February 28, 2011
Part 3 – Emptying the Drawers
So I embarked on my next installment of Project: Desk – cleaning out my drawers – with great hope. It was a shiny clean day. I had a pot of tea ready. I would celebrate my birthday within 24 hours. I had a mind full of purpose after conferring with professional organizer Angela Kanatarellis, who has great tips about where things should go and what to toss and keep.
I didn’t take a lot of my dad’s things when he died. He was also a writer, with similar organizational issues to mine. I did keep his Electrolux letter opener, a silver pen and a pair of black-handled scissors, and found all those in the chaos of my drawers. The discovery felt like it was his way of saying “happy birthday” to me from wherever he is now.
Then my proverbial sky started to darken. I was horrified to see that somehow I’d accumulated about 200 pens and magic markers, half of which were functional. Three of them had feathers and/or lit up. Two of those didn’t work: Winnie-the-Pooh in a drag boa, and the green feather pen that appears to have escaped from a bordello. I did keep the pen with a light-up pig on it that I got for enrolling my husband in the Bacon of the Month club.
I had three bags and two boxes for separating what would be kept, relocated, recycled and trashed. I was in my groove of testing pens and putting cell-phone chargers from three phones ago in the e-waste bag, when I was toppled.
I felt excruciating pain from a lump on what we will just call my upper thigh to keep it simple. I ended up in urgent care, getting the thing poked and drained and learning that I had some kind of staph infection. Upon being released from the clinic, my husband took me out for chicken soup. And it was either that or the Vicodin that made me too high and sleepy to complete the desk reorg project for the week.
Hoping to use that letter opener today on a birthday card or two, though.
Part 1 – The Problem
Part 2 – Decluttering the Surface
Balance, Design, Products
February 28, 2011
One of the nice things about Lifework is it lets us visit workspaces all around the world. I came across Menno Van Eijk’s 1001Vintage on Etsy. The amazing range of pieces caught my eye so I started digging and found out it’s not just Menno, who is based in Amsterdam, that is behind the store. There’s a collective of design hunters that include Audrey and Nataliya who are also in Amsterdam and Mari Luz who lives in Madrid.
These four friends share a passion for eclectic furniture and homewares and travel. “Me and my friends have always been interested in different cultures, eras and art,” says Menno. “It came naturally that we became vintage traders. We decided to join forces and 1001vintage was born! We all have our different talents, which makes 1001vintage a versatile bunch. From time to time we come together in my studio to take photos or to discuss our plans. Mari Luz has a thing for Spanish retro kitsch, rustic items and mid century design. Nataliya likes German porcelain and Belgian glass. Audrey is into industrial items and lighting. I have a ceramics and lighting fetish. I love everything mid century, especially Scandinavian, German and Dutch design.”
When it comes running the store they share the load pretty evenly. ”We work together on photography, listing, writing, research, sourcing new items and even interior design,” says Menno. “And we also visit other European cities together to get fresh ideas and look for vintage gems. Last year I went to Paris with Nataliya, and to Berlin with Audrey and her boyfriend. We’re visiting Mari Luz in Madrid in March and then we’re all traveling to London after that.”
Their plans for the future include a new shop with vintage apparel and accessories called 1001flair. Over the course of this week we’ll visit each of their home offices and learn a bit more about what it takes to run this kind of a business. First cab off the rank is Menno.
“Even though I have a wonderful studio in an old warehouse located in the center of Amsterdam where I work on my graphic design projects, ceramics and take photos for our shop, I sometimes just feel like staying home and work at the dining table, because that way I can indulge in my other passion…food!
My big white dining table serves as a desk, display area and mood board at once. I find it inspiring to just lay out collections of leaves, ceramics or old books on it.
I started selling items from my personal collection, because I feel it’s important for me to learn to let go of things. This way I can actually appreciate them better, since the memories remain and somebody else gets to enjoy the items too.
As a result, almost everything in my home is for sale. I like to see it as a rotating, ever-changing collection. I have a thing for German porcelain Op Art vases, Dutch and Scandinavian lighting, and primitivist sculptures, which adorn my living room and work space.
The downside of working from home is that it’s quite hard for me to stop and turn off the computer. I tend to work till late at night and always feel that there’s something to be done. The dining table is probably where I spend most of my time when I’m at home. It’s where I draw, make phone calls (with the other 1001 members), create new designs, read, eat and laugh.”
February 25, 2011
Over the years, I’ve interviewed Oscar winners, bestselling authors, billionaires, mad men (and geniuses). Here’s a tip sheet on what I’ve learned about the one-on-one.
Arrive 10 minutes early. Expect them to be 20 minutes late.
Dress well but not so well that they’ll remember.
The first 60 seconds tells you everything. Take note of eye contact, palm sweat, shoulder tics, head scratches, impulses to command the room.
Have a long list of prepared questions but try not to take it out of your pocket.
Make sure you know which questions your editors need you to ask. Ask them all.
Start gently. Open with a self-deprecating aside. Introduce yourself, your plan for your time together and then your recorder. People need to feel comfortable before opening up.
Running two recorders simultaneously is not a bad idea.
Get them in a car, a plane or on a walk. Conversation flows best when two people are side-by-side, eyes gazing forward.
It’s not about you. Until you sit down at the keyboard.
Don’t fill in their pauses. Let the awkwardness be a prompt for unexpected commentary.
Practice good manners with publicists, agents, managers and assistants but the interview must always be one-on-one.
Remember you’re the eyes and ears of the reader. Ask questions you would normally be afraid to ask.
Get them to talk about their childhood bedrooms.
Ask them about the best day of their lives.
If you’re bored, your editor and reader will be, too. Change the subject by saying “Let’s change the subject.”
Don’t be above stealing questions from Table Topics.
Reassure, comfort, affirm but make no explicit promises.
Sometimes it’s best to address the white elephant in the room right up front.
Then again, you might want to save the scariest question for last.
Leave the recorder running until you’re back in the car on the way home.
Photo of Jon Hamm by James Minchin III for Rolling Stone’s “Inside Mad Men” shoot.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
February 25, 2011
Where we’ve been this week…
1. Brain Pickings because it makes me feel smarter every time I read it. And check out the bamboo keyboard and mouse in their Shoppe. Amazing.
2. Pinterest for its ability to keep us interested. Such a clever idea this one. Check out the collection of desks here.
3. Cool Hunting for its coverage of design and also its aquarium story. Every home office needs one of these!
4. Desire to Inspire because they consistently get great interiors. It’s like picking up a well edited interiors magazine that refreshes every day.
5. Daily Imprint for this Sydney-based blogger’s great interviews with designers.
6. A Love Letter for You because I can’t quite let go of Valentine’s Day!
7. Design Milk for its Friday Five series.
8. Juxtapoz Magazine for their studio visit series. Check out Hannah Stouffer’s home studio.
9. Lifehacker for lots of things but especially for making ergonomics interesting.
10. Dezeen for its up-to-the minute design coverage.
And one more!
11. Treehugger because their site is dense with green stories that are newsworthy and well put together. Nice combination.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
February 25, 2011
UK-based Rob Ford founded the Favourite Website Awards in 2000. The FWA recognizes cutting edge web design and offers up a site that showcases those designs while hosting job listings, interviews with designers and news on the world of web design. Since its inception it has had over 140 million site visits. The FWA network showcases not only cutting edge websites but also the best in mobile via the FWA Mobile Showcase and the best in photography via FWA Photo. Somehow Rob also found time to write two books: Guidelines for Online Success and The Internet Case Study Book. Here Rob talks about working from home, Roman artefacts and a whistling neighbor.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I have worked from home for almost fifteen years now. I can remember when I walked out of my last job as an employee, one of many I gave up on, and a friend’s father said to me, “you will never work for anyone ever again.” He was self-employed and he was also correct. I have been my own boss ever since, working mostly from a home office. I recently moved to Litlington, near Cambridge in the UK. It’s the site of an old Roman settlement and was the feature of an archaeological dig for a famous TV programme here in the UK. This has made gardening more interesting as I now dig holes for new plants and shrubs way too big and deep on the off chance of discovering a Roman artefact.
Finding a location in the countryside, with stunning views and excellent dog walks was crucial when we moved. Being able to relax and suck in clean air is essential for anyone working from home, it’s also highly inspirational as walking stimulates parts of the creative side of my brain that sitting in front of the computer tries to kill.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Style? Aesthetic? I’m not sure I have a style or aesthetic. I like things to be logical and always apply that to any design or project I work on. I always do my own thing and work inside a bubble, trying to keep all outside influences out of my decision making processes. I hate to see people following a style because they believe it is the way to go. I want to see people that do re-invent the wheel, not people who bring back fashions from years past. Fob watches are making a comeback, shame the major oversight is that the clock faces used to be upside down so you could read them easily. The ones I have seen have the clock face the wrong way up, i.e. the right way up for the person standing in front of you. See, it’s all about being logical for me.
How do you keep your work space organized? My work space is way bigger than the desk my monitors sit on. My back garden, the surrounding countryside. It’s all relevant to what keeps me ticking and able to stay so focused on what I do and what I have achieved. Dog walking is a crucial part of my day so keeping them organized and well trained is just as crucial for me. I even catch a few minutes to work when dog walking.
Having said that, my desk is not organised as such. I let a stack of incoming mail build up until it gets on my nerves and then I will sort through it all. As I have had a home office for so many years, I know what’s important to me and that’s to have a PC that works, dual monitor setup is essential from my daily grind of activities, one or two moleskins, a calculator, clock, world clock and a photo of my fiancé. I still use a real diary so that takes pride of place. As long as all those essentials are on my desk and do not get moved by anyone, I am happy.
When you set up your home office what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? Buying a house with a suitable room for a home office is paramount. Being on the ground floor is also a must for me as I spent years working from a spare bedroom and it’s not exactly uplifting.
With WIFI these days you can set up in any room, or, as I do, have a base for my PC and then I can sit anywhere with the laptop or iPhone. Just waiting to get a Flash enabled tablet, probably the Motorola XOOM and then I can do a lot more work with great ease from anywhere I am. Sitting at the bottom of our garden, taking in the view, whilst working makes me realise how lucky I am to do a job I still love, a job that started as a hobby, has grown into a world renowned brand, yet still feels like a hobby.
I wouldn’t say there were many, if any, obstacles to overcome when setting up my home office. All I would say is be careful of claiming tax relief on any room of your house as it could have commercial property ramifications further down the line. It could potentially change the footprint of your property. So, take the advice of an accountant if you are going to work from home, especially if you plan to offset any expenses against your house.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet right now? Not sure if this would qualify as furniture but the MoviePeg I have for my iPhone is a great piece of kit. I believe they make them for iPad also. It’s a very simple stand for your iPhone. Great for your desk as it keeps your phone at the perfect angle for viewing info, video etc on your phone whilst working.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? Has to be my clock, with date, temperature and tax week on it. I find it impossible to ever remember the date. This could be the result of spending fifteen years looking at this clock to see what the date is. I have effectively trained my brain not to need to remember the date as I just glance to find out what it is. Not so great when I am away from the desk though. Mind you, I am hopeless at remembering people’s names. Again, I think I have trained my brain to forget a name as soon as someone tells me theirs. I’ll have to get them to email it to me, much easier.
What would you change about your work space? My next door neighbor. Can I say that? What happens if he reads this?! Let’s just say that if I am outside and I hear him whistling, I run for cover.
What inspires you? People who fulfill their dreams. People who set themselves targets and won’t let go until they’ve reached them. People who go it alone and make it by themselves. That could be a 100m sprinter, someone who has scaled Mount Everest, someone who has plucked up enough courage to go to a busy shopping centre after years of being agoraphobic, someone who has kicked a heroin habit, someone who has taken a new product to market and against all adversity and negativity, has made it.
Answer = People!
February 24, 2011
1. The Butter, from $18.00 Choose from several smart designs, like “Zig Zag Zig Zag.” Get it: thebutternyc.com
2. We Heart Paper, $175.00 Customize your own letterpress cards on lush, 110-lb cotton cover paper. Get it: weheartpaper.bigcartel.com
3. SIMPLESONG design, from $100.00 Get personalized calling cards from this boutique design and letterpress studio near Washington, D.C. Get it: simplesongdesign.com
4. Tiny Prints, $54.00 Not just for baby announcements (check out its business section). Get it: tinyprints.com/business
5. Moo Cards, from $19.99 Try out the half-the-normal-size MiniCards, which offer the option to include a different image on every card. Get it: us.moo.com
Images linked to their sources within the numbered text
Design, Products, Technology
February 24, 2011
We take our Macbook with us everywhere we go. It’s like our child, but with less fuss. When we’re on the go, we try to keep our laptop protected from this harsh world we live in; while we want the most protection we can get (without looking like we’re in on a military mission), we also want it to look good too. Luckily there are a plethora of options and we’ve narrowed down to 5 favorites.
* BOOK BOOK, $79.99 – $99.99: Sure we’ve talked about this before, but the fact that we keep brining it up again and again certainly says something. Now they even have a case for the iPad too!
* Eley Kishimoto Sleeve, $59.95: Designed for the 13″ Macbook Pro. Fuzzy on the inside, trendy on the outside — this is a fun way to keep your prized possession safe.
* Cole Haan 15” Leather Sleeve, $159.95: If you’re looking for the protection that leather has to offer, this 15″ Macbook Pro sleeve is a great option. The inside is lined with protective dual-density memory foam.
* SeeThru Satin Unibody, $49.95: Made for 15″ Macbook Pro (also comes in other sizes) this case is for those who want to be a bit more discreet but still design savvy. The exterior feels silky smooth, but it’s actually a super protective hardshell case.
* Thule 15″ Sleeve, $49.95: Made from semi-rigid, high-denisty molded foam with a weather-resistant zipper and outer shell — this case is for the outdoorsy type or those who often need their laptop for photoshoots. There’s even elastic bands inside to keep the laptop securely in place.
By Kristen Lubbe
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
February 23, 2011
We asked our Twitter followers to send in pics that depicted a life ‘unframed’ in honor of Yves Behar’s new SAYL chair. We got some incredible images including the winner’s skate boarding shot above. But I thought the Lifework readers would enjoy Andrea Aznar’s shot (below). She’s hula hooping while taking a break from her work. And it turns out Andrea is working from home in the throes of a move and running a business.
“I was born and raised in México city. I studied Psychology and had my private practice for a while. Since 2008 I have owned a small independent publisher for children’s books, the books are written by specialists and I put much effort in finding great illustrators so the illustrations look artistic and creative that way not only the kids can enjoy the books but the adults too. The publisher´s name is Sana Colita de Rana.
I recently moved to Dallas, TX with my husband. I continue with the publisher work but since I don´t have an office I use the kitchen/dining room which works out just fine…so far.
I am huge fan of desing objetcs and furniture. I spend my weekends looking for vintage or designs stores and reading desing magazines or looking at architectural books. Everytime I buy something, anything like a vintage radio, a high-end lamp, or a great sidetable or chair I feel it´s just for my collection, the same way when little girl I used to collect stickers or cool pencils.”
You can follow Herman Miller on Twitter here.
February 23, 2011
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? Describe the kind of work you do. Well I actually work full-time at the DailyCandy headquarters based in Soho. Nights and weekends are my freelance hours where I work from home. I’ve been freelancing on the side for three years, ever since I moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn from Los Angeles. I try to be a Jane of all design trades. So my work is a range of web design, branding and print design. At DailyCandy I’m the Lead Designer, which consists of web-design and making sure Puppy, our office dog, isn’t eating human food.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? My work style depends on my clients. I always try to lean towards minimal design with a bold typographic approach. If I had it my way I would only design in black and white, but you have to make the clients happy! I’m also big on giving myself design challenges, like working with fonts I’ve never really explored and making them fit. In terms of my paintings, they are much more organic, fluid and unstructured. Design work can be here. Art work can be seen here.
How do you keep your work space organized? I try to not own a lot and just be careful of what I purchase. I also use the “If I get this, I need to throw away this” approach, which stops me from accumulating too much. Also when I need more space for drawing, I can usually work on the floor.
When you set up your home office what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? When I moved into this studio, I realized I couldn’t fit any store-bought desk into my space without having it stick out or taking up space. So I decided I could just make my own laptop table with Ikea’s VIKA OLEBY legs and a shelf. It works great for me since I work solely on my laptop.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet right now? String Furniture. It’s like the lego version of book shelves, desks and cabinets. Anything you can think of!
What desk accessory can’t you do without? On my desk, I couldn’t do without my Micron pens. But in general the one thing in my place that I’m obsessed with is my Revo Heritage radio. It streams internet radio from all over the world in amazing quality.
What would you change about your work space? I need to create some kind of space, perhaps under my desk, for my scanner and light-box. Also if I could I would probably get rid of more things, if I could detach myself from them.
What inspires you? Old punk record covers, especially ones in black and white. I’m visually attracted to Scandinavian and Japanese furniture/product design and the methodology that design should not only be well-crafted but functional. And my last discovered inspiration is the photography of Karlheinz Weinberger.