native, and I am always on the hunt for experiences that demand the best that my right and left brain have to offer. My life has been, and continues to be, a fascinating attempt at integrating these two poles of my mind. I have always had to find my way through the practical to get to, or rather, to make time for, the creative. But I’ve finally realized that I don’t want to have to make time for what I love to do. I want do it all at once.

I have a long history of creativity. I am forever in debt to my parents who taught me to be creative at a young age. I was constantly in art classes ranging from dance to drawing to ceramics to painting, you name it. Dance was where I really found my niche, and l stuck to it for quite some time.

I got my B.B.A. with a focus in Entrepreneurship as well as a minor in Dance from Loyola University Chicago. After graduation, I had a few years of small business management experience. It taught me a lot, but I wasn’t quite satisfied. Somewhere in between then and now I came to a point where I didn’t want to have to choose between my hobbies and talents and my career. So I’m not.

I am currently earning my graduate degree at Northwestern in Leadership for Creative Enterprises and I feel like I’m right where I need to be. I’m building my own brand that is me: business and creativity neatly packaged together all in one.

Nicole and Pendleton have graciously taken me in and are helping me explore my creative business side, something totally new and exciting for me. For the first time ever, I feel that I am very near figuring out what it is I want to be when I grow up. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt that feeling before. It’s pretty great. I used to fill with worry when I thought about the future, but now I only feel excitement, and that is an extraordinary feeling for a student these days.

Bottom line, I am fascinated by the business world. My goal is to add some color to it with my personal creations. Be they physical, visual, emotional; I want to leave a mark. I am thrilled to have joined the Design Womb family and even more excited for what’s in store.

February 15, 2016  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Dipnotics Packaging Design

Dipnotics Dip Food Packaging Design Custom Sleeve Vegan Gluten Free Dairy Free Dips San Jose California

Our food packaging design for the Dipnotics vegan, dairy free, and gluten free dips is featured on The Dieline this week. Full project here on our site. Take a look.

February 10, 2016  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Little Belgians Cookie Packaging

Little Belgians food packaging cookie box design, San Francisco California

Our food packaging design for Little Belgians was featured on The Dieline this week. Check it out! Full project here on our site.

February 03, 2016  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Brains of the Buyer online course for better food packaging design

Allison Ball, our food industry consultant, is launching an exciting new online course in February called

Food Industry Consultant

While we love to help you launch your food packaging projects, we also love to share exciting news about things that our team and extended family members are up to. Allison Ball, our food industry consultant, is launching an exciting new online course in February called "Brains of the Buyer." This course is for Producers of Good Food, and for the inaugural session, the Design Womb community will receive a generous discount of 30% off.

Food Industry Business – Start Early

"Brains of the Buyer" helps producers grow their food business, thoughtfully. Alli works with you to create a 1 page business plan to clarify what you're actually selling & who you're selling to, why your product is different, and who your competitors are. Together, you then move on to understanding the thought process of wholesale buyers: why they choose particular products to carry and why they pass on others; how they price them; the strategy behind re-ordering, merchandising, and marketing them; and how to convince those retail accounts to say "Yes!" to carrying your products.

Alli currently helps producers increase their wholesale presence through her one-on-one consulting, and is offering group work for the first time this winter. Prior to launching her consulting business, Alli was Head of Grocery & Store Manager at Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, one of the nation's most influential specialty food markets, where she discovered, supported and promoted hundreds of small food businesses and thousands of retail products.

Online Course – Design Womb Discount

To sign up or learn more, follow this link and use promo code FOODFRIEND to save 30% off the inaugural course. Please note spots are limited, and registrations closes Friday, January 29th at Midnight, PST. Still have questions? Email allison@alliball.com.

January 22, 2016  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Communication Arts 6th Typography Annual Competition Winner – Boo Coo Roux Food Truck

Boo Coo Roux Food Truck Branding and Design in Communication Arts Typography Annual 6 Winner 2016

Boo Coo Roux Food Truck Branding and Design in Communication Arts Typography Annual 6 Winner 2016

Boo Coo Roux Food Truck Branding and Design in Communication Arts Typography Annual 6 Winner 2016

The judges have spoken! Design Womb's branding and food truck identity work for Boo Coo Roux is one of 142 winning projects selected out of 1700 entries for this year's 6th Typography Annual. Grab a copy of the annual this month in print.

January 05, 2016  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Food Truck Website Design Templates

Made For Food Trucks Website Design Templates by Madestack

Made For Food Trucks Website Design Templates by Madestack

Meet Our Side Project

Welcome to Made For Food Trucks by Madestack. We are thrilled to share our labor of love with you. Madestack was born when we came together on client work and saw a huge gap in the market between mediocre website design templates that the average startup person doesn’t know how to install/use and quick web design services that give too much control, aren’t industry specific enough, and might not look very custom.

 

Foot Traffic – Online

Facebook isn’t enough. Your customers are online, on their phones, and reading their tablets. When a friend mentions a delicious tamale or sandwich they tried from a new local food truck, it’s extremely likely that they are immediately looking for you on google to find out where you will be or to check out your menu.

 

Beautiful Design Templates

Our experience in the food truck industry includes the launch of 10 trucks (and counting!) in the branding, truck design, and web design spaces across the globe. The problem? Like many startups in the food and restaurant space, food truck startups and owners don’t have thousands of dollars to throw into a custom website before they launch and generate revenue. They usually spend most of their investment on buying the truck, building the truck’s kitchen and finally branding and wrapping the truck with something visually striking.

We started with something simple. A low-cost subscription template solution that you can use to get your website up quickly without the overhead upfront of paying for a full blown custom website design for your food truck. With our website design templates, you can update information yourself, place photography, and swap to colors that are in line with your food truck’s branding. We’ve designed with the intent that the site has a flexibility and a beautiful end product with a custom look and feel.

We’ll be adding to Madestack and Made For Food Trucks now that we’ve officially launched. Stay on top of news about our future font sets* and features by joining our mailing list.

*coming very soon

August 31, 2015  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Client News: Chicago Restaurant Branding

Chefs John Shields & Karen Urie Shields Chicago Restaurant Branding & Design – West Loop

Chefs John Shields & Karen Urie Shields Chicago Restaurant Branding & Design – West Loop

We're very excited to announce Design Womb's resturant branding and design collaboration in the works this year with chefs John Shields and his wife, Karen Urie Shields. We'll be working alongside the duo for the launch of their highly anticipated Ada St. location, which is split between two floors, and the chefs envision opening two restaurants.

John worked at Charlie Trotter's, and was part of the opening team at the hot Chicago restaurant spot, Alinea. Karen spent two years at Tru working under Gale Gand, then six years at Trotter's, the last three as head pastry chef. As a husband-wife team, they opened Town House in 2008 in the tiny town of Chilhowie, VA, where they quickly acquired a monster reputation; John was a 2011 James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.

Check out their Chicago Tribune feature.

July 29, 2015  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Whiskey Packaging Design: What’s Next?

Bullarook Whiskey Design & Label

Koval Chicago Whiskey Package Design Bottle & Label

Number the Stars Whiskey Package Design & Label

Kyro Rye Whiskey Package Design & Label

Moira Dolina Whiskey Package Design Bottle

In 2013 something outstanding happened to me: I discovered that I love whiskey. Having lived out on the West Coast for over 8 years, I was barely drinking anything other than cold-pressed green juice. After an evening of oysters and drinks on a snowy Chicago night, everything changed. I found my drink: The Manhattan cocktail. The crispness of a great small-batch whiskey mixed with the sweetness of vermouth, all tied together with some craft aromatic bitters and that boozy cherry had me on the first sip. On the rocks, please.

This is all to say: women like whiskey too.

 

Where Is Whiskey Packaging Design Now?

Working in the food and beverage packaging and design space, I am always observing what products I purchase and what products I pass by. While whiskey packaging design is indeed starting to expand in aesthetic with a lot of modern, clean, and novel approaches, overall the designs are overtly masculine or “Old World” feeling. I want what's inside the bottle, of course, but there's very little on what's outside the bottle to sway my purchasing decision.

New craft distilleries are popping up across the country, definitely an exciting proposition, and with that some updated approaches to whiskey branding. While this is exciting, I think there are a lot of unexplored possibilities that speak to both genders that can successfully market to this new wave of younger whiskey consumers.

 

What's Next For Whiskey Packaging Design?

As it stands now, the whiskey packaging design market may be predominantly a man’s world. But as a whiskey startup distillery, I know I would want to capitalize on the new generation of whiskey drinkers and appreciators. That translates to whiskey packaging design that doesn’t put off female buyers and packaging that explores modern ways to speak to both genders. Obviously the history and lore of the drink lends to the traditional designs in whiskey packaging, but does whiskey have to feel so old and serious all the time? I'm not talking about wrapping the bottle in pink lace -- just give me something more contemporary and appealing.

Like craft coffee, I think these new small batch whiskey brands are slowly starting to explore some different and modern designs and veer away from heavy masculinity, but there is a lot of opportunity in pushing whiskey packaging design further. An amazing and quality product needs unique and quality design to accompany it. If you want to stand out on the shelves and persuade consumers that your brand is better than your competitor's, focusing on creating a novel and distinctive design aesthetic is paramount.

In the end, do you really want your brand to look like everything else on the shelf that your products will live on?

 

Bullarook (Kyle Poff)  Koval (Dando)  Number the Stars (Candu Coated Universe)  Kyro (Werklig)  Moria Delina (Hope Aylen)

July 22, 2015  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Happy National Packaging Design Day-

Jules & Esther Skincare Package Design Design Womb Chicago Illinois  Jules & Esther Louisiana

Ripple Coffee Package Design Bag Design Womb Chicago Illinois  Ripple Coffee Roasters South Carolina

Whistle for Dogs Package Design Device Box Design Womb Chicago Illinois  Whistle San Francisco California Bay Area

Pantry House Design Label & Jars Design Womb Chicago Illinois  Pantry House Goods Santa Cruz California Mustard Jam Butter Jelly

1148 Cosmetics Co. Makeup Beauty Package Design Design Womb Chicago Illinois

Sabor Brasil Package Design Standup Pouch Design Womb Chicago Illinois  Sabor Brasil San Francisco California Bay Area Frozen Brazilian Cheese Rolls

Beachy Cream Organic Ice Cream Sandwich Package Design Flexible Bags Design Womb Chicago Illinois  Beachy Cream Ice Organic Cream Los Angeles California

To celebrate, we're sharing a few of our favorite collaborations from the past year or so. #PackagingDesignDay

May 07, 2015  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Troya Kitchen Food Truck – Progress!

Troya Kitchen Mediterranean Food Truck San Francisco Bay Area Vinyl Wrap Design – Design Womb Chicago, Illinois

Here's a little progress sneak peek at the food truck we designed for Troya Kitchen in San Francisco courtesy of Custom Vehicle Wraps.

May 06, 2015  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Food Truck Designs featured on Print Magazine

Falasophy Food Truck Branding & Truck Design - Falafel & Hummus, Orange County, California – Design Womb, Chicago Illinois Print Magazine

Falasophy Food Truck Branding & Truck Design - Falafel & Hummus, Orange County, California – Design Womb, Chicago Illinois Print Magazine

Curry Up Now Food Truck Branding & Truck Design - Indian Street Food, San Francisco Bay Area, California – Design Womb, Chicago Illinois Print Magazine

Curry Up Now Food Truck Branding & Truck Design - Indian Street Food, San Francsico Bay Area, California – Design Womb, Chicago Illinois Print Magazine

We are very excited and honored to have two of our food truck designs and branding projects featured on Print Magazine this week. Print Magazine chose the Curry Up Now and Falasophy branding and food truck designs as part of their feature on 8 Ingenious Food Truck Designs. Print Magazine is an iconic design and visual culture brand encompassing a venerated magazine, a website, premium book and e-book lines, and the Regional Design Annual, one of the most well-respected design competitions in the industry. 

See the feature here.

April 10, 2015  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Falasophy Food Truck

Falasophy Food Truck Branding and Truck Wrap Design. Orange County, California – Southern California

Sexy and fun falafel, fries, and hummus have been roaming the streets in Orange County, California in the Falasophy food truck. We're thrilled to have been a part of this successful launch. See the full project.

Photography: Michelle Edmunds | Imaging: Core Group Studio

April 03, 2015  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Style Check-In

Style Check-In Web Design & Development, Chicago Illinois, Fashion Clothing Subscription Service – Craft CMS

We’re excited to announce and share the launch of Style Check-In this spring. Style Chck-In is a Chicago-based clothing subscription website service – fashion at your fingertips.

February 23, 2015  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Ripple Coffee Packaging Featured on The Dieline

Ripple Coffee Roasters Whole Bean Brand Identity and Package Design – Flexible Packaging

We're honored to have our package design work for Ripple Coffee Roasters featured on The Dieline.

Ripple Coffee is committed to roasting beans strictly from farms owned by women. The company is dedicated to compensating women for their contributions by giving a percentage of each purchase back to the community.

See it here: http://www.thedieline.com/blog/2014/12/23/ripple-coffee or visit our project overivew.

January 12, 2015  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Pantry House Package Design

Pantry House Santa Cruz California Small Batch Mustard, Jams, Pickles Package Design, Logo Design, Brand Identity

Here's a little taste of some brand identity and packge design work we did for Pantry House over the last year. Isabel's horseradish mustard is a hot commidity. Grab yours on her e-commerce site which we designed and launched.

August 13, 2014  |  BY Nicole LaFave

An Interview: graphicdesign.com

Curry Up Now Indian Food Menu Graphic Design

I am happy to share the interview I did with Julia Wild over at graphicdesign.com last week. The quick interview shares some insight on Design Womb's ongoing collaborations with Curry Up Now, and how we approached their menu design and accounted for customer's specialty diet restrictions, such as gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan eats. There's also mention of a few of the current projects we're working hard on this summer, if you want a sneak peek.

July 02, 2013  |  BY Nicole LaFave

New Website

Hello & welcome to the new site! I am so happy to say that after a very long and winding road, it was well worth the wait.

I hope you take some time to take a look around. I am so thankful for my web partner in crime Danielle, and my wonderful friend and photographer, Michelle, who did a few shoots for some of the new photography you’ll see scattered around. The site is retina-friendly, and for the first time in history you can view Design Womb’s portflio of work in a visual gallery by category or type. I have shared some of the accolades, magazines and books I’ve been grateful and proud to be a part of these last handful of years.

This is also a great time to start gearing up for your future design projects that tend to spill over and delay into the fall, so be sure to send me a note if you have something brewing. Remember, the early bird takes the worm. Be sure to follow Design Womb on Facebook and Twitter for the most recent updates, or join our (mostly infrequent) email newsletter. You can also follow me on my personal account on Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by and please come back soon. I have some big and exciting news to share very soon. If you've been paying attention on the site, I am sure you can guess what it might be.

Disclaimer: Old blog posts are not retina-friendly.

May 01, 2013  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Food Truck Design | Part 2

Brand Identity, Graphic Design and Food Truck Design. Truck Wrap and Decals. Chicago, Illinois

How does the food truck design process work? Paint or wrap? Raw or finished? Decals or hand-painted with custom signs or add-ons? This stuff takes time. Always more than you think.

As a new business, you acquire a food truck. You buy it new or used, have a truck modified or (gasp!), spend the big bucks and custom build a beauty. Before this step or while you are shopping, you have reached out to a branding team, such as Design Womb, to begin working on the name, logo design and branding collateral. The minute you knew what you were serving, you started. Every week counts leading into the big food truck debut.

When a client calls me with a food truck concept, we discuss the big list wish items, we create a proposal, prioritize the items and than immediately dive in. This list should include not only the truck design itself, but your menus, the food packing, website, uniforms and all the other branded collateral and swag. It is helpful to have your wish list with some realistic dates in mind when you contact Design Womb. Prepare to be asked a lot of questions. If your designer doesn't ask you questions and they can do all of this on a penny, find a new one. You'll end up spending twice as much having to start over if it isn't right from the beginning.

At this point, Design Womb continues to assist in the process. We can help find or source the right team to paint, wrap or decal the vehicle. We walk through a careful food truck design process which involves planning and templates that act as a blueprint for your truck. If you are printing and wrapping the truck, any good printer should be able to provide you with a template file to scale. This is very important. The goal is to leave nothing up for interpretation so there is very little wiggle room for change from design file to actual truck execution.

When your design is approved, Design Womb will assist in the material selections and color planning. We pre-press and set the files based on your client-approved paint, Pantone and color selections. Once these final art files make it to the truck wrapper, printer or painter, you might have a final vehicle within a matter of days, sometimes a week or two. Here is where I push every one of my clients to be sure to have a photo shoot of some sort planned. You're going to want those beauty shots of your brand new truck for press and marketing. Drawing on first-hand experience, its a lot easier for you to do this before your truck hits the streets. Once you get super busy, it is hard to justify shutting down for a few hours and becomes hard to capture some decent off hours to take photographs, or (dare I say it) your truck starts to get dirty or dinged up. This is also prime time to keep pushing forward with your other brand collateral and your website. Your website should update customers on truck locations, menu changes and events. That's a whole different blog post for another day.

April 29, 2013  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Food Truck Design | Part 1

Beachy Cream Organic Ice Cream Cart & Branding

Curry Up Now Food Truck Design & Branding

The Dosa Republic Food Truck Design & Restaurant Branding

The moment a digital friend referred to me (jokingly) as The Food Truck Girl, I knew I had a situation. It all started back in 2010. My first was the Curry Up Now truck, which expanded into a small army of branded trucks in the Bay Area.

Shortly after in 2012, Curry Up Now's sexy sister The Dosa Republic launched with a brick & mortar and a food truck. Ok. Rewind. Technically, it started in 2009. Beachy Cream launched and they hit the streets of Los Angeles with a mobile ice cream cart and umbrella. Ice cream on wheels counts, right? Ice cream sandwiches & a heck of a lot of Indian food later, in 2012, Sajj launched its quick-serve falafel & shawarma concept and food truck.

Johnny Doughnuts took center stage with its retro deco in the fall of 2012. Mmmmmm, gourmet doughnuts and hot coffee. The truck is ready to roam and will launch this month. Bay Area folks, get ready. These guys aren't messing around and are a heck of a lot of fun.

The first half of 2013 packs a bold punch. Design Womb will collaborate on the branding and debut for the Drums & Crumbs food truck in Sonoma County (southern food, California spin) as well as KAMA Food Lab, a vegetarian (to start) customer-focused ethnic concept to hit the streets of San Francisco this summer/fall.

April 18, 2013  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Pantry House | Handcrafted Provisions

Santa Cruz's Isabel Freed is launching Pantry House; a line of handcrafted jams, mustards, butters & sauces. Be on the lookout for the collaboration Design Womb did on the new branding, package design & website (where you'll be able to shop to order online) this spring/summer.

March 28, 2013  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Homemade Granola

I've been making my own granola for the last 2-3 weeks. Breakfast is hard for me since I can't have eggs, wheat or dairy, so granola gives me the flexibility to switch it up and load up with delicious things like nuts, almond milk and chia or other nutritious seeds.

The new granola paired with this almond milk has become my new go-to breakfast. I've been using the recipe found in D.I.Y. Delicious and modifying it to my tastes, which have mostly been inspired by the delicious almond milk and granola over at The Mill in San Francisco. Here's what is in my current mixup:

DRY
4 cups thick oats
1-1.5 cups sliced almonds
~ 1/4 c. chia seed (visually decided)
3/4 c. raw pumpkin seeds
3/4-1c.unsweetened or juice sweetened corn flakes (for a crunchy texture)
1/3 c finely shredded (unsweetened) coconut

WET
Tip: heat up the honey slightly when you mix it with the oil, add these all together before you mix it in with the dry ingredients. You do not need to heat up the oil & agave.
1tsp cinnamon (or adjust to taste, start with less)
1/2-1 tsp. vanilla (based on your preference)
1/2 c. agave (if you opt for honey, start with
1/3c. and see how it looks)
1/3 c. vegetable oil or butter (I use oil)

Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Be very careful and watch it as you bake the first batch. My oven actually only needed 6 minutes per side, 12 minutes total. I burned the first two batches on accident!

This is an example of the smaller caption-style text.

March 21, 2013  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Wednesday’s Wisdom

1. You can choose happy. 
2. Never stop pushing (yourself) & learning.
3. Life goes on.
4. Be resourceful. Find out how [to do things] & do them.
5. Food is very important to your mood & productivity.
6. Exercise is king.
7. Respect your gut instincts & feelings.
8. Family is fantastic. So are dogs.
9. Friends are also your family.
10. There's no place like home.
11. Mom is (almost) always right.
12. Start retirement planning early & young.
13. Quality over quantity.
14. Don't skip lunch.
15. The paperwork never ends.

March 20, 2013  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Black Pug Bubble Bath

March 17, 2013  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Taste Patrol Olive Oil

Last year I invented a little brand for California olive oil packaging. These were gifted to a handful of clients, friends & family. The full project photos will be featured on the new Design Womb site in early 2013, but in the meantime here is a little snippet reminder of my love of helicopters. I love a good chopper.

November 16, 2012  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Beer & Branding: Big Nut Brewing

October 25, 2012  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Brand Board: Curry Up Now Indian Street Food

October 24, 2012  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Brand Board | Beachy Cream Organic Ice Cream

I always see these cute little brand boards floating around on Pinterest lately. I thought I'd give it a whirl here.

October 23, 2012  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Vegan, Gluten-Free “Cheese” Sticks

Baking Babycakes NYC Cheese Sticks from Nicole LaFave on Vimeo.

Nerdy little step video of my Babycakes NYC cheese stick experiment from this past February. The recipe is from BabyCakes Covers the Classics. They were delicious.

May 08, 2012  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Spring Forward

I'll be the first to admit I have been majorly slacking on my blog. (Sorry guys!) 2012 has started out with a bang, and with the bang came many new exciting branding projects & clients alongside some great news for some of the extended family. Beachy Cream should be opening its Wilshire shop in Los Angeles sometime in April, and I've also been busy helping Curry Up Now with their newly announced food family member The Dosa Republic. The eclectic Indian food brand is expected to open (food truck & restaurant doors) for April in the San Francisco Bay Area & San Mateo. 1148 Cosmetics opened in Chicago and I have some makeup packaging to share, and Lemonmade, Chicago (style & snips for kids) is gearing up to open doors sometime in May. San Francisco is welcoming Drawn to Scale, who recently announced their funding & soon-to-be Bay Area office. Outside of all these stops & shops, I've been busy hustling & bustling on a few websites to launch this spring. Think photography, organic frozen yogurt, IP Management software tools and more. One thing is for sure, there is never a lack of variety and challenge in my day-to-day. The Design Womb website "makeover" is in progress, and I am attempting to wait patiently in order to have a nicer place to share all the new work that's been coming together into the new year. As I take this GIGANTIC project in baby steps, I am looking forward to another photo shoot with Michelle Edmunds who has been helping me set up with some new photography for the site. We'll also be announcing her new photography website launch in the coming month. Among other news, I've been baking gluten-free & vegan goodies and look forward to sharing some of that discovery with you. I bought a Vitamix this week, and am so flipping excited to start making all sorts of stuff with it, I can barely contain myself. In the meantime, check out these raw pumpkin spice cookies (via rawmazing) that I came across this week. Pumpkin in spring? Heck yes! More soon. (I hope!)

March 21, 2012  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Lemonmade Style & Snips for Kids

We just wrapped up the logo and branding for Lemonmade. Those of you cool parents in Chicago with little ones, you want to watch for this one in spring of 2012. More to come.

January 19, 2012  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Ice Cream Sandwich Packaging

The Beachy Cream ice cream sandwich packaging sleeves have arrived. Inspired by fun in the sun, beach balls and polka dot bikinis, ice cream just got a whole lot more fun. These are going to make killer favors at parties & weddings. You can see more of the branding project for my client here or visit their site to order ice cream online.

January 17, 2012  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Communication Arts Typography Annual 2

Thank you Communication Arts for selecting Design Womb's Curry Up Now logo & truck for this year's Typography Annual. Winner! On stands now.

January 17, 2012  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Curry Up Now Truck + Wedding

I got a fun little surprise email with a link to this wedding on snippet & ink for Sam & Alicia in San Francisco. The bride & groom had the Curry Up Now food truck that I designed at their event. More on the branding and truck design here. Congratulations Sam & Alicia!

January 17, 2012  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Knit FLOR

I need to find a place for this awesome knit-inspired FLOR tile. Perfect for a laundry room or a play room rug?

January 04, 2012  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Pamper the Pooch

The Sweethoots shop has got to be one of the best shops on Etsy I have seen in awhile. If only that pug knew how many people were seeing these gorgeous modeling skills. If only I had a dog to put these on and take funny pictures. Oh boy. You would think I do. I wonder how weird that makes me and what my ratio of dog talk is compared to the average dog owner. I bet it's not looking good for me.

December 31, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Taste Patrol Olive Oil Packaging

My new favorite aisle at the grocery store it the olive oil section. The packaging design lures me in. It's hard to beat the wine area or chocolate bar area, but lately the olive oil market seems to be getting bigger and bigger. I would love to do more of this kind of work. Specialty food packaging = dream design projects to me. I felt pretty inspired to do some packaging design for a holiday gift this year and incorporate something I love looking at, helicopters! The result was California extra virgin olive oil, Taste Patrol Fine Foods & Findings by Design Womb. We'll see where the chopper takes me next. I've mentioned this before. I love all the different shapes and sizes helicopters come in. Hoping to turn this project into a printmaking project in 2012 for helicopter prints. Keep you posted.

December 30, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Linocut Pug

I had the pleasure of attending a linocut printmaking class at 3 Fish Studios earlier in December with a friend. 3 Fish Studios is the artistic home of Annie Galvin and Eric Rewitzer, painters and printmakers, husband and wife, and creators of original and affordable art. They offer classes and original work for sale on their site, check it out. I had done printmaking in the past, but it had been years. Not only was the class great, but the studio space is so inspiring and Eric is the nicest and most patient instructor (Annie was sick that day, so I need to go back to meet her). I can't wait to go back and rent some studio time. This has inspired me on a whole new level and I'll be posting a very limited edition run of Bow Tie Pug Prints for sale on the Design Womb Etsy shop as soon as I can. If you are interested in reserving one, contact me. This is the start of my dog series, but of course I had to start with a black pug. Man, would I love to get one of these machines someday to have a small setup at my house, but for those of you that are like me in San Francisco, go check out a class.

December 30, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Pantone announces 2012 Color of the Year.

Reading the HOW Magazine blog this morning & came across the Pantone 2012 color of the year. This is totally my kind of color. Maybe I should get a mug to add to my collection.

December 09, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Design Womb’s Holiday Gift Guide: Part 1

1. For the Kitchen | Joseph Joseph Elevate Kit 2. For the Eyes | The Warby Parker Glasses Gift Box 3. For the Memories | The Instax Mini Instant Cameras 4. For the Mail | Pantone 100 Swatch Postcards 5. For the Car Lovers | Manual Design's Classic Car Prints

December 05, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

My Photo Thanksgiving

This year was our second year of cooking a Thanksgiving Day meal for ourselves. Jean-Pierre handles the turkey (which he orders from Bi-Rite Market) and I usually handle the sides. We had a friend pop over that was in charge of snacks & brussels sprouts so a few things were missing from my photos, but you can enjoy a quick series of 18 dark & dramatic photos of gluten-free/dairy-free coconut crust pumpkin pie, roasted potatoes, homemade cranberry dressing and delicious turkey & fresh turkey gravy (sans wheat). It's always quite challenging for us to cook a lot of food at once in our kitchen because we lack extra dishes and utensils. It's the one thing in our house we haven't really built up yet, so we keep it simple with a few Le Cruset pans, a few store-bought dorky tin pans and the essentials. We don't even own a salt & pepper shaker believe it or not. On that note, I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I am happy to report that after 4 to 5 leftover meals, I am back to my regularly scheduled mexican food and daily health vices.

November 29, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

New Work: Scandinavian Made

New logo design for a client launching a web boutique that will sell scandinavian woven rugs, ceramics and home goods.

November 18, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

PANTONE | The 20th Century in Color

The hardcover book, PANTONE The 20th Century in Color would make a great addition to any coffee table or office space. I am starting to gather gift ideas for my Design Womb gift guide blog posts, and some of these extras may or may not make it on the list. Designer or not, who wouldn't want to look at color and palettes for inspiration.

November 15, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Bear Feet

Bummer that Baby Cricket on Etsy is on vacation the rest of the year and these are not in my size, but nonetheless I had to share them. You can sign up to be notified when the shop is back up.

November 12, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Happy Birthday to me.

My parents were in town for a long weekend, so I got to hang out with them yesterday for my birthday. Wanted to share a quick peek at a few of the things my mom (aka Dory) gave me. A giant box arrived last week which I was instructed not to touch, shake or look at too much. No wonder! Check out the size of the awesome antler she found in Michigan to put in my house. She also surprised me with a handmade-by-mom loopy throw pillow. My obsession with cream and white things continues.

November 09, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

The Nest Learning Thermostat

The idea is simple. No more programming, no more constantly changing the temperature all while conserving energy and saving money. The thermostat is designed to teach itself in a week to keep you comfortable and save energy. The design is built to reflect the surface it sits upon to help blend into the wall, but it's a cute little guy even if it didn't. Of course, the CEO & Founder, Tony Fadell also went to the University of Michigan school of engineering, so my boyfriend (& I) loves this even more. Go Blue! Go Nest.

October 28, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Louisiana Law

Client: Boyer, Hebert, Abels & Angelle, Counselors at law Services: branding, logo design, stationary system View the project: BHAA Law

October 28, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

IIDA Northern California

Client: IIDA NC | Northern California - The International Interior Design Association's Northern California Chapter is a networking and educational association with a professional and student outreach about the profession of Interior Design. Services: branding, logo design, stationary system, website design View the full project: IIDA NC branding, stationary & website

October 27, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

It’s a miracle (tart)!

Hail Merry, I love you. I fell in love the minute I tasted the lime tart. I can't have eggs, dairy or wheat these days, so I was so excited when this actually tasted delicious. They have a web shop with other snacks and treats as well. Yipee! Inner queen? Heck yes. Ask my dad. That's a nickname he had for me when I lived at home. This couldn't be any more perfect. I can have my "cake" and eat it too.

October 27, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Recent Recognition!

I've updated the press & news page of Design Womb with some new books from 2011. You will find projects such as Beachy Cream, Chic by Design, Premitàge, Omelle & more in a new stack of titles. Thank yous & high fives to Pie Books, SendPoints, Zeixs & Victionary for including these projects in your collection. 10 years ago I used to dream up seeing my work in publications of this sort next to all the work I admire. It seems surreal to think about how much has changed and where I am today. Each and every new book that comes in with my work published in it puts a big fat smile on my face, and it's always so much fun to have a new design book in the office to see what my fellow designers are up to.

October 26, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

SmartUp turns smrtUp - Mobile Application

Earlier this year (yes, I'm that behind on sharing this) I had the opportunity to collaborate on some creative branding & quick application screen shots for smrtUp, a mobile app startup company. I haven't seen the new branding in use yet, but you can compare the old vs. the new at smartupapp.com.

October 26, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

New Work: Flower & Gold

Flower & Gold is a hair and makeup beauty operation catering to both the fashion and wedding markets in the San Francisco bay area. I got the pleasure of helping Ashley & Alexia launch their brand (Ashley does my hair). Their skills speak for themselves if you take a peek into the gallery, and I'm pretty certain their personalities would make them a great pair to have around on your big wedding day or a stressful event. You can see more of the project here on Design Womb. The website was a developed by Kyle R. Young, extended family and a favorite of mine to collaborate and work with.

October 25, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Napa Time

Here are a few snapshots from our weekend trip to Napa with T&B (Chicago peeps). It flew by and I loved it. We did a bike ride and a picnic Friday and spent time with other good buddies that happened to be in San Francisco and Napa at the same time. We were spoiled with good company, gorgeous weather and wine tasting. I have a lot to learn, and can not wait to go back to do more biking, but this was a good first step for me. I dream of designing wine packaging and labels and doing branding for a winery someday. It's been on my bucket list for awhile now, alongside branding a coffee company and maybe some chocolate. Or more beverages. Okay, fine. The list goes on & on.

October 24, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

An October Day

Today is hot/cold. Do you know what I mean by that? It's warm and sunny outside, but the cool air from the ocean and fog is rolling in over the hills of our neighborhood. It was an interesting sensation on the way to the mailbox. This is a quick snapshot looking down the end of my street.

October 18, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Sexy Sleepy Eyes

A month or so ago I read an article about how ambient light can disrupt sleep and can lead to all sorts of odd health problems. I started using my blackout travel eye mask that I usually take on the airplane in my own bed. Though at first it was a stretch, I have really gotten used to it. I'll be honest. My black out eye mask isn't very "sexy" but these Otis Batterbee cotton velvet masks at Liberty London are pretty cute. They also make a perfect little girly gift for just about any occasion.

October 17, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Paperlux

Novum 11/11 – Making Of Cover from Paperlux on Vimeo.

I am bananas over this video and project by Paperlux that I came across on Graphic-ExchanGE this morning.

October 14, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Chair Affair: Pelican Chair

This bad boy belongs in my house. With my future black pug. And my future self in pajamas, snacking on some caramel corn on a cool fall night. The Pelican Chair was designed by Finn Juhl in 1940, 71 years ago and it still manages to maintain its forward-thinking edge. Chair design like this makes me swoon for furniture and sparks a tiny part inside that yearns to have my own chair design manufactured someday. I wonder what that process entails!? You can find the Pelican Chair for sale at Design Within Reach. I just texted Jean-Pierre to bring back caramel corn from his grocery store run. A girl can pretend in the meantime.

October 11, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Thanks, Steve.

People who don't really like Steve Jobs are kind of like people who don't really like dogs to me. Yesterday was a very big day that we'll always remember for some of us. Very strange to imagine my world without the tools and ideas that Steve's imagination had a hand in. I use them every single day. I remember going to the store to get my first Apple Computer when I was just starting college with my mom. We filled the shopping cart, it was the beginning of getting to where I am today. Cancer is an ugly thing.

October 06, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Alphabetical Gifting

I think it'd be great to use these letterpress alphabet tags at Bespoke Press to "letter code" your gifts this holiday season. Let's take it a step further and make everyone open in alphabetical order. Looks like I'm going last in my family, shoot.

October 04, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Food & Beverage Logos

I added a food & beverage logo gallery to Design Womb this weekend. There is something about working on food or beverage-related projects that I find very rewarding. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I am always hungry, or there is just a lot of potential with the branding and packaging out there. I am hoping to keep up these mini portfolio updates to the current site until my new website redesign project is moving full speed ahead, aiming for the new year. Shame on me. I am a year behind with some of these new work & press updates. Better late than never?

October 03, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Howlin Fair Isle

Howlin by Morrison is ringing in the fall in San Francisco at Unionmade Goods. Knitwear from Scotland for the boys, you can't go wrong. Okay, busted. Being a knitwear nut I secretly want all of this for myself. I love this line, and I love Todd & Buddy at the shop, double win.

October 03, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Stamping Grounds

This week I had a stamp made for my friend Alisa's lovely little side project (fragrance & perfume). I've been stamp-obsessed in the house this week. I have some awesome ones coming up for Big Nut Brewing and Curry Up Now in the works.

September 27, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

SFCB Letterpress Workshop

I finally got around to taking the intro to letterpress workshop at the San Francisco Center for the Book last week. (SFcB) It had been on my to-do list for over a year now to get myself over there for a workshop or somehow volunteer. Baby steps. I definitely think this intro class was the perfect little introduction to encourage one to explore further. As a small group, we each set our own line of old lead type and created a group print to learn how the equipment worked around the workshop. For myself, I hope to get back sometime for plate making and print making to push my own design work and output. Perhaps I should focus on making it a bigger goal for myself in 2012. The space was fun and I felt inspired to get down and dirty with the ink and paper. I could get lost in the drawers full of old moveable & wood type. Thanks Paula Gloistein for the nice little introduction.

September 27, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

The Alphabet in a New Way

The Alphabet 2 is a short video by the italian design studio, n9ve, which animates the alphabet in very interesting ways.

September 26, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Gift Tags

Came across these cute gift tags today at Love vs. Design this morning. My favorite are the ruled, grid & graph paper ones.

September 22, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Helicopters

Odd fact about myself: I love helicopters. I have never actually been in one, but I love looking at them. I especially love the bulbous-shaped older ones and some of the cool old wooden propellers. Dying to have one hanging in my office. It's been one year in the making since moving to San Francisco and I still have yet to have a big fat helicopter painting or print on the wall behind my couch. I better get back on that. I actually love inspecting all sorts of planes, trains and automobiles. So much that I actually designed an entire shoe collection for Omelle with that in mind for Spring/Summer 2011. See the above "Illy" Omelle shoe. I designed that based entirely on helicopter shapes. So now you know. A) I love helicopters B) I love shoes and C) I need a vintage wooden propeller and a big helicopter print for my house.

September 21, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Gorgeous Animal Masks

I nearly jumped out of my chair when I came across these outstanding leather animal masks today at Sundries and Plunder. If you haven't caught on yet, I have a thing for animal things. With less than a month to go for Halloween costume planning, this couldn't have come at a better time and would be a long-lasting go-to investment, but to be honest, I would want one just to hang on the wall in my office. How great would it be to have a few of this in your kid's room for play time? The real question is how do you decide which one to get.

September 16, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

FOOD FLING: Pumpkin Spice Granola

This recipe for Pumpkin Spice Granola on Baking Bites doesn't mess around. This time around I used a bit of Stevia in place of the brown sugar, but the original is so so good. I made it once last year and finished the entire batch off in less than 48 hours with J-Pierre so bake with caution. Alright, confession: I actually have a serious problem with carbohydrates and more specifically cereal or breakfast-type bars, but even more I love the 'pumpkin spice' time of year. It's the Michigan girl in me that is day dreaming this time of year about fall cider mill trips for cider & donuts with my best friend Jennifer. Every time I eat a few bites I think about my friends and family back home.

September 14, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

The perfect Coffee Gift: Chemex

Why? Chemex It makes delicious coffee, it's pretty on the counter & it forces you to slow down and "smell the coffee" before your crazy day begins if you learn how to use it the right way. At a glance if you were to watch us make coffee at my house, you'd swear a science experiment was about to take place, but when that cup of coffee (usually Sightglass Coffee) hits your nose and your lips, it's 1,000 times worth the wait. This fall, I'll try to see if I can get J-Pierre to do a special guest post someday about tips for home-brewing, like why you should never ever store your beans in the freezer and what type or grinder you should invest in if you are a coffee lover.

September 13, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Design on Wheels | Curry Up Now Food Truck

Nice little blog entry from Rosie at PsPrint. Design on Wheels features Design Womb's work for the new Curry Up Now logo & food truck serving the San Francisco Bay Area with delicious indian street food. You can also see a before and after comparison of the logo.

September 13, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Food Fling: Spicy Vegetarian Chili

I was craving something fall-inspired and full of vegetables when I made a version of this Spicy Vegetarian Chili recipe from Joy the Baker's site a few weeks ago. (Thank you Joy!) I am a bit delayed in getting this up, but hopefully those of you that are football, family and/or fall-obsessed can toy around with this now. It was quick, easy and lasted for 3 days for lunch & dinner for the two of us. I think if I make it again I'll like to play with level of spice even more and perhaps go against the grain reducing the beans and adding some turkey or grass fed beef in there. We like it HOT and well, ... this girl likes meat in her chili.

September 13, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Animal Coats by Little Goodall on Etsy

How great are these coats. I secretly want one in my size. For all my friends and family with little ones, head on over to the Little Goodall shop on Etsy. These are great for an easy solution to a warm Halloween outfit for a fussy little one or perhaps for some back to school fun. They too cute to pass up. Even if your little one can't fit just yet, maybe stock up for a few years down the road? I can't decide what my favorite one is. The fox. No, the lion. No, definitely the fox .....

September 08, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

City Type: Wash

September 07, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Tabletop Trays

A few years ago I told my mom (Doreen, aka Dory) I wanted to collect trays. For me it's a mix of pretty modern and a little danish vintage. I have a think for teak and sexy woodgrain, but wouldn't it be great to have a huge cabinet full of wonderful trays to move around your house and for serving and entertaining? I think so. What's your tray type? Brasilia Tray | Jonathan Adler Lacquer Wood Trays | West Elm Stockholm Tray | Ikea Vintage Tray | Etsy Scroll White Tray | CB2 Gryfino Tray | Crate & Barrel

September 02, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Chair Affair: CH445 Wing Chair

As some of you already know, I have an obsession with furniture design, and more specifically chairs. If I could have a house with a room or two full of beautiful chairs that I could move in and out and around my house, I would. Today's chair affair is the CH445 Wing Chair by Hans J. Wegner from 1960. I love Danish design. I love this chair. I also love aviation and the contrast of very linear and angular shapes against a beautiful textile. I would feel ready to "take off" at any moment in this beauty. Enough said.

September 01, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Pennant Stickers

I love these cute kraft paper pennant stickers. The possibilities are endless. I'd even use them to mark pages in folders or notebooks. You can find them at Olive Manna alongside other paper and textile products.

August 31, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

inker linker: find an awesome printer

Finally, finally, finally. Thank you Jessica Hische for putting this one together. I envy you and you inspire me with these side projects. As someone that works in print design, I can't begin to tell you how many times I wished there was a website like this. There are so many great resources out there and so many odd jobs that come in that you never know what kind of printer or supplier you are going to need. Inker linker connects the dots, lets you sort by rating, type of shop and by location in the near future.

August 29, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Design Womb on Etsy: Wedding Invitations

Did you know I have an Etsy shop? Right now it is mostly geared towards brides-to-be, but it will expand eventually. (Yeah, yeah, ... I've been saying that forever)

August 26, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

New Sneaks on the Block

It was time for new running shoes. My latest creations for 2011 - 2012 (Nike ID with Nike+) have arrived. I go for cooky color when it comes to running shoes if you haven't noticed. This is version 3 of this shoe more or less from the last handful of years.

August 26, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Candid Color: One

August 18, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Cybelle Codish Photography

Ones upon a time close to 5 or 6 years ago, I did some branding work for a little pilates studio called Studio Surge and was supplied with black and white photography to use for the collateral and website. That photographer was Cybelle Codish. Coincidentally we are both from Michigan, and she still resides in the Detroit area. Years later, a friend in common (Taryn Bickley) got married and while I was sitting at the table about to eat delicious and beautiful pumpkin soup, it was discovered that the photographer sitting next to me was Cybelle. Over the years, we are continually linked by our scorpion November birthdays and friends in common. It doesn't hurt that she is always posting photos of her bulldog that I am gaga over, so naturally we are friends and I thought today would be a great day to share some of her gorgeous photography. Her use of saturated color, moody settings and the juxtaposition slices of the black and white next to color on her blog is delicious. These are just slivers of her work to tease.

August 12, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

An almost goodbye.

You've run with me through thick & thin on the streets (and many hills) of (at times super WINDY) San Francisco since I moved here last summer. It will be sad to see you go. My new creation (v3) Nike+ I.D. pair is on the way. Are you as excited as I am to see what colors are next for 2011 - 2012? I promise I'll still wear you once in awhile spunky orange kicks.

August 04, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Food Fling: Breakfast Bars

In May J-Pierre introduced me to my first Bumble Bar. It was a slow start addiction. I wasn't sold at first. That is until I had the chocolate crisp or the almond flavor. With limited "allowed" items for breakfast, I often work with gluten-free, dairy-free bars, cereals or oatmeal. I've been pretty hooked on the chocolate crisp Bumble Bars since May, and I like to eat mine with peanut butter on it for breakfast. These bars usually hold me over until lunch and the sesame helps promote healthy digestion. This habit is more affordable than some, but adds up over time and had me wondering if I could make something similar at home once in awhile to offset the cost. I don't think I'll truly ever give up the real thing, they are cute & delicious. With all of the problems I have been having with diet limitations, I stick to what works. I used this recipe to try my hand at a homemade chocolate version by substituting both nuts for finely chopped peanuts and vegan chocolate chips. I also added 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa. To my surprise they came out pretty darn close. The slight difference (almond meal?) actually makes them feel a bit more "full" and chewy like a brownie, and this gave me control over how much cane juice (sugar/sweetness) I wanted to add. So, if you haven't had a Bumble Bar, order a box and if you have and like to cook, try making these for fun.

August 01, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Schleck Express

As many of you know I follow the Tour de France. J-Pierre got me into this cycling race many years ago and I have become a total geek about it. We wake up early every single morning for 3 weeks to watch the race and follow all of the "drama" behind the scenes. Who knew guys in spandex could have carry around so much drama at times? Aside from following the riders, their personalities, learning about their teams and history the race is strategic and interesting and I always love to pick my favorite "outfit" combos to check out who has done the best with their branding. I've been an big Andy & Schleck fan for awhile now, alongside their teammates Jens Voigt & "Fabu" I couldn't resist. They are too goofy (watch the video) and lovable. I was torn when Lance Armstrong was racing with them (sorry Lance), they just crack me up and have big hearts. It's fun to watch them mature over time as well. Did any of you notice how sexy Frank has gotten? He must be taking manly tips from Fabien. Tomorrow is the final day of the race, and it was determined today that though the brothers will not take the yellow home, they both placed on the podium and will come back to fight again next year. Jens, if you ever read this ... please don't retire until one of them makes it to the top. You've given too much to not take them all the way, just tell those legs of yours to shut up. Congratulations to all the riders & Cadel Evans for proving himself today. I've never been much of an Evans fan, but hats off and high five today. Until next year! P.S. Fabu, help a Schleck brother out with those TT tips and come back to beat Martin yourself next year.

July 23, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Produce delivered.

Organic fresh produce delivered straight from the farm? Yes please. Today I received my first Farm Fresh To You delivery and can not be more excited. It was magical to find this box early this morning at our house. I went for the Fast Fruit & Vegetable box and my kitchen smells amazing. What goodies did I get you ask? I am about to lay my teeth into some fresh organic melon, peaches, red plums, carrots, broccoli, cucumber, tomatoes/heirloom tomatoes & a few fresh oranges all week long. Moving forward I may lean towards a Valley Box or dare I try a Regular Mix once I test out the waters, but being the fruit fiend that I am, I knew this was a safe pick. Thinking about getting one for yourself? Get yours on their site, but be sure to use my full name as at referral! (I get a free box peeps!)

July 19, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Sightglass Coffee

San Francisco isn't shy of good coffee, but Sightglass Coffee is definately a favorite. We've been buying coffee beans from them since we moved here last June. You can order beans online & I highly recommend you give it a try if you love coffee. Right now we love our Chemex and if either of us are going it solo we go V60.

July 18, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Puggle Snuggles

It's a really gorgeous day here in San Francisco. Finally. I returned last Monday from a few weeks in Michigan with the family, friends & my parents puggles in 90 degree weather, humidity and summer fun only to find grey skies & dreary weather for a week straight. Yuck! I had almost forgot what it felt like to be in the midwest for summer before heading home. Summer in Michigan feels fantastic to go back to. I was quickly reminded that despite the high 90s, you always have to carry a sweater with you because every business and restaurant blasts the air conditioning at the "arctic blast" setting, but that sure beats having low 50 degree weather with tons of wind all June & July. Now that I am back, I sure do miss the puggle snuggles and BBQ food every night. Okay, okay - my friends & family too, but nothing beats those cute little snuggles from Mona & goofy Seymour. I thought I'd be in trouble with my new food allergy discoveries headed back home, but turns out that the summer lends itself well to lean meats and vegetables for dinner. I think J-Pierre & I need to bust out some BBQ'ing in our cute garden backyard soon, as it is slowly starting to get "warmer" (60s + up) here. So here I am! Back in San Francisco, totally slammed, back to my indian food cooking experiments, health food/exercise books & rocking & rolling with work. Lots of exciting things to launch this summer and fall if all stays on schedule, stay tuned.

July 18, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

City Type: 312

There is a 90% chance I will see something awesome to take a picture of when I leave my house in this city. Typically it involves cool typography, signage, or found color palettes out & about that inspire some of my design work. After living here a year, it was time to start sharing in my little spot about San Francisco typography, letters & colors. I promise I'll name it something better when I get more "serious" about my blog, but until then enjoy yourself some cute numbers from a church around the corner that I pass on my way to the blue mail box.

June 28, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Oat Berry Crumble

It's berry time! While my blog structure kinks are being worked out, I thought I would share a quick recipe to a delicious berry crumble that I made for J-Pierre's Birthday this past Saturday. (Happy Birthday to my favorite). I have a series of photos for this recipe to post eventually, but in the meantime you can find in here via Knuckle Salad to start using up your summer berries. Dariy-free or gluten free? My tip: Use gluten-free oats, naked all coconut ice cream and a vegan butter substitute. Cheers.

June 28, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Steve’s Craft Ice Cream

June 24, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Food Fling: Juice Master.

I'm not really a juice master, but I wish I was. I aspire to be a juice master. It makes you feel great, and it's delicious. Well, at least I think so. This week I have been reading The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth and was inspired to work a spin of new vegetables into my "usual" which consisted of cucumber, celery, parsley, apple & spinach. J-Pierre keeps finding glasses around the house that almost indicate that someone was murdered close by, but relax, ... it's just my beets. I am not a fan of beets AT ALL. I can't eat them no matter how hard I try. (they taste like dirt I swear) My new spin on my juice has involved experiments with added spunks like lemon and ginger, or beets and carrots. So far so good and it's nice to have a different color juice for a change. I wonder how how many colors I can create? Red, purple, green – piece of cake. Blue? Now there's a challenge. Only time will tell.

June 23, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Lost & (almost) Found

Hi world, It's Nicole. I have been ignoring my blog because I hate the design and have a new one in the works. Yeah, yeah... dumb I know, but you are going to have to hang tight a bit more. Lots of great things happening here in 2011. I moved to San Francisco last year and have had some great opportunities to work on fantastic new projects with interesting people and products. Make sure you are on my Design Womb Facebook page to keep up with news while the blog is underway. I promise you haven't missed much outside of my work which I'll hopefully be updating on the site soon. I eat a lot of great food, do a lot of pilates and am happily welcoming evenings that stay lighter later. Hooray daylight savings! Until soon- LaFave

March 15, 2011  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Say Cheez

The Test: Namaste Foods, Say Cheez Gluten & Dairy Free Mac & Cheese In lieu of my elimination diet for the past 5 weeks, I ran to Whole Foods to pick up some rice pasta and ran into a new section of gluten-free dairy-free mac & cheese options. I took a gamble as odd as it sounded. I mean, pretend "cheese" in mac & cheese just sounds wrong. The result: Success. Granted I haven't had real cheese or pasta with wheat in awhile, the fake stuff did the trick.

December 15, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

New Year, New Look.

You've probably noticed some changes around here. I've moved to San Francisco this year. After nearly 8 years of NicoleLaFave.com's ongoing digital love to me, I have also changed my studio name to Design Womb. New look, new logo and just in time for the new year. I am looking forward to growth and expanding in my new, often freezing cold studio/home in San Francisco. Seriously. I'm surprised my fingers are not frosted at times. Yeah, Yeah. I know those of you reading this from the Midwest are laughing at me, but it's not a joke when they say your body acclimates to the climate you live in, and I was in L.A. for 5 years. Cut my some slack. Watch this space for my blog "re-launch" for 2011. I've barely gotten around to this whole name swap, so I need a little more time to pump up the volume in my blog space. I hope it will become a lot more interesting and entertaining, or at least a place to come for some resources and fun stories. A girl can dream.

December 08, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Design Womb has launched! Now Open on Etsy.

Design Womb was born awhile ago when I almost changed my website to an official "studio name." Though I still haven't fully committed to that big change at the moment, I will be updating this blog to reflect my new project and studio undertakings. Now, onto the official big news! I have launched a DESIGN WOMB shop on Etsy! While the shop will eventually carry a lot more in the near future and throughout 2010, it launches with a unique collection of sophisticated, modern and unique digital wedding invitation kits. You can purchase a digital file for the invite only or the full package with a response card and save the date included. This sprang from my personal feelings that there seems to be a lack of simplistic upscale design in the wedding stationary world, especially when it comes to doing it on a budget. Most brides can not afford to pay someone to design something from scratch and print it, so these truly capture that custom feeling without the giant custom made price tag. You can read more about how it works at the shop. Be sure to watch Design Womb on Etsy! I am working hard at expanding this throughout the year. Paper goods, design related collateral and more customizable and printable digital templates will be posted on Etsy. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me in the meantime.

July 20, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Typography Tuesday

June 08, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Branding & Packaging Design