Sunday, January 8, 2012

Blog Redesign with Stef Patrizio

Designer Stef Patrizio works on a Mood Board at Madame's kitchen table.

Behind the scenes here at Madame Fromage, there has been a lot more than cheese on the table. Over the past few months, I have been working with Stefania Patrizio on a site redesign. Come spring, this blog will get her wings. Even a new url. 

To start, Stef created a new logo, which appears on the Cheese Ball invitation (see last post) I put up last week. Yes, that invite was all her idea. She is a dream. She's also taught me a lot about how to think visually, set a mood, and re-envision this site. Here's how we got started:

Building A Better Blog: PART I

Step 1: Gather Ideas
Stef asked me to collect all of the things I own that gush Fromage -- from cheese graters to business cards. Upstairs in the Cheese Command Center, where I do most of my writing, I got started with a bulletin board. Max McCalman's business card, a personal treasure, was one of the first things I pinned to the board.

Step 2: Build a Mood Board
Stef and I spent an afternoon creating a "mood board" -- a process of brainstorming the aesthetic look and feel of the new site. She collected a bunch of images and put together a slide show so we could brainstorm color and tone; the images ranged from black-and-white mug shots of women from the 1920s to vases of flowers. 

I gave a thumbs up to the mug shots, a thumbs down to the flowers. The process was much like going to the eye doctor and trying on lenses. The fun part was conceiving of a new look for the blog by exploring -- not text -- but photos and drawings. Of course, we had a cheese board to go with it.

Step 3: Design a Logo
Stef developed four new logo designs. Each one had a different look and feel. The unveiling, which took place at her apartment over breakfast, was exciting. I was so curious to know what she had come up with. After all, she had snapped oodles of photos at my house, and we had looked at dozens of food blogs together. I knew I wanted a logo with personality and a new site with some theatrics -- after all, what is a cheese board if not a stage?

Step 4: Create Images For a New Site 
Stef and I made a cheese trek. She wanted to snap some pictures and shop for cheese. So, off we went to Di Bruno Bros., a Polaroid in tow. We snapped some photos of the mongers who are so essential to this project, then came home to plate our wares and shoot a still life or two. Stef turned into a DSLR ninja. You can't see it here, but at one point the tripod was propped on a piano bench and Stef was hanging by a toe from the ceiling. 

Step 5: Keep Collaborating
The best part of this whole process has been sharing ideas with Stef. I met her at a cheese tasting, so I knew she valued some of the same things I did: handcrafted food, cheesemakers, exploration, stories. It's been great to find someone who is as passionate about images as I am about writing. Stef has given me ideas for posts, suggestions for blog features, and an understanding of how to build this site as a stage for sharing, educating, exploring, and entertaining. In the meantime, I've introduced her to a few new cheeses. 

Stefania Patrizio ( is a freelance designer in Philadelphia. She specializes in logos and branding for restaurants, food bloggers, and food producers. 


  1. This is a great post! I've been thinking a lot lately about a site redesign and a push towards better branding. This may be the inspiration I needed. Great write-up and great tips.

  2. Congrats. Doing a redesign is always stressful, but always a wonderful thing when it's done.

  3. Awesome to find a real collaborative designer to work with on the project. Great post about the process. Can't wait to see the results.

  4. Wonderful entry! Inspiring too! Can't wait to see the new blog!

  5. I loved that invite - and your new logo. Can't wait for the big reveal...really interesting to see the background work that went on. Will you reveal how much the whole process cost at the end? I know this is sensitive but I think it's a topic that a lot of people will be interested in. Especially as most bloggers don't make any/ or much money.