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    A Jade Blossom: Inspired by "In the Mood for Love" (Wong Kar-Wai)

    The Toronto International Film Festival is currently hosting A Century of Chinese Cinema from June until August. We had the pleasure of attending one of the screenings, and it was quite a beautiful piece. Now is the perfect time to share about our recent editorial creative, because a part of our inspiration was the work of director Wong Kar-Wai; particularly, In the Mood for Love, which is a part of TIFF’s lineup. #CC100TIFF

    In the fall of 2012, PALETTERA partnered with Ikonica to produce an editorial creative at the Art Gallery of Ontario titled, “A Jade Blossom.” We worked along side a talented team of professionals: Stemz (for decor and floral), Jackie Gideon Beauty (make-up, hair and styling), Romona Keveza (bridal gowns), Cakes by Konstadin (cake design), and Tara Fava (custom jewellery). PALETTERA was responsible for the art direction and stationery design. The creative was published in Wedluxe Magazine in the Winter/Spring 2013 Eastern Edition. Here, we would like to share the vision of the creative, as well as some of our inspirations. It was such an honour to work with this high calibre team!


    In 421(Jin Dynasty) in China, poet Tao Yuanming composed PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING (traditional Chinese: 桃花源記; pinyin: Táohuā Yuán Jì)— a fable about a discovery of an ethereal utopia where its people lead an ideal existence in harmony with nature, completely unaware of the outside world for centuries. In the story, a fisherman from Wuling, comes across a beautiful peach grove, and he discovers happy and content people that live completely cut off from the troubles in the outside world since the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BCE).

    Jade carries immense historical value that has translated into time-honoured traditions and everyday use in modern culture. In the history of art of the Chinese empire, jade has had a special significance, comparable with that of gold and diamonds in the West (diamonds holding predominant significance and value in all Western weddings around the world). Jade that has become a vivid green shade became known in the Chinese culture as Feicui (翡翠) Jade, which is considered a highly valued and appreciated variety of the stone. Many documented jade pieces are intricately carved by hand by master sculptures, and radiate in its colour, organic composition and ability to offer depth and character in its simplicity. Often times, a designated jade stone is passed down through generations of a family.

    In 2010, while travelling in Hong Kong, we received a special gift: a beautiful jade charm that was carved with a tiny bird in a tree of blossoms (thank you, Sandy!). It sparked a moment of inspiration that finally took shape when this editorial creative was being planned. Adapting the historic and sentimental value of Jade throughout our concept, we used Jade as one of the two main aesthetic avenues to portray the essence of a naturous paradise — not only literally with some shades of green and Feicui, but also the characteristics of the stone, its organic variations and substantial and sculptural nature.

    In a refreshing take on contemporary event design, the Art Gallery of Ontario was the perfect setting for our collective vision, as well as our lovingly crafted artifacts of invitation and stationery, cake, floral arrangements, and vignettes.

    Fit for wall art — Inspired by Jade and White Porcelain; beauty by Jackie Gideon; jewellery by Tara Fava; decor by Stemz; cake by Cakes by Konstadin; art direction: PALETTERA; photography: Ikonica
    Inspired by Jade and White Porcelain; cake by Cakes by Konstadin; art direction: PALETTERA; photography: Ikonica

    The invitation was tailored to mimic the physical traits of carved jade. The blossoms were hand-illustrated and letterpress printed, finished with beautifully typeset gold-pressed text. Charmingly, the invitation shows varying depths of green through the rice paper, like how a stone would reflect light. The main piece was kept inside a deep jade green gate fold folio, with tiny, delicated hand-crafted paper peach blossoms that acted as the knobs.

    Presented in a handcrafted box made of rice paper and kraft paper, a lovely quote on the box band by Helen Keller works with the tactile texture of the piece to evoke feeling and touch and experience, “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.”

    Bouquet by Stemz Flowers on a White Porcelain Base

    Tea Ceremony Cups from William Ashley and Dress by Romona Keveza, bouquet by Stemz


    The body of work that inspired the direction of our creative comes from Director Wong Ka-Wai. His exemplary work in films is not only intriguing and dramatic, but highly stylized and carefully articulated. Born in Shanghai, Wong is a highly acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker, “internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylised, emotionally resonant work, including Days of Being Wild (1990), Ashes of Time (1994), Chungking Express (1994), & Happy Together (1997).” His film In the Mood for Love (2000), starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung, garnered widespread critical acclaim and received awards at the Cannes Film Festival.

    In Peter Brunette’s book in the series of Contemporary Film Directors, he writes about a resounding quality of the narrative of Wong’s work — that “it is not a case of style over substance; rather, it’s style as substance.” (preface xv) The context of the statement was a part of a political context and discussion of European and Chinese aesthetics. In relating it to graphic design and art direction, the relationship between the formal elements and the message is so important in design. This is not to imply a linear narrative, but rather, a narrative carried by specific and formal elements.

    beautiful rice paper menus by PALETTERA, presented in a scroll format and custom chopstick sleeves with each guests' name and their significance noted beside gold pressed blossoms

    Each menu was a part of a large Chinese brush painting, which was carefully printed on rice paper, with a small and classy double happiness symbol pressed in gold. Presented in a a scroll format, the band that kept the scroll together was sealed by a wax-seal inspired gold paper charm with the matching symbol inside the menu.

    We hope that you enjoyed these gorgeous images, captured exquisitely by our co-producer and respected colleague, Jackson Huang, of Ikonica (one of the most talented and dedicated photographers in the country).

    More to come!

    Tags: Yorkville Toronto

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    Our New Sign is Up!

    We cannot contain our excitement in the studio today! After several weeks of perfecting our order with the signage company, the large sign at our head office/design studio is up! If you drive up Warden Avenue this evening, you may be able to catch a glimpse. Our informal lighting ceremony will take place tomorrow, at the return of the electrician. The gentlemen on the massive cherry picker had a blast with kerning and alignment today — we thank them for a wonderful job!

    hand-crafted sign for PALETTERA's design studio and head office


    For those who have followed our work closely, you will know that our very first signage piece was hand-crafted by our team in 2009 (specifically, by Ray & Conrad). It was made from an authentic vintage typecase, which is recognizable by looking at the “tray” or frame that the wooden letters are backed onto. It is currently mounted outside our beautiful workshop and consultation space in Unionville, just around the corner from Main Street.

    You may have noticed that each letter of our new sign is an individual piece too! Every letter was lovingly hand-crafted by a neighbouring signage company in Markham; their team cut metal sheets into strips, before using heat to bend into place. Each letter was then powder coated, sanded and recoated again (we visited to see how it was done). Then, tubes of lights and wires were inserted prior to the last and bottom layer, which is used to diffuse light. Watching them “set the type” onto our walls this morning was such an exciting moment and milestone for our entire team at PALETTERA! It was as if the tiny lead typeblocks in our studio became magnificent sculptures, which now grace the top of our building. It’s a lovely reminder that type is not flat — each letter is an object, a sculptural form of being, and an integral part of our everyday, past and present. We are so happy that our sign can add some character to the streetscape, as we continue to contribute to our community, locale, and country.

    At this time, we just want to express how grateful we are to all our clients, colleagues, followers, our dedicated team, and our family and friends. We look forward to many fabulous years of celebrating and creating together!

    The PALETTERA team

    Tags: Yorkville Toronto

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    And then there was light: some memorable Springtime work

    The sun is out and the weather is just delightful. Let us celebrate a little by sharing some Springtime creations that also delight the heart!

    On Light

    There is an inseparable relationship between the outside and our work: the beams of sunlight that stream in through the window everyday give life to our work and allow our work to be seen. Letterpress would have no meaning in the dark, just as a plant could not thrive without light. Light interacts with the surface of the paper and form shadows around the sculpted crevices of each intricate impression. Every stroke of ink that was transformed into a physical mold in order to cast a physical dimension, which comes to life in light.

    Claire & Tyler’s save-the-dates, in a charming, rustic, farm-inspired style | Private Estate, 2012

    Melissa & Dylan’s refreshing marble paper & letterpress invitations | Barbados, 2011.

    Grace & Ryan’s crisp and crystallized affair | The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto, 2011.

    Jennifer & Kent’s note of thanks | Distillery District, Toronto, 2011.

    Sonia & Adam’s Dior-inspired, west coast garden-themed wedding | Vancouver, 2012.

    Raewyn & Charlie’s love for willow trees, grass, and horses | Private Estate, 2012.

    Natalie & Dave’s, aviation meets mom’s garden | The Gardiner Museum, Toronto, 2011

    Zeena & Krikor, a love affair with purple & peonies | Toronto, 2011.

    Tamara & David’s understated luxury in cotton whites & matte silver | Jamaica 2012

    The photographs above are very special to us, and capture situations that cannot be duplicated. Taken when projects were “fresh off the press”, just before leaving our studio, they represent a meaningful moment in time. Hundreds of the same invitation suites are united in assembly, moments prior to being dispersed around the world — to be touched and seen in the light at varying times of day, across multiple time zones — to be cherished & put away, and years later, reminisced. Like wine and like humans, the paper ages gracefully and gains character over time, all in the presence of …light.

    Tags: Yorkville Toronto

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    Inspiration: Poetry for a Saturday afternoon in Unionville, in the Springtime, with light flurries

    Shared by a close friend and professor on her feed this morning, I found this poem to be so perfectly in tune with the rhythm of our day in the studio. This is a weekend after a latter-half-of-April snow storm, and the completion of many stellar projects while listening to tragedies on the news. The pitter patter of hand craftsmanship at work; cutting, folding, tucking, assembling, making — the hum of the printer and tumble of the press — is lightly accompanied by the silent flurries beyond the window. As I put my pen to paper in my sketchbook, another concept is born for a dear client of ours, and the creative process continues…
    In our own little realm, it feels like an instant’s equality.


    A great balance hangs in the sky
    and briefly on the black pan
    and on the blue pan, the melon
    of the moon and the blood orange
    of the sun are symmetrical
    like two unmatched eyes glowing
    at us with one desire.

    This is an instant’s equality,
    a level that at once
    starts to dip. In spring
    the sun starts up its golden
    engine earlier each dawn.
    In fall, night soaks
    its dye into the edges of day.

    But now they hang, two bright
    balls teasing us to balance
    the halves of our brain, need
    and will, gut and intellect,
    you and me in an instant’s grace—
    understanding no woman, even
    Gaia, can always make it work.

    ~ Marge Piercy

    And to sign off, an image of our work of course!

    Enjoy your Saturday afternoon,

    Tags: Yorkville Toronto

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    Sneak Peek: Toronto Fashion Incubator's New Labels Gala Invitation

    We had the honour of designing this fabulous boxed invitation suite for the Toronto Fashion Incubator! Stay tuned for details of both the invitation design and the gala at the end of the month!

    In the meantime, please support the fundraiser and come on out on April 30th to enjoy a brilliant fashion show of new Canadian talent! Presented by Target, it promises to be a great party at The Carlu, Toronto!

    TFI Invitations circulating in Toronto for April 2013 Gala, photo courtesy of Karen Kelar, FLARE Magazine

    Tags: Yorkville Toronto

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