Designers often cite collaboration as one of their keys to keeping creative. That’s true, even for Heidi Meredith and Renée Walker, who live on opposite sides of the country. The pair originally met at California College of the Arts and they formed the design shop GOLD right after graduation in the summer of 2011. In its short existence, GOLD has created a number of smart and striking works, including designing the vintage-inspired book cover for At Home on the Range, a cookbook by the great-grandmother of Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Love, Pray fame).
When Walker decided to move to Providence, RI, that left Meredith working in San Francisco. As a way to bridge the cross-country divide, the duo decided to launch a blog called GOLDToday, which features a daily, creative prompt that each must complete that day. “GOLDToday allows us to address the distance we now have between us, our difference in place and time, and flex our making methods and process,” Meredith says. “Prompts might be, ‘Create an image that describes a sensation you had today,’ or ‘Design a letterform based on today’s weather.’”
Each designer spends less than an hour working on that day’s prompt, working on it throughout the course of the day and posting it that evening. They might end up generating anything from an abstract image made with watercolors to a 3D paper cut out mobile.
“It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking but it’s a chance to just let loose and practice using a medium we might not usually use, whether it be watercolor, found objects, or collage,” they say. “It’s also a chance for us to get away from the computer and mess around.”
They have found that this practice forces them to continue shaking up their creative juices, even if it takes some time away from client work.
“Some days it can be extremely difficult,” they admit. “But, that is part of it for us. We wanted to find a way to push ourselves to make time for our personal work so as to not to lose that in our client work. So in the end, although it is challenging, it is taking us in a direction that we otherwise would ignore because we’re too busy.”
They discovered one such new direction in the course of working on the At Home on the Range book cover. When they were designing the cover, they created a pattern out of kitchenware like tea kettles, salt shakers, mixing bowls and an apron. “We wanted the pattern to not just be decorative, but tell the story within the book,” Meredith and Walker say. “The front is all the components of cooking a meal, and the back is a table laid out for dinner. So the cover echoes what the book is about—a savvy woman’s insights on how to enjoy cooking and entertaining.”
They had spent so much effort brainstorming ideas for the book cover’s pattern that even once they created the final design, there were too many ideas leftover to stop there. They ended up creating their own self-initiated line of tea towels that incorporated other patterns inspired by the book. “We took three stories that resonated with us from the book and created a pattern for each–a recipe for tea cookies, the perfect martini, and how to set a table.”
As the design duo looks forward to the future of GOLD, they envision more self-initiated projects like this and they see GOLDToday as a means of developing many of those. “Through the formal exercises of GOLDToday, we now have a library of potential images and marks we can decide to turn into other avenues we want to pursue,” the pair says, ”whether it be textiles, wallpaper, book covers or any other ideas or applications that are dreamed up from our daily prompts.”
It’s proof that creative collaboration, truly, is golden.
Specialty: Print, pattern, books, typography, identity systems, visual storytelling
Locations: San Francisco and Providence, RI
Firm Motto: Gold Ad Infinitum