Color Action at 2011 HOW Design, Chicago

I’m back from this year’s HOW Design conference in Chicago, and the old gal is fired up. If your creative battery feels tired, lend it to HOW next year to rev your engine. Here are a few great color inspirations that I grabbed during my time in the conference:

I thought it’d be fun to play Print / Sartorialist, snapping photos of participants sporting especially color-smart duds. (Since I attended the conference solo, this also gave me a great excuse to introduce myself to people. Brill, if I do say so myself – although bringing along a sharper camera than the ole iPhone might have been even smarter.)

Gwendolyn Landquist

Above is Gwendolyn Landquist, pairing her mom’s vintage skirt with some newer separates of her own. Mom-o-Gwendolyn: let me raid your closet, please!

Ramona Liszt

Here’s Ramona Liszt (“spelled like the Austrian composer”, she quipped), pairing a gorgeous acid-yellow shirt with bone ivory jacket and loden shorts. (Note: most of us can find the latter two deep in our closets; it only takes the addition of one smart tanktop to punk the whole outfit up.) Ramona, not only was your style great, I tip my hat to your mom, too, for giving you such an excellent name.


The above gentleman rocking so many gorgeous stripes gave his name only as Ricardo, but a little bird volunteered that he’s none other than a HOW Design speaker riCardo crespo, SVP / Global Creative Chief of Twentieth Century Fox. riCardo spoke at the inHOWse portion of this year’s event on Purpose vs. Responsibility: How Your Design Prowess Balances the Two. riCardo, few color felicities make my heart go pitter-pat like your stripey socks against the Hyatt Regency’s equally stripey carpet.

Sarah Clark

While I wear so much color my husband has dubbed my look “Sexy Clown”, I do appreciate some restraint. I particularly liked Sarah Clark’s pearl-gray top with her subtly sheeny blue skirt and airy taupe sandals. She looked like a moody cloud-covered beach floating by – nicely done, Sarah! And kudos to your brother who designed the tribal lizard tatoo on Sarah’s foot.

Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart (nice last name!) wore canary-yellow ruffles over teal with skinny black pants. Note her turquoise and teal earrings, too. Rebecca: with our shared last name, I can only hope we’re undiscovered sartorial cousins.

Debbie Luz Licon

Debbie Luz Licon

Debbie Luz Licon (above) wore a lovely purple scarf with a striped shirt in an unexpected, muted palette. Debbie was pitching in at the Shwieki booth – those good folks specialize in “hassle-free printing” and offered some great CMYK-themed materials, like this highly detailed poster. Collateral worth keeping at its finest!


Douglas Popovich

Walking-talking-charmin’ collateral was also on display in the form of Douglas Popovich of Office ROI, a firm that helps deliver designs for everyday communications in Microsoft Office formats – often a surprisingly thorny process. Doug’s tan linen suit worked wonderfully as a backdrop for the Pop Art-style distressed client painted on his back.

The HOW exhibition was jam-packed with great, booths, naturally, but two personal favorites illustrate the two extremes of color use I love most: a full-bore brilliant attack and a minimalist’s dream – “color as a secret weapon”, in HOW speaker Stephen Doyle’s parlance.

Neenah Paper represents the super-bright approach (below). You’ll note my recurring weakness for acid yellows, but you’ll also note Neenah’s smart, subtly controlled color use. They know when to pull punches and when to lay it on thick, giving the design an almost 3-D feel:

Neenah Paper

In the minimalist camp, we have Felt & Wire’s gorgeous white-on-white letterpress business card (that doubles with wondrous ease as a bookmark). Sappi’s Ideas That Matter booklet featured a B&W cover and moved from color-mood to mood in the subsequent pages. I really liked this case study of Fogelson Lubliner’s application of Sappi papers for client Border Crossers Inc.:


See you next year in Boston, HOW fans!

Top image: Chicago on film by kevindooley on Flickr. Border Crossers image from Fogelson Lubliner. All others by Jude Stewart.

For More Resources on Color
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