design lifestyle : : mid-century restoration

Added on by Amber Podratz.

In an effort to rid my room of Ikea particle board I purchased a mid-century modern dresser from a vintage shop (yes, it's real wood…walnut) The dresser is a Broyhill and is part of the Premiere Division. I have yet to find a similar dresser online, I found only found one nightstand. So I don't know much about the dresser except it's hard to find! Even though the dresser was faded and the finish had yellowed I saw it had the potential to be beautiful. I have never done a restoration on a piece of furniture and had to call to my Dad to see if he thought I could tackle this restoration (always a Daddy's girl), with a few tips and a vote of confidence I was sure I could do it. 

This was the original condition of the dresser, luckily there was no major damage to the wood or structure.

This was the original condition of the dresser, luckily there was no major damage to the wood or structure.

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The first step was to strip all the finish and stain from the dresser, as I said it was yellowed and faded. As I stripped back layer by layer the true wood began to reveal itself. This process took some time, the dresser was stubborn in giving up the finish it had held onto for some 50 years. With some patience, a face mask, and a whole lot of eco-friendly stripper I managed to remove all the old weathered stain. This is when it started getting exciting. I could see where this would end up.

The true wood color started to show through.

The true wood color started to show through.

Waiting for me to start sanding.

Waiting for me to start sanding.

The next step in the restoration is the sanding, and due to some "life" things getting in the way I have stalled out here. The restoration is a work in progress and it does drive me a bit crazy not having it finished. But the process has been both satisfying and insightful, I learned that I had it in me the whole time to tackle a project like this…I just needed to jump in. So more to come, the finished beautiful dresser is on the horizon.

city adventures : : new york city

Added on by Amber Podratz.

New York always breaks my heart. It is a love affair through the years that never seems to end well for me. Don't get me wrong, it's not the city, I love the city. It is sheer exhilaration walking through all the neighborhoods. Every restaurant, shop, or cozy bar catching your eye, dazzling you with the possibility of being an "insider" a true New Yorker. I feel like a fraud coming from Los Angeles. I can't be as cool as everyone, as self-assured, or as important as everyone seems. However, on my last trip I finally felt like I belonged, that I could do it, I could live in New York. I felt powerful walking through the city, feeling that distinct lure of being able to do anything or be anyone. It seems like such a perfect city for reinvention. And yet I fall into the same trap every time I go. I go to New York to see "friends" boys with no intention of loving me the way I thought wanted. I visit New York for them, hope they will sweep me away into a city that offers everything. And yet I come and go alone. "Let it Die" by Fiest is such a perfect summarization of my last trip: "The saddest part of a broken heart  Isn't the ending so much as the start  The tragedy starts from the very first spar  Losing your mind for the sake of your heart." 

And so I stroll the streets alone, feeling all of New York at once. The power, the fear, all the anxiety, and all the hope wrapped up in the streets. There is a lure that will always make me go back, knowing every time it will end before it starts.

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city adventures : : los angeles pt. 3

Added on by Amber Podratz.

My latest Los Angeles adventure was a walking food tour of DTLA, it was absolutely fabulous! The day was perfect…clear, bright, and beautifully sunny. The tour was hosted by Six Taste and consisted of walking and eating, hence the walking food tour! The tour guide did a great job of welcoming everyone and sharing interesting tid-bits about downtown. The first fun fact that blew me away was that DTLA was planned and built 33 degrees off due north. This allows for more light in the buildings and ensured that at least one side of the sidewalk would be shaded. And after working a summer in downtown, I can appreciate this little known fact. I would always seek out the shade side.

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Downtown Los Angeles is a great mix of old and new, you just  have to look up!

Downtown Los Angeles is a great mix of old and new, you just  have to look up!

Angels Flight

Angels Flight

 

Our first stop: the iconic Grand Central Market and two amazing tastings. The first was at Sarita's Pupuseria to sample pupusas. The best I've had! I could have had 3 more easily I couldn't get enough. The corn tortilla was soft, and warm with a bit of texture on the outside. The filling we sampled was the revuelta (beans, pork, and cheese) topped with a spicy salsa and a cooling slaw. Five stars.

Second stop: Still in the Grand Central Market we headed outside to the Horse Thief, a Texas BBQ featuring smoked meats. I've had BBQ in Austin and thought it was the real deal, until coming here. The brisket literally fell off your fork it was so tender, and was smoked to perfection. We also sampled the jicama slaw and cornbread, both excellent as well. Do yourself a favor and go, but go early they sell out daily!

horse-thief
Best brisket ever!

Best brisket ever!

Third stop: Dessert at Syrup, a trio of decedent treats! Belgium waffles topped with nutella and whipped cream, a sweet grilled cheese with raspberries, brie cheese, agave, toasted almonds,  all on a buttery croissant, and finally a blackberry jasmine ice cream. At this point in the tour I am so full I am not sure how I can continue, but I must we were only half done!

dessert

Fourth stop: French dining at Les noces du Figaro. I must say this was my least favorite stop of the bunch, the food was good but seemed like it was sitting out for a while waiting for us to arrive. Highlights were the beef carpaccio and snails. I can now say I tried snails!

Delicate and light

Delicate and light

Fifth stop: We are in the home stretch and by this time we have walked from Grand Central Market down to 7th street, which I was thankful for as it let the food settle before more deliciousness. Soi.7 was the final savory offering serving modern Thai cuisine. We were treated with yellow curry (highly recommend), pad Thai, chicken saytay, fried calamari (amazing), and to top it off a coconut sticky rice served with coconut ice cream and mango. Barely able to move, I rolled myself out onto the final stop.

sticky-rice

Sixth stop: Bottega Louie's! One of my favorite DTLA spots. Of course we finished with a beautiful and delicious macaroon.  

Earl Grey Macaroon with gold flecks

Earl Grey Macaroon with gold flecks

And that sums up one of the best Sunday's I have had in a long time. It doesn't get any better than running around downtown on a gorgeous day sampling equally gorgeous food!

design lifestyle : : the look

Added on by Amber Podratz.

I love makeup! With the right colors and application techniques you can discover whole new persona within yourself. I spent my teenage years experimenting with makeup, hair, and clothes. It was a form of self-expression, in fact it was my only form of self-expression. I needed a creative outlet, a way to define myself, a way to be seen. I found it every morning when I got ready for school, perfecting a look for what I referred to as my "fans", class mates that I imagined looking up to me for creative inspiration. I think this was all in my head but nonetheless it gave purpose to my creative expression.

Slowly I lost this expression…enter Art Center.

During my college years there was a shift in my creative energy and focus. Self was lost in design rigor and a complete immersion in typography, form, branding, and design as a whole. I never got ready in the morning, never really taking any time for myself. The neglect took it's toll.

Fast forward to today. I have finally realized I need to take care of myself, me as a person, not just me as a designer. I needed that self-expression back, the joy of creating a perfect look, a persona.

Happily I am experimenting with makeup once again, the following are some of my favorite looks from 2013 thus far. 

 

tropical chic

tropical chic

cMyk

cMyk

night eye

night eye

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summer 2013 : : orange lip

summer 2013 : : orange lip

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fall 2013 : : dark cat eye and bordeaux lip

fall 2013 : : dark cat eye and bordeaux lip

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rocking the turban look

rocking the turban look

mac artist sketch

mac artist sketch

fine art eyes

fine art eyes

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perfecting the cat eye

perfecting the cat eye

designer chic

designer chic

design work : : branding system

Added on by Amber Podratz.

Recently I worked on a corporate branding project (b2b) with the aim to systemize and solidify the expression of the brand. Exhaustive studies for color, grid, and naming conventions were explored. These explorations proved to be invaluable and provided the structure and personality the brand was in need of. Communications were divided into three categories with corresponding design templates. As a starting point these templates streamlined the design process, specifically in the areas of white sheets, charts and data sheets, and other misc business communications.   

The research and explorations I undertook was not only fascinating for me but the client really appreciated the thoughtfulness that went into every design decision.  A combination of classic design principles and strong systems rational have made this branding effort a success in my eyes! More work to come…

brand header system

brand header system

brand guidelines exploration

brand guidelines exploration

getting it all pulled together

getting it all pulled together

solid design principles are timeless

solid design principles are timeless

color studies

color studies

and some more

and some more

a must

a must

pantone fun

pantone fun

design work : : retail graphics

Added on by Amber Podratz.

My latest project has been to design environmental graphics for a retail space. Not in my usual wheelhouse, this has been a fun project to stretch out on as it were. Bold color, type, and graphics were used to engage and excite visitors. There was a need to make the retail space bilingual so I aimed to make the two play nice together. A strong color system was incorporated into the welcome pack, a collateral piece designed to inform and reinforce brand visibility after visitors have left the retail store.

I am looking forward to more projects like this, the process was fun and interesting. Oh, and the scale model was the best part! It was super lo-tech but I was obsessed with it. The space really came alive after seeing the design implemented.

sometimes you gotta shut the place down

sometimes you gotta shut the place down

concepting

concepting

brainstorm

brainstorm

graphics added to scale model 

graphics added to scale model 

environmental graphics installed

environmental graphics installed

office wall typography

office wall typography

city adventures : : los angeles pt. 2

Added on by Amber Podratz.

In keeping with my summer mission to explore all things Los Angeles, I spent an afternoon taking in the Flower District (I'd never been). Located on Wall Street between 7th and 8th, it's an area that has been significantly cleaned up in an effort to make downtown a more appealing place to live / visit. There were still a few…how should I put this…savory characters out and about, reminding you that this still is downtown LA after-all. 

I had a couple blocks to walk and the closer I got the more and more newspaper bundled flowers I saw. I was excited to see what newspaper-wrapped treasures I would walk out with! Totally not disappointed: 2-dozen yellow roses, 10 springs of orchids, banana leaves, and filler greens made it home with me. It was hard to narrow down my selections to even this, the inventory was overwhelming in the best of ways. In total I spent $25 for my bundles and left feeling invigorated and excited for my next day trip to downtown. 

http://www.laflowerdistrict.com

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world adventures : : bali

Added on by Amber Podratz.

I am a travel devotee! I love the freedom, reflection, and perspective that one gains through travel. My last trip was to beautiful Bali. It was tranquil, lush, and luxurious. I was fortunate to have experienced both the jungles and the beaches of Bali. My first stay was at Alila Ubud, located in the hill village of Payangan above the river Ayan. It was a two hour trek from Denpasar Airport, narrow roads and darting scooters made for a wild ride to the resort.

Once arrived the pampering began. A large villa with a surrounding pond was my home for three days. Poolside yoga was a treat and sublime spa treatments melted away the aches from the 24 hour journey. The sounds of frogs and geckos were a constent  reminder that I was in the jungle. Roosters from a nearby farm sounded the alarm in the mornings. All in all a great start to my first trip to south Asia (oh and I got to ride an elephant)

http://www.alilahotels.com/ubud

 

villa pool

villa pool

luxe bath

luxe bath

jungle pool

jungle pool

elephant ride

elephant ride

Day three and I transferred to my second destination Alila Soori. After reading an article on it in The Cool Hunter, I dreamt about visiting this resort for two years. Pulling up to the gate a wave of excitement, gratitude, and accomplishment washed over me. The property did not disappoint, in fact it was better than I could ever dream. Located on the southwest coast and flanked by black-sand beach and rice paddies made for an absolutely idyllic location.

I cannot even express how much I loved this property! Contemporary architecture and impeccable finishes…I was in heaven. The GM greeted me upon arrival and the suburb service continued from there. From best spa treatments I have ever received to the tranquil location, this stay was unforgettable.

http://www.alilahotels.com/soori

 

villa life

villa life

rice paddy view

rice paddy view

modern architecture 

modern architecture 

the perfect pool

the perfect pool

parting gift

parting gift

city adventures : : los angeles. pt. 1

Added on by Amber Podratz.

The allure of living in a large city like Los Angeles is never being without a new place to go, a restaurant to try, or a new area to explore. My summertime goal is to get out and see more of my city. 

There is nothing that epitomizes summer more than ice cream, so my first stop in my city adventure was Carmela Ice Cream in Pasadena. Located on Washington, the small shop was easy to miss and had to go around the block several times. (also very LA) Once I found it I was in ice cream heaven. A seasonal variety of flavors was available each one was delicious. I went with a classic strawberry (made with strawberries from a local farmer's market) and vanilla. I can honestly say I have never had such amazing ice cream!   This is a must stop for Los Angeles summer fun! 

chalk board menu

chalk board menu

heaven in a waffle cone

heaven in a waffle cone