November 16, 2010
Are you the visual type that needs to have things spread out in front of you to make sense of things? Then Pinterest may be the perfect site for you. We’ll tell you what Pinterest is and how to use it create visual lists for just about whatever you can think of.
My friend sent me an invitation to test out a Pinterest. The site describes itself as a “virtual pinboard,” and is exactly that. You start off creating and naming a board, which acts as an album or collection of images. You then “pin” images onto that board from any website using Pinterest’s bookmarklet. While pinning images you can also add notes, and it all works very nicely. Although what the site is used for seems quite broad at this point, in a nutshell, Pinterest allows you to create visual lists/bulletin boards. It’s a handy and refreshing way to organize and bookmark different things spread across different websites, so I find it useful especially for making visual wishlists. Pinterest also has a social aspect similar to twitter or tumblr (you can “follow” users and if you like someone’s pin, you can “re-pin” it).
Here’s an example of how I used Pinterest to create and organize wishlists (with the holidays coming up, this tip could make shopping for all your loved ones online a lot more pleasant). I was recently shopping online for winter clothes and found a number of coats and sweaters spread across various websites. Instead of cluttering up my bookmarks with all the clothes I was thinking about purchasing, I made a “Winter Clothes” Pinterest board and used the bookmarklet to “pin” whatever caught my eye. From there I was able to look at my board and see the images of all the clothes neatly laid out, the price of each piece (which I made sure to note), and direct links to the websites I found them on. Pinterest allowed me to create a visual, universal wishlist that wasn’t restricted to a specific shopping site (i.e. an Amazon wishlist). Seeing everything visually laid out for me also makes Pinterest perfect for something like putting together a new wardrobe, mixing and matching furniture for a room in your home, and the list goes on.
Although you may not initially be sure what you want to use Pinterest for, if you’re a visual person, the site has a number of possibilities. Pinterest is currently invite only, but once you request and get your invite fulfilled, you’ll be able to invite 5 friends.
By Vivian Kim.
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
Balance, Design, Products
November 15, 2010
Private Library from A Space In Time on Vimeo.
I mentioned this site on Friday but just in case you didn’t click through I couldn’t resist posting the short video here on Lifework. New York architect Andrew Berman talks about the writing room he designed in the woods. Certainly makes a nice home for one of our Aeron chairs!
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
November 12, 2010
Where we were this week…
1. Open Culture Dan Colman trawls the internet for the best educational media and his hard work has certainly paid off. He’s created a great place to find free lectures and online course. And he’s anchored the site with an excellent blog. When he’s not online Colman is the Director & Associate Dean of Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program. Where to start: The writing studio I want.
2. Frontal Cortex Take a break from your work and dive into Jonah Lehrer’s frontal cortex. Lehrer is a contributing editor at Wired magazine and author of How We Decide. Where to start: The post on Mexican coke. I too have bought Mexican coke and swear you can tell the difference!
3. Loving. Living. Small. A blog from an LA-based design lover devoted to spaces that are less than 1000 square feet. Where to start: The Small Space Dwellers series gives lots of interiors inspiration.
4. Jason Santa Maria My obsession with type is no secret. This site showcases the work of graphic designer Jason Santa Maria. The entire site is one glorious experiment in online art direction. Where to start: A cool history of design starting in 1450 with early typographers.
5. Bobulate This happens to be one of the sites Jason Santa Maria designed. It is also the home of writer, organizer, thinker, curator and information architect Liz Danzico. Where to start: There is so much here. Start at the top and work your way down.
November 11, 2010
This interview with Juliette Bellocq is the fourth in the BROODWORK IdealLive/Work Space series. Her studio, Handbuilt specializes in work for cultural, educational and non-profit organizations. In addition, Juliette teaches at Otis College of Art and Design, is part of Project Food LA, a multi-year project seeking to propose alternative nutrition choices to underprivileged communities. Juliette is also a member of BROODWORK, a collective focusing on the relationship between creative practice and family life.
Juliette: The perfect working space is made entirely out of layered sheets of paper: cottony, soft-like-skin paper. In a giant block note, any unsuccessful design attempt is forbidden: trace on the walls, draft, carve the wrong marks and repent: tear the sheets. No one will ever know what went through your mind. Write on the tables, the corridors, the floors, the bed, whenever the promise of an idea arises.
Good pieces are harvested, bad ones systematically shredded and randomly re-pasted in beautiful Ellsworth-Kelly-like, “arranged by chance” collages. Nothing to lose, just recycle; and in the morning, one could start fresh, on blank surfaces.
But here it creeps already: the fear of the blank page. The paralysis caused by an infinite amount of possibilities…I have to rethink this pristine fantasy before I cannot think at all. And as I look around at the desk onto which I am writing — on a minuscule piece of paper — it seems pretty clear that I do not have much control over space after all… My desk has won, a long time ago. The stratification, the piles, the clusters, the collections, the archives, the rejects, the relics, the treasures, the samples, the samplers: everything that has helped me think is right there and seems to be going nowhere.
I clean, I push, throw away, relocate and compile, but somehow, the desk seems on a mission to never clear up. As confusing and ambiguous this abundance might look, its message to me is actually crystal clear: “However testing today’s task will be, I remain the living proof that work gets done on this table. Look, it has been done before, you can do it today.” Every morning, I seem to believe it.
As years pass by it seems that work and life become more and more intertwined. With children now, work time is limited by tighter schedule constraints but also tends to be fueled by more personal/family interests. I still like to keep professional and family activities separated but it happens quite frequently that a child’s nap becomes an opportunity to wrap up an assignment. Before long, tools become toys, books become dinosaurs’ houses, and layouts become coloring books. The partition between home and office disappears and everyone is working/playing. From that view point, I have enormous expectations for my family and professional lives to come. It will have to continue to get better and better by becoming more and more fulfilling, joyous, convivial and creative for all of us. Nothing less and for that, I might need some help.
The office must become very supportive. It starts knowing me better and constantly reminds me of what inspires and interests me. “Let’s not re-invent the wheel, Juliette,” I hear it say, “here are the designers and artists that have most quickened your heartbeat lately; first, clean up your eyes with their amazing work.” Then, in the anguish of the design process, the desk whispers: “Listen, I generated constructive criticism based on what the people you admire the most in your field and family would say about your work at this minute.” A button on my keyboard automatically generates questions. Interrogations like “Could you erase fifty percent? How does this relate to today’s news? Could it be a comment on our food system? Can you make this by hand?” would fire at me along with much needed clear directives: “Hide the best parts. Color-code it all. Try one hundred more. Crop it like Sister Corita would. Make it for someone extremely curious…”
Sensing my adrenaline level go dangerously high, the speakers channel my Nick Drake radio on Pandora. In extreme cases, the desk prepares a quick slide show of unrelated material and mandates it to be incorporated in the work. My thoughts are evaluated at every moment, sorting out the distraction and the analysis. And when the balance materializes, all the time gained, recorded on a little counter, is used to draw on cottony, soft-like-skin sheets of paper.
Obviously, I am not asking for much; just a little bit of balance, once in a while, something good I made to show my family and a few minutes here and there to draw.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
November 10, 2010
There’s no headphones lying about the offices of Warren Techentin Architecture—the team at this Silver Lake, CA-based design firm listens to music together in their studio. In this week’s “Playlist,” Warren gives us the lowdown on the type of tunes that fill their workday.
What do you listen to while you work, and how? Because we play music in our studio space, we get to enjoy it together—but it competes with the need to use telephones, have conversations about projects, and meetings with clients. So the music tends to be low, mellow, and vibe-y. The songs tend to go ambient, electronic, shoe-gaze, trance, light rock, alt country, folk, etc.
We have a retired computer dedicated to music and connected to amplified speakers. It is almost always set to “shuffle,” playing a playlist, or tuned to the radio. Personally, I am an “album guy” who prefers to listen to an album’s worth of music at a time. Albums allow bands to develop and create moods, narratives, and expand on themes… But I understand why this is not popular in an office setting. With the invention of shuffle, no one seems to listen this way anymore either. I try to keep the music representative of everyone’s interest—this can be challenging—but everyone seems to be fine with the direction we are going with the music. I erase songs from the playlists that are too extreme, boring, pop, or mindless. I tend to be allergic to reggae too, so there is not much of that going on. But overall, it is pretty democratic.
One summer, an intern was into Canto-pop and we were all exposed to a little of that for two months. Not everything is soft and wimpy, though. The harder and weirder stuff does come out, but mostly after 6:30pm as people start to leave and the phones quiet down.
The best thing about listening together is that we have conversations about the music— what we like and do not like. Who is coming to town to play and where. What the songs remind us about, etc. We actually discuss music and how it makes us feel. It is the one thing outside architecture we share and have in common.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? As an office, we tune into various radio shows for intervals throughout the week. Most mornings are spent listening to KCRW out of Santa Monica. We often listen to KSPC out of the Claremont Colleges. They have a show on Fridays devoted to music written for video games. As you can imagine, it is mostly instrumental and highly computerized, but it is pretty popular with everyone—maybe we’re all nerds. I have also been listening to a show called “Demolisten”—also on Fridays—for 15 years or so on KXLU out of Loyola Marymount. Most of the bands they play have limited stuff available commercially or only on some website like MySpace or similar. Some of the people here in the office find it a little challenging to listen to at times, but I am always amazed by the quality of what is played and why none of it is available commercially. It baffles my mind how much potentially good music is out there being played in the clubs (or at least garages) which is not being picked up commercially.
Does music influence your work? Most certainly, but it is so hard to know how. The oldest cliché in architecture is Goethe’s quote that architecture is frozen music. So architects are lead to believe there is a correlation. I respond to music deeply—and perhaps never more strongly—than when I am designing. I really get swept along with it. And I often feel like I may be going places in design that I have never gone before because of the music. But the more I think about it the harder it is to know how it directly translates into my work other than inspirationally. I used to think that the beats and repetitions, the layering of instruments on top of one another, the textures all played a substantive role in how I thought about the forms and spaces of buildings. But it seems impossible to make a direct connection. I remember being shocked to hear that the architect of one of my favorite buildings—a building that is pretty ambitious and aggressive—was literally listening to soft rock throughout the entire design process.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? I discover new music mostly by being exposed to it at work—from music that someone brings into the office or from the radio. That is pretty much the best way to be exposed to new stuff. I hear things via word of mouth of course and the usual trusted friends. And if I am at a party and hear a song I like, I will go over to the iPod to see what song is playing. My students at USC are also pretty good sources of new music, but they seem to like the music I grew up with as much or more than the stuff coming out now.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? Wow—there is so much music out there that I think it would be impossible to attribute a song or person to any of it. It always depends on the mood you’re in to. I suppose each project in our office assumes a mood, a tenor, before it goes forward into development…seeking to make buildings unique in their experience.
A Certain Romance, Arctic Monkeys
Publisher, Blonde Redhead
When the Sun Grows on Your Tongue, Black Moth Super Rainbow
Warm Rising Sun, Radar Bros.
Rain King, Sonic Youth
Like This, Girl Talk
The High Road, Broken Bells
Cut Your Hair, Pavement
Fresh Technology, DJ Me DJ You
Við Og Við, Olof Arnalds
Indiscipline, King Crimson
Where is My Mind?, Pixies
Here Comes Everybody, Autolux
Towns Where We Live, Kevin Hume
Lovely Day, Bill Withers
Images: Warren Techentin
November 8, 2010
Apple seemed to have gotten a lot of flak for not having Adobe Flash pre-installed on the MacBook Air, but ultimately, there is a very good reason why they didn’t; on average, the MacBook Air will use 33% more battery power when running Flash then when it’s completely uninstalled. While we have no real comments about the politics involved, we do see a great way of extending your laptop’s battery.
Logic dictates that if this works so well for the MacBook Air, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work for other types of laptops. So why does Adobe Flash, which is used on websites for animations, games, and videos, use so much battery power? Simply, when a browser loads a Flash file, the computer’s processor has to run a lot harder than if there wasn’t any. Initially, this seems ridiculous, but Ars Technica has run some tests and apparently the new MacBook Air can run up to 6 hours without Flash installed and only 4 when it is installed.
What does this mean for the normal user? Basically, on your home computer, it doesn’t mean anything. However, if you are on the road a lot and rely on battery power to make your laptop run, then a smart move would include uninstalling the Adobe Flash player to get that 30% extra juice for the long hauls.
This will definitely impact how long you can run off the battery when you are on the road. Alternatively, you can install some extensions so that your browser blocks those pesky ads that use Flash, without hampering the playback of some Flash videos, like on YouTube. For Firefox, this includes the NoScript extension and the appropriately-named Flashblockaddon. There’s Foxie for Internet Explorer that includes a flashblocker. Apple’s Safari hasClickToFlash and Google Chrome has got the Flashblock extension.
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
November 8, 2010
This recipe comes from one of my favorite chefs, Suzanne Goin, at whose restaurant Lucques in West Hollywood my husband proposed to me almost four years ago. But this salad isn’t just sentimental, it’s spectacular. I love how the saltiness of the cured black olives and ricotta salata (a firm, dried and salted version of traditional whey ricotta) balance with the fresh mint, orange segments and citrusy dressing. The original recipe calls for 4 large oranges (to serve six) but I’m not wild about too much fruit in a savory salad, so I scale back to two. When blood oranges are in season, all the better. I make this salad when I want to wow at a dinner party, or I’ll throw together an individual-sized portion for lunch. I feel virtuous saying “I’m having a salad for lunch,” but also a little bit smug when I take a bite.
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
1 teaspoon orange-flower water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 medium)
2 large oranges
1 5-ounce package arugula (about 10 cups packed)
1 cup fresh mint leaves (from about 2 bunches)
1/2 cup thinly sliced pitted oil-cured black olives
1 5-ounce piece ricotta salata (salted dry ricotta cheese), cut into 1 1/2-inch-long, 1/4-inch-thick slices
To make the dressing whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature and rewhisk before using.
To prepare the salad place onion in large bowl. Add 1/3 of dressing; toss. Let marinate 20 minutes.
Cut off peel and pith from oranges. Cut each orange crosswise into 8 slices.
Add arugula, mint, and olives to bowl with onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss. Add remaining dressing; toss. Divide salad among 6 plates. Tuck orange slices and ricotta salata slices into salads.
November 8, 2010
Above is a pic of KT Doyle hard at work. She’s aproduct designer and her office is one of 100s featured on WhereWeDesign – a site that covers creative’s workspaces. I couldn’t resist including the office of Chippendale Design (below). It’s amazing what you can fit into a tiny space.
Where do you design? Send me a photo of your workspace and I will post it on Lifework. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
November 5, 2010
Where we’ve been this week…
1. Seth Godin’s Blog Get into the entrepreneur and best-selling author’s head. The blog is all words and like his books – very easy to read. Where to start: At the top. You’ll eventually come across a post that rings true for you.
2. WhereWeDesign I love this site. They basically act as an elegant and cordial host to your workspace. Take a snap of your desk and send it to these guys and you instantly become part of their well-designed gallery of offices. Where to start: I like KT Doyle’s office, but I am a sucker for a cat.
3. HGTV I always forget what a great resource this site is – especially the Designer’s Portfolio section. Where to start: The Modern Home Office file has over 80 images of cool home offices.
4. Houzz Another well-curated site that collects images from all over the web. Where to start: The home office section is a treasure trove of interiors ideas.
5. New Zealand House & Garden I keep meeting people in Los Angeles who are obsessed with NZ. It’s certainly a beautiful country, and like Australia, it punches way above its weight when it comes to magazines. Case in point: NZ’s H&G. Where to start: I love the story on the late Sir Edmund Hillary’s study.
November 4, 2010
The BROODWORK Ideal Work/Live Space series continues with Ellen and Norman Galinsky. We visit their beautiful stone home in an artistic enclave in Palisades, New York just across the river from Dobbs Ferry. Norman is an artist, Ellen is the founder and president of the Families and Work Institute. Together they have navigated the work/family/life nexus in creative and interesting ways and we are thrilled to share their story on Lifework.
Ellen: “I have always looked at my work as an adventure. In the way that rock climbing or exploring new lands or flying are adventures, my work feels like an adventure to me. Rather than scaling the highest peaks or seeking a new land, I have followed questions. Questions that I think matter. Questions that I think will help me if I find an answer. Questions that I think will help others if I find an answer. And in spending my life following questions, I have found that an answer, or a partial answer, always leads to new questions.
There is no lack of things to wonder about, to be curious about, to seek to know. The books I have written are adventures in finding answers to questions: How do parents grow and change led to my book, The Six Stages of Parenthood. What do children think about their employed fathers and mothers led to my book, Ask the Children. And how can we keep the fire of learning burning brightly in children’s eyes led to my most recent book that involved ten years of research, Mind in the Making.
My research has likewise been fueled by the desire to seek answers to questions about how employers and employees are responding to the changes in work and family life today. And the organization that I co-founded 21 years ago, the Families and Work Institute, has been pursuing these questions ever since.
Photography has also been a way that I have sought answers to some of life’s most seemingly intractable questions. The question I have been pursuing for more than three decades is: what happens to what we try to create, try to build, try to maintain, try to preserve? We spend so much of our lives attempting, each in our own way, to leave indelible footprints that will outlast us. Yet on a daily basis, we fight against the encroachment of dust and decay. I have spent the past three decades photographing this stunning nexus between death and rebirth, following how nature re-sculpts our creations all over the world. [One of Ellen's images below.]
It is probably not surprising that I am an iterant worker in my own home and in my workplace. I didn’t even have a home office until about three years ago. At first I had a pad of paper and then I had a portable computer. With each new project, I find a different place to work (her upstairs office is pictured above and below is her latest workspace). My latest workspace is in my son’s old bedroom, but now that Mind in the Making is finished, my computer and I may just find a new place to go.
Norman: I displayed talent for visual art at an early age, but it was my focus and achievements in math and science that led to my first career in the mid 1960’s as a chemical engineer. Throughout my years in industry, however, I never lost my passion for art and I continued to study painting and drawing. After seven years, I made the decision to leave engineering to concentrate on my art. I completed an MFA program at Columbia University as part of this career shift. In some ways, I didn’t completely leave engineering because my abstract geometric work continues to be inspired by many aspects of my scientific and technical background. Over the years, my ongoing interest in consciousness explorations, and spiritual issues also has informed my imagery. In addition, my study of Chinese martial arts, specifically Tai Ji Quan, and qigong, as well as various energetic healing practices and meditation disciplines has also had seminal influences on my art.
Just at the time I was transitioning into an art career, we located the building that was to become our home and my studio. It has ended up playing an integral role in both my work and our family life ever since. It afforded me the room and opportunity to expand and evolve into an art career, and also the space to begin teaching Tai Ji and qigong in the studio, which I have done for nearly 25 years, as well as in regional hospitals and health centers.
When we first saw this building, we realized it had been a victim of neglect. No wonder it had been on the market for years. Yet it was easy to look past the peeling paint, the dilapidated walls, and the unkempt surrounding land. What I focused on was the huge amount of SPACE that sang to me—the flexible space to create the type of studio I had dreamed of, and a glorious living space to raise our family.
This building became our home and our workspace and has remained so for more than three decades. Located 12 miles north of New York City overlooking the Hudson River, it is a huge 19th century four story sandstone barn with a seven-stall horse stable enclosed within the building. Although it was converted from a barn into a residence in the 1930’s, we still refer to it as a “work in progress.”
The studio area, which originally housed the carriages, took about a year and a half to renovate into a working studio. The many exposed stone interior walls were left in the upper living areas, but those in the studio had to be covered and insulated to retain heat and provide display areas. The 18-step “commute” from our living areas upstairs to my studio downstairs provided a minimal yet clearly defined separation between work and family. The close proximity between the creative time in an art studio and the give and take events of family life with growing children provided a uniquely rich environment for inspiration and creation.