Balance, Design, Products, Technology
August 5, 2010
Anne-Maree Sargeant is a blogger, journalist and communications consultant who works with leading creatives and design brands on a broad range of marketing related projects, as well as working as Editor at Large for BELLE magazine. Her varied career includes interior design for Bates Smart, DEGW, Wolff Olins, and establishing and running the iconic Space Furniture for 10 years. At Space Anne-Maree worked closely with brands which included B&B Italia, Knoll, Poltrona Frau, EDRA, Cassina, Kartell, where she worked alongside the best interior designers and architects in Australia on landmark projects including the Sydney Opera House and Parliament House. Anne-Maree now resides between three beaches in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, where we caught up in her eclectic home office.
How long have you lived in your home and who do you live with? A long time – more 15 years than 10! I live with 1 man, 1 dog and 3 goldfish
Where is your home office? It used to be the smallest room in the house but as the business grew the dining room morphed into the office & back again – although as the Mac’s increase in size, the office dominates the dining aspect. We don’t live a ‘formal dining’ lifestyle so it all works!
How much time do you spend in your home office? What kind of work do you find yourself doing there? PLENTY of TIME! Mostly computer based work.
What does an average day consist of? Coffee, papers, walk the dog to the park at the end of the street & check the ocean – its currently migration season – spotting a pod of dolphins & whales is a sweet start to the day. Then I hit the desk. Plan the day’s blogging, research, then wind down a ‘to do list’ that sparks an extended bout of juggling & keeping many balls in the air at the same time. Never a dull moment!
What item in your workspace can’t you do without? Anything with an Apple on it.
How would you describe the aesthetic? ‘Eclectic maximalism’. It’s always evolving.
You’re exposed to so much great design through your work. How do you select the pieces that live with you? It’s either love or lust at first sight, a golden find that’s too good to leave behind or occasionally client gifted.
What piece of furniture do you love? And what would you like to replace? My daybed – if only 1 piece of furniture I could live on this. I don’t feel the need to replace anything, but I’d add a turntable.
Is there a piece of furniture that you covet? The sofa my boyfriend of mine found on the street – think Andy Warhol’s factory sofa. Also a fluorescent pink work lamp stylist Jason Grant found at a hardware emporium and a vintage Murano chandelier. red. I visited the Island of Murano last year and love has now become lust.
Favourite desktop item? My goldfish (are they an item?)
What inspires you? Originality and anything I haven’t seen before, my dog chasing butterflies & the cuckoo clock striking 12 – makes me smile EVERY time!!
Balance, Design, Technology
August 4, 2010
I truly think you don’t get to know somebody until you get to peek at the music they listen to on a regular basis. That’s why I was more than excited that Lifework editor (and Australian native) Cerentha Harris agreed to do this week’s Playlist. I am really digging her list (and NOT just because she’s my boss) (honest!)—especially because it’s introduced me to some goodness from Down Under like Missy Higgins, You Am I and Tex Perkins. Take a listen (and thanks, Cerentha!).
What do you listen to while you work? Music carries me through the mornings. All my blog writing and editing happens between 9am and 2pm. There’s a lot to pack in so I have to be careful with my time. I’ve found I work better when there’s music playing. If I’m trying to write I need something that’s not too distracting. If I’m researching, I’m happy to listen to something loud and crazy. Anything to keep me engaged and stop me from wandering. There is definitely a tendency when working at home to wander. The view from my office is distracting, I’ve tried working outside but it’s just too bright.
How do you listen? I am a serious Mac fan. I edit this blog using a 13-inch MacBook Pro, but when I’m at my desk I plug the laptop into a big screen. I love having two screens going at once. I keep my email open on one and then blog on the other screen. The Apple monitor was too pricey so I went with a 24-inch Dell with an attached speaker—nothing high-tech, really, but the music sounds just fine to me. We’ve got a Bose Lifestyle home theatre system, which stores all our CDs and plays the radio and is wired to play all over the house. I listen to that sometimes too.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? Pandora. Either that or I listen to music that I’ve got stored on iTunes. Most of that is stuff my husband has bought on Amazon. He is the music person in the family and I get the majority of my new music from him.
Does music influence your work? It definitely influences my mood. I enjoy the time at my desk more when there’s a good song playing.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I’d love to say something clever and smart—some jazz icon that will deeply impress everyone, but that’s just not true. I think instead it’s a Ben Lee song, or maybe Missy Higgins. An Australian, with some soul, talented, perhaps a little earnest at times, edging towards something interesting and laced with a good dose of irony!
Blue, Lucinda Williams
For Today I Am a Boy, Antony and the Johnsons
Wish You Well, Bernard Fanning
Heart Skipped a Beat, The xx
Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois, Sufjan Stevens (the entire Illinoise is incredible)
Kiss Me on the Bus, The Replacements
The Sound of White, Missy Higgins (my daughter’s favourite song)
Rise Up, Ben Lee
Christobel, Joan As Police Woman
You Can’t Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Man, Okkervil River
Ahead of the Curve, Monsters of Folk
Heavy Heart, You Am I
100 Days, 100 Nights, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Sex, The Necks
Miss You Love, Silverchair
Oh My God, Whatever, Etc., Ryan Adams
Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
Shape Shifter, Local Natives
Horchata, Vampire Weekend
She’s a Friend of Mine, Tex Perkins (and also You’re Too Beautiful)
Straight to Hell, Lily Allen
Deathly, Aimee Mann
Me and You, She and Him
Black Sand (Album Version), Jenny Lewis
California Stars, Billy Bragg and Wilco
Throw Your Arms Around Me, Hunters & Collectors
Images: Cerentha Harris
August 3, 2010
Let me make this clear from the start, although I do hate writing with pencils, I’ve also got a favorite one that is the only one I’ll probably ever write with. For years I refused to use one because I hate the inconsistent, soft, and fuzzy line and I hate how quickly the points get dull. If those things don’t bother you as much as they do me, here are a five different kinds of pencils based on the type of pencil user you might be.
For the pencil chewer, Smencils are probably your best choice. They are made from newspaper so they are environmentally friendly, but even more important, no wood means no splinters for your tongue or lips. Smencils are scented with 10 different scents, so as you chew on your pencil you can daydream of root beer, watermelon, black cherry, cinnamon, cotton candy, grape, bubble gum, orange, berry, or tropical fruit…P.S. don’t really chew your pencils, it probably isn’t very safe, and I don’t want to get sued. $12 for 10 via Amazon
For the traditionalist, you cant go wrong with the Paper Mate Mirado Black Warrior. High quality lead and premium cedar wood make for an excellent writing experience that is actually surprisingly better than that of your cheap-o low quality pencils. With wood grain that is designed to make sharpening easier, and a Pink Pearl eraser that is highly effective and wont rip your paper, for the price, you really cant go wrong. $4 for 12 via Amazon
For the environmentalists out there, you might want to check out the Dixon Ticonderoga Renew pencils made from recycled car tires. Now to be fair, I don’t know the exact process used to break down the tires and shape them into pencils, but I do know that it doesn’t require cutting down a bunch of trees, and it does something useful with the over 2 billion tires sitting in US landfills alone. $6 for 10 via Amazon
This is where I see myself, the practical pencil user. I want it sharp, I don’t want it to break, and I want it to write with a thin consistent line all the time without stopping to sharpen it. The Uniball Kuru Toga is probably the most technically advanced pencil out there. It is a mechanical pencil that actually has a tiny clutch mechanism built into the point, and as you write, the pressure from writing and then lifting the pencil off the paper engages the clutch mechanism that rotates the lead for you. This auto-rotating mechanism not only ensures a constantly sharp point, but it also results in far fewer broken points because of the evenly worn lead. $9 each via Amazon
A true pencil enthusiast would probably do just about anything to get their hands on even just one unused Eberhard Faber Blackwing Pencil. They stopped making these pencils in 1998, however there is still a bit of an unused stock out there that many people covet, horde and pay dearly for. Why? Well, the motto stamped on this pencil tells the story, they say “Half the pressure, twice the speed” so in other words, these things are supposed to write beautifully and effortlessly. Their soft high quality lead puts down a smooth dark line, and many people are also as fascinated with the simple design as they are the writing experience it provides. You can pay up to $40 for ONE pencil these days, and eBay is your best bet.
Illustrations by Jordan Awan.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
August 3, 2010
“Name: Gregory Han
Location: Silver Lake, CA
Size: 6′ x 3′ Closet
Around this time last year I was happily enjoying working in a newly renovated home office I had designed and optimized for my workflow, furnished and accessorized with small space living in mind. It was a bright, cheery and ample space in an otherwise small studio apartment.
And then we moved.
I knew when we moved I was in for a drastic change in regards to my work area, since the 1 bedroom apartment we were migrating into was a space I actually photographed and toured for an Apartment Therapy Los Angeles house tour in late 2009. Our friend Alysia had used a portion of the living room as her home office, but I wanted to do something a bit different and use the closet as a work space. The option to close the door (and reminders about work) was partially the reason for this decision, but also because I prefer having distinct spaces for specific tasks, even if it meant downsizing into a much tighter fit (thankfully, there’s small window, a detail common to these 1900-1930′s units).
The biggest decision made was a stylistic one: going from bright and cheery decorated space to a darker, more sophisticated finish. I wanted just as much utility (though obviously not as much storage would be available) as the previous home office, so this required some planning and help from a contact at The Container Store, alongside hours of researching online about other closet home offices. I had several cinematic inspirations to work with, and when I saw a tech-stylized black wallpaper and purchased a wolf-shaped wall lamp, I knew I had the foundation pieces of my new work space.
The inspiration for my home office/home theater: Three of my favorite movies heavily influenced what I had envisioned for this tiny space: the Symphony No. 9 In D Minor/Ode To Joy scene in Immortal Beloved (staring up into the infinite stars, floating on top of water), the organized perfection of the residence in Tom Ford’s A Single Man, and a little of the mod-ultraviolence aesthetic of A Clockwork Orange. If anyone out there has a Kozik UltraViolence Ludwig Van Beethoven Bust they want to sell me, please contact me!
Favorite element in your space: The Graham & Brown black checker wallpaper. I first saw this geometric textured wallpaper at this year’s ICFF show, and it laid the foundation of doing something completely different. The wallpaper’s character changes throughout the day, as light hits different corners of the wallpaper’s relief; it also feels nicely on the fingers (guests are drawn to touching the Tetris like shapes).
Biggest challenge in designing my space: Installing, painting, organizing…just about anything inside such a small space is a challenge (especially during hotter days). Just getting the IKEA Besta Burs desk from my previous studio home office was a challenge, requiring removing the closet bars and diagonally angling it inside carefully, as not to rip or ruin the black paint or wallpaper.
What friends say about my space: Only a couple of friends have seen the home office in person thus far. I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to designing and decorating spaces, so I’ve kept it mostly under wraps and only now decided it was “okay” enough to share. But a couple of friends noted it was “masculine” and “glamorous”, another mentioning it seemed cozy, while my fellow Unplggd contributor, Sonia, called it “S&M dungeon chic”!
Area where there is room for improvement/future projects: I’ve got three main goals moving forward: 1) to reupholster my office chair with a fabric which better complements the rest of the office; the Steelcase Leap is comfortable, but the upholstery has seen better days ; 2) repaint the white trim; 3) add a piece of artwork on my right side (it’s currently blank and crying for something).
For the rest of interview click here.
By Gregory Han.”
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
August 2, 2010
A rather elegant cat landed in my inbox recently. Alexie Hiles, an illustrator and graphic designer based in France, sent the images through of Mr Grey in response to our Pets in the Office series. I was intrigued by her space and her work so I asked her to share a little bit more.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve been working from home full time as freelance graphic designer for 3 years, I’m working mostly in the fields of institutional and culture communication in France. I am also an illustrator, which I enjoy most and I try to post a sketch as often as possible on my tumblr blog. I would love create children books now! I’ve always had a place to draw where I lived as long as I can remember.
And where is home? Our home is in Lille, in the north of France, between Paris, Brussels, London and Amsterdam. I really enjoy living in one of Europe’s cross roads. We bought our house 2 years ago from one of my partner’s former architecture teachers. I like the idea that the place where I spend most of my days has been a home office for a long time.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? The house was built in 1930, we are furnishing it slowly with furniture found in jumble sales or vintage stores from the 30′s to the 50′s. The home office is the place where I feel free to stick any pictures I love anywhere on the walls just because I want to be able to see them all the time (and take it away when I’ve had enough of it). It is full of tins, old books and toys I find everywhere.
How do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. I organize myself with a pen and a paper – everything starts in my big blue notepad (they are always the same, I only change the colors of cover when I buy a new one). All my lifework is in there. I once threw one away by mistake, and had to have a look in the street paper recycling bin to find it… my neighbors thought I’d gone mad that day. When my notepad’s closed my workday is finished. Also shelves! Plenty of them – so that books, magazines etc. can stand vertically, instead of horizontally in piles. Filling the shelves with the books I love when moving in, it is always a great pleasure.
Are there any particular programs you find really useful? I use Skype everyday, it changed my way of working in team with other freelance graphic designers, they became kind of colleagues in a way!
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? When we moved into this house the ground floor walls, where I work now, were already covered with bookshelves which was ideal, and the former landlord had given us a beautiful old “double desk”. We just had to refresh the white paint, sit down, and work. We added a big old workshop table where I like to draw because it is far from the computer and a big “cat-approved” sofa to make the place warm and comfortable, friends are always welcome to sit down and have a drink and a biscuit.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? Honestly not really… I might need to find a place on the walls for a proper inspiration board to avoid flyers, articles and post cards everywhere, that’s all I am thinking of for the moment.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? My “gigantic” screen, I miss it when working away from home on my portable computer.
What would you change about your own workspace? My workspace is a bit dark in winter, I need better lighting.
What do you most love about your space? When the sliding glass windows are wide opened in spring and summer I feel like working outside and I love it.
What inspires you? I receive the Grain Edit newsletter every day. I love art and graphic design from the 50′s, I love the clear, simple and efficient style. I admire the way artistes use subtle and bright colors. Charley Harper is one of my favorite illustrator. I also admire japanese illustrators such as Yoshitomo Nara, for the same reasons I guess. Apart from this, I think that if you pay attention around you, everyday life is always very inspiring.