Friday, November 18, 2011

Fate, Christmas and The Cosmos

Image sources, from top to bottom, left to right: model in blue make up via Kelly Jasmine, gold paillette cami via Splenderosa, gold paillette sequins via unknown source, blue and white urn via unknown source, Carina Nebula via The Hubble Space Telescope, Raku Handprint Vase by Rebecca Anderson Pottery (aka newrelic) via Etsy, Buddha figure via unknown source, gold ornaments on stairs via Splenderosa, brass candleholder via eBay, black coque trim via unknown source.
In designing our latest Christmas window displays for YÜ Fashion, an upmarket women's clothing and accessories shop, I felt a bizarre restlessness. On one hand, as a businessperson, I knew that the current economic and political climate meant Christmas décor trends would be relatively conservative this year, but on the other hand, as an artist and a human being, I needed to convey a sense of celebration and appreciation for everything we all still have. Christmas is not a time to be dour (not for me, anyway), and since our client fell in love with ID BOHEMIA because of our theatrical set designs and displays, whatever was going to happen had to bridge the gaps between lean and luxurious, fashion and timelessness.

I'd started thinking about the windows back in early September, when Occupy Wall Street was but a twinkle in someone's revolutionary eye. My inclination was to do an all gold window, like a peek into King Midas' grandmother's attic, featuring gold, bronze and copper glass ornaments, gold sequins, polished brass candlesticks, antique doors, and ornate picture frames. It was beautiful in my mind's eye, but as time passed and I examined its details, it seemed like luxury prettiness purely for the sake of luxury prettiness, and not forward-thinking enough. After rolling ideas in my head for a couple weeks and not getting anywhere, I decided to make an inspiration board and see if anything coalesced.

At the same time, I'd been feeling (and am still feeling) even more introspective than usual. My 30th birthday is fast approaching, Christmas season is upon us, and an relaunch is in the works (Spring 2012, I hope!),  The passing of a decade always does strange, if predictable, things to one's perception of self. Couple that with daily reviews of a life's work and evaluations of what my business and art stand for, and you have the ingredients for an internal monologue of epic proportions. Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I come from? Where am I going? These are the questions I've been pondering. Me...and Gauguin.

I wanted the window to have a global feel to convey our human interconnectedness, and in putting together the inspiration board I found myself gravitating towards images of starry skies and nebulae for their expansive connotations (and I admit, some part of my internal monologue included the lyrics to Michael W. Smith's "Place In This World"). When I found the two images below, everything fell into place.

Of all the images included in the board, the one on the right (above) is the most faithful to my original idea. What drew me to the image on the left was the warm/cool contrast between the model's blue skin and her gold makeup and the brass zipper on her chest, but as I looked at the image, what I liked even more was how her blue skin reminded me of Krishna and Vishnu. I liked making a Hindu connection, however tenuous, to a traditionally Christian holiday, and later as I walked around IDB HQ looking for props to include in the window, the thread of world religions gave me permission to use two Buddhas in stone and gold in the windows. The underlying theme of the windows became a sense of place and history, with motifs built on celestial objects and the low-key use of religious iconography.

I don't have photos of the windows to include in this post yet, as I'm still looking for a photographer, but to help you imagine how we built the window, we began with a vibrant backdrop of blue-violet satin, and hung large cutouts of a moon and stars covered in fine silver glitter. From there, we added large gold-framed mirrors for reflective shine and to create a sense of architecture, and a large blue and white Chinese floor vase for another layer of colour and impression of history. We cherry-picked our favourite peacock blue and gold Christmas ornaments and gold and blue handthrown pottery from our collections and placed them around the displays, setting the pottery in clusters around the floor reminiscent of moon craters, and the ornaments either on the floor or in glass apothecaries. We then finished each display with a Buddha figure and tasteful placards with our company name and contact info. Once I have photos of the displays, I'll be sure to post them.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this video my friend Scott sent to me. Sometimes we need a reminder that even if we're standing still, the universe is moving around us.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shop 'Til You Drop!

Our friend Jenna at Flowers by Jenna is taking part in the Shop Till You Drop Expo,  a pre-Christmas shopping event happening today at the Delta Edmonton South. You may remember Jenna as the designer who created the stunningly romantic floral arrangements for ID Bohemia's "Beauty & The Beast" editorial, seen on the WedLuxe Couture Chronicles. This post will talk about how we designed and put together her booth.

Jenna really wanted a warm and homey feel for her booth—classy and elegant, yet welcoming and a bit rustic. Though Jenna's personal style is somewhat minimal, she wanted something more lush and full for her booth to give her customers plenty of holiday decorating inspiration. She loves antiques, too, so we made sure to bring in some well-worn pieces, both antique and reproduction. For colour, she wanted her flowers to be the feature, so we grounded the booth in soothing tones of brown, grey and cream, letting the flowers act as pops of colour against this neutral backdrop. Our inspiration for her booth design came from the many amazing flower boutiques my partner Aaron and I visited during our honeymoon in Paris, as well as local design-savvy garden centres like Wellington and Greenland.

Since Jenna would be displaying and selling lots of flowers, greens and wreaths, we needed to unify all that texture, colour, and otherwise small stuff with some big gestures. ID Bohemia hung off-white curtains across the back of her space, creating a big block of colour (yes, white is a colour) to frame everything within the booth, and lightening the atmosphere considerably from the usual black trade show drapery. We advised Jenna to frame her banner prior to the show, to give her banner (i.e. her name and brand) a clean and polished look. We hung the framed banner across the back of the booth with wide grey ribbon tied in bows.

As another big gesture, we created a long counter, spanning the entire booth, by laying thick salvaged fir beams across two black wrought iron urns. On the counter, we arranged several antique wooden crates Jenna had found at country garage sales, and placed galvanized buckets inside for bunches of cedar and curly willow, and bouquets of hydrangea, lilies and cymbidium orchids. For greater texture and sparkle, we added rustic terracotta finials, and glass apothecaries filled with gold and silver ornaments. For height, Jenna created a simple arrangement of birch branches hung with ornaments. The informal symmetry of the cedar boughs and birch branches framed her booth nicely, lending the space greater presence without being overwhelming.

Jenna asked for a surface to write down contact info for her customers, where she could also keep her business cards and 4"x6" postcard coupons (10% off wedding packages over $1000). We placed a round, weathered wood table to one side of the booth, and then laid a lace tablecloth across the top for a casual French touch. A gourmet gift basket that Jenna had created took center stage on the table, and we then arranged her business cards and postcards around it in vintage ceramic and silver bowls.

To really give the booth a room-like feel, we laid a neutral-toned rug on the floor, knowing its hard-wearing material would  stand up to lots of foot traffic. On top of the rug, we laid out vintage galvanized wash basins, lined them with heavy brown cotton cloth, and placed Jenna's fresh wreaths inside. To vary the height and texture, we then mixed in her fresh bouquets of lilies, roses, kale and tulips. Prices were handwritten on manila shipping tags and tied on with sisal twine, a sweet touch that emphasised the handmade nature of Jenna's work. The antique window frame and slipper chair (Jenna had reupholstered it herself!) were the perfect finishing elements to her inviting space, and as the doors opened and guests began streaming in, we were happy to hear several oohs and ahhs.

ID Bohemia has built its reputation on spectacular event design for weddings, social events and corporate celebrations, but did you know we also design trade show booths, window displays and other promotional settings? If you are looking for a distinctive environment for your next trade show or window display, we'd love to hear from you! What do you think of Jenna's booth?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Accolades for ID Bohemia

We received a letter of gratitude in two parts from our our wonderful clients and friends Michael and Pragya. It made me us happy that we wanted to share it with you.
Hello dear decorator and friend!! We are safely back from the tropics. I wanted to touch base with you earlier and thank you for such an amazing job you did with decorating and planning the wedding. I have heard nothing but positive comments, and at times, that it was the most beautiful wedding anyone had attended. Hearing what a great time everyone had was my greatest reward. It was also an opportunity for some significant reunion and healing within my immediate family, and I know that the beauty and the luxury of the wedding contributed immensely to setting the stage for this to happen. People felt so honoured to be a part of the day, and the space you and Aaron created was so appreciated by all who shared the day with us!! . ♥♥ Michael.
" Christina and Aaron are amazing at what they do. Their attention to detail, artistic vision and collaborative style surpassed all of my expectations. We loved getting to know them through the process and found that their presence was as interesting, deep, exciting, layered, warm and as beautiful as the wedding they had designed. They were able to capture the essence of both myself and my partner, and put a spin on it that was breathtaking and completely satisfying. They took care of the smallest details to the largest details with total confidence and competency, from interviewing DJs with us, to giving us interesting homework assignments to really let them know what we were about. Christina and Aaron made it happen! On the day, people were spellbound, at the beauty and intricacy of the ceremony and reception, and I heard several comments that this was the most beautiful wedding they had ever attended.Five words*****Integrity, Inspired, Committed, Competent, Brilliant*****"

Truly, Michael Lepard

"Pragya and Michael's Wedding"
For a sneak peek at their wedding, click here to see more gorgeous images by Elizabeth van der Bij at ENV Photography.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Beauty & The Beast
Vendor Highlight: EnPrivado

A photo shoot like Beauty & The Beast could not have happened without the help and support of our crew and vendors. We choose our team with much consideration and we always aim to show off everyone's talents and offerings in an artful way, but unless we're willing to reduce the shoot into a series of product placements, sometimes we aren't able to do a vendor or product full justice. I'd like to dedicate this post to one of Beauty & The Beast's unsung heroes:

Located in downtown Edmonton, just south of the Legislature building, EnPrivado is a loft featuring designer shoes, handbags and fashion accessories. It's a place to linger and relax with a cup of tea, while perusing the shoes. During our visits to select shoes, Rosanne, one of the resident shoe-aholics, was an expert source of advice given their many tempting choices.

For each of the 3 looks, ID Bohemia featured a different style from EnPrivado's shoe closet:
  • Paco Gil Sequin Booties - the strong silhouette of these shoes was a perfect complement to ROOY Couture's architectural dress in gleaming white duchess silk satin. The sequin finish turns an otherwise deceptively simple design into something appropriate for your wedding day, and though not your usual bridal shoe, they'd be a chic choice for the fashion-forward bride. (After the wedding, they'd pair fantastically with dark denim or a little black dress.)

  • Pura Lopez Ivory Bow Shoes - these sweet and flirty heels were chosen for ROOY's flowing white silk charmeuse gown with hand-beaded black French lace overlay and satin sash—a playful choice for Beauty's love-driven transformation into a Bride. In ivory silk-satin, this shoe is the most typically bridal of the three styles we worked with, but the audacious proportions of the bow detail ensure a daring and sophisticated statement for any bride. For evenings out, EnPrivado also carries this shoe in racy red and understated black.

  • Paco Gil Black Strappy Wedges with Lacquered Heels - we paired this glittered wedge with ROOY Couture's hand-beaded and embroidered red Italian silk gown with lace-up corset bodice, for a look that is bold and romantic, yet distinctively modern.

The women at EnPrivado are supremely knowledgeable about their product and about a shoe's ability to contribute to the overall style of its wearer. Rosanne helped us beautifully translate abstract ideas like "we want the shoe to feel stark, even cold" into unexpected, yet entirely fitting shoes for each look. Checking out their website today, I'm feverish for these Pura Lopez Grey Booties.

Bravo EnPrivado!

(n.b: Though most of their lines are geared towards women, they have an equally stylish selection of mens shoes as well. After looking for Beauty's shoes with me, my partner Aaron said he'd be back to check out the mens shoes, and he usually hates shopping.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beauty & The Beast:
The Art Director's Cut

The Inspiration Board we put together - via

Well, my dears, the day has arrived! Beauty & The Beast - A Modern Interpretation of a Classic Fairy Tale is available for your viewing pleasure on the WedLuxe Couture Chronicles!

Putting together a photo shoot is a complicated undertaking, and you never know quite what it'll look like until it's published. We whittled down a selection of 32 images from the over two thousand shots taken that day in August, and of that selection, 15 made it to the blog. Interestingly, the lengthy (for a blog) text that I prepared (with some much appreciated assistance from Brenna, our caterer and food stylist, and a talented writer), was included exactly as we sent it. I love the stylized flourishes WedLuxe created to accompany the text.

Since I'm one of those people for whom "more is more", I'd like to share with you the rest of our selection. This post kicks off a series of posts that will include behind-the-scenes photos as well as vendor highlights. To read the complete blog copy and credits, click here.


Our inspiration board (shown above) includes: depictions of "Beauty and The Beast", film stills from "Dracula" (based on Bram Stoker's Victorian Gothic novel), an image of the reception dinner for Dita von Teese's wedding to Marilyn Manson in an Irish castle, church and barn interiors, Victorian inspired fashion, a red silk wedding gown (that we'd seen and loved at a bridal show), Paco Gil sequin boots, and objects and design details that embrace the Gothic aesthetic, typified by deep, dark colours and ornate details.

The Groom and Bride: Our story begins with The Beast, a lonely wanderer lacking material wealth and a place to call home, yet possessing a quiet strength, stemming from his belief in love.

The Beast sheds his beastly trappings.

What awaits him?

He happens upon Beauty, a woman toiling alone on her prosperous farm. Though surrounded by an abundant harvest and beautiful things, she is unhappy. As Beauty and The Beast gaze upon one another, they share an intangible moment—they know. Two desolate hearts give way to love, and everything changes forever.

The Ceremony: Beauty and The Beast are in love, and transformed. Bride and Groom recline together, on layers of pale, creamy satin and faux-fur. The Groom presents his bride with rings enclosed in an antique jewellery box lined in purple silk. Through an open door, their future beckons.

The Reception: In the hay loft of an ancient barn, the couple and their guests gather for a richly-hued celebration. Glowing light from an overhead chandelier adds comforting warmth to a dramatic colour palette that includes red, violet and black, while touches of pewter and grey maintain a sense of weathered refinement. As The AwesomeHots perform music from their Parlour Folk repertoire, the couple and their guests take their seats at the table. The guests, all in French lace masks, form a Bohemian cast of characters, from a deposed Shah, to a flapper in pearls, to a Mafia kingpin.

The AwesomeHots - hearing their singing echoing through the rafters
was a transcendent experience

A Gothic confection in fondant and feathers
The Honeymoon: The lovely couple plays an impromptu game of bocce, before embarking on their honeymoon. The next generation waits to continue the story. It's a new day...and they all live happily ever after.

The child wears a vintage fisherman's cap, from John James. Vintage leather luggage and bocce, all from ID BOHEMIA.

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