Category: Behind the Design

art in the streets

Walking the streets of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is the ultimate stimulation of the senses. At any given moment, one can see soaring landscapes, hear the rhythm of a table samba streaming from a café, take in the fragrant smell of tropical flowers and dense foliage, and covering the walls of buildings are beautiful and colorful street paintings.

For a Designer, the patterns, the colors, the styles and characters are the tastiest candy an eye could see. Of course I instantly imagine a color palette, a pattern for a dress, a graphic for a tee!

shown above the Paulista Dress

Shown above the Rio Dress and the Zaba Halter Dress embroidery

Shown above the Oscar Stripe Polo

We were lucky enough to happen upon a piece done by Sao Paulo Artists Os Gemeos (the twins). Now world reknowned, these twin brother artists have come to signify brazilian graffiti art. Their artistic subject matter ranges from political statements to depicting characters from brazilian folk tales and literature.

Their work has become a huge inspiration for color palette and pattern.

Shown above the Cariocas Shirt

In an interview with Art Crimes, the twins were asked if they would ever do a children’s story book? They replied, “maybe…working with kids is very cool and rewarding.” I couldn’t agree more, I sure hope they make one.

daily tea sets are a one-stop shop for an instant spring wardrobe

I love the new Spring Break Daily Tea sets for boys and girls. The Kiela Set offers 5 great pieces just in time for warmer weather: a short sleeve dress, a sleeveless dress, a cute tee, sporty shorts, and great layering leggings. These 5 pieces make 7 different outfit combinations- all for only $95. For boys, I recommend the Grady Set. For $129, the set includes 7 pieces that can make 11 different outfit combinations of fun graphic tees, shorts and knit pants. I especially love the short sleeve hoodie that will be a great layering piece for spring and summer.

journey to brazil

When I thought about the inspiration destination for our Spring 2009 collection, I was still stimulated by the beauty of the Norwegian fjords (our Fall 2008 inspiration) … scenes of the dramatic mountain & beach landscape in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil elated me as a warm interpretation of similar voluminous silhouettes. With its innate colorful, celebratory culture I was thrilled to seek out treasures for translation.

My only previous exposure to Brazil were tales from my mother. She had spent 6 weeks traveling all over South America when I was 10 years old … and for the next few years I heard plenty of stories about her experiences and the sounds of native flute players from a 12’ vinyl.

Laura’s husband – “Matt the architect” – joined us to see Oscar Niemeyer’s famous buildings.

We visited Sao Paulo first – a metropolis, similar to New York. All 3 of us once lived and loved New York (and still do), so we were excited to get a glimpse of this urban jungle.

We visited modern art museums, walked the streets of the Jardin district, and discovered the Liberdade neighborhood during a Sunday flea market. There is a huge traditional Shinto tori gate and Japanese lanterns lining the main street.

Ginko Floral Dress and Waves Hooded Pullover

Brazil is a beautiful chaos of cultures.. with influences from Europe, Africa and the indigenous people of South America. Together they create the vibrant lifestyle that Brazil is famous for.

It was interesting to learn that the first Japanese immigrants arrived by ship in 1908 to work on Brazil’s coffee plantations. We combined the Japanese aesthetic with nautical notes, reflecting on the long voyage the immigrants traveled for a chance at a new way of life.

For girls: Kasato Stripe Top, and for boys: Heitai Sweater.

One evening we found the Shimo Sushi restaurant – the sushi quality fish is fantastic in Brazil. The walls are covered with incredible graphics using motifs often found in Japanese art. We were in awe – it inspired our printed French Terry pieces: Izumi Dress, Taiyou Hoodie for girls, and the Waves Hooded Pullover, Waves Long Shorts for boys.

In Rio, you can easily understand how essential it is for Brazilians to express themselves through music, dance and art – as much as eating and sleeping!!

This photo of the lawn and Sugarloaf Mountain is taken from the top of the Contemporary Art museum in Rio, one of the first buildings designed by Oscar Neimeyer in Rio, looking over Flamingo Bay. The Rio Dress was inspired by this beautiful place.

We stayed in a bed & breakfast run by an artsy Brazilian couple. Situated in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, the house overlooked a valley populated with aging colonial homes. We spent a few afternoons wandering along the cobblestone streets and took the trolley into the city.

The charming wrought iron work on these homes inspired girly flair for our Brasilia Crinkle Dress and Santa Teresa Dress:

You cannot miss the extraordinary sidewalks in Rio – they are famous. We used the tile design to create the Goncalo Sweater Polo.

Laura and Matt were captivated by the street art. We loved this one for color – inspiring our palette for the Spring Collection.

Other street art-inspired styling for our graphics – the Cavaco Polo for boys and the butterfly embroidery on our Zaba Stripe Halter Dress for girls.

Together, we spent a late afternoon on the Ipanema beach and watched the sun set … it was gorgeous.

To really take in the Niemeyer phenomenon, we flew to Brasilia, the capital city located in the driest region of this enormous country. What’s incredible is that this carefully planned city was built in 5 years under the direction of President Kubitcheck in the 1950’s … it was meant to symbolize the “city of the future.”

The most stunning structure of all is the Cathedral Metropolitana – a glorious thing made of concrete and glass, draped with abstract shapes of color. We interpreted the glass into a graphic print, and the shaped of the dress came from the structure. Our Catedral Dress is a perfect style for summer.

And no one can escape flora and fauna in Brazil … from the Botanical Jardin of Rio to the immense rainforest, tropical plants and flowers flavor the landscape of Brazil. The beautiful landscape inspired our summer Jardin Halter Dress and Jardin Crop Pant.

brazilian inspired izumi dress

My 2 year old daughter, Lizzie, is just starting to become interested in what she wears every day. It was so much fun to put her into the Izumi Dress, from the new Tea East Meets Brazil collection, and watch her animated reaction to the beautiful graphic on the front. I spent a few minutes with her telling her the story of the Japanese Fan Festival, and told her about the “pretty girl” on her dress. She loves to point to the girl on her dress! I love that the dress is soft, comfortable and easy to wash!

holidays in tea

My 13-month-old daughter Zoe practically lives in Daily Tea and gets a lot of complements on her Daily Tea outfits. They are the perfect comfortable, resilient, and stylish play clothes and we love them. Even her Dad (who rarely notices baby clothes) gets excited for Daily Tea. But until recently we had yet to venture into Tea Collection.
With several events coming up –Thanksgiving, a new years party, a few birthday parties and a trip to see family and friends in Los Angeles, I was looking for some outfits that will really stand out. I fell in love with the Bryggen Stripe Sweater Dress, but decided that none of Zoe’s events were formal enough to warrant “twirl factor at a maximum” as promised in the description on the tea website.

When choosing clothes for Zoe I gravitate towards comfortable knits (thus my obsession with Daily Tea), and so I decided on the Rasmussen Floral Knit dress. I also purchased the matching Pointelle Leggings. I figured we can pair the dress with tights and Mary-Janes for parties, and then she can wear the dress with the more casual leggings this winter as a comfy yet gorgeous every day outfit. When the weather gets cooler we can pull out the coordinating bloomers that come with the dress. For activities such as dinners and brunches out with friends I chose the adorable Sno Flugen Hoodie and the Vindella Velvet Trousers in lavender. The velvet of these pants when paired with the otherwise casual hoodie makes the outfit just dressy enough. I also picked up the Daily Tea Chrysanthemum dress and another pair of bootcut leggings from the early Fall collection to mix and match with the Daily Tea Bird Dress which has been a favorite of ours this season. I can’t wait to put Zoe in all of her fabulous new Tea clothes!

adorable, affordable holiday outfits

Tea’s Elevester Blouse made a list of Adorable, Affordable Children’s Holiday Outfits for the coming holiday season. Earlier this fall, one of Tea’s designers, Laura Boes, explained the inspiration behind the Elevester Dress in her article about Norway. Hop on over to her post to learn more about the story behind Tea’s clothes this season. Her images of Norway are beautiful and may inspire you to take a trip there sometime soon!

Tea’s Norway Inspiration: part II

Norway is renowned as the “cradle of skiing” and it is possible to ski there, even in the summer time.

Emily and I wanted to see these snow capped mountains first, so we headed toward Jotenheimen National Park, home to Norway’s highest peaks.

We needed to rest up before we embarked on our journey through the mountains, and found ourselves in the perfect spot. The quaint and eclectic Elevester Hotel sits in the shadows of Norway’s tallest mountain.

Inside, the hotel is decorated with motifs and crafts from Norwegian history.

The upholstery fabric and hand painted designs on the antique furniture inspired some of our winter textiles, as used in our Elevester Floral Dress (shown above).

We were ready to make our way up to the peaks. As we climbed higher, the snow walls began to tower at least 3 feet above our car. I was starting to regret not bringing along some cozy mittens and warmer layers…

…but along our decent, snow gave way to waterfalls and lush green pastures.

We decided to stop in Skjolden, a small town on the other side of the mountains. We were delighted to find that the town was having a local craft fair. Here we met Olga, a sweet woman selling her hand knitted mittens and slippers.

The history of hand knitting in Norway dates back to Viking times and most snowflake motifs and lice patterning that we see on ski sweaters today, originated there. A Norwegian collection would not be complete without a nod to these designs.

Our Skjolden Ski Cardigan and Viking Intarsia Vest (shown above).

At a rest stop we noticed an unusual steeple silhouetted against the setting sun. These dragon head gables are distinct to Norway’s Stav churches.

We went to Borgund to find the only Stav church that has been unaltered since the middle ages.

The intricate framework and gabled roof inspired the architecture of our twirling Stav Dress (shown above).

We ended our trip in the harbor city of Bergen, where even the radiating colors of the 11pm sunset left it’s impression on us.

Our interpretation of a midnight sunset is conveyed through our Ombre Tunic Sweater (shown below).