Photography by Jen Huang | Words Chandara K. Phanachone
“The act of sending invitations in print is a sensory indulgence—it’s about heightening expectations, communicating excitement, and allowing yourself to be wrapped up in the romance of traditions,” says Lisa Hedge, founder and creative director behind New York City-based creative studio, Venamour. As Hedge very well knows, a plethora of printed material ranging from save-the-dates to formal invitations each serve as graceful precursors to wedding festivities, and will quickly become treasured mementos when the celebrations come to a close.
Venamour, the brainchild of founder Lisa Hedge is regarded for its innovative designs in wedding ephemera—stationery for the modern bride. Hedge is intentional when it comes to her word choice. “The word ephemera is important to me,” she emphasizes. “I love paper because it’s symbolic, and I think this word taps into that [nature].” Invitations are ephemeral in the sense that they correspond to such a specific, short-lived event, but they are “also experienced in a fleeting moment”—like the moment they arrive in the mailbox of its intended recipient. This modern bride that Hedge refers to is unafraid of taking the unconventional route, forging her own way in the planning process to create a completely intimate and somewhat surprising (albeit spectacular) experience. However, taking the road less traveled in the matrimonial world does not have to be at the expense of romance, tradition, and the beautifully grand gestures that make weddings so special in the first place. Hedge loves helping others create such gestures through her own passion of the graphic arts and printed matter; she believes that investing in paper ephemera is the perfect symbolic—and tangible—expression of the significance of a matrimonial union. While Hedge did not always have her heart set specifically on stationery, she has, however, consistently had affection for the tactile, artistic process of putting pen (or graphite) to paper. “I’ve always had a huge affinity for fine arts, graphic arts, [and the] studio arts,” she says. Hedge spent her childhood bouncing around the world as her parents traveled for work, beginning originally in New Zealand (she’s half-Kiwi, half-Brit), then landing in California for some time as a student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. There, she studied studio art and business, furthering her love for the palpable making process, while also sparking her entrepreneurial spirit. Several years after swapping the cool waters of the West Coast for the bright lights of New York City, the Venamour brand unfolded in a way that can only be described as organic. Hedge’s interest in wedding stationery design was initially sparked when she was asked to design various paper pieces for a handful of weddings, including an entire invitation suite for her sister’s nuptials. It would not take much time before Hedge realized that designing wedding paper goods full-time could be just as creative, imaginative and exploratory as her former work in branding and identity at the popular branding studio, Partners & Spade. While it was never her plan to enter the wedding industry, Hedge’s extensive experience in branding coupled with her relative naiveté to the wedding industry proved to be a boon in her favor; it gave her the creative freedom to develop something entirely fresh and distinct from everything else on the market, drawing considerable intrigue from discerning clients since its inception. “I started to question why so many people got so excited and only then did I look at what other designers were doing. I realized [clients] were interested in the different kinds of illustration and clean design I was doing.” It’s this tendency towards modern, graphic designs with an element of lightheartedness that makes Hedge’s line unique; she “strips away frills and superfluous elements, [leaving out] tons of ribbons or swirly letter forms.” With Hedge’s purposeful focus emerges her branding genius, one that often challenges the conventions of traditional wedding stationery, while turning out thoughtfully designed projects that continue to attract a following both within and outside of the wedding industry. Venamour’s wedding paper ephemera comprises three botanically-inspired collections. “Each of our collections is based around a visual framework primarily comprised of a floral motif, and complemented by select color and typographic palettes,” explains Hedge. She uses each collection as a framework (rather than a strict template) to match the nuances and design elements of each particular wedding and couple. One of Hedge’s favorite phases of the design process is “getting to know the personalities of clients and what people are looking to create; even though [the collections] are designed, everything is versatile and can be changed and chosen à la carte.” This built-in versatility allows clients to create and select only what they need, instead of being required to order an entire design suite. Hedge also weighs in on decisions such as paper types and typography choices, which she considers to be some of the more overwhelming options when honing in on the desired look and feel of each piece. Hedge recognizes the importance of creating a definitive aesthetic and personality for the Venamour brand, independent from the look of the stationery collections themselves. She finds that having a “strong point of view” is essential because the branding must instantly communicate what the company is all about. Venamour’s graphic type, bold look and splashy colors visually communicate that this brand stands apart from the typical wedding stationery archetype; it is playful and punchy, modern and expressive, but also refined and sophisticated—all traits that sum up the personality of clients who may find themselves attracted to the Venamour brand. Having a distinct personality separate from the floral wedding collections also allows Hedge to expand Venamour into other arenas. Love Letterheads is Venamour’s newest limited edition collection—romantic letterheads that are evocative and sweet without being overly sappy—hand-printed on luxurious paper in muted tones of rust, stone, lilac and linen with elegant gold-foil lettering. This limited edition collection provides a greater range of options in terms of the papers themselves, color palettes, and will play more actively with typography techniques. She also plans to move beyond the current aesthetic of florals and botanicals in order to “explore things that ride the line between the feminine and masculine.”
“Each of our collections is based around a visual framework primarily comprised of a floral motif, and complemented by select color and typographic palettes.” says Lisa.
Read more in Issue 04