interview with design mom.

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Design Mom is one of my frequent {and favorite} design blog stops. If you’ve never been, pop over and say hello to Design Mom proprietor Gabrielle Blair; she’s fantastic. I love her blog because she does a beautiful job of melding design and motherhood, and I adore her taste. I’m continually introduced to new ideas, fun children’s sites, new designers, and current events in the design and blogging world. I was lucky enough to nab an interview with her {she’s a busy woman!} so pull up a chair and enjoy:

petit elefant:: Tell me how you balance work, writing a very popular blog, & being an involved mom?

design mom:: I have a really high threshold for ignoring housework. :) In reality it’s a take-it-a-day-at-a-time thing. I try really hard to only spend time at my computer when the babies are napping/kids are at school. Or when I have child care available. I find it impossible to concentrate on work if my kids are right with me — I usually won’t even answer phone calls. I can do kids. Or work. But not both at the same time. As my blog grows into a business, I have to keep re-finding the balance.

petit elefant:: What’s your favorite aspect of blogging?

design mom::

That I can do it in my pajamas. Blogging is a perfect fit for an overscheduled mother, because the deadlines are generally self-imposed. If I don’t get as many posts up on a certain day as I’d like, well, there’s no boss to reprimand me. And of course, I can’t believe how many interesting people I’ve met and how supportive they’ve been. I’ve said this before, but it’s amazing how helpful it is to be able to write about the simple things I do as a mother — picking out new shoes for my toddler, or finding cool new art supplies — and then receiving positive feedback about these small tasks. Most of the things mothers do go unacknowledged and unappreciated, but blogging about them somehow gives them more weight and significance. They were always important things — all those small tasks make up the raising of a family. And it’s nice to see those tasks get a little featured attention.

petit elefant:: Tell me about your background in design and how it has {if it has} helped you segue into motherhood and beyond.

design mom:: I landed my first real design job as an art director at Ogilvy & Mather in Athens, Greece during my senior year of college — and while I was pregnant with my first baby. So my professional design experience and motherhood have always been intertwined. The Graphic Design program at my university (BYU http://byu.edu) was excellent. There was lots of emphasis on problem-solving (which is helpful in any profession and in any life) And we were taught to study and appreciate good design across every discipline. My discipline was graphic design, but I was taught about great architecture, furniture design, textile design, photography, industrial design, interior design, landscape design, and on and on. Basically, we were taught how to “design our lives.” To be deliberate about where we lived, how we lived, what we surrounded ourselves with.

This influenced me heavily. I love the concept of “designing my life” and it’s something my husband cares about too. He studies education and is well-aware of how an educational space can influence a student’s ability to learn. So as parents, we care very much about what kind of environment (emotionally, physically and spiritually) that we’re creating for our family.
petit elefant:: Where do you look to be inspired by design?


design mom::
I look everywhere for good design. Because it exists everywhere. Wedding invitations. Stationery. Ads. Children’s books. Coffee table books. Retail window displays. Food packaging. Clothing. Bed linens. Wrapping Paper. Gardens. Homes. Blogs. Logos. Catalogs. Friends.


petit elefant::
And what is a hallmark of good design to you?

design mom:: For me, the best hallmark of good design is excellent typography (either in the product itself or in the marketing materials and packaging that come with the product). You can always spot a well-trained designer by their typography. And it’s the easiest place to mess up. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like I’ve mastered typography.

petit elefant:: What advice from the trenches do you have for making a blog great?

design mom:: Consistency is huge. If you post reliably that helps a ton in making your blog great. Whether it’s once every Monday or 10 times a day, readers like to know what to expect and how often to check in.

petit elefant:: What are some of your favorite spots in the blog-o-sphere?


design mom:: This can be a hard question to answer. As I get busier I have less time to explore. I think that’s why I like kirtsy (http://kirtsy.com) so much — it’s thousands of women searching the internet for me. Finding the coolest stuff and putting it on kirtsy. Then the stuff with the widest appeal makes it to the popular section. So if I check in at kirtsy a few times each day I see all the coolest stuff happening online. Shopping finds, funny websites, news headlines, exceptional blog posts. It’s awesome.

Outside of kirtsy
, I check in with my family and friends blogs every day. You can also find me trolling the design and lifestyle blogs — the big ones like Design*Sponge and Decor8 — but also lots of lesser known ones. And new ones pop up all the time. People with great taste and style are endlessly inspiring to me. If you’re in the mood to explore, try these:

Oh Happy Day (my sister’s blog): http://jordanferney.blogspot.com/
Excellent-Not-Just-Design-Blogs:

Look to SuperHero Andrea Scher for life motivation: http://www.superherodesigns.com/journal/

Look to Nie Nie Dialogues for Marriage & Family inspiration: http://nieniedialogues.blogspot.com/

Look to Every Day I Write The Book because Kacy will make you laugh: http://kasm.blogspot.com/

Look to Backward’s Attraction for Liz’s really thoughtful posts: http://abackwardsattraction.blogspot.com/

petit elefant:: How has motherhood made you a better designer {& person}?


design mom:: I suppose everyone in this life has to learn how to put others first in order to be happy. I know it can be learned without becoming a mother, but motherhood basically guarantees you’ll learn to put your own needs last at least some of the time. Any truly engaged mother becomes a better person. They can’t help it. Motherhood is like one big life-long act of service.

Motherhood has influenced my design by forcing me to streamline and simplify. I no longer have time for luxurious amounts of sketching and comping. I have to find the design answer swiftly and efficiently — before naps are over — so I look for simple solutions.

Thanks Gabrielle, that was a treat! Great things are in store for Petit Elefant readers this week, so make sure to stop back later this afternoon for a fun Summer surprise.

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Allison

Well, hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. We do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, crazy home remodel projects, and cool (yes, cool) DIY crafts you'll totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!

6 Comments

  1. Cathi :

    I love Design Mom! She is an inspiration to all.

  2. Leslie :

    yay for gabrielle, she’s truly amazing. great questions!

  3. Ashley :

    I love your interview. Thank you for bringing it to us. I read Design Mom, and it’s so fun to get to know more about our favorite bloggers. Cheers!

  4. Mom101 :

    Lovely interview. Who doesn’t love Gabrielle?

  5. cloud9design :

    great interview! thanks! :)

  6. modmom :

    thanks for emailing me petit elefant.

    is see gabrielle is a byu grad!
    i work out with steve young at my gym + our kids play in the kids room + go to the same nursery school. he’s a very nice, down to earth great father