You must be living under a rug (or new to the city, in which case welcome!) if you don’t know about shopping on Main Street in the Mt. Pleasant area ‘cos it’s AWESOME!!! The streets are lined with independent shops and boutiques with unique offerings including (and not limited to) antique, graphic novels, print and paper goods, and of course many, many cute clothing and shoe stores! Oh! And don’t forget the abundance of coffee shops and restaurants! I won’t lie but confess that I just L-O-V-E shopping on Main!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means what you’d classified as a shopaholic. In fact, I’m quite the opposite: I hardly buy anything nowadays. But one of my soft spots (and I’ve way too many!) is stationery. I just love paper stuff…I must have at least five unused Moleskin notebooks in reserve. When I stumbled into The Hach on 17th Ave (just slightly off Main, opposite to a Shopper’s Drugs Mart), I tried really, really hard to resist buying all the adorable yet affordable stationery! They’ve little sticky notes, keyboard note pads that double as a wrist-rester, notebooks in different sizes, patterns and colours…Most of their stock are imported from Korea. They are just irresistibly cute! At last, I lost the battle in my mind and became the happy owner of this very practical monthly agenda + notepad by Paperways.

Paperways Compat 2-in-1 agenda
Monthly agenda $7
Notepad with square pattern $6
Plastic cover $3 (free with purchase of 2 notepads)

Another crazy/neat shop on Main Street is Urban Source Alternative Art Materials. At first glance the store looks a bit like a junk yard with bins of things like used CD, empty bottles, scrap pieces of leather, tile samples…Sky is the limit of what you can create with stuff found at Urban Source. The store also offers a great deal of paper products (such as those Chinese takeout boxes perfect for party favours). You’re offered the freedom to either buy what you want or buy in bulk in three different sizes of paper bags. Just fill a bag up with goodies, pay the set price and go! Even if you’re not planning to make anything, it’s still fun to go and see what they’ve got. Who knows? You might be inspired!

Material for a project in my head: Rug swatches $0.85, Assorted buttons $2, Carpet stopper $3 (IKEA)

The third item I picked up on Main Street technically isn’t sold in one of the shops. However, its creator resides in that area so I say it counts. The last thing I collected on that day is a wonderful package of Issues 1 and 2 of space | time zine from my friend Mel. 🙂 There is an article containing text and illustrations by another lovely friend of ours Caileigh Speck! Mel is one of the main contributor of this independent zine. All zines are designed, published, printed, hand-bounded by local designers. Mel says it’s lots of a hard work and she might not continue because it requires too much time. I wish you’d never stop making wonderful things, Mel! Support Mel and her zine!

space | time zine issues 1 & 2


On an unusually sunny weekday afternoon, I visited my local IKEA to get some supplies to organize my office. I was hungry, so I stopped by the cafe. After scanning the menus with close-up photos of various Swedish gourmet, I settled on a $2.99 meatball combo that included ten meatballs, fries, a dab of Lingonberry relish and a small strand of parsley. As I sat by one of seats by the window, bathing in the winter sun, looking at the food in front of me and feeling content, I noticed this small strand of parsley. OK, the truth is, I was stuffing fries in my mouth. I was hungry!

IKEA meatball dish for $ 2.99

Well, anyway. I noticed the little strand of parsley and I started to think: what was the point of adding this piece of herb on the dish? Hardly anyone was going to eat it. Yes, I know parsley is not expensive. But do you know how many meatball dishes IKEA sell? The minute overhead added by this small piece of parsley could be HUGE! Obviously, the parsley is for garnish. But garnish for a $2.99 meal? Do you expect your $8.99 McD meal to come on a silver platter with a side of flower? I surely didn’t!

At this point, I realized and understood how successful IKEA is in implementing their brand by developing a cohesive, 360-degree user experience. It dawned on me that the meals at IKEA (besides at the bistro, which is meant to be quick and cheap) are served on proper flatware, eaten with proper cutlery, at proper, well-lite dining areas. I noticed for the first time today that plates and cutlery for kids were provided to the patrons. With the famous kids’ area, it is for sure that IKEA welcomes parents with small children. If the kids are happy, the parents are happy, right?

Spacious, well-lite dining area

Kids cutlery

This dining experience told me that, at IKEA, even a $2.99 dish of meatballs was a gourmet, satisfying, enjoyable meal. It brought me right to the core of IKEA’s vision: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.” After consuming my delicious lunch, I felt empowered to better my life by getting my room better organized (and I did!).

Did that strand of parsley cause me to spend more at IKEA? Did it convert me from a hater to lover? Probably not. But it was these tiny details and small touches that shapes my impression of IKEA, and causes me to shop here again and again. I want to give kudos to whoever decides and insists on making that little piece of garnish part of the “standard” 10-piece meatball combo. Too many people think such details don’t have any value so they’d eliminate them to cut cost. I sincerely wish more people would think like the management at IKEA and see the purpose in the little parsley.

Inside the Nov 17 – 24, 2011 Georgia Straight, I found these 2 ads:


Ad #1



Ad #2

Both advertise for the coming Vancouver Opera Roméo et Juliette, both use the heart shape. Which one catches your attention? I say they’re both brilliant!

Yaletown in British Columbia is a neighbourhood well-known for the young, hip and luxurious boutiques, specialty stores, businesses and apartment residence. And of course, the abundance of food places of all sorts: family-oriented restaurants, pubs & breweries, lounges, coffee places etc., and of many ethnic varieties: West coast, Thai, French, Italian…The food scene in Yaletown is as rich, diverse and authentic as the potpourri of cultures that make Vancouver unique.

Over at a hushed corner of Yaletown at Drake and Hamilton Street, drastic changes takes place unnoticed, like young shoots sprouting out of the Spring soil (in spite of the cold, rainy November Vancouver winter outside). If you look closer, you will find three people at the core of this unstoppable ball of energy that keeps the activities going at 1269 Hamilton Street — Chef Alex Mok and his wife Zoë, and their investor/friend Kinson Lai.

Alex previously served at the Quilchena Golf and Country Club, and has apprenticed with the former chef to the King of Belgium. Together with his wife Zoë, Alex has been cooking at his Vancouver apartment, serving patrons in an “underground supper club” — an exclusive, private, intimate dinner party of few with custom menus designed by Alex.  Influenced greatly by French cuisine, Alex’s cooking focuses on the “holistic food experience”, a multi-dimensional food sensation. His innovative and user-centered menu creations have won the praises of many.

Yet, in the midst of their success as “underground supper club” hosts, Alex and Zoë have always yearned to bring their food offerings out of their apartment and into mainstream. The moment comes when an opportunity arises in the heart of Yaletown.

The Name: Caché

The name of the restaurant, Caché, means hidden or hide in French. It is appropriate in many ways: firstly, it reminisces the good old days of the underground supper club where exclusive private dinner parties were celebrated; secondly, it signifies the new era when the “hidden” is revealed and shared with the public; thirdly, it relates to the location of the restaurant, which is a quiet, seclusive escape from the hustle and bustle of Yaletown; lastly, it pays tribute to Chef Alex’s style of French cuisine cooking.

The Concept

Moodboard for Caché

Moodboard for Caché

In spite of the tight project timeline, we take time to research and explore. In this case, we focus on the name of the restaurant since it provides a very rich content for us to work on. At the end, it boils down to three options:

  1. Precious, protect, valuable, safekeeping. E.g., a pearl in an oyster.
  2. History and discovery. E.g., maps and compasses.
  3. A place for safekeeping. E.g., a safe or a jewelry case.

The graphic solution shall highlight:

  1. Casual & Approachable: There is no need to dress up. Just come for a good time.
  2. Sophisticated: To reflect Chef Alex’s detail-oriented cooking style
  3. French-influenced: It is Chef Alex’s signature style

Rough 1


Rough 1

After discussing with the client, we decide with Concept 1, which is interpreted as a locket with paper silhouette portrait cut-outs. The rationale is that in the old times, paper silhouette portrait cut-out of a persona’s dearest (often a lover) was kept in a golden locket and worn close to the heart, to remind them of the love they shared. Caché has its patrons close to its heart. It is the place where loved ones gather to create fond memories.

Although pleased with the concept, the client fears the imagery is too mature for its target audience, who are young, hip Yaletown locals. With this in mind, the logo evolves and becomes…

Caché Bistro & Lounge Logo

Cache Logos

Final Logos

Thanks to Zoë’s suggestions, we “modernize” the boy and the girl and bring them into the 21st century. The oval shape doubles as a locket and a dish, depending on what’s inside. We keep it simple by using one colour, black, as the main theme colour. Other colours such as rich burgundy red and bronze-gold inspired by the interior decor of the restaurant are introduced in the brunch menu to bring warmth and vibrancy.

Identity applications



Cache Brunch Menu



Caché Bistro and Lounge
1269 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, B.C.
Tel: 604.558.1269

© All Rights Reserved. Gillian Lo. Caché Bristo & Lounge. 2011.

Handwritten using Illustrator & stylus, transferred onto block and carved out the white's.

My hand, neck and back were so sore.

Then cut a large piece of press paper into 4x6" cards

Roll on ink, press paper, and viola! In black and with silver metalic ink.

Glory to God the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14

Merry Christmas, everyone!

P.S. Bonus:

Rocky is ready for the holidays!

How do you feel about Christmas? Every year when December rolls around, people seem to get into a crazy panic mode. They are already sun-deprived, cold-stroked, and marginally depressed when the pressing deadline of December 25 simply adds more salt to the already bleeding wound. “Oh! It’s not that bad! I love Christmas!” Yes, Christmas could also be a time for family and friends to get together, or office people to loosen up at the company-sponsored “winter celebration” parties. Whether you love or hate it, Christmas is a time of giving, celebrating and spending time with your loved ones.

Unfortunately, Christmas has become a season of spending, shopping and self-indulgence. We seem to care more about getting the items to be put under the tree or hosting an awesome party when our attention could have been given to the people we’re shopping for or inviting to the party. Did you get a bigger rush when you’ve stroke out the last name on your shopping list than actually knowing the gift-receivers really, honestly love (or use) your gifts? Did you get so focused on getting all the food and wine ready for the party that you spend most of the time in the kitchen rather than to mingle with your guests?

If you’ve said yes, you are not alone. We all suffer the “Christmas syndrome” in some ways. This year, why don’t we make a conscious effort to change?

The Advent Conspiracy “was started in 2006 by five pastors who decided to make Christmas a revolutionary event by encouraging their faith communities to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All.”

Regardless of your faith, this Christmas let’s spend less and give more. Does your niece really need another doll? Do you really need one more sweater? Could your gift not come in a plastic container or a box (e.g., DIY or bought at a craft fair made by a local artist)? Could your gift continue to give (e.g., give a plant that will keep flourishing, or give a goat, which will provide milk for a family in a third world country)?

Save another person from getting an unwanted gift. De-clutter. Spend less. Give more.

Note: Make your own Garfield comic script HERE.