Panache Partners Breathe Life Into Print Industry without Dependence on Marketing

Written by: Alexis Poole


Panache Partners and Signature Publishing Group have rejuvenated the print and publishing industries. And they’ve done it organically, by creating a product that pools creative talent and practically markets itself among affluent, on-the-verve communities. They’ve even created jobs in printing and publishing that allow the industries to experience growth.

In 2002, Brian Carabet and John Shand pooled together their 25 years of experience and created the now internationally acclaimed Design by City series, Spectacular Homes series and Perspective on Design series, along with a host of other coffee-table book series stretching from North America to Canada to London. Panache even custom-designs look-books to fit clientele tastes and needs.


Brian Carabet and John Shand created the City by Design Series in 2002.

The books are published by sister company Signature Publishing and distributed by Independent Publishers Group, which was the first to market titles solely from independent presses to the book trade. Since 1987, IPG has operated under the Chicago Review Press and has enjoyed many successes with clients spanning the globe. For all their efforts, Panache Partners are experiencing great success and growth. Even better, the company is headquartered in Plano, Texas, a bustling Dallas suburb that is affluent with an elevated cost of living and operations. In Plano, Panache finds a great audience to whom they can market and almost assuredly experience success.

But the thing that sets Panache apart from others is their product. Panache creates the most visually-appealing, creativity-inspiring, luxurious-feeling coffee-table books. They practically open themselves up to a wide audience, from the architect looking for samples of what a particular region might find warm and inviting, to the orthodontist looking for an interesting book to keep her waiting patients occupied. It is the product–hundreds of high-detail, oversized photos on slick, high-quality paper–that markets better than any agency ever could. By organically engaging the senses with a well-made product, Panache created the look-book that doesn’t need a commercial or a billboard to sell it. A product that can sell itself liberates a company from too much of a dependence on marketing and advertising. With more than 40 titles of coffee-table books, Panache can focus its money on Research and Development, pumping more of their resources into travel and photography, writing and editing, print production and finishing–creating jobs in the writing, printing and publishing industries that are in direct competition with their online counterparts.

And when the book is done, every description wittily and stylishly written, every photo oversized and in eye-popping detail, every spine, cover and page offering that visceral texture, scent and aura of a high-quality, well-made item–the coffee-table books put traditional marketing to shame and sell themselves, by referral only.

The Watsonville Area Water Resources Center: A 2010 Top Ten Green Project

A 2010 Top Ten Green Project

The Watsonville Area Water Resources Center in California

Earning a spot in the 2010 Top Ten Green Project is a great honor. One of the designs honored was The Watsonville Area Water Resources Center in Watsonville, California. This exceptionally designed piece of architecture has caught the eye of anyone and everyone who has visited the center. 

Designed by WRNS Studio out of San Francisco, The Watsonville Area Water Resources Center is a informational, serviceable and visual presentation of the water recycling plant it assists. It combined three different city and county water departments into a work area designed to support collaboration on issues of water management, conservation, and quality in the Pajaro Valley. The building houses administrative offices, a regional command center, and a water quality lab. It didn’t take much for The American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment to name this one of their Top Ten Green Projects. 

Water is the key ingredient of what makes this building Green friendly, relying mainly on recycled water. It is used to help heat and cool the building and the low-flow plumbing helps consolidate the use. Like with any structure going green, the company also uses high-efficiency lighting, natural ventilation, custom built rain screen and more. 

This exceptionally designed piece of architecture has caught the eye of everyone who has visited.

The beauty of the building was created to blend in with it’s surroundings. Low to the ground with some sides containing close to floor-to-ceiling windows, you can’t help but stare in amazement at it’s structure. Not only is the beauty of The Watsonville Area Water Resources Center something to be in awe of, but what the Center stands behind is also. It supports the Water Recycling Project, a joint effort of the City of Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency. Together they provide recycled water to farmers throughout the coastal areas of South Santa Cruz and North Monterey counties.

Eloquent, Articulate George Nelson; the Architect with a Story



Post WWII was characterized by a belief in progress, anything was possible and everybody wanted to be modern.  Enter George Nelson, one of the fathers of the industrial design movement known as American Modernism. 

Nelson studied at Yale in 1924; he said he had no idea what he wanted to be.  During a rainstorm he entered the architecture building for shelter which was clearly fated. He graduated with a degree in architecture and went on to become a great writer and designer. 

Nelson’s Ball Clock became an iconic part of the 1950’s atomic era.  This whimsical clock symbolizes mid-century modernism with its forward-looking design, a refreshing change from the traditional styles of the time.  The ball and stick design is reminiscent of the models used in chemistry, Nelson was influenced by scientific knowledge and technical advancements. 

The “Marshmellow Sofa” made entirely out of identically shaped circles exemplifies decomposition of large forms into smaller parts.  Supported by a minimalist steel frame it reaches the heights of pop playfulness, one of Nelson’s iconic pieces.

Part of the permanent collection at MOMA, NY, NY, the Nelson Bubble Lamp is constructed of plastic membranes over wire-forms.   Ever popular still, they adorn many a commercial set and can be found for sale online.

The designs he wrought from the English language could be his greatest designs of all.  With his eloquent style of writing and sense of humor, George Nelson brought a wonderfully bearable lightness of being.

From Gothic to Berkeley, the Works of Bernard Ralph Maybeck

Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts

Born in New York City, Bernard Ralph Maybeck was the son of a German immigrant.  He studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France and moved to Berkeley, California in 1892. 

At the University of California, Berkeley he taught architecture to such famous students as Julia Morgan and William Wurster.  He was awarded the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects in 1951.

Maybeck was a pioneer in the Arts & Crafts movement but was equally comfortable working in the Gothic and Beaux-Arts Classicism styles.    In 1910 he designed the First Church of Christ, Scientist which is a National Historic Landmark and considered one of his finest works.  It is a mixture of Medieval Europe, Celtic, Japanese,  Nordic and shingle style architecture – the effect is pure magic.

Maybeck designed the famous landmark The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, CA as part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.   This structure embodies how Roman architecture could fit within a Calfornia context.  In this design he took advantage of negative space with the absence of a connecting roof to the rotunda and art gallery, there are no windows in the gallery and it is set against a backdrop of the bay and the local flora.

His homes and buildings can be seen dotting his beloved city of Berkeley and all around the  BayArea, he is one of the most beloved architects of our time in this part of the world.  It is because of his whimsical design that I grew to love and appreciate the architecture of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Architecture or Art, the Blurred Lines of Le Corbusier

le corbusier chaise lounge

Le Corbusier Chaise Lounge

For many years I yearned for a Le Corbusier Chaise Lounge.  The moment I laid eyes on it, laid upon it I knew I must have it.  Now I do and it is a prominent piece in my living room. 

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris better known as Le Corbusier (October 6, 1887 – August 27, 1965) was an architect, designer, painter and writer.  He was one of the pioneers of the Modernist mid-century movement and his pieces are iconic fixtures in furniture and design. 

Between 1910 and 1911 he studied near Berlin where he possibly met and was influenced by Mies van der Rohe and Gropius, both major contributors to the Modernist movement .

Corbusier is quoted to have said, “Chairs are architecture, sofas are bourgeois.”   I could not agree more.  After all look at the the chaise lounge he is famous for.

Attractive and comfortable, the chaise lounge conforms to the shape of your body.  It takes up very little space at 19Wx63Dx32H considering it is a lounge chair.  With a chrome steel tubular cradle that sits on a black steel base this design allows for just the right adjustment and with very little effort to go from upright to full recline. 

Mine is black and white pony complete with a roll-style head pillow for added comfort.  Leather straps securely attach the cushion to the frame in a subtle way.  For support there are rubber straps beneath the upholstered cushion.  It is sleek and sexy and when you are not sitting in it you are admiring it as the piece of artwork it is. 

It truly embodies Le Corbusier’s sense of style and makes me smile every time I walk into the living room.  Designed in 1928, it is a timeless design that will never go out of style.