I've got a new, free desktop download for you guys today! As I grind away doing archival research this week, I thought it only right to whip up something that would inspire hard work and determination.

Thus, the latest installment of the 'Off the Wall' series: 'Eye of the Tiger'. I've included a detail of the wallpaper's design so you read the full thing, which says "you've got the eye of the tiger so thrill in the fight" (inspired, of course, by this bad ass song). Now go out there and take the world by storm!


(Want more? Previous 'Off the Wall' free desktop downloads here.)


If only everything you interact with in your daily life were designed by someone as thoughtful and clever as Peter Smart. Shower curtains would always stay in the tub, keeping your floor perfectly dry. Coffee makers wouldn't have infernally finicky on/off switches, leaving you woefully brew-less in the morning. Tax forms might actually be legible, allowing you to submit these important legal documents without worrying that an errant '1' might make you look like you are trying to claim 11 imaginary dependents.

Why am I so confident in the skills of designer Peter Smart? Well, he recently traveled all over the world to try to solve 50 Problems in 50 Days simply using the power of design. My favorite proposed project to come out of the challenge is by far his reworking of traditional boarding passes for air travel. Instead of the infernally ill-shaped horizontal pass, Smart came up with a vertical format that incorporates things you actually want and need to know—such as your gate, travel time and destination weather—through sans serif fonts and a simple bold layout. The proposed pass even folds to precisely fit inside your passport, with just the cliff notes version of your travel info sticking out of the top. Brilliant!

So listen up, TSA and airlines world wide! Let's institute some productive, passenger-focused legislation and get this design in the works, chop chop!

Read more about Smart's proposal here.


I am not a big facebook poster (though you can follow the O.I. on it here), but I am pretty big into instagram (check me out here). I am sure if you popped over to my feed right now you would see a shot or two of a pretty beach/tropical fruit/exotic activity/other vacation cliché taken by yours truly in the last week. This hilarious post, by Drew Hoolhorst, shows the reality just outside all of our perfectly filtered photographic frames.

Check out more written by Drew on his website here (including the Bachelor/Bachelorette recaps, a show to which I find myself shamefully addicted).


The funny thing about traveling is (at least for me, anyway) the more I travel the more I want to travel. It's a self-perpetuating cycle of awesome adventure (and not so awesome hits to my bank account, ha!).

So while I am 'out of the office' so to speak in Hawaii, I thought I would share some travel wish list items I have been eyeing as I planned our current excursion. . . .

You know how Pinterest is the magical sorting hat of all things inspirational, aspirational and pretty (nerdy Harry Potter reference!)? I use it to put every visual idea in its proper place and as you can see for yourself here. Well recently I have been doing the same thing for travel with AirBnB.* I like the idea of building your trip around one-of-a-kind places to stay or living like a local in fantastic metropoles like Paris or Amsterdam.

Anyway, I thought I would share some of my recent 'wishlist' finds of fabulous rentable AirBnB places with you. Which one is your favorite?

Above: a stunning modernist apartment in Copenhagen ($228 per night)

The ultimate insider stay, how about a chic, minimalist house boat in Amsterdam? ($256 per night)

And while we're on cozy spaces, how about this sweet sixties-style Airstream on the beach in Rye, Australia? ($186 per night)

Or this sweet treehouse surrounded by lush greenery in St. Keverne, England? ($127 per night)
By the way, my family is (only partially ironically) obsessed with Treehouse Masters . . .

A gorgeous pool, floor to ceiling windows and a sleek design scheme makes this home in Puerto Escondido, Mexico seem almost too good to be true at . . . ($150 per night)

And last, but definitely not least, how about this sophisticated yet homey lighthouse in Medulin, Croatia? ($355 per night) I have been wanting to stay at this lighthouse for ages but the wait list is insane! Croatia may be easier!

Did I miss any of your favorite picks? Let me know in the comments!

*This is not a sponsored post! I just think AirBnB is cool and has some great travel options.


Keeping this post short and sweet: how fabulous is this cork globe? A perfect palette to display my map pin obsession and a worthy addition to my map/globe/cartographic collection . . .

Pick up your own here for $200.


Guess what, guys? As you read this the handsome hubby and I are headed on a plane to Hawaii! Huzzah! We will spend a week there helping a dear friend ring in his 30th birthday and generally getting some much needed rest and relaxation. I am very much looking forward to escaping New York—which still feels beleaguered by some dastardly cool weather given it is now officially spring—and basking in some surf and sunshine. I am contemplating taking a surfing lesson, where I will surely make a fool of myself but not so badly that it can't be fixed by a delicious cocktail afterwards, right?

After Hawaii I am headed to Los Angeles to do a week's worth of research for my dissertation. Never fear, though, I will still have a handful of fun posts (many appropriately travel themed) scheduled to keep you occupied while I am gone. It will be almost like I never left!

Until then, aloha!

(photos of Hawaii above by the super talented Max Wanger)


Have you guys heard of Creative Mornings? I have written about it a couple times before (see here), but I was feeling in dire need of a jolt of inspiration yesterday and—without fail—the Creative Mornings site delivered big time. I mean, look at that homepage! It's like a perfect venn diagram of my obsession with bright colors and maps. Drool!

Besides being beautifully designed in and of itself, the Creative Mornings website also hosts an incredible archive of all their previous talks, now taking place in 71 (!) cities around the world. Since I will be giving a presentation on the first chapter of my dissertation next month at this fabulous design-focused symposium, I think it only proper to brush up on my public speaking skills by watching some of the masters at work in the Creative Mornings spotlight. In case you want some presentation pointers too, or are just in the mood for some good advice and a few laughs, check out the videos below. You won't regret it!

I loved Debbie Milman's talk when I saw it in person way back in 2011. I loved it even more when I rewatched it this week. Her advice here is both thoughtfully considered and amicably delivered—the whole presentation feels like an uplifting pep talk from a parent or friend.

This talk, by MailChimp founder Ben Chestnut, was the only one of my three picks today that I didn't get to see in person (it took place in Atlanta in December 2011). But it is absolutely hilarious in the way that a brilliant but rather crass friend can be—there is a common recurrence of a middle finger icon in the talk at very funny intervals—and is all the most inspirational for it. I can't recommend it enough. And I now I funny understand the MailChimp radio ads that say they make hats for small dogs and cats!

Last, but definitely not least, is this belly-laugh-, drool-, and awe-inducing talk by Christoph Niemann (who I have extolled on many occasions before, see here). His illustrations and masterful creativity never ceases to amaze me and this short and sweet presentation will show you why. I shared before and I have to share it again—it's that good.

See more of creative goodness at Creative Mornings here.


I kind of in love with the necklaces featured in the Etsy shop called Floti. These beauties are created from handmade and hand-painted clay beads and strike me as the perfect pop of color to brighten up your spring wardrobe. Officially wishlisted!

Head over to the shop here to buy something bright and pretty.

p.s. Like what you see? Try this post, this one, this one, and that one for more drool-worthy jewelry inspiration.


This is such a cool project! It proves that Paris has an almost spiritual connection to art and culture unlike any other city in the world. Created by French artist Etienne Lavie, it's called OMG Who Stole My Ads. What does it entail? Well Lavie selectively replaced the advertisements on billboards and signposts all over Paris with beautiful reproductions of canonical paintings from the annals of art history. Suddenly that old cell phone ad—which you hurried by on your way to the metro—is subsumed by Delacroix's heroic and inspirational Liberty Leading the People (coincidentally owned by the Louvre). And the metro billboard which used to feature waifish models prancing about in expensive clothing, now boasts buxom beauties in shimmering robes in the form of Fragonard's Rinaldo in the Garden of the Palace of Armida. Much better, right?I love how this takes public art to a whole new level, literally brings masterpieces to the streets. Unfortunately the images above are only mock ups; Lavie actually photographed the street scenes and then photoshopped the paintings in. But oh how lovely to have it executed in real life!Read more about the project here and see more images on Lavie's website here.
(thanks to My Modern Met for the tip


I have long been a fan of what I colloquially call "chart art"—a poster or print laid out in a simple geometric grid featuring bold, graphic illustrations (see here, here, here, here or here as proof). So, needless to say, I instantly fell in love with the works on offer at the Etsy shop WeaversofSouthSea. It doesn't hurt that their designs on based on some of my favorite things like dogs (exhibit a) and Eames designs (exhibit b). Plus they have several gorgeous illustrations of city landscapes, including beautiful renditions of my own New York City at night and during the day. The icing on the cake? All of the prints are priced insanely reasonably at $19. Good design + great prices = a win win!

Check out all the graphic goodies on sale at WeaversofSouthSea here.


Have you heard of the San Francisco-based organization Social Print Studio (their lovely logo is above)? I discovered them last fall when I was looking for cool stocking stuffers for my family for Christmas. I found myself immediately inspired by their impressive selection of products—sold under the moniker Prinstagram—which display your instagram photos in new and inventive ways. They have recently expanded this line of goodies and I thought it only proper to share some of my favorites (you know, in you case you have some birthdays or holidays coming up and need some gift ideas).

How about these cute calling cards? You can use them for business cards, gift tags, mini invites, or anything your creative mind can come up with. ($20 for 60 cards, $25 for 100)

Or maybe you prefer big, bright prints for your all star instagram shots. ($12 for a set of 24 4"x4" squares)

For Christmas I ended up sticking three of these fabulously tiny (magnetic!) photo albums in my hubby's stocking. They were a (disproportionately) huge hit! ($10 for 3)

A new product but an instant favorite of mine, how awesome of these photobooth-style image strips? Swoon! ($9 for 10 strips)

And, just in case your desk was looking a little bare, they also sell tiny page-a-day calendars in three different styles. Practical and beautiful. ($40 for 365 prints)

And there's a bonus: they now sell gorgeous concrete and wood display stands for your new goodies (the calendar display above sells for $29; here the photo display sells for $22).

Pretty cool right? Check out all the lovely things on offer at Social Print Studio's Prinstragram shop here and check out the studio's general website, where they talk about their goal of "designing apps, building new media art installations and creating joy" here.