So, How Was Your Day?
Coffee. Plain yogurt. Figs. Flaxseed. Granola.
Quinoa salad with spinach leaves, almonds, and dried blueberries.
The chef’s choice at Kai Zan (sushi).
My whole family knows that I’m a night owl, which means I am NOT a morning person. I wake up pretty groggy with my eyeballs still stuck to my eyelids, so my hubby brings me my coffee cause he knows that will lure me out of bed. He’s successful, and I have time to do a few minutes of yoga. I walk my son to school by 8:30am and then dash back home, eat breakfast, and jump on the computer. I work from home on the 4th floor in a sun-filled office with a view of my rooftop garden; it’s a great place to start the day. I’ve been really excited about my new project “Get Fueled”, so I usually get the latest feature up on the site in the morning. As Creative Director at Large for Vosges Haut-Chocolat, I meet with the creative team once a week to review all the current projects and provide mentoring to the Sr Designer, Wesley Webb. Today we are meeting to review the catalog campaign and imagery for a new line of super dark chocolate bars. My next meeting is a brainstorm with the owner, Katrina Markoff, about a new chocolate sensory experience that will be part of their new manufacturing facility.
This week is Chicago Ideas Week so today I packed my lunch cause I’m spending my lunch hour at a lecture about food and how it brings people together and transforms experiences. It’s a little research for an upcoming project I’ve got brewing. Afternoon is my own design time. After a busy morning, I’m energized and excited to have some time to myself to be creative. I’m currently working on the branding of a new restaurant (A10) for chef Matthias Merges (yusho) and his wife, architect, Rachel Crowl (fcstudio). I’m also helping to produce a luxury line of candles for Linnea Lights, and a book about an outsider art/guitar maker. I have to work efficiently because my workday ends at 3:30 when I pick up my son from school.
On most evenings, I simultaneously answer email while I make dinner and he does homework or builds wondrous Lego structures. But this evening I have a date with my husband and some friends to go to our favorite sushi place, Kai Zan. Before we leave for dinner though, we have a little family time along with a cocktail. We love fancy cocktails but I don’t want to get all fussy tonight, so I’m making a quick and easy Gin & Tonic. I used to think G & T’s sucked, but then my husband made me one using Old Ransom Gin & Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic, and now I love them. I have to admit, this whole trend has really turned me into a cocktail snob. I’m not a snob about anything else, so I guess it’s ok. The babysitter arrives, we hug goodnight, and off we go. My best brainstorming happens late at night, like I said; I’m a night owl. My husband and I are watching Boardwalk Empire; we fall into that category that watches an entire series all at once. I’d watch 3 or 4 episodes til 2 am but my hubby always turns the TV off after one. I usually whine a little bit and try to convince him to watch more, but he’s smarter than me in that way. One episode, lights out. I usually have the laptop on my lap in bed while we’re watching, but I’m trying to break that habit. I also keep a notebook by the side of the bed and it includes a ridiculous number of lists. I find that list making allows me to let the thoughts flow, and late night thinking is when I’m the least judgmental but the most analytical.
Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with that headboard? Where are you?
I’m in our bedroom and the back wall/headboard is my husband’s doing. He designed and built it. He covered the entire wall with wood a built a recessed shelf just above the bed. He also wired lights (on dimmers) directly into the shelf and into the wall so that everything is seamless. It adds a wonderful sense of warmth to our bedroom.
2. Creative directing at Vosges, working with Linnea Lights, AND branding projects for Matthias Merges…not everyone has this special gift to connect with such cool brands and people? What’s your secret?
I love hearing other people’s perspectives because I never thought of myself as having this gift. In fact, selling myself has always been the part I don’t think I’m good at. It’s the basis for my fears of owning my own business. I’m not a good salesperson because it’s hard for me to toot my own horn. It feels funny to say ‘hey, I’m a really good Creative Director, you should hire me’. I have to work hard to over-come that funny feeling. I think part of the trick though, to get clients I want, is to be specific when people ask what I do. I don’t just say that I’m a designer, I tell people that I love to create for music, fashion, food, etc. Maybe I’ll even tell them that I dream of designing for Henry Beguilin or the Joffrey Ballet or being part of the Kinfolk Team, cause you never know who someone’s best friend or aunt might happen to be.
3. The guy behind Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic (Brooks Reitz) was actually a guest on SHWYD. Crazy, you mentioned his line! Seeing that you’re a “cocktail snob”…if you and Brooks were to battle head to head in a cocktail competition…what would be your winning cocktail and how would you serve it?
Oh my, really? This is intimidating. I’m not really a mixologist, I just play one on TV. Ok, here goes. I’m thinking that Brooks probably believes in simple ingredients that are high quality. So, I could do a thing with egg whites, chartreuse, and light it on fire. But if I’m going head to head with Brooks (what? Seriously?!!!), then I’m gonna go the simple route here, which might be a bigger challenge cause there’s no ‘wow’ factor. I’d make a Mezcal Mule, using a small batch Mezcal like Del Maguey, Q ginger beer, fresh squeezed lime juice and maybe a dash of grapefruit bitters. I’d serve it with a big hug, and maybe with my favorite goat cheese fundido recipe from Elote Café.
Brenda Bergen lives in Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and son. She’s a creative director, brand strategist, and passionate about creating sensory experiences. Her latest project, Get Fueled, explores the creative process. get fueled.com winkdesign.com