Inspiring Ideas: Custom Printed Fabrics

My constant quest for the unique, the one of a kind and the TRULY personal has led me to a near obsession with Spoon Flower and ALL things Fabric Printing.  Essentially, sometimes (for me, most of the time) the pre-fabricated just ISN’T cutting the mustard, and, what would really tie things together is a fabulous pattern on a throw pillow, bar linen, table cloth or Chuppah Cover.   For most projects that involving simply needing yardage (table linens, pillows, drapes) Spoonflower can be a fantastic way to deepen your design with a personal touch.

For our November Food Styling and Photography workshop with Karen Wise, I was inspired by the idea of the Still Life (which is essentially what great food photography is).  I turned to Katie Fisher Design to create a still life graphic that I then tiled on Spoonflower to create this fabric which eventually became the table linen for our family style luncheon table at the workshop.

Graphic from Katie Fisher Design made into a tablelinenKatie Fisher graphic as a linen for a Karen Wise stilllifeIn September, we were designing a cocktail party where space was limited, eliminating a lot of opportunities for personal detail we might otherwise infuse into a tabletop.  So instead, we turned to patterns and graphics that had personal meaning to the couple AND that were incorporated in their invitations. Here an escher inspired pattern and a pattern taken from the bride’s childhood home as they appeared on their couture Regas stationery AND later, reinterpreted as fabrics that became bar and cocktail table linens.

Patterns Created by Regas for a Client

Fabrics AAB Created from patterns taken from clients stationeryOf course, as great as Spoonflower is, it does have it’s limitations… Luckily for large scale graphics, there are regionally LOTS Of fabric printing specialty shops that largely cater to artists and interior designers that you can reach out to for a special project.  For the same clients last fall, who adored vintage maps, we took a vintage map of New York State and had it printed on fabric that acted both as their chuppah cover, and later a keepsake to take home.  (we kept the chuppah poles clear to not interfere with the stunning  views). Image courtesy Dave Robbins Photography.

Fabric Printing made the custom chuppah cover possible for an AAB Creates client


And, in case this didn’t spark your imagination enough yet- check out this amazing tent draping created for a wedding in UK (not by us) and printed by Crescent Moon in the UK.   How awesomely dreamy are the beautiful Flying pigs and of course, i LOVE the scale of this!

Flying Pig fabric custom created by Crescent Moon UKWe’re so lucky that so much technology- fabric printing, 3-D printing- is becoming available to make even our most outrageous or unique creations come to life!  What idea would you bring to life if budget were no object???



WPW: Tech Tools That Make Life Better

Posted by on Mar 26, 2014 in Industry Advice | No Comments

It’s been a while since I’ve done a digital round up of tech tools that make life better… mainly because there has been a shortage of them. BUT, lately I’ve been marveling at some simple apps, and web interfaces that have seemingly made my life so much better and… mobile.

1. Dropbox If your business hasn’t adopted this yet, you are officially late for the Tea Party, but don’t worry, it isn’t over.  It’s like google docs on crack, and since it exists on your desktop, online, your ipad and your phone, you literally can access everything, everywhere at anytime.  You can even link it so that your photos go in there AND so that your screenshots do too.

2. Roomscan is an app that allows you to tap your phone on walls and create a scalable floorplan… so no old barn, pre-war convention center, abandoned warehouse or any other freaky locale needs to be Guestimated again!  yay.

3. Moodboard. Though I’ve written about this before, when I was speaking at Chapel Planners last week I realized a lot of people still hadn’t heard of it, so I continue my evangelism about this amazing app that lets you take images from the web or your camera roll and drop them into a moodboard, while sizing the image with your fingertips as large (important) or small (unimportant) as you would like…..

A board made using mood board!


4. Lately I feel as though I don’t know how I functioned before Social Tables.  There are a lot of things that could improve (it’s definitely geared more towards hotel planners and corporate planners than social/ raw space designers) BUT, I have been getting creative and overall LOOOOVING IT.  And I realize I don’t even take advantage of all of the features… but it’s still pretty great. It’s a little funky on Mobile, but overall, what I’d been looking for.

5. This is the new NEW (as a matter of fact, I think I’m kind of beta testing it) but keep your eyes out for Brojure… Imagine if you could put together a client proposal with beautiful imagery and have it look like it was professionally designed in about 15 minutes…. And it could easily be emailed to them for reference AND totally visible on mobile online for them to share with their families…   It’s the hotness and it’s actually improving daily and only getting better!

What tech tools are you using that’s helped you work bigger and better???



Statement Jewelry for Your Wedding by Thea Grant

Posted by on Mar 21, 2014 in Style | No Comments

Thea Grant JewelryWhen I was in college, I had more jobs than Phaedra Parks (Department Receptionist, Research Assistant, Resident Advisor, Shopgirl at a boutique) but my favorite of them all was working as a seamstress in the Costume Shop at Brown.  Regardless of who your social circle was on campus, what your major was, or whatever, everyone of the Costume Shop girls got along because we were all united in one love that was greater than all: a love of fashion.  I still keep tabs on many of my costumes shop friends, and so was delighted when I ran into Thea Grant in my neighborhood, who I hadn’t seen in years and years.  Thea was always so stylish and bold about it, so it shocked me not at all that, along with her husband she had started her own eponymous jewelry line.  It’s fantastic, and my first thought of course, turned to how fab these could be as statement bridal jewelry for  the fashion forward bride.

A couple of Thea’s necklaces.. perfect for that romantic, Downton Abbey, estate jewel look.

Thea Grant Pearl long necklace for that
Thea Grant Pearl Necklace as seen in ElleIf you are more of a fun and flirty bride, how cute is this ?  Perfect with a strapless, tea length dress with a sweet little shoe… and in a tone that is so hot right now!

Jeweled Choker from Thea Grant


Of course, not everyone is a NECKLACE person, so I love this elegant, yet totally bad ass bracelet!  (of course, it must be worn on your right wrist to not detract from your newbie ring!)

Bold Bracelet from Thea Grant Jewelry

Of course, while diamonds are a girls best friend, it doesn’t mean a guy couldn’t enjoy a little bling too- how about instead of a Boutonniere, he rocks a fabulous lapel pin??

Thea Grant Heart and Arrow Lapel Pin

All of it can be found at Thea Grant!  Happy Weekend!




WPW: Lessons from L’Wren

Posted by on Mar 19, 2014 in Industry Advice | 4 Comments

I read Cathryn Horn’s moving tribute to her dear friend L’Wren Scott who committed suicide earlier this week and I literally found myself sobbing at my desk.  It wasn’t so much because it was so well written (it was) or that L’Wren seemed truly likeable (she did) but it was that the feelings that she was grappling with- as a creative business owner AND as a WOMAN creative business owner- felt so terribly familiar that I felt as though I knew her. Or I felt as though at times I could have been her.

“And in those days, her business really ran on a shoestring, with L’Wren and maybe two other women doing all the work. She had an incredible work ethic; if there was one thing that bound all her friends, wherever they were born, it was that. And there was no job she wasn’t willing to do herself, which became a problem as her company got bigger.”

L’Wren was set to announce that she was going to close her business today, but on Monday (after a night with friends on Sunday) she instead took her life.  Mayra’s husband said to her the other day “I don’t see how some money problems could push things that far.”, and of course, there is always more to the story than simply money.. but Mayra and I actually felt opposite. I think anyone who has ever been there- as a business owner who is passionate about creating for a living and had cash flow problems or tax problems or any other kind of business problem has felt that crushing sense of the world closing in on you. You can feel it all to be a trap, and it’s easy to get to a place where no option seems like a good way out.  It can be shockingly hard to keep perspective.

Six or so years ago, when we had a floral business too and fuel charges skyrocketed and then the recession hit and all our clients lost their jobs when all the Investment Banks closed, we literally were in such a panicked state.  We estimated jobs at one price, only for the cost of goods to have gone up unexpectedly, and there was NEVER enough cash. Simply never.  We hadn’t learned a lot of the mistakes made of how to price things and how to sell ourselves properly and we were just in a cycle of constant treading.  I was in the midst of getting my divorce and then got hit with a tax bill that was so high, it was a thing of nightmares.   I did NOT know really what to do… We didn’t know what to do.

This was coupled by our desperate desire to make this work and see this through.  First, because we loved being creative for a living. We love designing events and loved the spirit of creativity at our company. We especially loved that our clients were so drawn to that.  AaB is was our baby and we had worked so hard to grow it… the solution could not possibly be to walk away. And then the answer was- and walk away to do what exactly?  We felt we could simultaneously do everything and yet qualified to do nothing.  What job would we want? What job would we be good for?  Were we even employable?

I found it funny how Cathryn Horn, who had been a salaried employee with a steady check from the Times for ages and ages, warned L’Wren to not take it too seriously and to “give it a time table for succeeding” and how L’Wren bristled at the suggestion.  If I had a dollar for every time someone in either of our families or friend circles said something similar… without possibly understanding the joy/agony of nurturing and growing a business where you do what you love and make beautiful, beautiful things that mean something to other people.   It’s impossible to imagine, if you’ve never done it, what it would feel like to know that business simply wasn’t working or needed to close.

So, I’m sure there was more to the story than JUST business, but I see so clearly how that could make the world feel so much darker.

The moral of my post here, if there is one, is that the lesson from L’Wren is that none of us is the first to experience this for the first time.  Suffering in silence is a surefire way to suffer longer and shame over ups and downs in business is like feeling some shame for running into a pothole on the BQE-  it happens to everyone from time to time.  It can always turn around. There is always a new way to look at things, do things and reinvent yourself.

Looking back the biggest thing that changed in our business (which took a very, very long time to evolve) was ASKING FOR HELP when we needed it and talking it out when we hit a snag.
Lessons from L'Wren

Live like an HGTV Star!

Posted by on Mar 19, 2014 in Style | No Comments

Our friend Danielle Colding, winner of HGTV Design Star had her apartment featured on Apartment Therapy over the weekend.  It’s stunning and it also made me realize that Danielle has NEVER invited us over… thanks Danielle?? Anyway, it’s amazing and fabulous to see how a decorator chooses to decorate their own place.  Take a look at some of the images here and see more over on Apartment Therapy!


HGTV Star Danielle Colding in her Brooklyn home

HGTV Star Danielle Colding's Brooklyn Living Room.

HGTV Star Danielle Colding's Brooklyn Apartment!


HGTV Star Danielle Colding's Brooklyn home!

HGTV Star Danielle Colding's Dressing room.

HGTV Star Danielle Colding's Brooklyn Apartment!.