May 31, 2011
There are times when we wish our desks could magically declutter themselves, but seeing as we’re still a ways from having robots properly clean our floors, it’s probably a better idea to come up with a simple, reliable organizing strategy and sticking with it. One of our personal favorite methods is organization by function. Notepads go in with the pens. Business cards with clips. Stamps with the envelopes. That way, when you happen to need to do something real quick, everything’s right at your fingertips. Consider it pre-planning at its finest.
Another way is to simplify as you go. Perhaps a single dry erase marker is enough – do you really need 10 different colors? Well, maybe. But if not, just take what you need and try to avoid grabbing what you don’t. It’s an exercise in self-control (although we don’t blame you for falling in love with office supplies)!
What’s your best desk organization tip?
More Desk Organization Tips:
Clear Desktop Space With a Side-Desk Paper Organizer
Do This Today: Purge Your Top Desk Drawer
Kaiju Studios: I/O desk Organizer
Home Office “Staples”: Your Favorites Around the Desk
Images: Ballou Projects
By Anthony Nguyen.
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
May 30, 2011
Yesterday was George Nelson‘s birthday. The great designer, writer, thinker and collaborator became Herman Miller’s director of design in 1945. Nelson, who would have been 103, helped shape Herman Miller in the ’40s and ’50s working on every element of the business from the iconic logo we still use today to recruiting the likes of Ray and Charles Eames to design for the company.
I came across the portrait above by Californian artist Josie Portillo. She was inspired by a post on Nelson that appeared on the Amsterdam-based blog MidCenturyHome. I think Nelson would have gotten a kick out of the impact he is still having on the design community!
For more on Nelson David Foster has put a wonderful slideshow over on Discover. And don’t forget to check out our Discovering Design (the audio files are fascinating. You can hear Nelson discuss the Herman Miller logo and the origins of the wood slat bench).
And if you’re in San Antonio, Texas, the McNay museum will be exhibiting George Nelson: Architect, Writer, Designer, Teacher beginning June 8.
Clockwise from top left: Four of George Nelson’s designs. The Swag Leg Chair, Platform Bench, Swag Leg Desk, Coconut Chair
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
May 27, 2011
Where we’ve been this week…
1. DWR’s Design Notes for their cool 3D room planner. Perfect for re-working your home office. Or your whole home.
2. Dezeen‘s Bird Nest post. What an incredible space.
3. Casa Vogue is Italian Vogue’s interiors magazine. It’s edgy and beautiful and you’ll need to brush up on your Italian! Check out the Paul Rudolph house on page 122.
4. Core 77 for their excellent architect Barbie post. What other Barbie identities would you like to see?
5. Sharebrain for its roundups and its social network info.
6. GOOD for their interesting story on digital dumpster diving. Seems like a daft idea to me!
7. Fast Company’s post on how our desk job’s are making us fat.
8. Apartment Therapy House Tours because it satisfies the inner voyeur in us all.
9. Livingetc‘s home office gallery. I like this UK magazine’s warm, modern take on interiors.
10. Jon Setzen who I met with this week to talk about Herman Miller hosting a Creative Morning lecture in Los Angeles (more on that soon!) Jon, creative director at Something Massive, blogs about life in Los Angeles with a designer’s eye for images.
May 26, 2011
Congratulations is in order – again – to Yves Behar who designed our SAYL chair and the Leaf light. Behar was just named Designer of the Year in Conde Nast Traveller‘s Innovation and Design awards. Above is Behar at the Los Angeles launch of the SAYL chair last December. Head over to Discover for a slideshow we put together that gives you insight into the design process.
May 26, 2011
If you are not lucky enough to be sporting dual 27 inters at work or home, you may be like the rest of us: where 24″ screen is a luxury. These very small USB powered LCD screens are great for holding photoshop palettes, additional windows or even twitter feeds or Pandora windows for a cleaner and uncluttered desktop.
Lilliput Mini USB Monitor The UM-70C can be used as second monitor for your PC or Mac. You just need a usb cable to power the monitor and send the video signal to the monitor. Don’t need power cable or VGA cable. It is perfect for your IM client, a spreadsheet, photo, Email or video. Rotating Portrait or Landscape view. Mac (Intel only), Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 driver support. A 7″ Screen at a resolution of 800×480 and Contrast: 250:1
MIMO UM-710S Powered by DisplayLink technology, MIMO UM-710S 7″ USB connected and powered LCD mini monitor is great way to add productivity to notebook and desktop computers. It is ideal for dedicating visual workspace to applications that are used at a glance, such as instant messaging and calendars, also perfect for Gadgets and Widget applications like news and weather monitoring , Photoshop palettes and multimedia playback such as iTunes, digital TV, video conferencing, MP3s, photos and more. We like that uses USB for both connectivity and power and features integrated stand and cover, 90 degree pivoting functionality, a 800×480 resolution LCD, that can be used in portrait or landscape mode.
D-Link’s SideStage, a bonus 7″ USB-powered display for extra video monitoring that displays 800 x 480 pixels. I would be a great addition to display video Skype, widgets and other screen clutter that we always have floating around. It supports landscape and portrait modes and it is 1.3 lbs and 3/4″ thick.
By Joel Pirela
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
May 26, 2011
Architect John Bertram moved to Los Angeles in 1997 and worked with Marmol Radziner on the restoration and remodeling of Neutra’s Brown House. He founded his own studio in 1999 and Eliot Mitchell joined in 2004. Together they put their particularly warm stamp on modern architecture. Here we take a look at a writer’s studio they designed in the hills behind Los Angeles’ Griffith Park.
JOHN BERTRAM: Among our projects, one of my favorites is the tiny writer’s studio that Eliot Mitchell and I designed in 2008 and completed last year. Perched on a steep hillside abutting a remote area of Griffith Park in Los Angeles, this rather austere, self-contained structure intended for meditation and quiet inspiration can be quite neatly described by the Russian word пустынь or poustinia (the word literally means desert): a small simply furnished and preferably remote cabin to which a monk would retreat to fast and pray in solitude and silence.
The writer’s studio is in the rear portion of a large property and access is from the backyard of the main house from which a nearly invisible bluestone stairway winds up a hillside heavily planted with agave, yucca, cactus and other drought-resistant plants. Half of the building is set into the hillside and the other half cantilevers out over it. Rattlesnakes, lizards, coyotes and ravens, are frequent visitors, and most days red-tailed hawks can be sighted circling overhead. One can also scramble farther up the hill and take a hike in the park. It’s a perfect place to spend an hour, an afternoon, or a weekend.
The teak desk, bed, cabinet and shelves (all of these are built-ins carefully designed by us to integrate into the structure with maximum efficiency), as well a separate toilet and sink area, fit neatly into a space barely totaling 200 square feet. Oversized sliding windows pocket completely into the structure, with no corner post to obstruct the views of adjacent hills and, on a clear day, the Pacific Ocean.
The small deck at the entrance is just large enough for a few chairs and in the rear corner we’ve designed an outdoor shower. The exterior siding and decking of ipe is designed to gray out gracefully and nicely complements the teak built-ins and rustic teak flooring inside the studio.
There is something wonderful about designing a project of this scale. We find we can practice the craft of architecture in a way that would be nearly impossible with a much larger project. The writer’s studio is really a piece of exquisitely built furniture and we are able to be attentive to every single detail, define exactly how one material should intersect another, and make sure that it is built accordingly. This is how we prefer to work and, happily, I think that the result of all of this care and devotion can be experienced quite holistically in the certain difficult-to-define contemplative quality of the completed space.
May 25, 2011
With this post from Lloyd Alter we welcome leading green site Treehugger to Lifework. We’re excited to share Lifework stories on Treehugger and their stories here. At Herman Miller we share Treehugger’s wish to drive sustainability mainstream. In fact ,you can read about our commitment to the environment here. It’s at the core of what we do at Herman Miller and it’s what drives Treehugger in everything they do from their green buying guides to posts on green house design and the joys of cycling around New York City. We start with Lloyd Alter’s favorite lamp from ICFF.
A few years ago, looking for new markets for its sustainably harvested wood, the Swedish forestry company Södra developed Durapulp, a mix of wood pulp and polylactide, or PLA, the thermoplastic made from corn or sugarcane. They consulted with the architectural firm Claesson Koivisto Rune, who developed a prize-winning chair out of the stuff, and who then approached a sceptical Magnus Wästberg, who wondered about the virtues of mixing paper and electrical wiring. But with modern low-voltage LEDs, the old preconceptions no longer apply, and the result is the DuraPulp lamp,(formally the Claesson Koivisto Rune w101, nice that he names it after the designers!) which combines the strength of the material with a folded origami-like form that gives it rigidity.
Above: Magnus Wästberg holds the durapulp material that is pressed and cut into the lamps. There are 4 thin uninsulated copper wires laid in between the layers; a heavy power supply base makes it stable and supplies power to the LED lamps in the head. Rip those two things out and you can toss the thing on a compost heap.
There are so many things to love about this kind of thinking. LEDs reduce the voltage and amperage of the light to the point that the wires are barely there, and can be safely embedded in paper. A lumber company finds another use for the pulp that is often a byproduct of softwood lumber production. A designer figures out how to shape it for strength and form. The result is an attractive, effective and affordable product that at the end of its life is compostable. It’s the best example of sustainable design that I saw at this year’s ICFF.
Sweden is really far north, and the winters are long and dark. It’s not surprising that Swedes get philosophical about light; one sees it in their architecture, in the colours they use in interior design. In 2008 Wästberg even wrote a manifesto for his new company, titled Lamps for A Neanderthal Man, (pdf download here), in which he quotes the famous Swedish author and playwright August Strindberg: “The electric light will make people work themselves to death.”
He had a point; I wonder what he would have thought about computers. But now that we can work anywhere at any time, we need greener, healthier and more efficient tools that have a lower impact on our environment. The Durapulp lamp is a good example.
More at Wästberg
This story appears in partnership with treehugger, a one-stop shop for green news, solutions, and product information
May 25, 2011
Hard to believe, but the beginning of the busy summertime season is just around the corner. Fire up the festivities over this Memorial Day weekend with this latest mix—a warm, sunny compilation inspired by some of our favorite Playlisters from the first half of 2011. Enjoy!
1. Hustle by Tunng from The Playlist: Web Designer & Developer Dustin Hoffman
2. I Follow Rivers by Lykke Li from The Playlist: Music critic and author Amanda Petrusich
3. Feel It All Around by Washed Out from The Playlist: Artist Carrie Strine & Graphic Designer/Illustrator Tim Lahan
May 24, 2011
There is a genius to graphic designer Michael Bierut‘s latest essay over on Design Observer. He shares what he learned while watching HBO’s Talking Funny – an hour long documentary about comedy. And while the lessons are aimed at graphic designers, they are pertinent to anyone doing creative work.
The show’s premise is simple. Take four comedians at the top of their game - Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Louis C.K. – and ask them to talk about their craft. What I loved is that Bierut learned anything at all. Most of us would have watched it and been entertained, maybe found a bit of fodder for the next dinner party or a quip to offer up in the office the following day. But Bierut managed to watch it through a design filter and by the end of the hour had seven design lessons. The last sentence of his essay says it all, “… look for lessons wherever you can find them.”
So what are the seven lessons? I wouldn’t dream of paraphrasing the man! You can read the original post here.
May 24, 2011
This is the second in our POV interviews. Last week we talked to Jim Jennings and this week we chat to John Friedman. JFAK is an LA-based architectural practice run by Friedman and his wife Alice Kimm. The two architects met in grad school and moved to Los Angeles for work.They created JFAK in 1996 with the shared idea that good architecture has the power to dramatically affect people’s lives. Today three kids and a thriving practice keep them very busy so we were thrilled that Friedman took time to sit down with us and talk about their work.
Above and below: The Ehrlich House
You talk about architecture as a puzzle. Do you find there is a language that threads through all your work that helps you solve that design puzzle? Every project comes with a specific set of opportunities and constraints – in the form of the site (physical and cultural), the program, the budget, and issues that the client may bring to the table, etc. As a functional art, one of the pleasures of the architectural design process is to mold space and material into dynamic environments that solve the puzzle of these various requirements. But of course there is nothing objective about this – the result always reflects the designer’s particular interests, obsessions, and worldview. For me (and this is probably true of my partner, Alice Kimm, as well) this always involves the creation of sculptural forms, interiors that are filled with natural light (often from unexpected sources), the blurring of interior and exterior spaces, and circulation routes that take you through a collection of interlocking interior spaces. What often makes these spaces interesting and dynamic is that they are linked along an implied diagonal, and this further creates surprising views through and across space. The Ehrlich house (above), a house we did before the King house (pictured below), is a good example of this.
It’s always interesting to see how an architect, who designs homes for a living, has set up their own home. As a Los Angeles-based architect did you find the city influenced the way you designed your own space? Alice and I came to LA after grad school because of the city’s general openness to outsiders, its reputation for embracing architectural innovation, and of course, its benign climate, which makes this experimentation that much easier, as well as allowing the kind of indoor-outdoor living alluded to above – the “blurring” of the inside/outside boundary. Our home environment is not that exciting right now, but we are designing a hillside house for ourselves and our 3 children that has some of the qualities that I mention above. In the end, however, we are just as much influenced by the best work in Europe and Japan as we are by anything specific to Los Angeles. The operative concept here is globalism, of course. With the rapid proliferation of images and information flying across all of our screens, the days are gone when you would say that your local environment is necessarily the most important influence on your thinking. I’m not knocking LA at all – I am just saying that it is one of many exciting environments that provide inspiration.
Above: A home designed by Alvaro Size in Majorca
What inspires you in your work? In the end, I’m always trying to create a memorable, if not powerful emotional experience. That explains the use of bold, sculptural forms, and the attempt to capture the sublime, particularly through interior spaces. Of course, I am inspired by the work of many architects, including Alvaro Siza, (whom I worked for), whose combination of deadpan functionality and lyrical (and sometimes humorous) poetry is always fascinating; Frank Gehry, for his exuberance and experimentation with materials, and Rem Koolhaas for the clever strategies that lead to anti-intuitive but perfectly rational fait accomplis.
Above: Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall
But while looking at architects’ work gets me excited, it is looking at artists’ work that gets me thinking. Chris Burden‘s work, especially the series of large spherical globes known as the Medusa’s Head, are favorite works, as are the light, humorous assemblages of Sarah Tze, or the deadly serious installations by Robert Gober. Finally, contemporary music, whether it is John Adams or Radiohead, is central for me, because it distracts me just enough to let my subconscious take over and guide my hand or Olfa blade while I design.
Above: An installation by Sarah Tze