January 29, 2010
Here’s our weekly round-up of favorite sites.
1. Unhappy Hipsters I wanted to post this yesterday when I discovered it but held off so it could top the list today. First, I am a huge fan of Dwell magazine and everything the magazine represents. I love it’s aesthetic, the writing, the houses they find. I completely relate to the people in their stories. But Unhappy Hipsters takes those earnest ‘at-home-with’ photographs from the pages of the magazine and turns them on their modernist heads. With one sharp, witty, damn hilarious line the writer (who is anonymous…I’ve emailed to see if I can get an interview) undermines all that is serious – and slightly dull – about these sort of shoots. All that earnestness and lack of irony is just begging for this kind of attention. And what do the guys at Dwell think? “Admittedly hilarious Dwell sendup,” says Dwell’s managing editor Michele Posner on her Twitter account. Where to start: Anywhere and everywhere – it’s all good. (And kudos to the editor for choosing a Tumblr blog – they are beautifully designed.) Via The Foodinista.
2. Unbeige The title of this mediabistro blog is just so good – there is certainly nothing beige about their design coverage. One minute your reading about a competition to name designer David Stark’s new puppy Droog and the next moment your immersed in a piece on Apple’s new iPad. The editors, Steve Delahoyde and Stephanie Murg, are tireless. And we all benefit from their hyperactivity. Where to start: At the top with the most recent post…it’s a news site after all.
3. T Magazine And while we are on news The New York Time’s T Magazine blog is always worth a look. As you would imagine, it is well written, and it’s T, so it’s stylish. It’s also a really nicely designed clean blog – lots of white, large graphic pics. And interesting stories. Where to start: If you’re like me you’ll go straight to the Design stories.
4. FFFOUND! This is a cool image sharing site. It works a bit like Pandora – you tag what you like and you’ll get more of that sort of stuff. Although, as far as I can tell, you can’t register anymore. But even as an ‘outsider’ you’re taken on a wonderful journey through curated images that would take you weeks to find otherwise. Where to start: Click on an image you like and scroll down to see others you may like … and just keep clicking.
5. The Patent Desk At heart aren’t we all design geeks? According Andrew Lynch – the site’s founder – “this is a celebration of the ideas and illustrations found on patents.” In amongst all the noisy, highly designed blogs out there The Patent Desk is the equivalent to a walk in the woods. It’s entirely in black and white, the typeface looks like a typewriter (American Typewriter Light is my guess) and the images are hand-drawn illustrations. It’s beautiful. Where to start: Check out the Eames patent for their leg splint.
January 29, 2010
Rob Hopkins is a a young designer and blogger living in San Diego. What inspires him? You’ll need to read all the way to the bottom of the interview to find out.
How long have you worked from home…and where is ‘home’? I started working right out of college which was 3 years ago, so I’m still relatively new to the experience. I live in San Diego, but home will always be Buffalo, NY. I’m extremely proud of where I’m from, which is the inspiration behind The Queen City Studio, right now it’s just my blog, but someday it will be a legit design studio! My apartment now is two blocks from San Diego’s Mission Bay which sports a great view of downtown, and it’s about a mile from the Pacific Ocean. Being in a place with almost perfect weather year round definitely has its perks.
What does an average work day involve? I’ve actually been working full time at an interactive agency for the past year. But, I work from home every Friday and I do all of my freelance work at night or on the weekends, so I’m still working from home quite a bit. My typical work-at-home day is wake up mid-morning, eat some breakfast and go through all of my favorite design related blogs to get my mind going. After a couple of hours of work, I’d head out to my patio to read and/or take a nap in the sun. Wake up, do some more work, hit the gym, eat dinner, and then get the bulk of my work done in the evening/night. I’m definitely a night person. There’s something extremely calming about working at night with the windows open and some music playing. It allows me to get into my own little world and whatever I’m working on becomes a part of that world and doesn’t feel like work.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you, helps you work more efficiently? I would have to say the iPhone is pretty inspiring. At work we’re in the final stages of development of an iPhone app for a big action sports brand, which I designed, and the experience has been really rewarding. In terms of design, it’s still a very new medium and so much can be done in what seems to be such a small space. The same thing happened with web design. In the beginning, developers (or “web designers”) were the only people designing websites – which made for some pretty visually painful websites. But once graphic designers learned the medium, websites became a lot more sophisticated. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of bad sites out there, but there are also tons of beautiful ones. Anyways, the same thing is happening with the iPhone. A lot of apps are still very shiny and tacky; they use tons of gradients and big rounded corners, bulky bevels—because most are done by the developers that work on them. But that’s changing. I’d bet that most designers own iPhones by now, and we can’t help but look at these apps and want to clean them up. It’s just how we think, and we’re learning the medium to try and establish better aesthetic standards.
How do you organize your space? As far as physical space goes, I tend to like ‘organized clutter’ meaning I like having a lot of ‘stuff’ but I keep it all pretty organized. Whether it’s something large or a tiny knick-knack everything is neatly placed, so I can still easily function. I’m also the exact opposite of a pack-rat—if something isn’t needed or wanted, it’s in the trash. To some, the wall above my desk or the stickers on my MacBook might seem random, but there’s a very meticulous and planned approach when anything is added. In terms of software and programs, I tend to just use my own system. I keep things separated by project, a place for active and inactive projects, source files, copy, etc. I’m the same with files as I am with physical stuff—if I don’t need it, I trash it. We use Basecamp at work, and it’s a really great tool for organizing projects, corresponding with other team members, keeping track of deadlines, and documenting conversations.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? My MacBook Pro. I think it may be the best purchase I’ve ever made. If there’s a fire, there’s no way it’s not coming with me. Oh, this isn’t a tangible item, but my music – I’d be useless with out my music. [Below is a piece from Rob's personal portfolio]
What inspires you? It might be cliché, but honestly, everything around me can be inspiring. It seems like I notice things that most people might not, whether I like them or not I think I take something away from everything I see. More specifically, I think it’s the work of my peers that inspires me the most. There are so many talented people out there doing great work, and at the end of the day I want to be right there with them. Not because I want to “be a famous designer” or anything, but because, simply put, design is one of the most powerful tools in the world—who wouldn’t want to contribute to that? [Below is another piece from his personal portfolio]
January 28, 2010
Mark Giglio is an Oakland based freelance graphic designer who has worked with 2k by Gingham, Apple, Nike and Dwell, to name a few. Currently, he is working on a series of products under his studio label Pen Pencil Stencil. It includes pillows, wallpapers, t-shirts, and even wooden figurines inspired by Japanese Kokeshi Dolls. Recently, I had the opportunity of seeing Mark’s collection in person and to speak with him about his workspace.
How long have you been working from home? 8 years now. Before that I had been working at some really amazing design firms that helped inform me of what a great working environment can be like. I think I’ve taken a lot of that with me and it’s influenced a lot of how my space is now.
What do you like most about your space? That it’s my place to experiment and think. Also all of my favorite objects, books and personal projects are there. So it is very comforting to be there and work. It’s really nice to be surrounded by those things that inspire you. I often freelance on projects away from my studio and when I return it is the best feeling. It can’t be beat because it is my personal space.
Is there anything you would change about your workspace? I’d add about 1,500 square feet on it so I could have a place to print and also a small wood shop. That would be perfect. I really enjoy my small workspace a lot but I think it would be great to have the space to spread out a bit more to accommodate the other things I like to do. Something like the Eames office where they were creating such a diverse mix of things under one roof would be amazing.
What are some of your favorite objects in your studio? My most favorite object of all is the La Fonda del Sol menu I have that was designed by Alexander Girard. It’s such a great design piece. When I was given it I just stared in awe at the suns on the cover. I couldn’t believe what I was holding in my hands. I never thought in a million years they still existed. Then it just got better as I opened it up. It’s hard to beat those color combinations, they are really amazing.
Do you feel that your working environment has any influence over your work? I think it does. It keeps me motivated and inspired to keep on making things. Being in my studio is my favorite place to be. It’s were I go to have fun everyday.
January 28, 2010
One of the greatest perils and perks of working from home is the potential for procrastination. It’s an issue I battle with from time to time—but sometimes I’m all too happy to admit defeat. Like during the Australian Open when one can wake up in the morning, brew a pot of coffee with Mexico Santa Cruz beans from Ristretto Roasters, and settle in for few prerecorded hours of fierce volleying between Nadal and Murray. The net result, if you will, was getting a creative charge not only from the intensity of the first two sets before injury ended the match, but Nadal’s natty color scheme of Aster Pink, Orange Blaze and White.
January 27, 2010
Sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi and George Nelson, Herman Miller’s first director of design, were long-time friends. Once, Nelson wandered into Noguchi’s studio just off Washington Square in New York City. He found the designer hard at work on a birthday present for his sister. Nelson liked the organic shape that Noguchi had cut from a piece of scavenged glass for a top, and the table base—two identical pieces of wood fitted together by a single pin. Nelson suggested that they take the design to Herman Miller, which has been producing the table for over 50 years.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
January 27, 2010
Jaime Derringer is the editor of Design Milk, an online magazine devoted to modern design. But that is just one of her many hats. She also edits Art Milk, collaborates with Erin Loechner on Bakery (they ‘bake’ businesses) and contributes to AOL’s blogs on home and design. I checked in with this busy woman and found out it takes a good dose of organization to get all that work done – and a lot of energy.
How long have you worked from home…and where is ‘home’? I have been working from home since July 2009. It is like a dream come true and I wake up every day thankful that my boss is so nice. Actually, I’m lying – she’s kind of hard on me. I’ve never worked harder in my life than I have now that I quit my day job but I couldn’t be happier. I live in Southern NJ right outside of Philadelphia, PA with my husband Jordan and my two dogs, Beans and Lulu. We spent a few years in San Diego, CA but moved back about a year ago. We’re trying to figure out how to live in both places at once.
What does an average work day involve? I usually get up and get going immediately. I can’t just lay around. I need to be moving because as soon as I wake up my mind just starts to go. I spend the first part of my day reading and answering emails, reading my RSS feeds, checking on my blogs, looking at stats, and checking Facebook and Twitter. Much of the rest of the day is spent writing and editing posts for Design Milk, Art Milk, BAKERY and also my AOL blogs, ShelterPop and DIY Life. It depends on the day which blogs I focus on. I do work in the office, rather than on the couch because it helps me work harder and helps separate my living space from my work space. But I won’t lie — I do have a Macbook and spend a lot of time on the couch after regular work hours, but often I’m also watching TV or house-hunting rather than really working.
I just got the new Apple mouse and it’s amazing. It has definitely changed the way I work. Is there any form of technology that really inspires you? All Apple products inspire me, from their design to their functionality. I own just about the whole catalogue. I’m really into the idea of community, in other words, manufacturers who create devices that can be added on to by just about anyone. For example, the iPhone and other phones’ applications and Facebook’s platform, where users can create what they want and need. I love the idea of technology being a foundation or vehicle for further advancement.
How do you organize your space? I’m thinking here of your physical space but also your virtual space. Any particular software that helps keep things under control? I can get messy when I’m engrossed in projects or super busy, but I am one of those people who washes the dishes while the dinner party is still underway. I like to keep things clean and put all my toys away when I’m finished playing with them. Basically, I like a clean, simple desktop. [The IKEA drawer unit above nestles next to Jaime's desk and acts as excellent storage].
On my computer, I also apply the same logic – file it away when you’re done. My current favorite virtual programs are Google docs and iCal. I can’t function during the day without iCal. The Stendig calendar [on the wall above her desk] I get every year from Unica Home. I use it every day despite my obsession with iCal. My chair is the Cobi from Smart Furniture (Smartfurniture.com). When I finally find that perfect house and it’s time for an office upgrade, I’ve got the Aeron and Eames Aluminum on my short list. (The Philadelphia poster is from Ork Posters.)
What item from your desktop can you not do without? Besides my computer? Probably my printed blogging schedule. I’m old school so I like to print it out each week and check off the posts as I schedule them. My current favorite accessory is my WTF snowglobe that my mom got me for Christmas after I posted about it on my blog. It just makes me laugh and keeps me from taking anything too seriously.
What inspires you? I recently attended a blogger conference called Altitude Design Summit and I have to say nothing inspires me more than my peers. More inspiration comes from blogs, other motivated and determined people, mountains, Apple products, and my brother who is legally blind but just got a master’s degree in interactive entertainment (gaming).
January 26, 2010
Charles and Ray Eames used a little magic, a whole lot of work, and a bicycle pump to perfect their plywood molding technique. In the early 1940s, they worked through the evenings in their small Los Angeles apartment molding plywood in what they called the “Kazam! Machine.” It was a hinged two-by-four frame that held a plaster mold with heating elements against which a membrane (inflated by a bicycle pump) pushed thin sheets of glued veneer. That humble technology allowed the Eameses to design a chair Time magazine named the Best Design of the 20th Century.
January 26, 2010
We’ve had a good response to Dee Adam’s Oakland setup. A lot of you wanted to know where the cool desk clock came from. Dee got it at an online store based in Hong Kong called Homeloo. The white one below is $65, the orange is $47.
Balance, Design, Products
January 26, 2010
Matt Hickman, is a freelance journalist and consultant who covers lifestyle, design and green-living. I talked to him about his Brooklyn home office.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve worked from home on and off for six years — half of which was spent as a graduate student. Home/work for the past three years has been a two bedroom, fourth floor walk-up apartment in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Red Hook, a heavily industrial waterfront area was once marked by gangster grittiness of all stripes … first the mafia and later urban gangs. The waterfront area is now infamous as a haven for working artists, designers, and writers since it’s slightly off the grid. Geographically, Red Hook is no Siberia but the lack of a convenient subway stop keep the rents low. Everyone seems to know each other and the smattering of bars, restaurants, and boutiques are predominately run or staffed by locals. There’s an organic farm, community gardens growing in vacant lots, historic longshoreman bars, waterfront parks and piers, and, um, an IKEA [the frame below in Matt's entryway is from IKEA]. I couldn’t imagine working from any where else … although it is refreshing to shed the pajamas every so often and attend proper meetings.
What does a ‘normal’ day entail? An average work day revolves a lot of moving around from bed to desk to couch to a stool in the kitchen. Lots of “walk” breaks and trips to Fairway market for lunch. Workdays kind of flow on and on, starting early and ending late. I spend a lot of time looking out my windows and thinking since there’s great light, little noise, and few distractions. I have city views and a full-frontal view of Statue of Liberty sitting in the lower New York Harbor. During late summer afternoons, I charge my laptop, grab a a blanket, and head to my roof where I get WiFi.
Is there any form of technology that helps you? My MacBook desktop is cluttered with Sticky Notes, otherwise my virtual organization habits are pretty minimal. I keep an old fashioned paper calender. IM is my virtual water cooler. Since I do miss the daily interaction of being in a proper office full-time, saying hello to friends and colleagues while taking a work break is a godsend (most of the time).
How do you organize your space? Is there a desktop tool you can’t do without? Working from my living and bedrooms, I have to keep everything organized and in-order (organizing and cleaning and redecorating is my ultimate work-from-home procrastination tool). Public radio is usually on at all hours and there’s a steady supply of caffeine in the fridge. Magazines and books (mostly fiction and memoir) are on hand for periodic recharging. Stamps, good pens, my Blackberry, and loose pieces of paper are all required in my work area. And then there’s cable television ….
What inspires you? Living in a creative enclave in the middle of the city really keeps the inspiration levels high. If I was working from home elsewhere in the city, I’d feel flat-out stifled, much more claustrophobic. It’s liberating (but, yes, at times lonely). I’m often inspired by — and frequently write about — the people around me … sustainable furniture designers, clothing designers, gardeners, art curators, dancers, web designers, eco-entrepreneurs, musicians, craftspeople. I don’t have to venture far. And I like that.
January 25, 2010
Here’s the thing, if you’re like me, Monday morning isn’t always the best morning of the week. Sometimes, just sometimes, it would be nice to stay in bed, drink coffee and read the papers. So each Monday – for your benefit and mine – I’m going to find some inspiration from the bulletin boards posted all over the net. This morning I came across Aunty Cookie – a funny blog from Australian designer, Shannon Lamden. I love the ordered chaos.
And if you are feeling inspired send me pics of your bulletin board (firstname.lastname@example.org).