February 26, 2010
Where we’ve been this week…
1. Yatzer This online design extravaganza is lauded as much for its clean gridded design as it is for its timely content. Interior designer Costas Voyatzis launched it in 2007 with the motto “design is to share.” And the name “Yatzer”? It was his nickname as a kid. Where to start: Yatzer Fights. He takes two similar- looking pieces and you comment on which one you like best.
2. Design Spotter This is a place where designers can easily upload their work for the rest of us to enjoy. Started three years ago it has morphed from a blog roll into a megamart for all things design. It manages to be picture-driven but still packed with good information. Where to start: Their books section is excellent. You’ll find concise and well-written reviews on design and architecture books.
3. Lonny magazine Michelle Adams and Patrick Cline are the creators and editors of the online interiors magazine Lonny (London and New York). The two met in New York in 2007 at a photo shoot for Domino magazine. They’ve managed to fill the gap that Domino left when it was killed off last February. Where to start: There’s only been three issues so start at the beginning. I recommend reading it in fullscreen mode.
4. Mark Magazine Another online magazine but this one is more hardcore than Lonny. You get serious architecture and design news. Where to start: The issues go back to 2005! I tend to click and wander through looking for links I like (Atelier Bow Wow from Issue 24, Feb/Mar 2010 was my latest find).
5. Habitus Living A spin off from the Australian print publication Habitus. This online community will give you a taste of what is happening in the world of architecture and design down under. Where to start: I always go straight to the travel section for a bit of armchair R&R.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology, Trends
February 26, 2010
TED just finished up and for all of us who didn’t get to attend (and that was a lot of us) the foundation is slowly rolling the talks out. There’s a lot of talks and I’m always overwhelmed at where to start. GOOD has published a very handy Top 10 that includes a fascinating talk from Bill Gates on the importance of innovating so we get to zero carbon emissions. He’s smart, clear and concise and this is also something that we think a lot about at Herman Miller (see our “Zero is Hero” video to get an idea of where the company is heading).
February 26, 2010
Portland, Oregon is host to some very interesting residential architecture and on April 17 a modern house tour, aptly named Street of Eames, will highlight some of the best. All the money raised goes to after school programs for homeless children at two Portland schools. It was the demise of one of these programs in 2005 that spurred the first tour on. Last year’s tour raised $123,000. And this year’s tour is set to be just as successful with more than 8 stops including Path Architecture (above) and Robert Rummer’s 1969 residence (below).
February 26, 2010
Wayne Pate is a self-taught designer/ illustrator who lives in Brooklyn, NY. His whimsical illustrations have graced the packaging and pages of Jack Spade and Elle Decor UK. In addition to his client work, he maintains an online store which he operates from a studio space at the ground floor of his home. Today Wayne gives us a glimpse into a normal workday and the challenges of maintaining an office at home.
How long have you been working from home? I’ve been working from home on and off over the past ten years.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced working from home? I would say the biggest challenge is staying focused on your work when there are so many distractions all around you. Ah, nap time. No! No! Another downside is you spend a lot of time by yourself so it’s important to stay productive during work hours, even when you have some down time use that time to catch up on bills and all the other tedious chores. Talking to yourself is something that goes unnoticed by the person starring in the one man play!
Where do you do most of your work? I have a cozy little office/studio on the ground floor of our brownstone in Brooklyn. The office/studio is in the front of the house so when I look out the window I still feel connected to life outside.
What’s a normal work day like for you? I’m up early with the kids so I have my breakfast and cup of tea consumed early on. When the nanny arrives I immediately take a shower and get dressed as if I’m going to an actual office. Once I’m in the office I check emails and plan the day accordingly. I try to break for lunch between 12:30 – 1:30. Lunch only last long enough to eat. No lingering! I work through to 6:30 to spend time with the kids and off to bed them back to work if need be.
Can you offer any tips to someone considering working from home? The golden rule, treat your home office as if it’s an actual office that you have to commute too and one that has other employee’s. You keep your professional edge and it’s good for you mentally.
February 25, 2010
Dutch designer Joost van Bleiswijk first came to our attention last March with a Core 77 post on his wonderful cardboard office design for Nothing creative agency in Amsterdam. Here Joost answers some questions about his work habits, Lego and what inspires him.
Where do you do most of your designing? Home is 2 minutes from the studio. The house is a nice and warm place, the studio is huge, white cube of 1000 m2. I have had a separate workshop since 2002, first in a small garage, later in a 300m2 place and for the past year in an old Philips factory building that is a national monument.
What does an average work day involve? Everyday is different, but it always starts with emails, then coffee with the crew and a chat, then we discuss what has to be done. Then it’s always different. In a ideal day, I work in the workshop, doing tests, little models, etc. But the average day involves telephone calls, email etc. A lot of controlling and talking and looking to what the guys are doing.
You’ve been using corten steel in your latest designs (including the desk clock above). Is there any form of technology that really inspires you and helps you in your work? New fast hardware tools in the workshop, like a new metal grinder, or revolutionary grinding discs.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? I rediscovered Lego as a perfect sketching tool for technical problems!
What inspires you? Kiki [That's fellow designer and partner Kiki van Eijk. There's a nice interview with Kiki on Three Layer Cake. The image below of Joost and Kiki ran in Eigen Huis]
[All images of the Nothing office by Joachim Baan]
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
February 24, 2010
I spy Herman Miller – everyhwere.
Red Glasses: My husband gave me a pale blue Eames rocking chair when our son was born and it looks like Canadian blogger Caroline Pelletier loves the design as much as I do.
CrunchGear: I know, I know. You really should be listening to Wired magazine’s creative director Scott Dadich on the state of print media. But check out all the Aeron chairs in the Wired office! They are well decked out.
Apartment Therapy: Ouch, that’s all I can say about this classic chair tattoo.
And finally I was shopping yesterday and came across an Eames chair in GAP. The sales guy was curious about my picture-taking (gotta love that iPhone camera) but didn’t have any info for me on the store decision to use Eames furniture. I’m checking into it!
February 24, 2010
There’s a world of green office supplies out there and it can be rather overwhelming. What to choose? Along came Priscilla Woolworth (yes, she is one of those Woolworths) with her online store and her commitment to sustainability. There’s a handy section devoted to the home office where I found this composition book. Also check out her blog (I’ve actually made the roasted kale and it’s very tasty!)
Balance, Design, Products
February 24, 2010
I am so thrilled to finally be posting this story. Amy has a started a ‘Playlist’ series that will run each Wednesday. We’ll ask people what they listen to while they work and offer up their ultimate playlists. We’d love to hear from you. What are you listening to? Cerentha
Writer Nichole Robertson has a thing for Paris—and fortunately for us, she documents her busy life shuttling between the City of Lights and her permanent home near NYC over at Little Brown Pen. Between crafting ad copy for brands like Amala Skincare, Espirit, and Real Simple, running a popular etsy shop all from her home office and running after two young sons, we asked her to whip up a cup of coffee (lots of cream; just a pinch of sugar), crank up the tunes, and tell us how music inspires her work.
What do you listen to while you work? Most days, it’s either the Smiths, Jeff Buckley, or Camera Obscura. I’ve been an obsessed Smiths fan since I was in high school. I never tire of Morissey’s delicious whining.
How do you listen? I do pretty much everything on the computer (I often wonder if there is an invisible chain), so usually it’s iTunes. I share a home office with my husband, Evan (who also works from home as a business development consultant) so sometimes he plays music through his super cool music geek speakers. My only beef is that they are not white, which violates my anal monochromatic office theme.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I was obsessed with Pandora when it first came out. Since I rarely step out of my musical comfort zone (exhibit a: same favorite band since high school), Pandora is a way to break me out of my shell a bit. I’ve yet to commit to any of the songs or bands, but it’s nice to be able to maintain a consistent musical vibe throughout the day.
Does music influence your work? Do you have an example? Funny, but as I was pulling together a collection of gray photos I took in Paris, my husband noted that Morrissey would approve. I was listening to Girlfriend in a Coma. When I’m working, I rarely listen to newly released music. Most of it is at least 5 years old, and this is sometimes embarrassing.
Where do you find recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? My husband is also a guitarist, and has played in various bands in an NYC since he was 16 (his current band is called The Petersons). He has very strong opinions about good music, and when I do branch out of my tightly edited favorites, he’s usually responsible. He introduced me to Airborne Toxic Event, Ozomatli, Morphine, and Mike Doughty. As you can see, his tastes are on the dated side as well, but at least it’s dated and different.
What song or artist best represents the work you create? I often joke that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is my theme song. Not only was I that small town girl willing to take a train to anywhere, whenever I hear it I feel like I can do things like sell off my possessions and move to Paris. Steve Perry is likely responsible for all of the risk taking and rash decisions I’ve made so far in life.
READ ON FOR NICHOLE’S PLAYLIST
February 23, 2010
Artist Mike Perry got our attention when he took a pen to an Eames chair. The results were wonderful, both graphic and fun, and I felt in the real spirit of Charles and Ray Eames. There’s a joy to their designs that Perry captured in his re-invention of the classic. (By the way, the Perry chairs are for sale through Outdoorz Gallery). I contacted Perry who agreed to share his workspace with us. He’s in transition right now and is also preparing for a show but he generously took time out to shoot his space and answer a few questions.
You work from home and your studio in Brooklyn. How long have you worked from home? I don’t work from home as often as I would like to. I find that when I try and stay home and work I always will end up forgetting something that I need. As part of the renovation of our home we (Anna Wolf and I) are building a proper home office, we just purchased 2 floors of a brown stone and is a big work in progress. Anna and I live and work in Crow Heights Brooklyn. I have about an 8 min walking commute. Its pretty amazing. Our studio is in this brilliant building called Big Sue. The building is a solar powered green building.
What does an average work day involve? I am a morning person so I try and get started by 8am. I have a nice walk to the studio and grab a coffee. And just jump into the day. Read through my emails and then crank. I usually get pretty antsy around 1 so I try and do non-sitting down activities like screen printing.
Is there any form of technology that really helps you with your work? I love InDesign – I just love that program. I also really put my scanner to work and don’t know what I would do with out that.
How do you organize your space? I am totally out of control. As you may see from the photos. No real organization. My computer files are kinda the same. I attempt to have them organized but they just get filled with junk that I don’t through away.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? Computer, pens, pencils, sketchbook.
What is your favorite piece of office furniture? I have this rolling Ikea flat file drawer thing that is just brilliant. It has different drawers for different tools.
What inspires you? Everything. At the moment I am especially inspired by science and space. If you haven’t listened to RadioLab make it happen.
[Perry's next show: Lost in the Discovery of What Shapes the Mind: New Work by Mike Perry. March 26-April 18, MCAD Gallery, 2501 Stevens Ave, Minneapolis, MN]
February 23, 2010
Eames Aluminum Group chairs at The Sea Ranch – a home designed by Obie Bowman. Via The Mid-Century Modernist.
So many home offices sport an Eames Aluminum Group (EAG) chair (I’m writing this blog perched on one!) That, are the Aeron, seem to be the most popular home office chairs coming across my desk.
The EAG series was designed in 1958. Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard were designing the Columbus, Indiana, home of J. Irwin Miller, founder of Cummins Engines. They wanted an outdoor chair and asked Charles and Ray Eames to develop one. The Eameses constructed their chairs with cast aluminum and a seat frame meant to support a stretched synthetic mesh. The seat-back suspension was a major technical achievement and it represented a departure from the concept of the chair as a solid shell. The original mesh was short lived and in 1969 the Eames added plush, individually upholstered cushions. Then in 2001 a new mesh was added to the repertoire that was similar to the fabric used on Aeron chairs.
During a recent visit to the factory in Michigan where the chairs are produced I learned that they are one of the most copied products on the furniture market. So what do you look for when you want to buy an original? According to Gregg VanderKooi, the Classics product manager, there are three tell-tale signs.
1. FORM “There’s really two levels of knock-off Eames Aluminum Group chairs, those that attempt to be a literal reproduction and those that are a low-cost inspiration. The low-cost versions are easiest to determine, the form is usually noticeably off, the arms are typically only partially formed – meaning they aren’t a continuous ‘D’ shape, and the pneumatic area looks very clunky.”
2. SIGNATURE “The easiest way to determine an authentic EAG is to flip it over and see if it’s marked as Herman Miller on the underside. Ever since 2007 (the 50th anniversary of the EAG), this is even easier since I added a sewn-in tag to the underside that carries the HMI logo, Eames signature, and Eames Office logo. Prior to this, we either branded it through the use of a ‘Herman Miller’ sticker, or on older chairs, the Herman Miller name was formed directly into one of the aluminum parts of the base. This is probably the only sure way to determine if it’s authentic (but like many other things, knock-off producers will eventually copy this too).
3. FINISH “Herman Miller only polishes the aluminum frame, we don’t use chrome. I don’t recall ever seeing a knock-off use any other finishing process other than chrome (polishing to our level of quality adds too much labor cost to the product, chroming covers up many of the defects of the aluminum parts, allowing knock-offs to use sub-standard parts). Again though, we unfortunately can’t say that all chromed chairs are knock-offs because Vitra -who is authorized – offers their chairs either chromed or polished. They’ve said that 80% of theirs go out chromed too. ”