Viewing "pugtastic" Entries

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:

Curry Up Now Indian Food Menu Graphic Design

I am happy to share the interview I did with Julia Wild over at 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:

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

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


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

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


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


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'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

An Ode to 438 N. Venice Blvd.

I have spent the last 4-1/2 years at "chez vert" 438 N. Venice, here in Venice, California. On June 1st, that all comes to an end and a new chapter in my life will begin in the heart of San Francisco. This place has been a home away from home (Michigan) to me, and I am going to miss the little things the most. The sound of quacking ducks outside lets you know you are home. Watching mama ducks with their babies out the back window makes for the perfect lunch break. Walking or running in the Venice Canals and the smell of the ocean breeze in the summer work as natural stress relievers. I could go on for awhile about Abbott Kinney, our favorite places to eat and coffee trips here, but at last it's time to start saying goodbye Los Angeles and HELLO San Francisco!

May 24, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Bike for sale! / Beach Cruiser Delight!

Visit here for the full Ad, or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

May 12, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Typography Tuesday

I missed a whole week! Yikes! Things are busy, we are moving to San Francisco. I found this typography in the sidewalk walking around in San Francisco last week while we were in town looking for places to live. Sort of loving the stamp feeling and capital letters mixed with the initial caps. Enjoy!

May 11, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Typography Tuesday

May 04, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Featured Client: Taryn Bickley

Taryn Bickley is a Chicago based freelance stylist, shopper and writer. She needed something that reflected her personality, but remained simple and sophisticated to showcase her portfolio of work. The results were a simple brand, website and stationary collateral that I designed to help market and grow her freelance business. You can view my work for Taryn here. Taryn is playful and whimsical with a modern twist. You can view her styling and writing work at and follow her more recent endeavor at her new blog Sage & Style. Need to find the perfect set of glasses or trying to find that perfect tray for the party you are throwing next week? TB is the go-to-girl for those types of questions and her new blog helps out. Thats not all! Taryn is currently working with me on a styling for a new branding project for Chic by Design, a new spin on upscale and smart gifting. She is styling the shoot and working closely with photographer, Cybelle Codish.

April 28, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Typography Tuesday

April 27, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Dinner is just a “click” away!

All I could do was laugh when I came across these fantastic Click oven mitts. Get them here! Great gift idea for that computer geek of yours.

April 22, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Just the right cup.

My morning ritual goes a little something like this. After my coffee beans have been ground and the pot is brewing, I grab my Think Thin breakfast bar while I wait. Soon after, the golden moment comes. I have to pick which coffee mug/cup I will use today. I have a set of Pantone mugs, so every day is a different color. Sometimes I base it on my mood, others on the type of day that color evokes. Now, if I could have these mugs for my afternoon tea to put in the mix, I would have a whole new layer of decisions to make. These cheery porcelain mugs are hand-decaled byAustralian artist Samantha Robinson. Sure, maybe all this thought is a little too much for some of you in the mornings, but you can't go wrong and won't even have to think if you have these new beauties to pick from.

April 22, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

What is your background?

I've always wondered the thought process behind why people chose the twitter background they have on their profiles. I try to update my profile background every handful of months. Earlier this year it was all about the shoes. Last month it was felted texture, and this month a wallpaper collage of portfolio work. What's your background and why? If you use twitter as a marketing tool for yourself or your business, you should pay close attention to that background or invest in having one made to reflect your brand.

April 21, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Ultimate Type Picker

For those of you in doubt, you can use this chart as a guide to picking the right typeface for your next project.

April 21, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Tasty Scrubs

Cute for the kitchen. Fruit-shaped natural kitchen scrubbers.

April 06, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

To AIGA or not to AIGA

I would call myself a pretty decently successful freelance designer. I am working to grow my business, or double/triple it by the end of this year. Back in college, I was an AIGA student member, but since graduating and working in a handful of studios and deciding to go solo and freelance full-time, I haven't paid my dues since. I fully support an organization such as AIGA, and I love what they are about, but I find is so hard to cough up that $300. It's a love hate relationship. I am a professional, but I am also going it alone at the moment. Finding a way to pay for these extra organizations and at other times paid design competitions can be rough, no matter how much you think the benefits or results from joining might be later. Luckily AIGA offers a way to pay quarterly now, though I am still not sold on making the big leap. Is it work it, is it necessary? I'd love to hear what other professionals have to say about memberships and which ones they find the most valuable. My heart and my mind are saying yes, though I am still on the fence about how to rationalize taking the leap and finally joining AIGA again.

March 28, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

She & Him: Volume 2

Very excited to see that She & Him, Volume 2 is hitting stores in a couple of weeks. I found out today, an old pal of mine (former instructor at Pure Barre), coreopgraphed their new video for In the Sun! Congratulations to Sophie Olson, her cute bangs & her ongoing accomplishments.

March 10, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

A Sexy Man

I die a little each time I see the new Tom Ford Ads. So yummy. The guy & the girl make me want to transplant myself to be in the Ads with them. I am a brunette and she has me thinking I want blonde in my hair and that I need to get tan quickly! I'm not kidding, I might even try to bronze myself just to try it out. Too hot to handle, love these glasses, but sad to find out that they were not on the eyewear page on his site. Help! I need them asap. If you haven't seen A Single Man yet, shame on you. It's excellent eye candy and a great film you must see.

March 05, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Blue Suede Shoes, Baby.

Hush Puppies pay a Tribute to Elvis. Who doesn't love anything Elvis related. I know I do. Check out the article by Footwear News.

March 03, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Chana Masala & Garlic Naan

I eat this a lot at Whole Foods lately, and I came across this recipe today after just saying to myself at yesterday's lunch that I needed to learn how to make this myself. It's on the to-do list for spring. Mustard & Sage's recipe for Chana Masala & Garlic Naan.

March 03, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Mixed Media Design Message

March 01, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Eames Inspired

Eames Molded Plastic Armchair / Omelle Architect Heel

March 01, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave has launched!

New year, new ice cream. Ann Ryan and I have finalized her brand identity and website. Watch out for updates to my print portfolio with the Beachy Cream full package soon.

January 11, 2010  |  BY Nicole LaFave

Quality Brand Making