Balance, Design, Products, Technology
December 31, 2010
Meet Sandy Corsillo. He and his brother Emil are the masterminds behind Hickorees’s Hard Goods. I realize the interview is long but Sandy is really eloquent and I think this story warrants a bit of breathing space. See what you think. (All the office supplies I’ve used to illustrate this piece are available from Hickoree’s. And the sling shot at the end? Well, honestly who can resist a good sling shot?)
How long have you worked from home…and where is home? I began working on a nameless company in the beginning of 2007. I had taken a job in finance a year earlier and although I loved the company I worked for, the job itself wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So we set up a legal entity and called it Max Corsillo, after my childhood dog Max, and began talking to friends and family about ideas for the company. All I knew was I wanted it to be menswear related and I wanted it to have an online presence.
Fast forward to spring of 2008. After a number of false starts with graphic tees (they always looked like cheap homemade graphic tees), I pulled my whole family together (father, mother, sister, and brother — all artists except me) and made this proposal to them: I want to build a site with the objective of being a great menswear store that sells a small curated selection of the best brands in the world. Then I want to slip into that selection our own brands, products that we create. By doing so we could hopefully give the products we come up with an immediate legitimacy that they might take years to gain otherwise, and at the same time let the site itself feed off the exclusive ownership of the newest brands.
For this to work, I told them, we need two things: a great website (which I would build), and ideas for new brands that were unlike anything else being done at the time. Simple right? I told them all to come up with ideas and then I assigned the design/art direction of the site to my brother Emil. My mother managed the initial conversion to html/css and set up the domain and all that good stuff.
Next I began researching e-commerce design. I talked to a web designer friend who told me how much it would cost to have the site built. The number was too high. I bought a book on PHP and MySQL and spent the next nine months learning how to build the site myself. I was still working at my old job so this was all done before and after work and on the weekends at my apartment in Soho. Over the next 9+ months the site changed and morphed into what it is today. The name Hickoree’s Hard Goods was Emil’s idea. Originally it was the name he came up with for his vintage clothing collection, but it seemed to work even better for the whole store. We also changed our focus a bit and began to think of the site as a sort of modern day general store. Something that every town in America had in the 1950s.
During this time Emil started experimenting with ties made out of dead stock fabric. He made a few prototypes which were really well received by our friends, and before we knew it The Hill-Side was born. In March of 2009 our friend and soon to be partner, Hisashi Oguchi, sold 420 ties to United Arrows in Japan. The next day I put in notice that I was quitting my job and started planning to move into the apartment in Brooklyn next door to my brother. We made my new apartment our office. We launched the site in June. I stayed on at my job until the end of 2009, then in mid January we moved to our new office and apartment in South Williamsburg.
In other words, I have been working from home basically for around 3 1/2 years.
What does an average work day involve? How do you structure the day? We try to spend about half the day working together on all the little things that need to get done immediately. Things like shipping out packages and responding to emails. The other half should be spent on longer term projects. For me that means getting all our finances in order (a daunting task for one person), planning the production of next season’s The Hill-Side line, and working on new, upcoming projects. For Emil this means photographing new Hickoree’s products, researching new products, planning future seasons for The Hill-Side, seeking out new shops to work with for The Hill-Side, and also working on new projects.
This is the plan, but most days seem to begin with a plan and end with us feeling like we didn’t get enough done. We are at a place now where we need to hire people but we also need to invest everything in the growth of the business. This means each of us is overworked, especially Emil. Check back with us in a year and hopefully things will be very different.
What I’m really excited about is the future of Hickoree’s, from a tech perspective, beginning in the hands of a true web developer. I’m working towards this with a good friend from college who is on a totally different level than I am. Talking to him about what’s possible inspires me. It’s also a relief. Running a custom site by yourself, built by you, can be extremely nerve-wracking.
How do you organize your space? I’m thinking here of your physical space but also your virtual space. In terms of the spatial setup online, we want the site to be organized so that you discover something new when you come to the site. This goes back to the site being a modern day general store. We want the user to feel like he/she can comfortably peruse our shop and neither feel overwhelmed nor feel like the shelves are empty.
It’s more difficult to pull that off than it may seem. If you look at a lot of online stores they have like 50 brands all listed in a way that makes you feel like you’re in a generic department store. When I walk into a department store I feel overwhelmed. I want to go in knowing what I want and I want to get it and get out, quick. It’s fine for us if a customer knows what they want on our site and goes right to it; we are organized to make this easy. But we also want them to discover new things in the process. We are constantly striving to present an unexpected assortment of objects, yet when you look at the store as a whole it really makes perfect sense.
If I were a Hickoree’s customer, this is what would keep me coming back. I would be excited about the unexpected things I might discover on my next visit to the shop. It is important to have a diverse range of products and styles in the shop, but it all has to be coherent. We want each product and each brand to make the ones around it look better and in turn to be improved and enlivened by the products that surround it. This is what the front page is all about, and the “EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE” link is our favorite part of the site. I guess our goal is for a customer to feel like they walked into a small, uncluttered shop with a surprising selection of stuff. And we want them to want everything.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? I try to keep my desk stark. Everything on it should be necessary or it should be cleaned off. My cup of iced coffee I guess, although that’s a little bit like a pack of cigarettes, I wish I didn’t need it.
What music do you listen to while you work? Right now I’m listening to The Shepherd’s Dog by Iron & Wine
What inspires you? There are two things that I think of when I think about inspiration: Inspiration like when you see someone eating cake with their hands and think, “Oh my god, why not make palm sized cakes and call them cupcakes!” (I imagine that’s how it went down), or inspiration, which may be closer to admiration, like when you hear about someone quitting their six-figure salary job to move to Honduras and set up a non-profit to teach young adults how to be entrepreneurs.
In terms of the cupcake one, I have no clue what inspires me until it does and I can’t predict what that thing will be before hand. It’s kind of like when someone asks what type of a woman I’m attracted to. I don’t really know until I meet her, but when I do it makes perfect sense. This is all vague, but so is the process of inspiration in my head. I do know that when I am inspired by a new idea or a new way to do something better it is an incredible feeling. And when that inspiration turns into a completed project and is well received… there’s nothing better. I think both Emil and I are driven by that feeling.
In terms of the admiration type, I’m inspired by people who fail repeatedly but refuse to give up. For me, the important thing I now understand is that it is highly unlikely an idea that comes from a moment of inspiration will turn into a success. I think this leads a lot of people who could do really great things to get discouraged and give up. Three years ago I was silkscreening on American Apparel t-shirts in my parents’ basement and was convinced I was going to make a ton of money from it. It was a total failure. The designs were good, but so are a million other t-shirt designs.
I realized that something I had worked really hard on and almost staked my future on wasn’t going to work, and I got really discouraged. But from that I was able to see what could be successful from a much better vantage point. So I came up with another plan and when that didn’t work I came up with another and another. Along the way, bits and pieces of the earlier ideas informed the next ones. In other words, the failures made for the success. I talk to people who say, “I wish I had a really good idea like Hickoree’s or The Hill-Side” as if the idea for either came to us in a dream or out of one conversation. That’s not the way it works. So when I hear of success born out of failure I am inspired, it makes me feel like things are possible without relying on a once in a lifetime idea that comes to you out of the blue.
Balance, Design, Products
December 30, 2010
Ex-Taschen editors Charlotte and Peter Fiell established Fiell’s publishing in July 2008 with the aim of “publishing beautiful, content-rich illustrated books across a range of interesting and pertinent subject areas. Some of the books we author ourselves, and some we commission from other authors whom we respect and trust.” I found them through two of their beautifully designed books: The Little Book of Shocking Eco Facts and The Little Book of Global Facts (which arrived at my house today, thank you Doug! It’s a very inspiring little book that I highly recommend). I hope you enjoy their London-based home office.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? We have worked from our home in West London for the last 15 years and I think it has worked really well because we have always had separate offices – probably we would have driven each other mad otherwise. Working from home has its pros and cons, but definitely one of the greatest advantages is being on hand if you have children…it was great when our daughters were small as we could fit work around them rather than the other way round.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Our look is definitely eclectic – a mix of contemporary office furnishings with “furniture classics” from the 50s, 60s and 70s….Charles Eames, Pierre Paulin, Vico Magistretti, Charles Pollock. We think it is really important to work in a pleasant space so we try to make our workspaces as un-officey as possible by having art on the walls and lots of interesting objects from our personal design study collection.
How do you keep your home office organized? Peter manages to keep a pretty tidy office, but unfortunately my desk is a mess of stacked paper as is my computer desktop….when it gets too bad I have to have a ruthless spring clean….which is very therapeutic.
When you put together your home office what did you keep in mind? It was important for us to create workspaces that had lots of book shelves and filing capacity, but also we made the conscious decision not to use desks or office chairs that looked too corporate.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? An antique plan chest would actually be a really useful piece of furniture for us, but unfortunately we don’t have the room to accommodate one!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Our Folle stapler it is just a beautiful yet functional object, Fiskars scissors are pretty great too…
What would you change about your own workspace? More space for more book shelves!
What do you most love about your space? Looking out through the window into the jungle-like garden which is planted with enormous palm trees.
What inspires you? We love the research that lies behind our books, especially when we make historical discoveries and, of course, working with other creative people such as the authors, editors and graphic designers is also highly inspiring.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
December 29, 2010
Jeff Carvalho edits Selectism, a men’s lifestyle blog that started up in 2007. In an interview with Wallpaper magazine Jeff talks about the beginnings of Selectism. “David Fischer of the streetwear website, Highsnobiety, wanted to build a new property focused on more transitory menswear for that individual looking for a mix of street centric fashion and traditional menswear. By March of 2008, Selectism was running full-time to fill that content void.” And fill the void it did. Selectism turned out to be one of the strongest, and certainly best designed, online men’s destination. Here Jeff shares his workspace with us.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I started working from a home office in the Summer 2007 when I began full-time work on Selectism.com (a men’s lifestyle and fashion blog) and consult work. My workspace was inside a loft which was directly across the street from Boston’s Fenway Park. 88 to 90 days out of the year, ball park traffic – both human and vehicle – ruled. In 2009, I moved outside of Harvard Square on the Cambridge side of the Charles River for a bit of relief. I haven’t left yet.
Describe your style? My style is pretty simple. I prefer a very clean workspace which holds only the essentials. My desk and desktop are as bare as I can keep them, which can be a struggle at times.
How do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? At the end of each day, I do my best to reorganize it back into order. There is something about bringing my workspace back to order which actually keeps me focused when I sit down first thing in the morning. It is a bit habitual. Many friends tell me that workspace clutter is how they manage their day. I’m just not one of those people. I have to be organized (on both desktops) to stay focused. I also rely heavily on email filters and labels for both task management and assignment. I use Simplenote for lists but plan on moving to something more robust like Things sooner rather than later.
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? Well to be honest, the space I am in on this side of the Charles was initially supposed to be temporary. For this reason, most of office is still in storage. Everything from books, music, ephemera, and artwork are packed away. As I need a reference piece, I’ll dig through the boxes and take only what I need, which keeps the room pretty bare – in a positive way. There are lessons learned from this office which I’ll take with me to my next space. Natural light was the most important requirement. In the loft, I only had light during the early morning. Today light flows from two sides of the room, but both indirect rather than coming from windows directly in front of my desk. Also, a desk under-mounted USB hub makes plugging in devices fast and easy. I highly recommend diy’ing your own.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you particularly enjoy? I’ve had a Herman Miller Aeron chair for over 10 years now. It has been the one constant in my workspace since 1999 when I purchased it. While other parts of my workspace turn over often (think swapping iMacs every 16 months), the Aeron has always remained. Every three months or so, I work out of our Berlin office for a few weeks and their chairs are difficult. I miss the comfort of the Aeron immediately.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? The (massive) custom amplifier on my desk. I plug a pair of Sennheiser 595 headphones into it. That’s the amplifier’s only function – a headphone amp. It serves its single purpose role better than most devices on my desk.
What would you change about your own workspace? Maybe a bigger desk and some shelving so I can pull the books and magazines out of storage.
What do you most love about your space? Being able to look outside my windows and see green grass and sunlight.
What inspires you? Music inspires me every day as does the “hand made” movement which you can find at craft fairs like Renegade. It is inspiring to see what work people develop in this area – from printing, to accessories. It is incredibly impressive.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
December 28, 2010
Dee Adams is an interiors consultant, an artist and a senior producer at Yahoo! She lives in a airy loft in Oakland, California where she paints as much as her day job allows. I came across Dee on Ann Gorman’s blog, Where People Create. Here, I talk to Dee about her work, the practicalities of creating in a loft and how she fits it all in.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve been working from home in some form or another for the past 14 years. I’ve stolen hours where I can find them in between sleep and my various day jobs, so home has always been a continuous place of work.
Tell us a bit about your work? I wear a lot of hats around here including graphic designer, painter, boss lady, blogger and interiors consultant. By day I’m a Senior Lead Product Designer at Yahoo! and in all my in-between hours I’m running the studio here producing work for personal clients. Most of my fine art clients reside in New York, San Francisco, London and Sydney with work in both private and corporate collections. Graphic design clients include Taschen, GOOD Magazine and design shops like Rare Device and Renegade Handmade. I produce a wide range of products like interactive user interfaces, paintings, illustrations, logos, and infographics.
How big is your work space? The loft is 2200 square feet on the ground floor where most of the work occurs. Larger art pieces are transported in through the heavy double wooden doors. The living area upstairs has been deemed a no work zone.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you? I’m a bit old school. Blank paper and canvas still get the best response out of me because that’s where all my ideas start. Technical drawing pencils also get me excited. But if I had to pick a newer item, I’d definitely say high-end audio headphones. I’m a bit of a collector and audiophile when it comes to them and the bigger the better. I love headphones where the modern components are hidden inside retro looking shells.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? My orange flip clock. I can hear the gears grinding and it keeps me on task. It’s a stunning bit of machinery and always gorgeous to look at. When the days and nights blur together as I obsess over another project, it reminds me where and when I am.
Do you have any tips for organizing a home work space? I live and work in basically a large rectangular box. If something is out of place or disorganized you notice it pretty quickly. To stay organized means knowing my limits when it comes to how much I can store. The loft has no built in storage so supplies are kept to the level of what’s necessary to complete the job. Paintings are often hung to maximize the immense wall space and serve as a gallery display when clients come over for viewings. I also tend to group and organize items by colour so that they give the appearance of being part of a related group. My biggest secret is that my vintage lunch box collection serves double duty as a filing system for important papers and business receipts. Finding creative ways to keep organized allows me to keep the space from getting too cluttered.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
December 27, 2010
What does the home office of an insect artist look like? And what exactly is an insect artist? Kevin Clarke, whose exquisite work is available at Bug Under Glass, reveals all in this interview about his San Francisco-based bug room.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I am in insect artist making traditional and non-traditional insect and natural history displays. I have worked in my current San Francisco studio for the last 2 years, and the “Bug Room” resides in an old 2-bedroom apartment built a year after the 1906 earthquake.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? A Cabinet of Curiosities meets modern museum. I love mixing and linking detailed cultural objects (money, maps and stamps) with natural history. An aesthetic I am fond of is apothecary and industrial looks – I am fascinated with scientific and industrial instruments.
As someone with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? My studio is divided into two areas, with lots of crossover. One side is a standing workbench where I design and assemble shadowbox displays and also ship items. The other side of the studio has a large glass desk where I prepare insects for display, send emails and perform clerical duties on my computer. Everything else – supplies, inventory and inspiration – fill the walls from floor to ceiling on various shelving systems. One program I have found very useful, which helps my distaste of loose papers, is Neat Receipts, a scanner and software that files my receipts and documents on my computer. Another system that has saved some of my sanity, and helped me organize my day and workspace, is the book called “Getting Things Done”.
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? With such a limited space it has to be well organized and open in the middle because I do a lot of moving around.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you wish you had? More insect drawers to store prepared insects. More storage in general would help.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Drawers! Little ones, medium ones, and big ones. Preferably labeled.
What would you change about your own workspace? More space and a new spot for my electronic drum kit that is the last dusty reminder of when I had extra time.
What do you most love about your space? It gets lots of morning sun and is quiet.
What inspires you? The amazing diversity of shapes, patterns and colors of the natural world. Everyday you can see something new if you look hard enough.
December 24, 2010
The holidays can be a wonderful time to slow down at work, spend time with friends and family and to drink in all the joy and festivities of the season. It is also the perfect time to do a year-end ritual. As December turns into January something special–almost magical–happens. It’s as if a door to the old closes and new doors and opportunities invite us in. It is a time of hope, possibility, and fresh starts.
Even though it may seem challenging or even impossible to set aside an extra minute, this is exactly the right time to slow down, take deep breaths, reflect, dream and create. Below is a five-step ritual that will help you to say, “Goodbye!” to 2010 and say, “Hello!” to 2011 in a powerfully conscious way.
The year-end ritual below allows you to reflect on the past year and drink in the glorious memories and learnings from your professional and personal life. In a mere 15 minutes, this ritual gives you the precious gift of intentionally setting the stage for the year to come. It can be done alone, with your partner, with colleagues, or even with friends or family. It can also be a wonderful New Year’s Eve party activity. Or, carve out some deliciously sacred time and space for yourself, alone, to review the questions below.
Keep a copy of what you write down this year so that as 2011 unfolds you can reference your goals. And next December, take a look back; see how far you’ve come. Repeat this powerful and sacred ritual from year to year.
Everything and anything is possible for you. Let go of any self-limiting thoughts, beliefs, and old patterns and envision and create a 2011 that you absolutely love! The ritual below is just the beginning.
Year-End Review & Ritual
List your top 10 events/memories/moments from 2010.
What did you like least or what was the most challenging about 2010?
What have you learned in 2010 that you want to remember in 2011 and beyond?
Imagine it is December 2011. Write a list of at least three breakthroughs, wins and/or accomplishments as if they have already happened or occur regularly. Get as specific as you can.
Give 2011 a two or three word name that reflects a theme, what you anticipate, or plan to create in the upcoming year.
Illustrations by Jordan Awan
December 24, 2010
Dear Lifework readers,
This blog is 12 months old. What a great year it has been! We’ve gone from a small but dedicated number of readers (thanks Mum and Dad!) each week to well over 10,000 and the number keeps growing. It turns out we have a really ecclectic global community growing up around the blog. You are opinionated, smart and just as committed to great design as we are here at Herman Miller.
In the new year we’ll be building on what we’ve done and expanding. Look out for more great inspirational spaces, real and imagined; you’ll keep getting our product roundups; delicious recipes; interviews with designers and news about Herman Miller designs and developments. We will also we’ll be adding some new voices to our already strong team of contributors. They will explore the experience of working at home in all its glory…and madness.
But for now – this week between Christmas and New Year – we are taking our first break. We plan ahead at Lifework so you’ll still be getting posts each day. We’ve trawled back through our archives and found the best inspirational spaces – the ones you liked best and some of the ones I most enjoyed putting together.
So enjoy and have a great break. We’ll see you back here next year!
Balance, Design, Products
December 24, 2010
Where we’ve been this week…
1. The Museum of the City of New York They’ve just put their photo archives online and there’s some amazing images. Where to start: I typed “home office” into the search box and got some very cool workspaces from the early 1900s.
2. 2 or 3 Things I know An image-driven blog that reads like haiku and looks like a visual poem. A joy to skim through. Where to start: At the top.
3. Habitually Chic New York interior designer Heather Clawson’s blog covers design and architecture. It’s a good place to go for interiors inspiration. Where to start: Love the post on New York’s Christmas decorations.
4. Things Organized Neatly For the obsessive compulsive that lurks in all of this…I love this blog! Where to start: There’s so little to read you can really start anywhere and just scroll around.
5. Joy Cho on Pinterest Some people just have a great eye for stuff. Joy Cho, designer and blogger (yep, she’s Oh Joy!) is one of them. Where to start: her office supplies.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
December 23, 2010
Cool Hunting began like most any blog: a depository of inspiring images, notable stories and designs observations of the site’s founder, Josh Rubin. In short time, the site has become synonymous with being always there, before everyone else, when it comes to the…well…the cool and creative. Cool Hunting has become amongst one of the brightest beacons online for culturally relenvant and dependably engaging content So whether it’s visiting a Korean grandmother for her kimchi recipe, launching a popup shop, or offering limited edition collaborative designs for charity, Josh and his team always execute with great taste. Here are ten tech items Josh uses and loves regularly, some cool and some surprisingly just pragmatic…
I’ve been taking photographs with Nikon cameras since I was 8 years old and went digital pretty early on. The full-frame sensor on the D700 blew my mind when I first started using it and it continues to make me incredibly happy as I take pictures with it ever day.
Gary Fong Flash Diffuser
The collapsible Gary Fong flash diffuser might look like a Rubbermaid left-overs container but it softens the strobe so well, who cares?
BlueLounge Cable Clips
I’m a bit anal about keeping things in my bag tidy and organized and use these cable clips on just about everything.
iLuv multi-USB Plug
With so many USB-powered devices that I use on the road having one plug with three outlets helps keep the number of accessories somewhat tamed.
Mophie back-up battery
A back-up battery that fits the universal Apple mobile device plug, this thing comes in handier for the iPhone than the iPad but is useful for either.
Vicky Pollard Mimobot USB storage
I loved Little Britain (the BBC version) so when HBO and Mimobot joined forces to make USB storage devices to launch the US version, I was stoked to get a Vicky Pollard of my very own.
Apple Magic Trackpad
As much of an Apple fanboy as I am, I was skeptical about this one. I fell in love with it right away because it was the most natural transition from my laptop trackpad, even inheriting all of my multi-touch settings.
Freehands Cool Hunting Editions Cashmere Gloves
I started Freehands with my father, Stanley, a few years back to solve the iPhone-in-the-winter conundrum. This year we made a Cool Hunting Edition of the cashmere gloves with gray-on-gray stripes.
Etymotics Custom Molded Earphones
The custom molded tips on these earphones make them fit perfectly and block out all exterior noise which helps the impeccable sound quality of the E4Ps really perform.
Livescribe Echo Pen
My note-taking has become revolutionized by this pen which simultaneously records writing movement and sound and can be played back by tapping anywhere on the page so you hear what was recorded when that note was being written.
In addition to editing Cool Hunting, Josh consults for select clients on strategy, content and design for digital products, services and publications. His clients have included Apple, Adobe, Vodafone, Nike, Google and MTV among many others. Josh helped to found the digital consultancy Bond Art + Science, was a Lead User Interface Designer at Motorola, a Design Director at Razorfish, in charge of product development at Upoc Networks and an intern at IDEO. He has a BA in Communications and Cognitive Science from Hampshire College and a Master’s in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU.
Josh gets excited about obsessive compulsive art, elegant uses of technology, creative design executions, delicious local food and general paradoxes. He lives in New York City with his husband and business partner, Evan Orensten, and their two Sealyham Terriers Otis and Logan.
By Gregory Han
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
December 23, 2010
Within the Rugh family, wonder leads the foursome into new explorations. Jaime is an artist working with paper and textile and an accidental teacher, while Jeffrey is a painter who also works for Prada. They settled in South Orange, NJ with their two children, after stints in Los Angeles and in New York City. Their open process of continually finding ways to integrate family and work has created a steady group of collaborations and new communities. Below they share their process and some of the friends they have met along the way.
Our house is a 131-year-old navy blue small folk Victorian for which the front door in our three-year ownership has gone bright green to deep orange and soon, maybe, black. We move and rearrange our things repeatedly and often make unconventional design based pairings based around our different tastes. And then we find the need to constantly refine the uses for our home. We began home schooling our daughter over a year ago, which is something we thought we’d never do but rather instantly found it a match for our lifestyle and our daughter’s style of learning. Our ideal is a home where a child can wonder and investigate.
Our days are an adventure stemming from an idea, a jumping off point and we go hunting inside our home and out for illustrations and reinforcements; variations on a theme.
We try and keep our lifestyle organic, fluid, often imperfect, and sometimes a mess. Perhaps our ideal workspace might have a robot solely programmed to clean up after us although surely an example is to be made of cleaning up the fallen confetti of snow-like cut paper from our dining room floor.
We allow our children to explore our work and our studios in the same way we do our yard or any playground. Everyone in the house is entitled to access of books, baking material, puzzles, musical instruments, dress up clothes, art supplies, and science projects, dolls, cars, trains, and fake money. We like to use children’s art materials in tandem with professional artists materials. Jaime assembles quilts on the floor of the kitchen, while Jeff has extended the size of his studio desk so our daughter Charlie makes her own paintings beside him. Additionally our idea of studio often extends into the beyond. Nearly every day Jeff reads and does research for his art amongst the fellow riders on the NJTransit train into the City. We work in fits and starts chipping away at projects as time allows.
We are fortunate to be present in our lives and as we have changed so has the work we make. In 2001, we started a New Year’s edition project inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s annual “LOVE” New Year’s card. Since the arrival of our children, the card has taken on new forms and directions, less about our art and more about the things that make up our children’s lives.
We embrace a collaborative approach to art and project making, thus we have always sought out people and families who work together, create editions and yearly projects. The Dolphin Studio in Stockbridge, Massachusetts creates a calendar designed by several members of their family, including the very young. We especially love the songs our friend Dan Zanes sings with his daughter, Anna, and his approach to music making. With a wild spirit and assortment of musical friends, young and old, he brings varied talents together from all the distant places of this world.
Last year we used a lyric from one of his songs on one of the posters we produce in our family workshop. Most recently we produced a series of silk screened posters that are meant to embrace and reflect on the lives of those we know who are on the Autism spectrum.
For us, ideal workspace as a term seems problematic as it suggests a fixed outcome or an answer. Our live/workspace extends beyond our home, out into the uncertain world and back again.