66 | Day Three - 24 Hours in Tokyo for the Paper Lover

An unexpected day-long layover at Toyko's Narita Airport can be met, head on, in two ways:

  1. Frustration. How DARE the weather in Shanghai not cooperate with my travel schedule? Is it really true there isn't another flight to San Francisco later this evening?
  2. Elation. There's an unexpected chance to experience as much Tokyo as possible in 24 hours.

When met with this situation in August, I spent one hour in frustration. And then I came to my senses and realized how very attractive option TWO was given that I was in the fine paper capital of the world.

I did what any paperphile with a lust for travel would do and jumped on an express train into the city with a single room booked at the Smile Hotel and no plans beyond that.

In 24 hours, I managed to begin to learn the ins and outs of the beautiful, amazing city that is Tokyo and left with a plan to return in the near future.

lessons learned:

1) It is the most ordered and organized culture on the planet…aided by good design

Walking in Ginza, all you can hear is the quiet whoosh of the cars down the road, soft murmurs from the women walking in and out of stores and the occasional Arigatou-gozaimasu as someone leaves a shop. No honking horns. No shouting. No doors slamming or dogs barking.

It's the type of culture that makes you think twice about eating in the subway (for the record -- it's rude) and makes you think that you'll got to hell if you ever cut a line.

All of the order and culture is sustained through good design. Painted lines on the Metro platform indicate where to stand, a simple number system for subway stops gives you a sense of direction and trip duration. There is ledge built into nearly every cashier station, so you have a place for your purse as you pay. The hot towels before every meal. Trays to hand dollar notes and coins, or a credit card back and forth. No spills, guaranteed. Good, methodical design.

2) Prepare yourself to be in Paper Bliss

If you're a paperphile, you better make sure that you're hydrated and that your blood sugar is at a stable level before heading out. I set my sights on two places for the day that I was there - Tokyo Hands, the famous DIY emporium, and Ito-Ya, which boasts 9 levels of stationery. Give yourself at least 2 hours to explore either store.

Tokyo Hands is better for delicate, well-designed office products -- pens, notebooks, and binders.

Ito-Ya will fulfill all your chiyogami and origami dreams, and more.

Late at night, if you want to still want to be designspired, but the shops have closed, head to TSUTAYA - a 21 hour bookstore in Roppongi Hills where you can browse through an astounding collection of western and japanese design books and magazines. Oh, and the shopping area features the tastiest type and graphic design!

3) Cabs are Expensive

The base fare is 710Yen, roughly 10 dollars. If you can, walk or take the metro. A day pass on the Metro will run you just 710Y, roughly 10 dollars. Bonus: Japanese Fashion Eye Candy.

4) Leave your suitcase at the airport

If you're going to be in Tokyo for 24 hours, don't lug your big suitcase to the city. Prepare a day pack with a change of clothes and room for your paper goodies.

5) Google Maps on your iPhone with no international plan

If you're like me, and the sole reason you brave public transportation is because Google Maps tells you where and when to take it, being in a new city without GMaps at your fingertips can be a handicap.

However, if you find internet connection, map out your day on your laptop, take pictures of the directions for all your destinations. Head out with your smartphone. It looks and feels like you have the safety blanket of Google maps... but just make sure your phone is in airplane mode.

6) Most importantly: book all future travel in Asia through Tokyo and pray for missed connections (no, not that kind).

More than anything, being in Tokyo was a tease. I can't even imagine the food and paper sights that I didn't have time to experience. The good news? I have four months to plan my next trip out there. Any suggestions?

62 | Paper Pilgrimage : Chicago

The L&A Summer Adventures continued this past weekend with a paper pilgrimage to Chicago, birthplace of Paper Source.

But first: a little history: Ever since I started making stationery, Paper Source has been my go-to for supplies. Back in the days when every piece of personal stationery was embellished by a ribbon, brad, or border card, I went to my neighborhood Paper Source before starting an order to be inspired by their shelves. One of my fondest memories from college was the day when a Paper Source opened across the street from campus in Town and Country village (and saved me from a 30 minute drive to Santana Row). Today, my designs have been simplified, but Paper Source is still my go-to for fine decorative paper, unique gifts, and pointed tip envelopes, the smell of which is intoxicating.

So, even though the original store isn't unlike any other Paper Source (I wish there were a souvenir t-shirt), I was so excited to visit the place where it all began, and pay my respects.

In an old, three story building that looks like something out of a story book, the original Paper Source has three rooms filled with paper treats.

For anyone embarking on any personal paper project, I highly recommend making a visit to your local store, or shopping online.


But, it wasn't all about Paper Source. The journey to Chicago was not without a weekend's worth of design and paper delights:

Terminal 2 is my new favorite place in San Francisco. Can I go there even if I'm not flying? From now on, I'm going to fly Virgin just so I can enjoy Acme Bread and Cowgirl Creamery (purchased in T2), and go-go inflight WiFi on my flight.


Once we touched down in Chicago, there was plenty of Frank Gehry to delight in...


And an architectural pilgrimage to the Farnsworth house, just an hour outside the city and a pristine example of the International Modernist style by Mies van der Rohe.

Being inside the home is inspiring, as it seems to float in the landscape.


And a visit to nearby lumenhaus, a completely self-sustaining house designed and built by a team at Virginia Tech, inspired by van der Rohe's design. I call this the Prius of houses, and I was in awe of its efficiency and beauty.


I survived the heat and humidity at Pitchfork Music Festival…which was a designer's treat with its tasty use of Neutra and Memphis and hosting of a Flatstock screenprinting show.

And once the sun set, my appreciation for Toro y Moi and  Cut Copy grew after seeing them live. TV on the Radio was a sweet lullaby at the end of the long, hot day. Check out their best:

Toro y Moi  - New Beat

Cut Copy - So Haunted

TV on the Radio - Province


The trip ended with a preview of Next Door, State Farm's sub-brand, designed by my favorite designer. Intended as a financial resource center / workspace / cafe for twenty somethings, the space is San Francisco coffee shop meets Stanford D.School.  It sits in between an Urban Outfitters and Trader Joe's on Diversey. It's awesome, and if you're in Chicago, I highly encourage a visit once it opens in August. Love that blue and red.


Last but not least, no post would be complete without some L&A paper. A new addition to the L&A stationery line-up, I designed a record/camera/bicycle stationery multipack as a thank you present for our gracious host.

Whew! It was a whirlwind trip... but I wouldn't have had it any other way in the windy city.


Next Stop? Shanghai.

60 | Summer Vacation

( great poster by DOWLING| DUNCAN )

One look outside the window at the foggy San Francisco skyline, and you know... Summer is here. The city is notorious for its June gloom and gray Julys, so what better way to hold out for the September sun than by spending the weekend exploring someplace else?

Good thing, because L&A has been in a travel mood with plans for impending summer trips, and a range of custom designed maps.

| ELKHART LAKE . designed 06. 2011 |

| DOWNTOWN LA . designed 06.2011 |


Where will you find yourself this summer?

My plans span across the country...

If you have any additions to the itinerary, I always appreciate recommendations for good food, good design, and delicious paper.

Of course, my heart will always be in San Francisco, and I'll be sure to share the sights of my summer travels on weekends spent back in the fog.

For now, here are some L&A travel tips:


If you're like me, travel makes you hungry, and you don't want to ruin your explore-a-new-city-appetite with a Cinnabon at the airport.

And, if you're like me and opt for the flight deal (which will take you to airports in the middle of nowhere where Cinnabon isn't even an option), you must pack snacks.

Snack Hint #1:  Pre-trip Tupperware

The night before your trip, cut up firm tofu into 1/4" pieces and pan fry them in coconut oil  and ponzu sauce. At the same time, cook some quinoa. Let cool and store in the fridge. In the morning, combine the quinoa, tofu, and the leafy green of your choice (I chose arugula), and slice up a lime. When you're ready to eat, squeeze the lime across the contents of your tupperware. (HINT: Use disposable tupperware (like a leftover plastic container from Whole Foods, so you can throw it away at the airport).

Snack Hint #2: Cereal

I love cereal, but I hate dry cereal. To solve this at the airport, I bring a bag of dry cereal, and hit up the closest starbucks for a cup of soymilk. Then, as I wait for my flight, I can enjoy my perfectly slightly soggy, slightly crunchy cereal. (And make all the other passengers jealous).


I find the best way to spend travel time is by doing that craft you've been meaning to do (but never get to). Bag of tangled necklaces? Take it on your next flight for landing and take off when you can't have any electronics on. My favorite crafts (are still) the Klutz Craft Kits.

(yes, I do still own this book)

Bonus for driving trips! You can bring scissors.

That's all for now.



Dear San Francisco,

It's been too long. I know I've been away, and I was poor at keeping at touch. But I'm back and I'm here to stay (until my next adventure, that is) and would love to share my month of travel with you.


| NEW PERSONAL STATIONERY . designed (on a plane) 02.2011 |

Indeed, February was a month of travel, in which weekend after weekend was full of new sights, sounds, and tastes... of paper, design, and experiences.


From the Natural Beauty of Squaw Valley  t0 >



Work called me to the Highline Ballroom where I spent a full day in the dark, but I did manage to find some time to explore...

Of course, no trip is complete without a walk in Central Park,

experiencing Chelsea for the first time...

and a visit to The High Line (beautiful even in the winter).

I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I had the Cereal Milk @ Momofuku...

until I visited the paper room at the NY Central Art Supply.

I (creepily) observed and drooled over the printing classes at SVA...

and  recommend a visit to the Cooper Hewitt to drool over the Jewels at the Van Cleef and Arpels exhibit. The exhibit is beautifully designed, and integrates the space, new media and display techniques in a gorgeous way.

next time, i will...

  • have a bowl of noodles at momofuku
  • visit the whitney museum
  • go back for wine and breadsticks at blue ribbon bar


PORTLAND At the other end of the pace spectrum, Portland set the scene for a perfect slower-paced weekend getaway.

After a morning yoga class, a delicious cup of stumptown coffee (holler! mountain blend) and a supremely positive AirBnB experience in Southeast Portland ...

The Ace in Downtown provided the perfect stay for the modern hipster - complete with in-room record player.

The Artist's Book exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in the Pearl had me written all over it...

as did the Dragon Bowl and Zucchini Hummus at Prasad.

Geek out with PacMan and PBR's at GroundKontrol - an arcade with all the classics for adults (a.k.a amazing).

And, after watching the stage-version of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (which I highly recommend) at the Center Stage theater, we found ourselves at the Doug Fir Lounge for the Millionyoung concert.

And...Dare I say it?!...

Skip the line at Voodoo donuts, and get yourself a Chocolate Chip Cookie at Pearl Bakery instead.


next time, i will:

  • get (more) lost in the purple room at powell's books
  • watch a movie in the comfort (of someone else's) living room at living room theatres
  • in the summer ... hike in forest park, eat at a food cart, and shop at the farmer's markets




Planes are a Design Studio in the air...

check with your companion about diversifying reading materials, before you get on the plane...

and airports are a perfect date spot for two traveling roommates passing in the night.


blog spoiler: there is so much delicious design and paper-y goodness to come soon!