What I Did Last Summer

Pantofola luxury dog collars, Collezione Caramelle

Okay, the subject of this post is a little misleading…it was more than just last summer. And more than the summer before, actually it’s been lots of summers. Because it takes a long time to get something perfect, and that was my mission. But I chose to name this post “What I Did Last Summer” because it’s my first post since June of last year. Good grief!

If you’ve ever read my About page, you know that I’ve been working on launching my own line of luxury dog accessories called Pantofola that are made in Italy. So I travel there a few times each year, attending leather trade fairs, meeting with factories, flying around in a Fiat 500 (or enduring rail strikes), having good coffee, and taking pictures of dogs that I come across. For some time now I’ve been “that crazy American lady making dog collars” everywhere I go. Last summer I made three separate trips to London and one to Milan, and just a few days ago my website launched…hooray!!

Handsome doxie wearing Pantofola Mezzanotte collar in Luna

We have handsome collars for the little guys, and of course the not-so-little guys.

Black Lab wearing Pantofola Caramelle collar in Cielo

A very important aspect of Pantofola is to donate a minimum of 10% of our profits to dog rescue organizations around the world. Here in the US, we’ll choose an organization each quarter and make their day with a surprise gift. For sales outside of the United States, we’re donating to London-based Dogs Trust. They are a wonderful charity organization with a long track record going back to 1891, and their promise is never to destroy a healthy dog. In addition to rehoming dogs through their 20 centers in the UK (almost 15,000 just last year!), they go beyond their borders to train veterinarians in remote parts of the world where none exist, and they work to eradicate rabies in developing countries. I’m working on a separate post about our partnership, but in the meantime you can find more information about them here on their website.

Until next time…

Lhasa in Pantofola Caramelle collar in Liquirizia

 

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

All images copyright Pantofola, Inc. / Dog photos also protected under separate copyright Amanda Jones Photography.

 

Typographic Tuesday : Mary Oliver #2

mary oliver and chappie

It’s Typographic Tuesday, and today’s post is from Mary Oliver’s popular new book Dog Songs. This would be another fantastic gift for someone, it’s here on Amazon. My copy just arrived, so here’s the sweet cover:

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver

 

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

Il Cucciolo

Agriturismo Il Cucciolo

This post is about a lovely 25-acre agriturismo in Italy called Il Cucciolo, which translates to “The Puppy”, but first I have to own up to the path that brought this place to my attention: the credit goes to my cat Ponyo. Yes, I said it, a cat. In the way that cats climb on bookshelves (and everything else), Ponyo knocked a book down that I had forgotten about. Crafty girl, it was a good suggestion. And that’s where I’ll begin.

I bought Philosophy Dog, The Art of Living with Man’s Best Friend by Breon O’Farrell many years ago in San Francisco at the now defunct Stacey’s Books on Market Street. It caught my eye because it’s beautiful and the topic is dogs. It’s loaded with great photography and typography, oh and it’s about dog training but clearly that facet was lost on me and mine. Maybe Ponyo was giving us a suggestion.

Philosophy Dog by Breon O'Farrell

 

Pages from Philosophy Dog by Breon O'Farrell

While becoming reacquainted with this book, I discovered that Breon O’Farrell had been a successful dog trainer in New York with talented dog-loving clients and friends like photographer Bruce Weber (which comes in handy when you’re putting a book together). Then I found that Mr. O’Farrell along with his Italian-born wife and kids now operates a great little gem of an agriturismo in the heart of Perugia called Il Cucciolo. You can take your dogs on holiday there for fun and training, with classes taught by Breon O’Farrell himself.

Breon O'Farrell and dogs at Il Cucciolo

I haven’t visited Il Cucciolo yet, but I sure plan to get there one day. I’m smitten by the whole idea of this place. Most of my trips to Italy (okay, pretty much all of them) are for business and I’m primarily up in the north, but I would love to venture down to Il Cucciolo, and why not? Cooking classes, mushroom and truffle hunting, yoga, hikes in the hills, hanging out with dogs! I’m there. Beautiful.

Il Cucciolo Agriturismo

I think Mr. O’Farrell had the right idea to leave the crowded city for a gorgeous place like this. I’m willing to bet there are quite a few people daydreaming of a life like this right about now. If that’s true and this post inspires someone somewhere to make a big life change, it can all be traced back to Ponyo’s bookshelf climb that day. Crafty girl.

If you’d like to contact Il Cucciolo, you can visit their website here. You can also check out their Facebook page with more photos and info here.

Other contact information:
Agriturismo Il Cucciolo, Vocabolo Figlino n. 31, Petrelle, 06010 Città di Castello (PG)
Tel/Fax: (From USA 011-39)-0758504138, (From Europe 0039)-0758504138
Cell.: (From USA 011-39)-3331877849, (From Europe 0039)-3331877849

Email: info@agriturismoilcucciolo.com

Agriturismo photos: courtesy and property of Il Cucciolo

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

 

Hachikō visits Montréal

Hachiko in Montreal

The Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal 2013 is taking place this summer at the Montréal Botanical Gardens and I’m so glad someone had the brilliant idea to create who else but—Hachikō! If you’re not familiar with this event, it’s similar to Pasadena’s Rose Parade held each New Year’s Day here in America, except the sculptures aren’t floating and bobbing down Colorado Boulevard. And the horticultural artists seem to use more leafy plants versus flowers. Each one has a cultural theme that stems (oops, a plant pun) from the artist’s country of origin. There is also a catalog of plants that must be followed in your design.

Hachiko in Montreal

I think they did a great job with Hachikō. Besides capturing his classic pose, they also recreated the platform at the train station where he would wait each day for his owner to return. (For background information on Hachikō, here is my post with his story.)

Hachiko on Platform, Montreal

Another dog that made it into the show is this one, companion of Elzéard Bouffier who was the main character in the tale The Man Who Planted TreesL’homme Qui Plantait des Arbres by French author Jean Giono. The story is about a man who reforests a valley in the foothills of the Alps in Provence throughout the first half of the 20th century, so this was a great choice for the exhibit. An animated short of the story by Frédéric Back was released in 1987 and won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, I would love to see it.

The Man Who Planted Trees

Of course there are many more amazing sculptures on display with all kinds of animals prominent in the theme. Below are examples from Montreal, Okinawa, Shanghai and Madagascar.

Montreal Botanical GardensOkinawa at the Montreal Botanical GardensShanghai at the Montreal Botanical GardensMadagascar at the Montreal Botanical Gardens

If you will be visiting Montreal before September 29, why not spend a few hours checking out these beautiful sculptures? Here is the event website for more information.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

Photos courtesy Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal 2013 and flickr.

Giving Our Regards to Broadway

Pantofola collars & dog

So happy and honored to be donating an official Pantofola collar to this year’s annual Broadway Barks fundraiser taking place July 13th in the heart of New York’s theater district!

Now in its 15th year, Broadway Barks was started by Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters with the goal of raising donations and awareness for New York City animal shelters and adoption agencies. The event takes place in Shubert Alley (located between 44th and 45th Streets, between Broadway and Eighth Avenues) from 3:30 to 6:30pm. There are raffles, autographs, and a parade onstage of adoptable animals that are shown by Broadway celebrities and glitterati. This year’s show opens with a performance from the Jersey Boys, which I’m sure will be fantastic. You can see the full list of stars and events here.

So, all together now—

“Give my regards to Broadway, remember me to Herald Square,
Tell all the gang at Forty-Second Street, that I will soon be there;
Whisper of how I’m yearning to mingle with the old time throng;
Give my regards to old Broadway and say that I’ll be there ere long.”

Edward Tufte is a Dog Guy

Edward Tufte Sculpture & Dog Photo

On my recent trip to New York, I made it a point to check out the gallery of Edward Tufte in Chelsea. If you’re not familiar with Edward Tufte, he’s kind of the worldwide father of information design, among many other things. I was lucky to attend one of his all-day lectures back in 1996 in San Francisco, and boy was it fascinating. I’ll never forget watching him zip around the room, passionately pulling imaginary pixels from the air. Most of his career was spent as Professor of Political Science, Statistics, and Computer Science, Senior Critic, School of Art at Yale University, from 1977 to 1999, and he continues there as Emeritus Professor. But what I didn’t know is that he’s a practicing artist, mostly sculpture that’s dotting the Connecticut countryside. It was his apparent love for dogs in his work and personal life that caught my eye.

Edward Tufte Gallery, Chelsea

So the first thing I did in New York (although I did briefly pass through Eataly) was to make my way to his gallery and see some of the dog works in person. I didn’t see this “dog friendly” sign at the time, but I did notice there was a bowl of fresh sparkling water at the gallery’s entrance for thirsty patrons of the arts that might be out and about cruising the Chelsea arts district on a warm June day. Mr. Tufte gets another point from me.

Edward Tufte's dog sculptures, Chelsea

This sculpture is the one that I wanted to see most of all, and I was able to see both the large one at the top and the “mini-me” version below, which also appears in the first photo in this post along with Porta the Portuguese Water Dog, the real life model. Porta appears to be giving it the critic’s review. There is some great information and photos about the process on his website here.

The piece below was also on display, and I’m hoping it’s a dog…I assumed it was at the time, but I was too caught up in the moment and now I’m not completely sure because it feels a little equine. Apologies if I’m wrong.

Edward Tufte Sculpture

There are also some great photographs by Tufte on display, and he appears to have a good sense of humor:

Sorry I Bit the Christie's Guy photo by Edward Tufte

I pulled this photo from the official Edward Tufte website. It shows his dog Ace visiting the gallery and taking stock of the dog works on display. I think it would be really great if he could be wearing a black turtleneck here. With maybe a pipe.

Tufte's dog Ace at ET Modern

And as a reference for some of Edward Tufte’s other work, this photo (also from his website) shows his landscape piece titled Dear Leader I. Three of his dogs are shown in the photo also, according to Mr. Tufte, to provide a sense of scale. But of course I think they make it better!

Dear Leader I by Edward Tufte, 2006

I’m really glad that someone I’ve admired for a long time turns out to be a pretty big dog person. But before I sign off here, I want to say a little bit more about information design, because most people don’t really know what that means. In the profession of graphic design, you will often meet people who don’t understand what it is you do exactly, but it basically boils down to the visual display of information. Sadly, the perception is your role is limited to “making business cards and brochures”. Here is an excellent example of information design, not designed by Edward Tufte but it’s one of his favorites and available to purchase for framing:

Napoleon's March to Moscow

The design of this poster reflects Napoleon’s winter march to Moscow in the War of 1812. On the left side, the top shape indicates the population of Napoleon’s army of 442,000 at the beginning of the campaign. As the march progresses to the right, markers along the route indicate position and the thinning of the band depicts shrinking troop size. When Napoleon’s men arrive in Moscow at the far right, they are down to 100,000 troops and their retreat path is shown in black. This ever-thinning band is tied to temperature and time, ultimately dwindling to just 10,000 troops when they arrive back at their starting point. In Mr. Tufte’s book, he states “it may well be the best statistical graphic ever drawn.” And maybe the most poignant.

If you’re interested in visiting Edward Tufte’s gallery in Chelsea, you can get the info here. Just one thing: I learned on my visit that this is a temporary gallery (they are unsure of just how long) so make your way there sooner than later. The great thing about its location is that it’s just steps from an entrance to the High Line, which I wrote about in my last post.

For information on Edward Tufte, any of his four books, projects, prints or lectures, visit his website here.

Edward Tufte's books