I haven’t seen Barbara Buenz since we were at school together, erm, a very long time ago. But then, through the joys of social media, she got back in touch, and I was most intrigued to find out that she is now a graphic designer based in New York. Her Double Bravo designs were born from an itinerant childhood, living in major cities across the world and communicating via that most old fashioned mode; airmail. Following the birth of her first child she finally committed her lovingly crafted letterpress talents to paper – creating Double Bravo – a beautifully designed collection for those who still lust after real stationery.
You led a very itinerant childhood, how has this informed the way you design?
It’s interesting as it influenced how I design as well as what I design. In the case of the former it made me very aware of what makes a particular place special. Filling books with sketches helped capture the place and also the time. Letters and postcards sent across oceans and continents to keep in touch and to keep connections alive resulted in all the travel and this all informs what I design – stationery and paper goods of all kinds.
What has the reception been like in your hometown of New York?
Hometown pride is plentiful in New York City and the Year You Were Born and the Year We Said “I Do” are a great way to celebrate one’s city as well as a special event in one’s life. A win/win!
How do you choose the key phrases and features for your customised cards?
By soaking it in and by asking myself: what makes a particular city special? What can you only experience there? I’m lucky to have spent time in many cities in the collection so remembering time spent there perhaps with music listened to there – remembering restaurants, parks, special features … In a way this process is like travel which I always enjoy.
What other places have you got set in your sights?
Paris! Rome! Buenos Aires! All very dear to me for various reasons. Closer to home I’d love to add Miami. It’s a city I’ve spent lots of time in and that I’ve always considered a gateway to South America – it’s such an exciting & culturally diverse city. And Philadelphia too! It’s near and dear to my heart as I went to University there – I’d love to celebrate that historic American city.
Where did you learn the art of letterpress and how do you make your work now?
In Brooklyn, of course! There are lots of wonderful old presses rescued from obscurity and from under blankets of dust that have been carefully restored that have found new homes in bright studios that can be rented for use by the hour. Some very knowledgeable young printers have been hugely helpful in the process from photopolymer plate to printed card and I’m very thankful to them for their generosity and knowledge.
You strike me as a bit of a typeface fiend: what kind of details do you like in a good font?
Personality goes a long way! A face, that offers many options and retains its character. In the case of the Born/I Do cards one that is timeless and elegant with gravitas required for a family heirloom/keepsake.
Most of your designs are quite minimal but you have also included patterns and illustrations in your thank you card range: do you hope to expand on this and if so what kind of imagery might we see?
I like the look of hand drawn drawings when printed on a letterpress printer – the line has an energy and vivacity. I sketch all the time and think that some of these might make it onto future designs.
Your thank you cards for young writers strike me as a particularly good idea. Why do you think it’s important to keep saying thank you on paper rather than via email, or, even, text?
I really believe it’s an honor to be thankful. We all have so much and seem to all too easily focus instead on what’s missing. Giving thanks, saying thank you, reminds us how much we have to be thankful for; realizing this important wealth makes one happy. Being thankful is also the best reinforcement cycle. You want to do more things people can be thankful about! Starting this realization young is a fantastic idea!
Nowadays, where do you travel to and what gets you excited on those trips?
After a childhood accumulating a vast collection of visas and passports I’ve been very happy to allow myself and my children to grow roots in New York where they are equally comfortable ‘surfing on the subway‘ and identifying bird calls in the vast acres of park near us and shells on the beach. That said with family overseas we’d love to dust off our passports and head for adventures and connection in South America sometime again soon.
See more Double Bravo designs here or find Barbara Buenz on etsy here. Read more about Barbara’s thoughts on parenting on Momfilter here.
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