Winter Plans in the Midst of a Pandemic

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While 2020 is a year most of us would rather soon forget, it’s still a year that we have to go through. And with restrictions on everything from indoor dining and recreational experiences to fitness facilities and events, we’ve had to adjust how we socialize, relieve stress, and spend our time. We caught up with our team to ask them how they plan on keeping busy and keeping sane through a pandemic-affected winter.

Pauline, Creative Director

We try to keep a balance of indoor and outdoor activities with our kids. Outside, we’ve taken to doing scavenger hunts with our kids — all things you’d find outside walking around our area. Inside, we’ve aimed to change up their play stations often with a focus on activities like games and crafts. I also tend to spend more time experimenting in the kitchen during the winter months.

Baking bread has long been a family tradition that I grew up with and am now carrying on — it’s been pretty therapeutic, so I find that I’m spending more time doing this.

Kaleigh, Content Director

I bought the recipe cards at 26 Market and have been using them to write down recipes we do at home ad lib. My partner is an amazing cook and runs The Moonlight Inn restaurant at Victoria Beach during the summer as a side hustle and I’m also not a bad cook (terrible baker). I’ve worked in restaurant kitchens all throughout university and before starting at 26 — food is a big part of my life.

My partner is a photographer and we hope to make a cookbook that is entirely photo-based. We’d like to photograph the recipe cards with raw ingredients styled around them. I love styling and plating. It’s kind of like our personal Covid cookbook with all original recipes!

This is a fun project that we’re excited about because it combines our professional and personal lives. I have an insane passion for editorial design and he is truly a talented photographer.

Jess, Strategic Designer

To cope with a COVID-19 winter, I’ve been trying out new recipes in the kitchen — primarily focused on plant-based dishes and baked goods. Cooking with my boyfriend is actually one of my favourite things to do, and we can spend hours cooking in the kitchen, so it’s a really great thing to do when we need a break from checking the news.

My go-to recipes are usually roasted vegetables and tofu stir-fry, but a new and notable dish I’ve recently made was quinoa and lentil cabbage rolls. They were pretty good for the most part, but I have some perfecting to do.

Baked goods is a must because of my sweet tooth! Things I’ve made so far: lemon poppyseed loaf, banana bread, blueberry peach crumble, and blueberry coffee cake.

And to help stay positive, I’ve decided to take part in a virtual sketch club with a few of my friends who were in the Environmental Design program with me. Every week, there’s a new theme or subject and we all find some time to sketch/illustrate something to share in our group chat on Sundays.

Cyrene, Strategic Designer

I’m planning to work on some personal projects and draw more in my free time. I’m also trying to find time to get back into some old hobbies — particularly making block prints.

I’ve also been hoarding a bunch of puzzles and have a miniature garden set that’s supposed to take about 40-70 hours to complete, so I’ve been pretty excited to start that!

Something I’ve really been to trying to focus on is making things by hand to cut down on my screen time since we’re already spending so much time staring at our computers, which is kind of what led me to hoard puzzles and pick up that mini garden. Listening to Christmas tunes always brightens my mood in the winter, too.

RB, Marketing Manager

Biking has always been an outlet for me to relieve stress and when we were in the thick of the pandemic in March/April, I bought a new bike — my first non-fixed gear bike. I bought it with the intention of using it on all types of terrain in all types of weather.

Since then, I’ve logged over 1,500km on the new bike and I don’t plan on keeping it locked up all winter. I recently picked up some winter bike tires that have held up really well so far, even in thick snow, so I’m going to see how she fares on some of the fat bike trails in Manitoba.

Apart from biking, other ways I plan on keeping sane are running D&D games for my friends online, working on my photography and illustration skills, and helping my partner bake her way through Claire Saffitz’s cookbook, Dessert Person.

The Analogue Lifestyle – Thinking Through Our Hands

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Here at 26 Projects, we are lovers and practitioners of analogue. We believe that sometimes the best ideas can come from pen to paper and that engaging in the physical action of inscription and scrawl is part of the creative process. From writing, planning, sketching to even painting, we record and communicate information through written words, and with the aid of simple drawings to describe exactly what we mean.

When strategizing and planning, we like to take notes. Sometimes neatly, other times quickly, and almost always only legible for our eyes to read. When we jot ideas and questions, we are thinking through our hands. From mind to hand, from pen to paper, to execution. The reason for how much we love and value our journals and respective writing instruments is because our preliminary and ongoing process heavily relies on this analogue practice.

In both our professional and personal lives, our analogue lifestyle is comprised of planning, documenting and jotting ideas into our journals and day planners. Whether it be in a Maruman Mnemosyne notebook, a Traveler’s Notebook, or a Midori and Notem planner tucked in a The Superior Labor leather organizer from our 26 Market collection – we all have our favourites to keep with us as part of our daily essentials – our creative companion. Our analogue tools help us slow down in our fast-paced, digital world to distill what is most important in our work, and allows for the creative freedom to explore all possibilities in a project. Even when we use our devices, we opt for the analogue experience – an ipad with its Apple pencil is still a version of a simple pen and paper combination.

In these last few weeks, we have taken note of the surge in the analogue movement as a result of the extra time to think and feel the need to escape the humdrum of everyday life at home. From journaling to express emotions, establish routine and record ideas, to creative freedom and art. There’s never been a better time to journal…

Keeping Company with Volume

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Meditations on how to help others is part of our everyday. We look not only inward but toward the people we work with and become close friends with, for inspiration and guidance. Today we acknowledge chef Sharon Steward, with whom we had the privilege of developing a beautiful, educational cookbook with during the summer of 2017. She is someone who thinks with her heart, but with all of the brains behind it. She always has others in mind while staying true to what she is most passionate about: food, community, family, and her faith.

The Community Food Share Project

By trade, Sharon is a Red Seal Chef with years of experience in both the back and front of house in some of Canada’s most revered restaurants. She holds a sommelier diploma from the International Sommelier Guild, and is currently the head chef at InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Manitoba, a seasonal outdoor camp on an island in Shoal Lake.

Today, Sharon is busy spearheading an initiative that is responding to the times in a most generous and innovative way. Sadly, due to COVID-19, Pioneer Camp may not be in operation this year, a place where many children, staff, and volunteers spend their summers. But, as the chef, Sharon has retained important connections to food sources, which she has thoughtfully redirected to those in need.

The Community Food Share Project supports anyone who is struggling to access wholesome food in this challenging time. Whether caring for a young family, for oneself, for elderly family members, or for a community – the program functions to provide nourishing meals to many people in the city of Winnipeg and surrounding areas via food packages for purchase, and also subsidized for those in need. A very special part of those packages is the inclusion of a copy of the Volume: Cooking for a Community cookbook in packages that are purchased. All items within the food parcel are ingredients Sharon would have used to cook meals at camp. The book is a resource that will help anyone who receives or purchases a package understand what the food is connected to. To camp; to a community that values food, to an ethos of sharing food.

Visit to learn more about how you can engage in The Community Food Share Project.

Keeping Good Company with Hargrave St. Market

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We are consistently reminded of how lucky we still are to be in the presence of good company during the colder season – even if it happens to be spring. What a profound pleasure it is to work with Winnipeg’s newest food hall, Hargrave St. Market. We see ourselves as lucky to delight in the delicious diversity of cuisines and spirits through the mediums of photography and social strategy alongside you.

Thank you for inviting us to take part in this new and unprecedented chapter for downtown Winnipeg, with the task of capturing the essence of each food vendor – Gusto North, Yard Burger, The Good Fight Taco, Saburo Kitchen, Fools & Horses, Miss Browns, Rose Bar, and Lake of the Woods Brewing Company – the delicious diversity of cuisines and spirits were a delight to photograph and devour.

Thank you for allowing us to inform your new digital audience of what was to come, and for letting us take the reins on how to introduce this space to the city and build excitement around the opening of your doors.

Thank you for having us at your Grand Opening Celebration for a lavish night of drinks, ten meals worth of food samplings, and a wonderful turnout of guests for company. Thank you for breaking up our work week with exciting and renewed dining experiences – you will continue to do so for everyone in the area when the time comes.

Thank you for giving us a reason to come by the elevated modern space you’ve provided our humble city; for photoshoots, meetings, and down-time gatherings. We are in awe of the efforts that the people behind the food hall have and still put forth, and the chefs and creators that keep the community engaged with food in new ways.

Thank you for keeping us warm in your company during a long, and cold winter. The impeccable food offerings and spirits are one thing, but your flexibility and outstanding accommodations have made this collaboration very special to us. As the feeling of spring becomes more palpable, we will be dreaming of the day we can visit you again.

With love until then,
From the 26 Projects Team

Brand Activism – Meeting ABLE

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ABLE is a retail space, jewelry workshop, and design platform upholding traditional techniques and a forward-thinking business model that works to give voice and independence to people, namely women, who have been impacted by poverty and addiction. But crucially, ABLE is sending an important message about the deeply flawed, globalized fashion industry’s treatment and value assigned to those manufacturing fashion. Their model addresses disparity in workers’ rights in face of the demands of the industry through acknowledgment and transparency around wages paid to their manufacturers. ABLE is calling for action and representation via their Lowest Wage Challenge campaign.

Founded by Barrett Ward and established in 2010, ABLE is a lifestyle and fashion brand with its flagship and jewelry workshop located in Nashville, Tennessee. Last fall, we had the opportunity to briefly visit the store in The Nation’s Stocking 51 development, and since, have found every opportunity to draw closer to it and some of its creative members – to gather a deeper understanding of their purpose.

The primary mandate of the company is to address generational poverty by working with women who have often overcome extraordinary life circumstances. Though at the surface you will encounter a label that creates truly stunning, lasting, fashionable product – ABLE also prioritizes that all manufacturing is to take place directly in the communities they strive to impact, both locally and abroad. Currently, they employ women from seven countries, including the U.S., Ethiopia, Mexico, and Peru (to name a few) for the creation of hand-woven scarves, leather goods, denim, footwear, and handmade jewelry. With the clear position that job creation is integral to addressing the poverty issue, ABLE is a working example of a company that has created numerous jobs for women – jobs that ultimately help to illuminate their collective knowledge, culture, and skillsets.

You will also discover that ABLE’s strength is more than job creation. They ask important questions about their action towards the well-being of their workers. Through their campaign, The Lowest Wage Challenge, ABLE exhibits transparency about its operations and emphasizes the fact that 98% of fashion’s manufacturing workers do not earn a living wage to meet their basic needs. This further illuminates that 75% of this figure are women. ABLE seeks to open the dialogue about the ethics of the fashion industry while prioritizing basic human rights and building a culture where people are heard and valued by prompting consumers. ABLE strives to prove that today’s fashion industry is truly able to rectify these issues.

The celebration of women and their creative autonomy is integral in imagining the evolution of the company. ABLE is making an impact on the fashion industry’s modes of manufacturing and ethical production, but they are also creating more opportunities for accessibility, inclusivity, and diversity. We look forward to growing our relationship with ABLE over the coming months and share more about their wonderful business with you.

Keeping Company with De Luca’s and Smak Dab – Our Food Heroes!

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Greetings from our home offices this week. A special week is ahead of us as we prepare for and navigate new ways of dealing with times that call for gathering – Easter, Passover, celebrating the first signs of spring in our respective exterior spaces – whatever it is that normally calls us together, is upon us.

I think we can collectively agree that there is new joy to be discovered in preparing food, in trying something new, and taking pleasure in the challenge of cooking with what you have.

We know all too well about cooking with what you have in a small studio kitchen. And, my goodness, we miss those days. Cooking at the stove with what you’ve got to get the perfect shot, alongside some of the best creative culinary artists in the city, is something we miss dearly.

Thank you to Smak Dab and De Luca’s, who, for those of you don’t know, are good friends and have been supportive of one another from the beginning. Thank you to Smak Dab, for introducing us to our first contact at De Luca’s. You are both dream clients because you trust us – our taste in food, aesthetics and communication. You have welcomed us into your family life – moms, dads, uncles, friends, Italian chefs, babies, fiancés, and more. Thank you for teaching us how to celebrate with food, Thank you for showing us that though food doesn’t need to be complicated, it is still a world to approach with rigour, repetition, and generosity.

As traditions continue in new social settings, or in quietude – we hope you find comfort in knowing that Smak Dab and De Luca’s are still there for you. We know they can help deliver happiness.

With much respect, and until the next…
From the 26 Projects Team

Keeping Company with Sparrow Hotels – A Letter of Gratitude

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We’ve spent a lot of time communicating on behalf of Sparrow Hotels and all 8 of the businesses that encompass the brand – The Inn at the Forks, The Riverstone Spa, SMITH Restaurant, ERA Bistro in the Human Rights Museum, Mere Hotel, The Norwood hotel, and their latest gastro destinations Pauline Bistro and The Wood Tavern in St. Boniface.

Thank you for the memories. For allowing us to help you find the words in a voice both elevated and cheeky, and for letting us get up close and personal with our cameras. You’ve made our work with you feel effortless, expansive, and fresh.

Thank you for welcoming us into The Inn at the Forks for a glorious night’s stay. For treating us to the most relaxing day at the spa, and for nourishing us from morning to night.

Thank you for educating us about the food being prepared and their nuances – each restaurant so unique, authentic, and reflective of place across SMITH, ERA, Pauline, and the Wood. You have put us in touch with the seasons – the beauty of our winters through initiatives that we can take little credit for, but that we’ve simply had the pleasure of participating in. A Winter Wonderland is truly at our fingertips and you’ve helped us and the city experience what that can mean.

Thank you for keeping us in good company and closely in the know. Your professionalism and expert eye and mind for exceptional hospitality and refined, yet approachable taste is spot on.

Lastly, thank you for allowing us the creative freedom to express ourselves through you. When you’re challenged with sharing a message of good food, warm and welcoming accommodations, world-class architecture and design, and the experience of context beyond these establishments – we consider ourselves a pretty lucky bunch.

With much respect, and until the next…
From the 26 Projects Team

Birds in March and Transition – Seasonal Reflections and an Announcement

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I began writing this reflection on my birthday – March 12th – what seems now to have been the tipping point for us here in Canada with respect to the COVID-19 crisis. How things can change in a matter of a week or two. Working for 26 Projects out of Toronto was both a personal and professional shift, and our focus on this transition has been top of mind for our company. Now, we are all faced with a new and immediate transition that we know has reverberated through every industry. We are dealing with separation beyond my removal from the studio environment, but like most, we are drawing closer and becoming more resilient with each day that passes, even with the distance.

What we want everyone to know, is that we are committed to and will continue to work and show our support to our clients, family, friends – our community – for as long as we possibly can. Although we are faced with important decision making for 26 internally, something that we are wanting to do is give back through support by way of communication and design. We are opening up our hearts and our minds to all those in need of COVID-related help through visual and written communication. Whether today, or in the coming days, we encourage you to reach out to us. And, we will do our best to reach out to those in our immediate circle to respond to every unique scenario. We will work to our capacity to create thoughtful and informative messaging for your audience via notifications and updates. Perhaps it is an email that you don’t have the time to assemble, a message on social media that you’d like to send out, or a more dynamic pursuit that you’d like to flesh out with us. We are here to share our ideas and to help execute where we can. The point is, we can do this together.

Lastly, I want to leave you with this. With any journal entry, it’s important not to erase words of reflection. We still stand behind our ambitions and desires through this time of uncertainty. Every word still rings true to us.

A move east in January can be overwhelming, exciting, cold, but someone reassured me, “birds will be singing on your birthday”. This is true. Spring is on the horizon. Earlier than I can ever remember. And, for the first time, it’s comforting to be here in Toronto for an earlier seasonal shift, away from the tumultuous March weather that Winnipeg often sees.

A point of reflection for me, is that transition is dynamic – it can be abrupt, and it can be incremental. The latter has been more affecting and challenging. You can leave, but what’s next? Time passes, days, and there you have it – two plus months have gone by. A short time in the grand scheme. One of the aspects I miss most about being away from the studio is the collaborative spirit, but the idea is to continue that here in some capacity.

When you bring a studio to a brand-new home in Toronto, you realize the ample opportunity for growth before you – from both a creative and business perspective. I knew I would be bringing 26 along with me. And, beyond continuing to support the team in the same way as always, there is the obvious goal of seeking out new connections and opportunity. We frame it as such: 26 is expanding an arm into Toronto.

We are here, exploring and expanding. After six years, we have developed a confidence – as a collective – in our ability to be dynamic, adaptable, and fluid. Perhaps 26 (the collective) is thoughtful in different ways here because of where we started. For one, I have noted a clear distinction in our communication style if I am to compare ourselves to the creative agencies I have been exposed to in Toronto. We are different in that we are less confined to a way of being, less informed and exposed to industry language (just spend a day in a Liberty Village coffee shop and you’ll see). I see this as our strength.

With two months behind us and spring around the corner, beginning anew feels right, right now. As the birds sing. I take it as a sign.

– Kaleigh Lysenko, Content Director at 26 Projects

A Branding Project Close to Home – 26 Market

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What began as a little in-house retail passion project, has now expanded into a full-fledged e-commerce shop. Here, we take you through the process of building a unique identity for our 26 Market.

You may have noticed that we’ve been working on a special side project – our 26 Market. What you may not know is that this project has been in the works for almost 2 years. If you ask two of our senior staff members, they can attest to the evolution of 26 Market as being quite spontaneous, but all the while, calculated.

Inspiration: The Market Wall

In our first iteration, Inspiration was taken from the 26 market wall in our studio where products are currently displayed. The square, a subtle graphic element was assigned to the wordmark, a direct representation of the design of our market wall.

Art Direction: Hand-made

The notion of “objects handmade with love” needed to be expressed in the logo. We introduced hand-drawn graphics, which resulted in experimenting with a completely hand-scripted wordmark with an illustrated hand as the primary motif to animate and support the logo.

Final Logo: Well-Curated

As a way to distance the process from the literal expression of a hand, more attention was put towards the idea and act of hand-picking and curating well-crafted items to be shared with the community. The hand-drawn graphic style was maintained to create the font for ’26 Market’ in a serif style, used for its aesthetic contrast to the 26 Projects logo.

This spur-of-the-moment branding project was both a challenge and a feat, being so close to home – a sort of offspring of 26 Projects. Seeing the last iteration come to life was like falling in love. The narrative we had in our minds finally took form, becoming a visual representation of the brand that we feel is beautiful, classic, and playful.