holiday gift guide — rue!

It’s been a crazy — but wonderful — week at my house (and it’s only Tuesday!) I’m thrilled to be featured in Rue Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide as one of their tastemakers to follow on the super-fresh social shopping site, Luvocracy. Thrilled, yes, but also feeling extremely grateful for my family, friends and wonderful fellow tastemakers who have made this past year so rewarding and sweet.

So click on over to Rue, and enjoy their wonderful holiday gifting ideas!

fast company design

Tomorrow is my birthday. I say this only because a)I like my birthday to be properly feted, and to last at least a full week and b)I feel like I received an early birthday present from Fast Company.

It’s darn exciting, but most of all, it’s very nice to have this work recognized. Because the university should be recognized…and recognizable.  Onward California!

luv is in the air (just in time for cyber monday)

Black Friday has come and gone. No, I haven’t started my holiday shopping. I’m not panicking, because Luvocracy is keeping my stress level down (at least as far as shopping is concerned.) What is it? Well, kids, it’s social shopping. Pinterest smooshed into Amazon. A perfect storm of being able to trust folks you admire (taste-wise, at least) and see what they find shoppable, while creating your own shoppable lists. Imagine, all your pins — buyable! I’ve already started spreading Luvocracy to my family, as a quick and easy way to share gift ideas for my 5-year old daughter, and to my friends so I can buy (steal) their brilliant style ideas.

In the Luvocracy world, you “trust” instead of “follow.” I like the distinction. I trust many of the bloggers and pinners I know and admire, and, as a result, have a constantly updated catalog of what they think is relevant, beautiful and worth investing in.

Like other social media sites, you can create curated boards, and populate them from any shoppable site on the internet. That’s right. ANY site. An obscure Laotian company selling one-of-a-kind handcrafted mini-trivets to Moda Operandi, put it on your board, and you and others can shop straight from your page. This means that a lot of the hassle of entering and re-entering addresses, credit card numbers,  and so forth is taken care of because you only need to put that info in once on Luvocracy, even as you buy from across the internet. Considering how often I buy online, this sounds like a brilliant idea.

On top of it all, when someone buys from your boards (even if you buy from yourself!), you make a small commission that you can either use on Luvocracy, or receive as a check. Even better. If someone re-luvs your items, you get a small commission if someone buys your item from them. Genius! Why shouldn’t all of us get credit for being the style editors of our own lives?

Join now, and Luvocracy will take care of all your taxes and shipping costs until Tuesday (which, incidentally but notable, is my birthday. Presents accepted.) Huzzah! There are some wonderful tastemakers on the site already, so there’s plenty to peruse. It’s invite only, but use this link to join in early. See you there!


I’m the Creative Director at the University of California’s systemwide, central office. Yes, I work in-house, with a creative team that is also, as it happens, in-house. When we all got here, there wasn’t much to work with. The official seal was used and abused, people thought that margins were nuisances that only impeded putting more words on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. The photography consisted of snapshots, most with a bad flash, of people doing….what? Hard to tell.

In graphic design, in-house teams are usually the underdogs, with most of the “worthwhile” work going out to agencies. But something sort of magical happened. We managed to build a brilliant team of designers who were excited about the possibilities, while the directors in our group started doing the arduous task of getting everyone to agree on what we needed to do next. And we did it with almost no money.

Now, we’ve got an amazing brand, that’s getting recognized.

I can say with certainty it has been the most challenging project I’ve done professionally — but right now, today, I feel like it’s also the most rewarding. This creative team is aces — really aces. Who else could have pulled off such a puckish, sly, witty and smart identity? Every truck, banner, stripe and video has been a step toward building something new — something memorable, iconic, relevant and — most shockingly, appropriate. I also love this team’s fearlessness…we’ve created what I think is a game-changing identity for a game-changing university.


sleep is the greatest luxury

“wit is educated insolence.” —Aristotle

Wit is an underrated virtue. Ingenuity in repartee has fallen far down the list of social assets (overtaken, I’m afraid, by things as bland as adorbs outfits and a lot of followers on Pinterest.) It’s not just a good sense of humor, oh no. Think Dowager Countess rather than Kristen Wiig. Stephen Colbert instead of Will Ferrell.  Think, instead, that thing said is both funny and clever — a more cerebral humor. At the Oscars, rarely does a something roundly clever win Best Picture. “Witty” novels are viewed as light, frothy confections rather than something of weighty, literary value. The same thinking often applies to art, where the notions of cleverness and wittiness are often disparaged as uninteresting, gimmicky or trite.

But here’s the skinny: Wit often reveals a smidge of transgression, wrapped up in an amusing package. Think of the court jester — cast as the fool, but the only person at court who speaks truth to power. Shakespeare even embraces this notion in “Twelfth Night”:  ”Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit.”

I’ve spent most of my adult life aspiring to witticisms of this sort. Often, I’m just merely funny, or worse, dorky and inappropriate. Those who are witty I find exceedingly compelling, the way that others are compelled by extraordinary good looks or artistic talent or gobs of money. And in an effort to rectify, in my own small way, the gross imbalance of appreciation between the serious and the witty, forthwith, some of my favorite examples of wit across film, literature and design.

Howard Hawks’ classic “His Girl Friday”

P.G. Wodehouse’s “Psmith in the City”

Manana Lamp needs to lean against a wall to stay upright


take care of the luxuries, and the necessities take care of themselves