19 Oct Sleepless in Seattle

If you happened to call our studio earlier this week you would have received the voicemail that we were our on a creative exploration adventure; a little “Midwest meets Pacific Northwest.”

At the beginning of this year we sat down as a team and assessed some of the design conferences we had attended and whether or not we would like to pursue that inspirational avenue again this year. While we all have taken away many innovative and often educational tidbits from the various professional conferences, this year we decided to embark on our own “conference”of sorts….and off we went.

We arrived in Seattle, home to companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Getty Images and Starbucks. A city skyline filled with large pines trees, cozy mission-style homes that nestle into the hills rising above Lake Washington and the Puget Sound. A working harbor stacked with a rainbow of containers going to and from Asia and Europe and fishing vessels like those on Deadliest Catch. While Seattle might be known as rainy territory, the feeling of activity, creativity and entrepreneurship is enough to turn any gray sky into sunshine!

We  had two solid days to explore and recharge our creative juices. Day one was filled with “get to know Seattle” activities and day two was “to be a designer in Seattle.” Let’s just say there was no rest for the weary; we had two jam packed days.

Instead of our usual Monday morning creative meeting, this week we started off with breakfast at the historic Pike Place Market Crumpet Shop, where homemade crumpets (a mix between a biscuit & an English muffin) get topped off with fresh ricotta cheese, smoked salmon and tomatoes. Then it was on to the original Starbucks location for our first of many cups of strong coffee. Did you know the name Starbucks was inspired by Moby Dick, evoking the romance of the high seas and the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders? Very cool trivia! From the market we headed out to face the rain (after purchasing coordinating umbrellas to complement our matching trench coats) and hop on a misty Duck Tour of the city and floating neighborhoods on Lake Union.

(Our favorite little blue house boat. $150K in case anyone is interested…we are!)

(Sara with spooky vintage Fremont french fry sculpture)

In the afternoon we made our way to the Center of the Universe (aka Fremont) for some Seattle vintage browsing topped with a tasty educational tour of Organic and Fair Trade Chocolatier, Theo’s Chocolates. Yes, the tour does include sampling Theo’s confections! (*Note: If you ever visit Seattle, Theo’s is a MUST see. Sign up for a tour weeks in advance, they always sell out.)

(Yes, we are wearing official Theo’s Chocolate’s hair nets, very stylish.)

That evening we had a cocktail in the Ballard neighborhood at Bastille, a French-infused bistro with beautiful décor. From there we made our way to one of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants, The Walrus and the Carpenter, where Michelle enjoyed her first real Pacific Coast oysters.

On day two we had the privilege of touring Starbucks corporate headquarters/support center. We learned about the caffeine queen’s corporate culture including music and national politics.

We were educated (and fascinated) about behind the scenes operations and how every interior design and store setup decision impacts the bottom line. We sampled the latest in digital coffee making technology through Starbucks newest acquisition, the Clover Brewing System and even witnessed the official “spitter” who quickly slurped and spit the day’s beans selection deciding whether or not to purchase a farmer’s crop for a potential new signature blend. While I’d like to say we were on a purely natural design high, I think all the caffeine had also gone to our heads.

From Starbucks we spent the afternoon setting type, mixing ink and revelling in 100% cotton fiber paper at Bremelo Press. Bremelo is a boutique letterpress printer who specializes in one of a kind business cards, invitations and greeting cards run by designer and printer Lynda Sherman. This experience deserves it’s own post so stay tuned for more printing information to come. However, if you are ever in the Seattle area and want to learn letterpress, call Lynda at Bremelo. She is an amazing instructor, creative mentor and passionate business owner.

Next, we met up with a design firm based in the Capitol Hill area called DEI Creative. In meeting with Noah, Shannon and Maddy we realized there is no difference in designing for Ohio or Seattle clients, we all strive and struggle with similar issues while running a small firm and doing great creative work for our clients. Together, our firms then headed to a local watering hole where over cheese, crackers and french 75’s we talked about design, pop culture, fall must see tv and blog speak. DEI, please visit Cleveland soon! (I can’t believe I don’t have a group pic!)

After hitting up a few independent bike shops (we heart bikes!) we had a final locally-sourced dinner and then it was time to hit the sheets before our big flight back to Cleveland in the morning!

Now we are back and more creatively recharged than ever. Give us a shout if you want to talk Seattle or drop us a note if you are looking for something ultra creative because we are still floating on loving design and doing amazing work! Cheers to made up “conferences!”