Meet Designer Ashley Rodriguez Reed

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We see thousands of photos a day. Our Instagram feeds are filled with the perfectly polished coffee table and pumpkin spice lattes have made their cameo appearance in every fashion blogger’s ootd. We drool, we scroll, we repeat. It’s not often when we stop to notice something different.

In the overwhelmingly huge Javits Convention Center, I stopped.

This past spring, I flew to New York to get inspired by the National Stationary Show. The work of each vendor was exquisite. Though, after walking aisle by aisle, I began to notice a lot of similarities around me. I could easily spot the top five trends in the stationary biz.

Getting lost in the maze of the convention center, my senior designer and I found ourselves wandering into the SURTEX marketplace. Surtex is the global B2B marketplace for sourcing original art & design—where artists, art agents, licensing agencies and licensors connect with manufacturers and retailers to create the next best-selling products in every category imaginable.

The first booth I saw was Ashley’s. My senior designer and I both stopped – yes, physically stopped and looked (a rarity at these shows). Ashley Rodriguez Reed had something that the others didn’t. She had flare. Originality. Spunk. Complexity. Her work was captivating.

This summer, I got to know a bit more about Ashley and the inspiration behind her unique patterning. As an artist and designer, Ashley has set her goal on a surface pattern line full of textiles, wall paper, and more. As a teacher, she continues to inspire young artists and designers.

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Tell me about your brand. What do you stand for as an artist?

I started to develop my brand in 2015 when I committed to building a business around surface pattern design. My style is meant for people who love art, color, and fun! I make artwork that is inspired by many different things, but my artistic style of using layering and texture brings a unique element.


I want my artwork to bring joy, inspiration and a sense of play into people’s lives.


I couldn’t agree more! When did you know you wanted to pursue art as a career?

I knew very early on that I wanted to be an artist. In elementary school, art was my favorite subject. It was the only class I could easily focus on. In college, I thought I wanted to do fashion design, but that changed to fine art. I liked the freedom that a BFA would give me. I studied printmaking and textile design before going on to my MFA in Fiber and Material Studies. Now I am a designer, teacher and fine artist.

That sounds like quite the full schedule. What are your day-to-day activities like?

Right now everything has been all over the place due to my move to San Fransisco. When I get back into a routine, my day to day would be teaching art, drawing or painting at my home studio, continuing to build collections, and working on my overall brand. With my fine art practice, finding time to work on art projects varies. If I have a show, I might be in a larger studio space screen printing and building on the weekends. The past 3 years I was teaching undergraduates as an adjunct professor at Tyler School of Art. That was an amazing experience!

This year, I had worked toward SURTEX by building my brand. I’ve always found ways to piece things together and continue to balance work and art making. It can be nerve-racking at times to have a lot of unknowns but it’s also freeing.

How would you describe your style? What inspires you most?

My style is a mixture of geometric + bold meets texture + illustrative. I’ve always gravitated towards pattern, lots of color, and layering. Nature is my favorite place to look. There’s so much interesting beauty in nature. There’s also the relationship we have with nature from how we cultivate it, shape it, and sadly destroy it. I’m interested in cycles in nature, growth, and transformation.

I also love fashion. Fashion is interesting because it changes all the time and it’s a way to express ourselves. I love seeing people take creative risks and wearing bold prints with confidence!

I hear ya! With several creative outlets available at your finger tips, you have to have a favorite. Which medium keeps you loving what you do?

My favorite creative outlet is printing. I love screen-printing without a plan. For example, I might make a few screens and then overlap and layer different patterns and create different compositions from them. I also like to play with different materials and see what they can do. In graduate school, I found that cardboard was in an abundant supply. I decided to work with it and see how I can sculpt with it. It was a challenge but the more I made, the better I understood how to push the material. I like that kind of process.

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You have taken patterning to another level. What is it about patterns that you enjoy?

I’ve always enjoyed how patterns express so much. For example, if you see a certain type of pattern, you may be able to identify the culture and/or time it comes from. It is like another language that can tell us about a person, place, or thing.

Creating pattern is very stimulating. It is mesmerizing as well. Even though surface pattern is so prevalent, there is still a skill to designing a very interesting pattern. I like playing with structure and color. A good pattern has to be considerate of this.

I’m in love with your cod pattern (above pillows)! What made you decide to work animals into your new line?

Thank you! When I first started, I made patterns that were less illustrative, with only abstract shapes and designs. Then I realized how much I love and adore animals and illustration. About halfway through designing my collections, I really began to draw animals because they make me happy! I thought, why not start to draw them and see where it goes. A lot of pattern for children has animals but I wanted to make animal patterns that adults could enjoy just as kids do.

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What goals do you have for your artwork? How would you like it placed in the design world?

I would like to have a line of fabric that people can buy yardage from and make anything they want with it such as bags, pillows, or clothing. I see my work as many types of products and it would be amazing to see what other people do with them. I want the patterns to be used creatively by people who like to make, style, and design themselves.

What advice do you have for emerging artists?

Keep making no matter what! It’s hard to find time when we have other jobs and life obligations. Creating a space that you can work in is also helpful. If you don’t make a place or set aside time, it will slip away. Stay connected to other artists and ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there’s something you want to know. It can be scary to put yourself out there but it’s the only way. Don’t be afraid of what other people say. I’ve had many moments where I’m thinking to myself, I must be crazy for making/drawing this. What am I doing? But then, I just keep going. You have to have faith that it will work out through the process if you stick with it.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I think I’ll still be living in the Bay Area and probably doing a combination of what I’m doing now. Teaching is a passion of mine and I want to continue to be an artist/designer and educator. In five years, I want to have seen my artwork licensed on a line of textiles and see how people have been inspired to use them. I would love to see my pattern on home interior textiles or wallpaper. I’m excited about where it will go! I’m looking forward to more collaborations with businesses, artists, and students!

The Quick 5!

A musician/band you never get sick of is: Pink Floyd

Your favorite outfit in your closet is a: jersey knit tank dress. So simple and easy!

Coffee or Smoothie? Coffee!

Beach bum or Mountain climber? Climb the mountain to get to a beach.

Role model: My mom


Find Ashley online:

http://www.ashleyrodriguezreed.com

@ashleyrodriguezreed

 

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Blanc on The Everygirl’s Home Tour

Today is filled with excitement as I share something very dear to me – my home! I had the pleasure of hosting one of my favorite blogs,The Everygirl, and photographer Nancy Beale at my Charleston abode, where we talked about home decor, graphic design, and Blanc’s “ah-ha” moment.

See the entire feature on The Everygirl!

Getting Personal with Society Social’s Roxy Owens

Let’s face it. If you haven’t dreamt about a piece of furniture yet, you are about to. Every night before I fall asleep, I go over my day’s accomplishments and tomorrow’s to-do list (yes, I’m that type A). I think about all the things I’m thankful for, along with how I forgot to pay my credit card bill and how much I really need a new desk chair for my 5-9 pm blogging gig. I ooo and ahh over Society Social’s Matisse Chair on my iPhone and fall asleep in shades of avocado and orchid twill.

Meet Roxy Owens – owner and head designer of Society Social, a home and lifestyle furniture line featuring bold colors and tropical influences. As a leading tastemaker in the home and entertaining industry, Roxy has received high praises from HGTV, House Beautiful, Southern Living, and Lonny.

Known widely for her renaissance of the bar cart, Roxy has taken the home-decor industry by the horns by inviting bright colors, bold fabrics, and fine-detailed materials into the mix. Getting to know Roxy’s business mottos and career overview was easy – two of my favorite blogs had done the heavy lifting for me. As an aspiring designer, I knew I had to say hello – even if it were only to ask some silly questions of my own (Roxy, can we totally be BFF’s?!).

 

9 Q’s for Roxy O:

You almost single-handedly brought the bar cart back to life. If you could pick one other  furniture or fashion comeback, what would it be?

“That is so sweet! Thank you! I definitely took on a mission to bring the bar cart back and have been so tickled to see it make a spirited resurgence. I would love to see classic rattan in more homes, whether it’s natural or newly refinished in a pop of pink!”

 

Give me a walkthrough of your closet. What items are your staples?

“I don’t like to spend a lot of time getting dressed in the morning because it makes me feel like I’m not focused on getting to work, so my closet is filled with easy, casual go-to’s like breezy dresses, linen tees (love!), and my favorite ripped jeans. After hours, I loved to dress up and have a weakness for glam dresses and caftans so there’s a few of those in there too!

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A good hostess should never run out of ________.

“Champagne.”

 

You are designing a friend’s powder room. Do you splurge for the patterned wallpaper or make a statement with a funky mirror?

“How do I possibly choose? Both!”

 

What book should be on every girl’s reading list? 

“It’s summer so an easy, beach read to be enjoyed with a cocktail in hand. Crazy, Rich Asians is hilarious and fascinating all at once.”

 

Beyonce has offered you her private jet for the day. Where do you go and what do you do? 

“I would pack it full of friends and family and off to Positano we would go!”

 

What item doesn’t belong on your bar cart, but is there anyway?

“I live in a small NYC apartment, so every piece of furniture has to double task. The top of my bar cart is styled as an end table, while the bottom holds all our glassware and booze. I don’t think there are rules in decorating! The most important thing is to make the space your own!”

 

What do you love about the first piece of furniture you created and what do you love about the last? 

“What I love most about the design process is the very end of it, when customers send me images of their home and how they’ve made SS their own.”

 

At the end of the day, what complements your gin and tonic?

“I’ve been known to take a few laps around the room, dancing solo.”


I can’t thank you enough, Roxy! I’ll join your dance party any day.

Find Roxy on Instagram via @societysocial

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secretary Desk Facelift

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When you grow up and it’s time to leave the nest, you take many things with you: life lessons, mom’s sugar cookie recipe, and, for most of us, your childhood bedroom set. Nothing says adulthood like a throwback to middle school sleepovers. My lucky inheritance: a 50-year old, Amish secretary desk.

I’ve squirmed at this desk since my 11-year old, tomboy-self noticed the “flowery” carvings at the top of the secretary. Thirteen years later, there I was: still under-joyed by the handcrafted piece of furniture. It was finally time. I had to bite the bullet and paint the sucker.

Rules Worth Breaking – never paint over the natural look of wood, whether it’s furniture, trim/panelling, or an antique trinket. 

The fact of the matter is, sometimes things need a facelift… a fresh perspective… a little light. Take it from the experts at Domino (shown below) who are no strangers to painting a wood panel or two in order to make a statement.

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Here’s what you’ll need to know before you dive in:

1. Does the wood furniture need to be sanded?
Yes if the wood is pre-finished. Lightly sand enough to dull the finish so the new paint will stick better. 

2. Do you need to prime the wood?
No if you are using chalk paint. Chalk paint serves as a paint and primer duo and can be sanded down to achieve a distressed finish. Ask your hardware store’s paint specialist what kind of primer is best for your specific furniture.

3. Will I need multiple coats of paint?
Most likely, yes. If the wood has not been finished before, it will soak up the primer and paint, thus needing more layers of paint.

4. How do I know what paint finish to choose?
This is by preference. Most design guru’s are going for a matte finish as seen in the Domino images above. If you want a glossier undertone, move up to a glossy finish. For a distressed look, try coating your piece with chalk paint and then lightly sanding it down.

 How to make it your own:

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 1. New Hardware.
Knobs can make all the difference. They are the accessories of a piece of furniture. Find funky, unique knobs at Anthropologie or Hobby Lobby. I chose to stick with the original (handmade!) ceramic knobs on my secretary desk for an understated look. To add femininity, I spray painted all of the screws/hinges gold. It’s the little things! 

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2. Add a surprise.
Drawers leave room for some fun. I painted the inside and sides of my secretary’s drawers a soft mint color to mimic the pattern of my bedspread. The hidden pop of color adds an extra surprise to the desk. Looking for a bigger impact? Paint the entire backing of the desk a bright color.

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3. Dress it up.
This secretary had some growing up to do. No longer a tomboy’s homework station, it’s now used as my vanity. Since I went with a light cool gray color, I brought in lots of bright color with make up trays and jewelry bowls. 

Blanc_HutchRoomShow me your refinished furniture projects by using the hashtag #boldwithblanc.

Happy DIY-ing!

gallery wall guidelines

Blanc Statement ArtAs I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m a sucker for a good piece of art.

Men, that’s easy. I like them confident, cleverly funny, and with a smart head on their shoulders. Classic or new age, screen-printed or hand-painted, black and white or color galore: I have no “type” when it comes to art. In fact, I may or may not have chosen to live in my teensy carriage house based on the fact that it had tall ceilings where I could create a killer gallery wall.

I believe that you have to have an eye for art and that everyone’s eye is different (just like in choosing men). If I was forced to narrow down my style, I would say it is bold and eclectic. I like that no piece matches another and that there is never a theme throughout my collection work (unless of course, it’s accidental!). Today, I’ll be sharing my tips for hanging art, along with designer and blog-guru Erin Gates’ tips from her book, Elements of Style.

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Erin’s tips on ways to hang art :
(in the words of yours truly)

1. The Statement (as shown in my living room above) – Use one piece of art that is large enough to anchor the room and make a lasting impression. Artwork that is too small will get lost on a large wall. This particular piece was DIY-ed after a piece of artwork on one of my favorite blogs. I added the spray painted corner brackets that I found at Ace Hardware.

2. The Leaner – For a more casual look, lean a grouping of artwork on a shelf or mantel up against a wall. Layer the frames over-top one another for a cohesive look.

3. The Gallery Wall (as shown as in the first image above) – You may not know it, but gallery walls are surprisingly simple. The best come from simply winging it with no measurements at all. Erin’s tip: trace all your art on newsprint and arrange them on the wall with painters tape first. Then let the hanging begin.

4. The Grid – Arrange matching frames in a grid for a crisp look (a grid of black and white photos is my fav!). For smaller frame sizes, keep each 1-2 inches between frames. Larger frame sizes can have up to 4 inches between frames.

Adding a Blanc twist:

1. Balance – I like to keep the largest pieces of my gallery wall near the bottom of the grouping. Visually, these pieces carry a lot of weight so you don’t want them “squishing” a smaller piece of art. Balance sizes and colors throughout your wall rather than grouping them. Also keep an eye out for the type of art you are displaying. Balance abstract art, photography, drawings, etc.

2. Think out of the box – Ditch the frame. Adding unframed pieces to your collection can add dimension. Try using metallic animal heads, gold urchins, mirrors, or photo hangers (pictured below, find at Target) to add interest.

3. Stick to a theme when framing – using all the same frame type can give you a unified and tailored look. On the opposite end of the spectrum, using all different types of frames can give you an eclectic feel that will unify itself on the wall.

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Happy Hanging!

Questions on the techniques or images shown? Comment below!

 

make a small room feel bigger

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For most people in their 20’s, “living the high life” isn’t in our vocabulary unless we’re having a Miller Lite on the beach. There is no “life in the fast lane” or “rich kids of xyz.” Most of us are still keeping a heavy stockpile of Ramen Noodles and Totino’s pizzas in our fridge (bad habits die hard), while maintaining just enough money to go out on the weekends.

This being said, I can make a few assumptions: 1. Unless you’re living with roommates, you pad is relatively tiny. 2. Home decor falls low on the list of shopping priorities. 3. Everything is too large for your small space.

Let me share a little trick with my fellow small-home-renters: visually heavy weighted furniture pieces will eat up your small apartment. Buy pieces that are visually light: glass, acrylic, Lucite, and mirrored furniture.

Interior and furniture designers have created some absolutely stunning pieces for the everyday home. One of my favorite on-trend designers, Jonathan Adler, has an entire collection devoted to Lucite and acrylic pieces. Most are finished with a pop of color or brass accents that are so fab, I can’t stand it.

Jonathan Adler These designer pieces can be found all over the map. The trick is to find them at a price point comfortable to you. Start small with an acrylic bar tray and move up to an industrial glass coffee table when you can afford more (I found mine at Celadon Outlet on sale for $200 – steal!). Just because they are clear, doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Look for something with intricate detail for a less contemporary feel, like this thrift shop find in dire need of a coat of spray paint!

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A little online shopping gets you halfway there. These pieces are more airy and will not visually weigh down a room. Mirrored pieces reflect light making a room seem brighter and less cluttered. Though, you will have to do some measuring to make sure the piece will fit! No one wants to spend $200 just to have a coffee table that is too big!

Here are some of my favorite affordable pieces:

CB2 Vapor Chair

CB2’s Vapor Chair, $179 each | Buy here!

Perfect for a small eating area. These lightweight chairs will make a cramped kitchen look a bit more airy.


 

Threshold LampTarget Threshold Artisan Glass Jug Lamp Base, $12.49 – $44.99 | Buy here!

I love this large statement piece. You get the look of an oversize lamp, without the heaviness of a dark or bold color.


 

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World Market Mirrored Console, $233 | Buy here!

I love this in a hallway, but it could also be used as a vanity or tv stand. Always think outside the box! Quick – it’s on sale!


Sears Accent Table

Sears Safavieh Dermot Accent Table, $163 | Buy here!

I will admit, I’m not a huge fan of iron bamboo legs. I would spray paint the base a kelly green to make the bamboo pop! Take a look at the entire Safavieh collection – I’m in love with the details and the prices!


 

Things to remember: look for fun accents and little details. Be sure to measure your space before purchasing. Pair your lucite and acrylic furniture with fun color and contemporary furniture pieces – an eclectic look is always on point!

Happy shopping!