Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Fixtures...and Pottery!

It's been a little while since I've blogged, which means a lot has been going on in the GF Design studio! This month I was excited to see a couple fixtures I designed with Lynx for the new Tony Hawk Ride video game release. Here is the endcap display currently in GameStop stores:

...and in-line display at Toys-R-Us which features a wood halfpipe:

I also had the opportunity to bring in my amazing graphic designer and illustrator sister Heidi Panelli on the design of the overhead graphics for the entire wall of gondolas here in Toys-r-Us:

It's been in the works for a while and is always exciting to get to the point when everything is out in the public! I'll be adding more photos to my web portfolio soon.

I've also been working on some more product and packaging design, as well as some more graphic work. So, there have been no shortage of projects to keep me busy this winter, in addition to preparing for Christmas, my son's 2nd birthday party (day after Christmas), and the arrival of baby #2 due in 6 weeks!

In addition to my design work, I've just completed a 6 week course on the pottery wheel at the Bloomington Art Center and had a great time. I still have a few more pots that need to be fired, but here is a sampling of some of the pieces I have been able to bring home over the past couple weeks:

I had a lot of fun, got a chance to get away by myself (precious time for a work-at-home mom!), and even got to make some Christmas gifts.

So, that's what has been going on in my design world lately...hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Product Design Project: Safe Sizer Choking Prevention Plates

I am excited to be able to share the results of a great collaborative project that I've been working on this year...Illustrations for the Safe Sizer Choking Prevention Plates. I have had the opportunity to work with David Zak of Midwest Monkeys for several years now on his child safety-related designs. This summer I was given the opportunity to work on some new and more modern-looking designs for his line of SafeSizer plates. If you visit his website's product page, you can see the original "nature series," and below that the new "animal series."

In a nutshell, I was asked to create some more modern designs that could better fit into someone's kitchen...not as bright and "kid-ish" as the original designs. After some research into some patterns and color combinations that were relevant to the market, I presented David with several options, ranging from geometric patterns to basic colors to animal illustration.

After we landed on the color schemes and this idea of "animals and the foods they eat," I was very happy to have the opportunity to bring in my sister, Heidi Panelli of Panelli Design, to turn my quick concept illustrations into more professional final art. At first David was a little reluctant to bring in another designer, being that he was happy with the plates as they were. However, knowing her talent and expertise as an illustrator could take these images to a whole new level, I was fortunate enough to have a client who in the end, valued the design process and my opinions enough to allow me to bring in Heidi to complete the project.

Design direction as illustrated by GF Design:

Final art created by Panelli Design:

Taking the overall design direction and colors from my quick illustrations, Heidi took them all up a notch, giving them the professional, fun and playful look that David and I were after. The end resulted in a fantastic new line of plates to further differentiate David's great idea of the Safe Sizer Choking Prevention ring, molded into each plate.

Luckily for David and all of my clients, my ego is not so big as to prevent me from recognizing when someone I know would be better suited for part of a particular project. I am always looking for ways to give my clients the best work possible, even if it means passing off work to someone else. My clients have always been happy with the results on the projects that my sister and I collaborate on. I hope to do more collaborative projects like this down the road! Many thanks to David of Midwest Monkeys for being open enough to allow the design process to work, and for having enough faith in us as designers to allow us to do what it took to get to reach the best end product possible!

Book Review: The X and Y of Buy

As a book review blogger for Thomas Nelson publishers, I recently read "The X and Y of Buy," by Elizabeth Pace. I thought that this book would be beneficial to my work, especially with all of the retail fixture design that I do. Whether we like it or not, the fact is that men and women are different in the way they are wired. Understanding these differences will only make you better at designing for and/or selling to both sexes.

The first part of the book goes through the "hardwired" differences between Men and Women, such as their brain structure, and how Men's and Women's left and right hemispheres work together in completely different ways. Pace likens the way men's brains work to a file cabinet, compartmentalized and focused, with the ability to "turn off" and be 70% less active when at rest. The woman's brain, on the other hand, is likened to all of those files spread out on a large table: everything touches everything else, and the brain is only 10% less active when at rest. I could definitely relate to this myself, as I know my mind keeps racing with to-do's even when I'm trying to go to sleep. (I find it helps a lot to keep a note pad by my bed to jot things down, allowing me to forget about them for the night and finally rest!)

These hardwired differences translate into the completely different ways that men and women shop. Pace does a great job throughout the book, illustrating (through word, graphics, and tables) our biological differences, how they affect the way we shop, and giving examples of how a salesperson might interact with a male vs female customer.

The second part of the book is divided up to specifically address "the X of Buy" and "the Y of Buy," giving examples of how to work with and sell to men and women individually, which Pace calls "GenderCycle Selling" (TM). Here she takes you through scenarios for both men and women, both in the business-to-business sales and the retail or direct-to-customer sales situations. With tips on how to engage in and close off a conversation, and key words to use throughout the sale, Pace leaves nothing out of the process.

While I myself am not a sales person by title, I do find sales tips and techniques to be extremely useful in the design profession. Whether I am selling my services to a potential new client, or selling a design concept to a full board room of decision makers, sales is a part of my job. In addition to being armed with good sales techniques, knowing my customer (or end user of a product) is extremely important to the success of a design. This book has given me more insight into a very basic yet very influential part of my end users' identities, their gender, which gives me a head start right from the beginning. I would recommend this book to anyone who either works in sales, or simply would like to improve their understanding of and communication with both men and women.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Craighton Berman's Coil lamp

Most of my favorite designs are those that evoke the question, "why didn't I think of that?!" Craighton Berman's Coil Lamp is one of those designs.

By wrapping a 100' extension cord around a carefully designed, laser-cut plexiglass structure, Craighton Berman manages to turn an extension cord from the garage into an accessory worthy of prime tabletop space inside the home.

It's one of those products that looks so simple when the average person sees it, yet only those with a grasp of the Industrial Designer's profession understand the amount of work that goes into making such a great idea look so flawlessly simple.

(Via Core77)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Environmental Design: Space/Robot Themed Kids' Room

I love my job. I've always been passionate enough about design that I'd be willing to do it for free, which I guess means I went into the right field. But, it also means I jump at the chance to use my art and design skills across all aspects of life, especially for my family!

Among our recent home remodeling projects, in addition to my new office, was a new room for my almost 2-year old little boy (in my old office space). His "old" bug themed room will be used for the next kid, due in Jan! My husband wanted to go with a space/science theme, and I wanted to go with robots. Luckily space and robots go together like pb&j, so it was easy to land on a space/robot theme. I enjoyed finding just the right items for his room, while also making and recycling many items to save money.

Above is a shot of the new room, minus the bed which we will be custom building to look like a robot, of course, and hope to share in a future post. For now he's getting used to sleeping in the big bed. I did a space mural on the back wall and painted all the stars and planets, except for the moon, which is a hanging light I found online. It goes through the lunar phases...very cool!

I have been collecting space and robot themed toys and decor at garage sales and thrift stores all summer, which now live on a bookshelf built by my husband's great-grandpa (above). The dresser was my old bedroom set that came from my great-grandma as well. I bought some cool robot and rocket ship knobs to put on it, saving the original knobs for when he grows out of the room. It was a great way to re-use current and meaningful furniture that was already in the house, rather than buying more "stuff" we didn't need.

I found 3 canvases at a yard sale for $2, and painted cartoon robots on them to decorate the other walls. I thought it was a good way to add more themed art without making it as permanent in it's placement as the mural.

Some of the details:

A - Although a little bit pricey, I couldn't turn down this ceiling fan from Home Depot!
In the background is a light-up, moving, solar system mobile, $5 in the unopened box at a garage sale.
B - One of the robot paintings I did on a garage sale canvas.
C - Laundry hamper, $6 at a thrift store, painted to match the room.
D - Wall clock, $5 at a thrift store, also re-painted.
E - An old lamp I've had around for years, re-painted for the room.
F - Corner shelf, $1 from a garage sale, displaying a souvenir robot from a family vacation.
G - One of the robot knobs I put on the antique dresser. It's an easy way to make it fit the room, without damaging the furniture at all with permanent changes.
H - Robot clock I bought on our trip to Paris this past spring. (Yes, we took a toddler to Paris!)
I - Space themed pillow, $2 at a garage sale.
J - My husband's great-grandpa's bookshelf, full of robot toys I've collected all summer
K - Space themed rug that I purchased online.
L - Space mural, and hand-sewn curtains

In the end, I think it turned out well. My little guy loves it and that's what matters. It's full of crazy colors, which a kid room should be anyway, yet all pulls together on a common theme.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Virtual Open House: GF Design's New Studio Space

After a lot of cleaning, re-organizing, carrying, and Ikea furniture building, GF Design is now completely moved into the new studio space! (formerly known as our master bedroom!) Since many people have asked me how I juggle 3 businesses AND watch a toddler all day, I will focus this blog post on how I have been able to tailor my space to both my work and motherhood.

(for more focus on how I worked with a limited budget and incorporated recycled storage solutions, visit my Junk Mail Gems blog!)

I had a couple main goals in re-designing my new space:
1) Functionality of the space as it pertains to the type of design work that I do, and
2) Child safety.

As far as functionality goes for my work, things are laid out perfectly now. While my new "bigger" space is only 130 square feet, I was able to start from scratch this time and design with my business needs in mind, utilizing every inch to it's fullest. I have a space for my computer work (below, right half) which includes everything I need within arm's reach for doing my design work, as well as my website maintenance and order fulfillment for Paintertainment and Junk Mail Gems.

I then have an area for hand-done design work (sketches, Junk Mail Gems product creation, etc) on the left side of the room where my drawing board sits. Both work areas are by windows which provide great natural light and cut down on electricity usage.

While my home office clearly needed more space, organization, and functionality, of equal concern was my role as a work-from-home mom. I have a toddler running around the house 24/7 (and another one on the way), and while my old office had to remain largely unexplored by my curious 1.5 year old, I wanted this new space to be safe for him to enter and explore while Mommy is working. When he was a baby, it was easy to set a playpen or swing in my office, but now that he's mobile and curious, it's a whole new challenge! He really does not need to be in there very often as I do the majority of my design work during nap times and bedtime. However, by making it more child-friendly, when necessary I can easily pop in and out throughout the day to accomplish quick tasks for my clients sooner.

Strategic desk placement.
Being that I spend most of my time at my computer, rather than pushing it up against the wall, it sits perpendicular to the wall. Where I sit I now can see what's going on in my entire office. By turning my head to the windows I can see who's driving by or walking up to the house, and if I look toward the door, I have a clear view down the stairs and into the living room where my kiddo spends most of his play time. I have a child's room on either side of my studio now, so Mommy can keep everyone at least in the corner of her eye and within earshot.

Strategic Storage Placement
I also took into account what is stored where, knowing that everything on the lower half of my studio would be reachable by little hands. The Ikea Expedit bookshelf I used works great to divide and organize the space in this way:

I am able to purchase the drawer and door inserts where needed, and simply add child safety latches to them like any other cabinet.

The shelves on the bottom rows are full of coloring books and toys for my child to play with, as well as some other items that he either has no interest in, or I can live with him pulling out onto the floor (and are safe). Everything that would either make a huge mess or is not safe to play with is stored on the top shelves.

I got this drawer unit (above) at a garage sale for $5, and it holds my stash of extra drawing utensils as well as glitter that I sell on I have it sitting sideways (as shown) so that my little guy can't open the drawers. Being that it is on wheels and has handles on top, it is very easy to spin around when I want to access something.

Entertainment For Little Visitors
My file cabinet sits on the end of my desk. Being metal, it has very sharp corners, so I made sure to put cushioning corner guards on them. The sides are full of magnets to play with and the surface on top is dedicated to toys. It also conveniently has a lock, so I can keep him from opening the drawers and pulling papers out.

The cover remains open over the keys on my cabinet grand piano in the corner, allowing my little musician to make "music" as he pleases. I also have several safe, non-toy objects around the room that he can "discover" on his own and makes him feel like he found something cool. But, the layout of the upper level of my home allows me to simply gate off the stairs, and allow him to roam from his bedroom to my office while he plays.

Cable Management
Managing the mess of cords was something I considered carefully for both aesthetic reasons and child safety reasons, especially since the back of my desk is accessible in the main area of the room and not against a wall. I used an Ikea cord management "sling" on the back of my desk to capture everything coming out of my desktop. The pouch holds my power strip and keeps all of the outlets out of sight and out of reach. I used Cable Turtles to help keep excess cables from getting tangled up. As a result, I have only one single cable coming off of my desk, from the power strip to the wall.

There are a few outlets that are not easily accessible by little hands, but just in case, I have been using these nice outlet covers all over the house where kids roam:
I've seen so many toddlers easily pull off those little plug covers, but these are screwed on to the wall and replace your usual plates. To use them you just need to put the plug in the slots, slide to the side and push in...piece of cake. And when your toddler figures out how to pull the plug out, they snap shut and you're still safe. (If you have your power strips visible, check out this power strip cover.)

All in all, everyone is happy with the new studio layout. I get more work done when my toddler is napping because the space is designed around my various tasks, and I also can squeeze in a little more work time (= happy clients) while he is happily and safely exploring Mommy's office and the whole upper level. That means that I spend less time chasing him around saying "no, don't touch," and he spends more time with Mommy and having adventures exploring. Everybody wins!

Friday, August 7, 2009

GF Design has MOVED!

I am happy to say that I am currently blogging from my new studio! After some time spent assembling a bunch of Ikea furniture (above) in between client projects and getting all my "stuff" moved in, I am now more productive than ever! I plan on showing some photos of my new studio soon, once I get everything where I want it and get some other unwanted furniture moved out...stay tuned!

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Untooned" characters by Pixeloo

Being a big Photoshop guru, I just had to share these cool and disturbingly realistic "untooned" characters from Pixeloo! Check out Homer Simpson, if he were to have realistic textures added to his face:

Mario is another great one!

Also be sure to check out Stewie from Family Guy, and Jessica Rabbit!

Amazing work!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Design Eye Candy

Just had to share a little bit of cool design eye candy that I've come across this week.

Product Design
first up in product design is "Din-ink," designed by Andrea Cingoli, Paolo Emilio Bellisario, Cristian Cellini, and Francesca Fontana from Italy. This incredibly clever idea won them
first prize in the "dining in 2015" contest which I came across on Designboom. It's what I consider one of those "why didn't I think of that?" ideas. Great work!!

Web Design
Second is a very clever website design for Hema. Click on the link and don't click anything...just wait a minute and see what happens! Many thanks to my sister for passing this one on to me!

This I thought was just a beautifully done little video, "Niagra Falls in Motion," by Matthew Wartman. I think any designer can appreciate the motion, colors, timing, and overall beauty! I had taken the drive up to see Niagra Falls many times during the 4 years I lived in Ohio. So glad I got to see it in person while I was living closer to it. I never, however, had the chance to see how beautiful it is at night.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Break from Design for a Personal Art Project!

I've had this painting sitting on my easel since last summer, when I shot the photo that inspired it at the Hyland Park Reserve a couple miles from my house. Today I finally finished it! It was done with acrylic on stretched canvas and measures 10" x 20". Now I can say I at least did ONE painting this year! I used to do a lot more painting, but as marriage, kids, and work came into my life in full force, I just haven't had the time.

We've enjoyed many wonderful visits to the Hyland Park Reserve and the Richardson Nature Center right here in Bloomington, MN. Once you're on a trail in the reserve, you'd never know you were right in the middle of one of the largest cities in Minnesota. Nature is far as the eye can see, and we always get to see wildlife, big and small!

Up next I have started a mixed media art piece, with the subject matter being a sunset view of the Eiffel Tower that I shot on our trip to Paris this year. I'm determined to do a little art this summer and am glad I was able to carve out a little time today between paid projects!

To see more of my fine art and desing work, check out my portfolio.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A couple amazing videos

I am a huge fan of animation and stop motion films. Even when I was a little kid, I made my own claymation movies with my family's video camera, and many many little flip book animations. I haven't had the time to do many in my adult years, except for my first attempt at a stop motion "commercial" for my Junk Mail Gems business.

But, I always enjoy seeing other people's work. Here are a couple cool movies involving paper...

This one is an ad done by students for Hewlett Packard
, which I got the link from a friend on Facebook.

From that page I clicked a link to another really beautifully done movie using shredded paper. Must have been an incredible amount of work, but then so is anything done really well!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Funny Break: Literal Music Videos

Every designer needs a little humor break once in a while! Well, okay, maybe very often. Here's a little entertainment for you...some hilarious literal versions of music videos!

Total Eclipse of the Heart

With Arms Wide Open

Head Over Heels

Daydream Believer

Making Love Out of Nothing at All

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Links Now Up

I've been pretty crazy busy lately with several design projects, on top of a pretty substantial home remodeling project, but got a short break in the action this morning! After doing a little paperwork and tracking down some overdue invoices, I thought I'd use a little time to finally put some cool links up on my site. You can now check out some of the cool blogs that I visit regularly for design inspiration and trend updates, places I like to shop when I need something really unique and design conscious, websites I frequent for content that is useful in the work that I do, and even a list of some art hot spots in the Twin Cities! So, if you're stuck inside on this rainy day like me and want to do a little web surfing, come on in...the water's fine!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Original Amigurumi Crochet Design: Rocket Ship


I am excited to announce my newest crochet pattern addition to the Amigurumi Rocket Ship! I made this for my 1.5 year old for his space/robot themed bedroom which is in the works, and decided to write it down as I went to make my 2nd pattern. Check it out here!

Exiting Earth's atmosphere:

Orbiting Earth:

As you can see, my Photoshop skills come in handy for many projects!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

MOMS Club Newsletter Design

I've just recently taken on one "pro bono" project, designing monthly e-newsletters for our local MOMS Club here in Bloomington MN, of which I'm currently a member. I always enjoyed doing the newsletters while I was president of the IDSA Minnesota chapter, and thought that I'd offer up my services to do another!

This pdf newsletter is emailed out to all of the members each month, as well as published on the chapter's Yahoo group page. It contains articles, an events calendar, new members, birthdays, classifieds, etc. I have also developed a set of rotating color schemes that change with the seasons.

I hope to be able to share more of my upcoming projects (non pro-bono), when they enter the public eye and are no longer confidential...stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What does crochet have to do with design?!

What on earth would compel an industrial designer to put amigurumi toy patterns up on her design site?

Check out my answer to this question here to see how I ended up creating a new shopping section at GF Design with this cool robot as my first "Cosmic crochet pattern," now available for sale!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

DWR Champagne Chairs On Tour!

This past Tuesday, April 21st, my husband and I visited the Minneapolis DWR studio to check out the 50 champagne chairs "on tour," one of them being mine! (in the photo above) This is the third year that I have had one of my chair designs chosen to go on tour. (Check out my previous entries on my portfolio page)

I was never into sports in high school, and me as a cheerleader would have been disastrous, so this is about as close as I've ever come to being on the top of the pyramid.

Here are a few photos from the show...

There was another Minnesota-designed chair, and his was also on top of another pyramid:

Here are a few more chair shots...

The "Spring 2009" chair by Gavri Slasky won popular vote:

This "Grape Divine Chair" by Tony Nemyer won "DWR Staff Pick:"

Jesse Menayan's "Kub Armchair" won "Judges Pick:"

It's always fun to see the winning entries and marvel at their feats miniature craftsmanship!
The top 50 chairs are still on tour through May 15th, so check out the schedule here and see if it's coming to a DWR studio near you!