October 19, 2010
At ICFF this year we launched the reissued Basic Cabinet Series – a very elegant storage solution designed by George Nelson.
When it launched originally, in 1946, the wooden cabinets met the needs of a generation who would come to embrace the clean modern lines of contemporary designers like Nelson and the Eames. Today we’ve relaunched the series because we recognize again a need for modular, hard-working designs that allow for a genuine flexibility. And also a desire for beautiful pieces that enhance the way we live. We think the cabinet series does all that!
Design, Products, Technology
October 18, 2010
This week we’ve joined many of our authorized retailers‘ online and bricks and mortar stores and opened our own virtual doors. We are inviting you to come and explore Herman Miller’s own official store. From a home office angle there’s a ton of great designs to choose from with the content broken up by rooms (just choose the ‘Working‘ tab in the Shop by Room category). Also make sure you check out the Care and Maintenance section – it’s a feature we think you’ll like. How do you clean chrome? Or wood veneer? Or laminate? All the info is there now at your fingertips.
Let us know what you think about the new site. It’s always good to hear from you.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
October 18, 2010
Here is the second half of Friday’s interview with the couple behind creative agency ::CRONAN::. Karin Hibma and her husband Michael started Cronan in 1980 and count TiVo, Michelle Obama and Amazon amongst their clients. They work from their home on three acres in the Berkeley hills. Here’s Karin’s side of the story.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve been working from home on and off since college. As an artist, home life, art work and work are often combined. And where is home? Years ago, home was a great studio apartment in a neighborhood in Berkeley where great things were happening, revolutions in food, coffee, thinking and creativity. Three moves and thirty plus years later, home is in Berkeley again, this time on three acres in the hills above what is now known as the “Gourmet Ghetto” – and next to the University of California, Berkeley.
In the 1970’s I was doing research and managing large projects for some of the most creative designers, artists and filmmakers – one great project was “Creativity – the Human Resource” where I got to meet and work with the top contemporary Americans who’d made major contributions in the arts and science to tell their stories; in 2010 I’m working with my husband and partner Michael Patrick Cronan to combine those same research skills with years of experience in creating businesses and working with clients to develop brands and identities for amazing companies and products and effectively tell their stories. We also have a private label product development and manufacturing company — we created the award-winning clothing line called Walking Man.
Describe your style? My personal style is wabi-sabi – I like elegance and simplicity but warmed by nature and use.
How would you define your aesthetic? Our friend Leonard Koren — coiner of the expression and author of the book Wabi-Sabi– just wrote a new book — Which ‘Aesthetics’ Do You Mean? Ten Definitions. I would say mine is warm, human, influenced by nature and experience.
As someone with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized? My best organizer is my Herman Miller Burdick Desk. My client for the “Creativity” project was the Burdick Group in San Francisco; while we were creating the “Creativity” exhibit, one of the teams there was working on this design for Herman Miller. Bruce Burdick described them as “workbenches for executives.”
When George Nelson came to visit – he called it “the wave of the future”. It’s a big, open rectangular work surface with smaller rectangles attached to two aluminum beams, and a beautiful round glass tabletop. I can totally switch from computer work to organizing to contemplating and writing by changing from the big work surface to the glass table (which has spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay) and back again. I don’t own the desk, I have it on permanent loan (very wabi-sabi) from my pal Paul Saffo, so it makes it even more inspiring to work at.
As far as organizing my computer I’m still using a PowerBook G4 as my main computer – I can run some old Classic programs on it. My family teases because I have so many programs open all at one time, but I can easily switch from one task to another. Best is my big screen Apple monitor(s) that’s attached to the PowerBook, I can have multiple programs in view and use all the time.
Are there any particular programs you find really useful? I love an old program called “InControl” – one of our production managers years old got me started on it – I use it both for calendaring and for collecting notes on my research, inspirations and ideas. I haven’t found anything like it. I use several search engines, it’s hard for some people to imagine, but much of the day-to-day information from years BEFORE the search engines is not available – books and libraries and people are still important resources for finding information.
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? My main desk actually faces true north, according to my iPhone compass – pretty cool. I have places for people to sit with me, places to work on my own, and space to store most of the research I accumulate working on projects. We have a huge library, it’s spread all over the house.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you wish you had? I wish I had…. Hmmm??? I’d like a TiVo remote for my life… When Michael named it years ago, who knew you could pause live television? I’d like to be able to pause and/or replay moments, plus have TiVo gather all my favorites for my viewing pleasure. It’s still possible!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? A little keyboard stand that our son Shawn HibmaCronan, a sculptor, created for himself and loaned (I guess it’s on permanent loan, too) to me. It lifts my computer keyboard up to just the right height for work. I also have two Ron Rezek Orbis lamps, they give just the right pools of light for each big work surface and don’t take up visual space.
What would you change about your own workspace? I need more storage space – I like to put things away when I’m not working on them, but have them near me for quick results. I’m probably going to work to go more paperless – that would be a big step and save on the clutter.
What do you most love about your space? I love the view, I love being with my family and garden and that clients come to visit and feel like they’re in a special creative space.
What inspires you? My wonderful husband and partner Michael, our sons and their friends, my dad, our clients, our friends and amazing community. New projects, travel, learning about new businesses, art, music, books, great foods and wine and time with all of the above!
October 15, 2010
Thames and Hudson has just released a book of Richard Powers‘ photographs called Living Modern: The Source Book for Contemporary Interiors. I worked with Richard when I was editor of Belle – an Australian interiors magazine.
Richard produces some of the most amazing interiors shoots. He has an extraordinary eye for light that lifts every single shot from the mundane. Plus he was one of those hard working, even-keeled people who make working in the magazine industry fun instead of a chore. And I am sure that attitude also helps him get access to incredible homes. I hope this book does well. Richard deserves every bit of success that comes his way. (And who can resist that yellow Eames Aluminum Group chair pictured above?)
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
October 15, 2010
Where we’ve been this week….
1. Shelterpop Is AOL trying to be cool? My latest copy of Dwell a beautiful shot of Claire Danes on the back cover and it’s an ad for AOL. In my googling I found my way back to AOL’s Shelterpop. Lots of great interiors eye-candy. Where to start: An interesting home office
2. Dwell It’s an obvious link for Lifework but it’s worth reminding you to check out Dwell’s website because the latest issue is all about working from home…something we know a thing or two about! Where to start: The Live/Work issue isn’t online yet…but while you are waiting check out senior editor Aaron Britt’s interview this Herman Miller textile expert Susan Lyons.
3. Boing Boing This site is slightly overwhelming in its vastness. It reminds me of getting the New Yorker every week. You know it’s packed with great stuff but will you have time to read it? Where to start: Alleviate this problem by using the subject headings to whittle down the content. This morning I was drawn to the post on the new TED app for iPads.
4. Architizer An excellent site for architecture and design news. It’s beautifully designed, easily navigated and pic heavy – all good thing! Where to start: World’s Coolest Offices competition. I love the idea of a home office winning this competition. Send in your designs and lets see what happens.
5. Habitus Living An Australian design journal that covers some of the extraordinary residential work coming out of Australia – and the Pacific Rim. Where to start: The LIVE section collects all the great houses in one spot for you. Check out the Maximum Garden house in Singapore.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
October 15, 2010
When I spotted the jars of garden produce that Michelle Obama had packaged up so beautifully to give away as presents I was intrigued. Who had designed the packaging? Who gets that job? I want that job! Alissa Walker tracked down the story before I did and ran a great piece on the branding of the Obama vegetables here. It turns out Michael Cronan and Karin Hibma of creative agency Cronan were behind the packaging. They are also the clever minds behind the name of Amazon’s Kindle and the naming and brand design of TIVO.
I’m following Alissa’s story with a look at their hillside workspace. Often when we run these stories on couples it makes sense to cover it all off in the same post. This one I will run over two days and as you read on you’ll see why. I hope you enjoy these posts as much I enjoyed putting them together.
First up is Michael Cronan. I’ll follow this with Karin Hibma’s interview on Monday.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? We have been working at home for about 6 years. We moved because the property just seemed perfect for us. We are in the Berkeley hills, a three acre place with good size house that functions well as office, working and living space.
We focus on working with new companies or new ideas in more established companies. We provide brand strategy as well as the name and visual identity for a company, product or service. The work spans from high tech to consumer foods, goods and services. We concentrate on who our clients and/or their products truly are and who/what they wish to become as our template for operation.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Our style is relaxed, open and informal which is based on our backgrounds in fine art and our experience with highly successful entrepreneurs, presidents and CEO’s. Our aesthetic borrows from every other aesthetic. We look at culture, history and spend a lot of time trying to see “around the corner” to create strategies and tools that advance our clients’ goals. We are recovering modernists who love the modern form but recognize that design is essentially about enabling people to create better outcomes and we work to those ends, adopting the style that best conveys the message.
As someone with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Except for one of our first offices, which was a tiny 530 square feet, we have always had studios that averaged 5000 sq. ft. With this move it was time for a change and, as we have all experienced, technology has enabled us to essentially conduct the wide scope of our business from two large office/studios, one on each floor of the house. (Michael is also a painter, “Matchsticks” below is part of his 2001 Still Life series. For more work click here).
Karin works on a Burdick Desk combination set and I work on two tables, which we designed, they were part of our former conference rooms. The other two conference tables make a terrific meeting and dinner table, especially when we have large groups or get the Thanksgiving cohort of family and friends. I have two Aeron chairs at the desk and I have a Leaf Lamp on my desk that I use constantly, our oldest son Nick Cronan works with Yves Behar at fuseproject and this is a signed original (their younger son, Shawn is pictured above with Michael. Shawn is a sculptor and furniture designer. You can see his work here.)
We have always used Apple products since we worked with them long ago. I have three screens (which are not Apple) and also use my space as a painting studio as well, so an innocent visitor might think I am an artist that became a stock trader. Karin’s relies on a powerful laptop that holds everything and she plugs it into large screens in her office when she works there. I use a large Apple server and rely on my laptop to work on design and presentations when we are traveling. So we use similar tools but use them very differently.
The primary reason we can work like we do is the internet and the elegant and useful services that it holds. When a project requires, we work with an extended family of people (many of whom worked full-time for us at some point) almost completely online. They are web specialists, music folks, production experts and folks to help facilitate the work. These are folks who understand our standards and best practices and who generate fun in working together.
Are there any particular programs you find really useful? My programs are Illustrator, Photoshop, Keynote, PowerPoint, Word.
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? We wanted the office and studios to be relaxed and efficient at the same time, and as it turns out that has been a factor contributing to the growth of our business… it’s a great place to dive deep into the big picture. One of the benefits to my office/studio is the big fireplace, on cool winter (and summers in Berkeley can be cool, too) I have a big roaring fire of eucalyptus logs – great ambience, and warm! To be safe, we have redundant internet systems that help us make sure that our connectivity won’t go down and are sufficiently backed up on our computer systems, both of those lend a certain serenity. To be relaxed, and this was important to us, we wanted to have views and space around us, and to be able to be comfortable indoors and get outdoors easily. Both of our offices have big windows and doors. Being creative requires a conducive space — whatever that means to the individual creator — ours requires that “flow”.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you wish you had? I want more and bigger screens and ways to manage them. And I really need triage cord management!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? A green teapot that forever reminds me to be mindful or else I spill tea all over my desk.
What would you change about your own workspace? I would have twenty foot ceilings!
What do you most love about your space? Our home functions as a great place to have a business, our dining room is a great conference room, the living room is a cool place to interview and entertain people. The porches and kitchen and patios give us indoor/outdoor space. It is large enough to give us an expansive mood and it even accommodates Karin’s dad, who is 93 this year, as well as his health care folks. The place feels like a summer camp in the middle of Berkeley with outstanding views in a pretty high density city. So I would say that the positive impression that our former offices communicated is achieved here as well. Our clients often choose to come and visit us whenever possible. Imagine a summer camp three minutes away from Chez Panisse.
What inspires you? It will undoubtedly sound “schmaltzy” but it is the truth. I personally have to say the single most inspirational element in my life is my partner Karin. Her insights have always help take me to new levels of thinking. Next, our kids, who are both grown and in successful design and art careers, generate much inspiration around here. Their ability to do and think amazing things is rewarding to see and it definitely keeps me on my toes. After that include almost everything including the stuff I hate. Feeling that passionate about something means that I have to investigate further and learn the source of the irritation, it can lead to some interesting insights and inspirations.
Above is ‘Chalkbox”, another painting from Michael’s 2001 Still Life series.
October 15, 2010
The second most requested recipe—after the lethal Pomegranate Champagne Punch—at our annual holiday party is for these salty spicy sweet roasted almonds. I find they also make a dandy midweek snack, and are even better the following day. The original recipe calls for dried rosemary, which works superbly, but when fresh is on offer I love the piney sweetness it adds to the mix. And don’t be afraid to up the cayenne a dash if that’s how you roll.
Roasted Almonds with Rosemary and Fleur de Sel
Adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe, December 2003
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups whole blanched almonds (if not available, substitute whole raw almonds with skins on)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray foil with nonstick spray. Whisk egg white in medium bowl until foamy. Add sugar; whisk until frothy. Whisk in rosemary, fleur de sel, and cayenne. Add nuts; stir. Transfer to baking sheet, spreading nuts in single layer. Bake until golden, stirring every 8-10 minutes, about 25 minutes. Cool completely on sheet.
Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.
October 14, 2010
“We’re all about keeping it clean here at Unplggd and due to the large amount of Apple tech that we own, keeping our white keyboards sparkling is a continuous challenge. While we have covered various ways to clean keyboards in the past, we have not really dived into deep cleaning before. This Instructable shows us how to get the deep clean our keyboards desperately need and it’s just the thing for Fall Cleaning!
After discovering that keyboards hold 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, Instructables user =SMART= decided to give his Apple keyboard a deep clean.
The key to getting a good deep clean is having the right tools for the job and taking the time to carefully remove the keys. Although you can use a cotton swab or mascara wand, =SMART= decided in the interest of time to use a Dremel tool with the soft cotton circle, small plastic brush, and white abrasive bits.
We think that using the Dremel tool is a clever idea and we love that it removes the need to use any cleaning solutions.
Check out the post on Instructables, for the ultra easy DIY instructions.
BY Joelle Alcaidinho”
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
October 14, 2010
Here’s a beautifully crafted workspace in a renovated San Francisco home carefully tucked under a flight of stairs. I came across it in Dwell and the caption reads: “Because of cost constraints, Kelli Franz and Seth Pare-Mayer were unable to alter the existing structure, so they designed built-in furniture and cabinetry to define and differentiate the spaces. They hired Chris Allen, of San Luis Obispo-based CWA Studios, to fabricate the pieces. At the base of the stairs is the study, where the residents’ teenage daughter often finishes her homework in an Eames Aluminum Side Chair from Design Within Reach.”