January 25, 2010
The New York Times just ran an interesting piece on getting your home office organized with Erin Rooney Dolan – a professional organizer and editor of Unclutterer.com. Of course, we were thrilled she mentioned Herman Miller, including the Enchord storage unit above (designed by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin of UK-based Industrial Facility). But what I was really drawn to was the practical advice – including a handy two-month view calendar.
January 25, 2010
The UK-designed Archipod looks like it dropped off a rather large tree and landed in your garden. The stand-alone home office is a cedar shingled timber pod with plastered interior walls and a semicircular desk area. There’s also a large skylight and plenty of room for storage.
Looking at Archipod’s website I feel they must have been reading Lifework -here’s a piece from their front page – “The way people work is changing – the cost and inconvenience of commuting to work everyday is increasing, whereas advances in computer and networking technology are making the viability of working from home a realistic alternative to travelling to an office.” Yep. We’d noticed that too. And now we’ve got a lovely timber pod to work from! I’ve contacted the company to see if they ship to the US. Via Mother Nature Network’s Matt Hickman.
Balance, Design, Products
January 22, 2010
Stephanie Congdon Barnes is the other half of 3191 Miles Apart. We ran an interview with her friend and blogging partner MAV on Wednesday. Interestingly, Stephanie recently moved out of her home office to a space down the street which she shares with her husband. We talked about the transition and how work still spills into her home.
How long have you worked from home? Can you tell us a bit about your work? I have worked from home off and on since the birth of my daughter ten years ago in different capacities. About four years ago I opened an online shop of my handmade goods and set up a studio workspace in a spare bedroom. Eventually, I gave up that space so my son could have his own room, and then, this past fall, I moved full-time to sharing a workspace out of the home with my husband, who is an architect. I still do quite a bit of work from home, but no longer have a dedicated workspace there.
I start my workday after I cook breakfast, pack lunches and get my kids to school. Sometimes, my husband Jack and I walk together up to our workspace (it’s about seven blocks from our home), sometimes we arrive separately. I spend part of my workday working with Jack on architecture projects and the rest of the time working on items for my shop and other projects like 3191 or our blog Shelter. I also use this time to make post office runs, look for supplies and source materials, take photos, volunteer at school and take care of household errands like grocery shopping.
We usually walk home for lunch together each day. I leave in the early afternoon to collect my kids from school and take them to activities or relax with them at home. After dinner and family time, my kids go to bed, and most nights I will work for anywhere from 2-5 more hours either catching up on email or doing the hand-sewing on my shop items. I bring home both my laptop and a basket of handwork each day.
How big is your work space? Our workspace is about 200 square feet and is housed in a great old historic building that used to be the telephone exchange. We each have a large work table, and we share some plywood cubicle shelves that my husband built. There’s a vintage round Herman Miller table for working together or meeting with clients.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you? Oh, I am not very tech-savvy. I do love my ipod and having all my music available to me digitally on my computer. Listening to music is a constant in my day.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? Well, as an artist I don’t have the typical office-workers desk! I love my Clover leather thimble more than anything.
Do you have any tips for organizing a home work space? From my experience, I would recommend having a space with a door that closes, so you can leave your work behind. Keeping my home and work lives separate was very difficult for me. It is much easier for my family when I can leave (most) of my work behind.
Other than that, I rely on baskets to keep stuff somewhat organized and uncluttered. I also store away everything that I am not currently using (excess fabric, books and supplies) completely out of site. Having a clear space to work in really helps me keep calm and less frazzled.
What do you wish you could change about the space? And what do you most love about it? We could use a little more space to stretch out in our office as well as more shelving for storage. I love the high ceilings, huge windows and natural light. I also love my neighborhood and the connections I am able to make with the people that live and work nearby.
January 22, 2010
This is the first in our new Friday round-up of top sites. How do we define a top site? It’s a website, blog, online magazine that has caught our attention through images, strong writing, wit, humor or just plain great design. I’m sure you’ll have more to add but let’s start with five and see where we end up.
1. “I’m blogging” | David Airey He’s a graphic designer who creates visual identities for big corporations and little one-person start ups. He’s also smart and funny and his blog is a must-read for anyone trying to understand this weird online world we regularly find ourselves in. Look out for our interview with David next week. Best place to start: Check out his post on design agencies and studios who use Twitter well (and those who don’t).
2. Core 77 I know this wont come as a surprise to most of you. This online design mag has been around since 1995. Under the keen eye of editor-in-chief Allan Chochinov it just keeps getting better. Best place to start: The news sections are excellent but don’t overlook the photo galleries. Funnily enough I didn’t make it to Dutch Design Week last October but Core 77 did and they’ve got the pics to prove it.
3. Modern Tom Andersen and Gina Federico blog from their own modern home in Westchester, New York. While the design of the blog is a little rough around the edges, their obsession with all things modern plus a strong sense of style makes this a fun read. Best place to start: Check out the woodpile studio Piet Hein Eek designed for musician Hans Liberg.
4. Discovering Design OK, full disclaimer – this addition is slightly self-serving in that it is part of Herman Miller’s website. But I’ve seen the stats and I don’t think enough people know about this cool design source. Best place to start: Choose a product or designer and just click. I like George Nelson’s audio files – especially him talking about the origins of the wood slat bench.
5. Design Observer After you’ve looked at lots of pretty pictures it is time to get down to some smart writing and this is the place to be. The site was founded in October 2003 by Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Jessica Helfand and Rick Poynor with design and technology by Ruby Studio. It’s one of the few places you can still read essays online. Best place to start: An excellent piece by ex-I.D. editor-in-chief Julie Lasky about the demise of that beloved design magazine.
January 22, 2010
Job satisfaction among workers is at its lowest point in 22 years—just 45% of Americans are satisfied with their work, down from 61% in 1987, when the Conference Board conducted its first survey. Workers are dispirited by having fewer raises, more financial responsibility for their healthcare, and uninteresting work. Only 51% find their jobs interesting today, compared to 70% in 1987.
While there’s no research on what’s happened to worker satisfaction among telecommuters lately, they’re likely less satisfied, too, since they are subject to the same business realities. People who work from home probably still have more job satisfaction than their office-bound counterparts, however; they can comfort themselves with “at least I get to work from home.”
But not everyone who can telecommute should do so all the time. Research from the University of Connecticut shows that while a worker’s job satisfaction initially increases, satisfaction “tapers off at higher levels of telecommuting.” Worker autonomy is a factor, too. The researchers found that “if you regularly depend upon others to do your job or have limited job discretion, extensive telecommuting could put your sense of job satisfaction at serious risk.”
Balance, Design, Products
January 21, 2010
Let me know if you are getting sick of calendars. I still haven’t bought one so I continue to look. The savvy editorial team over at Design Milk offer up their calendar choices, including this one from Blue Ant Studio that is inspired by a mid-century modern aesthetic (yes, that is an Eames plywood chair by the pool). And Blue Ant are kindly offering the calendar for free – you just download the pages from Flickr and print.
January 21, 2010
Yesterday Core 77, a great online design magazine, posted a piece on the Eames‘ WWII-era plywood leg splints. I wonder if there are any contemporary designers working in this area?
When I was in Michigan going through the Herman Miller archives I came across a few original splints. They look like beautiful pieces of sculpture. The splints were designed for the Navy out of moulded plywood. It was the first time that technique had been used by the Eames’, and as any Eames fan knows, it wasn’t the last! Think of those signature molded plywood chairs.
Bill Robinson, who writes about art and design and has written for Herman Miller for over 13 years, received a splint as a wedding present 15 years ago – it hangs proudly on the wall above his couch. A testament to good design. ( You can buy a splint from the Eames Office for $650.)
January 20, 2010
Maria Alexandra Vettese (know as MAV) is a stylist and art director. Along with her friend Stephanie Congdon Barnes, she writes one of my favorite blogs – 3191 Miles Apart. They live in Portland – one in Oregon and the other in Maine. And they both have an excpetional eye for beauty. They also recently had two books published – collections of images from their blog – 3191: A Year of Morning and 3191: A Year of Evenings. I talked to MAV about her workspace.
How long have you worked from home? Can you tell us a bit about your work? What does a ‘normal’ day involve for you? I have shifted my workplace a few times in the last few years. I worked out of my apartment from ’04–early ’08 and then I moved to a street-level space. I was there until early ’09 when the water leaks were so bad we were forced out! Sad but true. So then it was back into a small apartment on the West End which my boyfriend and I turned into our workspace. We are still there now. A normal day for me involves getting up around 6am and taking the first two hours of the day to do my thing — shower, feed the cats, stretch, make a hot breakfast, drink coffee, straighten up around the apartment — that sort of thing. I like my days to start out as un-rushed as possible which is why I’m an early riser. Then I’m to work by 8am or 8:30 and stay at work till around 6pm. In the evening I am either home cooking and going to bed early with a book or sketchbook or I’m out with friends for dinner or drinks. I don’t work in the evenings anymore. I just refuse. It’s very easy when you work from home to see lines blurred with work/life. I’m really staunch about this and don’t even have internet at home. In ’06 and ’07 I worked non-stop and it really made a mess of me. Now I strive for balance even if it means I have to say “no” to a project I might want to do. There is only so much time in the day and I need to make sure I can spend a good bit of it giving love … to myself or to those in my life.
How big is your work space? It’s an 800 square foot apartment right now (250 of that is a bedroom and 200 a kitchen). We have two large rooms and a shipping area. It’s very indulgent to have so much space. This coming March that will change once again and we will go back to just a 250 square foot office room in the apartment.
I am loving my new Mac mouse right now. Is there any form of technology that really inspires you? I admit to not being very forward when it comes to technology. I’ve been pretty impressed with the iPhone but that is pretty old news. I guess I’m in the dark ages most of the time!
What desk accessory can’t you do without? A few … my old calculator, a can full of pens & pencils, an external hard-drive (since my laptop crash I am fervent about backing up my files) and old scissors that can cut through ribbon (love these old guys).
Do you have any tips for organizing a home work space? Get rid of clutter. Use baskets, bins, shelves, crates … whatever it takes. I keep my tables as empty as possible and as organized as possible even if it means putting stacks of things I’m working on on the floor. I think it’s a trick to your brain to have things cleaned off … makes the start of the day feel that much more together.
What do you wish you could change about the space? And what do you most love about it? I would much rather be working on the street-level again. I miss seeing friends on any random day and meeting new people who might just stumble into the studio. That said I get a ton of work done each and every day because I am working in an apartment without interruption. I love that my space is very changeable and on one day I can have up a wall of inspirational tear-sheets for a client and the next day I can throw up a seamless and be shooting photographs in that same space for another client. I love that it’s a space I share with another very talented and inspiring artist (who is not around very often so I get it mostly to myself). I love that it’s in a part of town that is quiet and yet I can walk to the PO, to a coffee shop and to get a slice of pizza.
January 20, 2010
Of all the popular new year’s resolutions, the one that gets overlooked most often, yet has the potential to turn all the other resolutions into realities, is time management. Figuring out your priorities, the steps necessary to achieve them, and sticking to tasks or appointments, can mean the difference between wants and reality.
Here are a few simple things that you can do to make the most of the time you have:
1. Watch Professor Randy Pausch’s lecture on time management video
(or read the lecture notes). The late instructor was a big fan of not wasting time. In this lecture, one of the last public talks he gave before succumbing to pancreatic cancer, he outlines the importance of planning and to-do lists and what to tackle first; how to prioritize what’s important to you; and how to take better care of yourself so you can get more done.
2. Figure out what you’re really doing on your computer.
RescueTime tracks the time you spend on individual applications. The downloadable software not only monitors your computer activity, it can also remind you to spend more or less time doing one type of activity and it can block distracting websites. The Mac & PC-compatible app is free. Paid options give you more features and data storage.
3. Get to work. Or read about others getting to work.
No amount of advice can take the place of real work. But if you need a mental break, or you’re looking for ideas on how to streamline your workflow or tame your propensity for procrastination check out these blogs:
43 Folders: Lecturer, writer and designer Merlin Mann shares thoughts and tips on how to make time for creative work.
Lifehacker: While not all of the tips on Lifehacker have to do with office work, each one can help you save time.
Zen Habits: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the advice imparted on Zen Habits can bring the calm back into your crazy work and home life.
Do you have a favorite time management tip, trick or blog?
January 20, 2010
Whether you’re working from an office or from home, stress is a part of work. We manage it by eating right, exercising, and owning a dog. Yes, having a dog can reduce stress—but only until the dog starts barking during an important call, causing your blood pressure to shoot through the roof.
Here are a few things to try if you have an excessively barky dog. If the dog is yours, it is possible to train it not to bark, but it’s going to take some dedicated time. Consider how much time it took you to potty train a child. That’s the kind of dedicated time we’re talking about here.
Another option is the bark collar, which come in several varieties. There are ones that emit a high frequency sound dogs don’t like (effective only about 50% of the time), ones that shock the dog (not recommended for obvious reasons), and ones that release a puff of citronella, which is effective about nine out of ten times.
If the dog is your neighbor’s and you’ve already talked to the owner but the situation hasn’t changed, consider posting a video of the offending dog in all its barking glory on YouTube’s Barking Dog Video Group. The folks at barkingdogs.net say people have reported that “their recalcitrant neighbors finally quieted their habitually barking dogs after they learned that YouTube featured footage that showed the animal barking disruptively.” It’s unclear whether it’s because they are ashamed or because it finally forces them to see the problem with some objectivity.