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No, We Really Don't Love You Beary Much: Help Redesign Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day

Remind me again what exactly is romantic about a canned poem on a card, a dozen cellophane-wrapped roses, a box of diabetic-inducing chocolates? Does a $300 prix-fixe dinner or an eight-foot red teddy bear really say 'I love you'? How about the fact that this holiday purposefully leaves out an entire portion of the population, who spend the day ashamed about their singles status on Facebook?

I discussed the heartwrenching topic of Valentine's Day with Kurt Andersen on this week's Studio 360 and we decided that this celebration of love sure is something that a lot of people hate. You can listen to our whole conversation, including why I think cupid's stupid, right here:

Yes, it's chintzy, it's commercialized, it's childish. So Studio 360 is launching another of its now-famous redesign challenges—remember X.mas and the gay flag redesign?—and they need your help, designers! What about Valentine's Day would you change? Submit your Valentine redesigns by uploading your entries to Flickr, and adding them to the Be My Valentine: A Studio 360 Design Challenge pool. I'll be posting some of my favorites here on Fast Company for the next few weeks. And on Valentine's Day weekend, Kurt, the husband-and-wife design team at UnderConsideration, and some surprise guests will be reviewing the best submissions on the air.

By way of inspiration, let's check out how Valentine's Day has evolved throughout history...

Esther Howland

Contrary to popular belief, Hallmark did not "invent" Valentine's Day, it was actually fashionable to give Valentine's Day cards as early as the 1700's. But the woman credited with "branding" Valentine's Day was Esther Howland, whose ornate cards were sold in the U.S. starting in the 1840's.

Valentine's Day Card

Hallmark sold its first Valentine's Day card in 1913, and clever pop-ups and cut outs replaced the lace-and-doily creations of the past.

Valentine's Day Card

Followed by the really bad puns and even worse poetry.


Then of course, the candy. Necco made the first batch of Sweethearts conversation hearts in 1902 and began updating the sayings in the 1990's...FAX ME?


And then there were things like this. Really, Garfield? Really?


Meanwhile hearts and xoxo's became so pervasive in our culture that maybe we need a new symbol for Valentine's Day?

Valentine's Day

So think it over—maybe over a bottle of Champagne with a loved one?—FAX ME your best ideas (no, don't do that, just post them to the Flickr group), and check back soon to see what kinds of Valentines we received. Who knows, we might just choo-choo-choose yours! Love ya!

Top image from Vintage Indie; card images via Wikipedia; printable Simpsons card

[Studio 360]

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  • Daniella Jaeger

    I like to think of these commercial holidays as an excuse to take part in a bit of frivolity. Valentine's Day lets us stray--if only briefly--from the daily pursuit of sophistication and indulge in a bit of kitsch (sparkly heart stickers?) and a bit of crap (synthetic strawberry-cream chocolates). I'm guessing the resentment of over-commercialized holidays comes primarily from a somewhat "intellectual crowd" (if you will), and in the case of Valentine's Day, perhaps from the more cynical peeps of the group. The world is a mess and maybe our love-lives too--let's give it a rest for a day and pretend life is sugar-coated, yay!

    Regarding the V-Day heart: Isn't there something kinda nice about random symbols traveling through history and recurring till today in various forms? Even the most meaningless tradition can have its timeless charms.

    That's me playing devil's advocate here, but devil aside, yes, I'm probably gonna be a bit peeved to have another Valentine's Day pass me by without a bouquet from an admirer on my desk. But then again, how is that different from any other day? ;)

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    P.S. I'll take a $300 prix-fixe any time.