August 31, 2011
Is it just us, or does it feel like the summer was over in a flash? At least we’ve still got the long Labor Day weekend to keep it going for a little while longer. Make it a good one with this easygoing compilation—a mix inspired by our 2011 summer Playlisters. We’d love to know what song typified you summer this year. Let us know in the comment section and we’ll put together a Lifework Reader’s Playlist for you.
1. I’m Not Ready by Surfer Blood from The Playlist: Designer Matt Singer
2. We Oh We by The Hidden Cameras from The Playlist: Industrial designer Matthew Weatherly
3. Kicked It In The Sun by Built To Spill from The Playlist: Art Director & Graphic Designer Rick VanderLeek
4. Wouldn’t It Be Nice by The Beach Boys From The Playlist: MacFadden & Thorpe
5. Run the Heart by Sleigh Bells from The Playlist: Designer Mike Devereaux
6. We Have Everything by Young Galaxy from The Playlist: Designer Katarina Häll
7. Norway by Beach House from The Playlist: Graphic Designer Timothy Goodman
8. Street Life by Roxy Music from The Playlist: Designer, Animator, & Filmmaker Todd St. John
9. For Today by Jessica Lea Mayfield from The Playlist: Jerinne Neils & Scott Flora of Blik
10. Unchain My Heart by Maria Minerva from The Playlist: Graphic & Web Designer Jonathan Rahmani
Image sources: Timothy Goodman, Mike Devereaux, Matthew Weatherly, Rick VanderLeek, Matt Singer, Todd St. John
August 30, 2011
Every week for our top download picks, we try and vary our suggestions to cover a variety of different interests. This week we decided to keep a very simple theme: RSS Aggregators. And since each individual can customize their RSS feed with their own personal interests, we figured that an aggregation of aggregators was something everyone would find useful.
Mobile News Aggregators
Pulse: Due to its incredible ease of set-up and use, Pulse is one of our favorite aggregators for both iOS and Android. Add the ability to read and save articles from within the app, and you have one of the best RSS readers for whenever you are on the move.
Flud: Much like Pulse, Flud is a stylish news aggregator for both iOS and Android. What makes Flud so useful is its deep integration with other services such as Read It Later, Instapaper, and Google Reader. Additionally, the visual separation of your feeds proves to be very useful.
Flipboard: Unlike the other two news aggregators, this app is unfortunately only available for iOS. What separates Flipboard from the others is how it gets its styling cues from a magazine. But instead of being a magazine designed for the masses, it prides itself on being a magazine that is personalized for each individual reader.
Web and Desktop News Aggregators
Google Reader: Easily one of the most popular news aggregators in the world, Google Reader has prided itself on its simplicity and accessibility for its users. Available from anywhere you can connect to the internet, Google Reader is not only the most popular of the bunch, but is also one the easiest for most to get started with due to its integration with other Google products.
Mixtab: This OSX only app does an amazing job of bringing a well designed RSS reader to the desktop. While we wish this was available on Windows and Linux as well, the OSX-only Mixtab is the perfect solution for those looking for a well designed desktop news aggregator.
By Jesse Leikin
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
August 30, 2011
Here Eugene Stoltzfus talks about his worklife – from his experience as chairman of the Rosetta Stone, a language software company, to his return to practicing architecture.
Your architecture firm was founded in 2006 after you left your job as Chairman and President of Rosetta Stone – the language software company. What spurred that change? I had joined my brother and brother-in-law to start Rosetta Stone because they had invented a language-learning system that was very impressive and seemed to have the potential to change language learning, as it has! This was in 1992, in another recession, and I was ready to leave working for someone else as an architect. Actually, working for Rosetta Stone had a lot in common with architecture because we were all about generating the unknown. I always knew I would return to architecture so when a change-of-control opportunity presented itself for Rosetta Stone in 2006, I was happy to sell most of my interest.
Above: The Singer’s Glen Schoolhouse.
You buy older buildings and give them a new life but you also work for clients remodeling and building from the ground up. What kind of project do you prefer? My first choice is building from the ground up. Sundial House (below) was an opportunity to put together a lot of my ideas. I think of it as a manifestation of the nexus where function, material, form, site, ecology, engineering and construction come together.
I do also like working with existing buildings, particularly old ones like the Singer’s Glen School (above), where structural forces and materials give form in a natural integration. Doing a modern contrasting intervention based on the values of simple revealed brick and timber construction is very appealing to me. We got into buying, and giving new life, as you say, because right after I left Rosetta Stone, the recession hit, and it wasn’t a good time to start an architecture business.
Above: The Sundial House.
You are also a furniture designer. I came across your work at the Dwell conference this year – the cork pieces seemed to really strike a cord. What drew you to that particular material? We love cork because we can use it as structure and finish, it can be shaped three dimensionally, and because cork has that subtle give that makes it so accommodating to the touch. The response to the Euclid Series was very gratifying. People loved touching it, sitting on it, and playing with arrangements of the squares, rectangles and cylinders. We like being a part of the chain of invention and seeing the ideas that other people come up with.
Above: Inside the Sundial House. The coffee and side table were designed by Stoltzfus using cork.
Does your work life spill over into your home space? How do you strike a balance between your architecture practice and the rest of your life? Balance? Who said anything about balance? Actually, while I have to admit I am somewhat consumed by my work, it feels integrated into my life. The furniture line was started because I was designing furniture and objects for Sundial House. The meditation hut came because I wanted a solitary place where I could meditate, a protected place that could be left out in the weather. Something like the design of the meditation hut has brought me so much satisfaction, I don’t really think of it as work. Of course, the practice of meditation, in itself, brings tremendous balance into one’s life.
What inspires you in your work? I am inspired by the idea of openness to the new. I see it in so much of the architecture, art, and music that is around us in our communicative world, but also in the most unexpected places.
For instance, sometimes I see something and my eye misinterprets it for something else and that is the beginning of a new object. I had glanced at a picture of fireplace logs on andirons but I caught a quick moment where my eye interpreted the logs as a bench, so our Andiron Bench was born.
One of the things that inspires me the most is when we get a simple idea and immediately see that something about it does not work. That is an opportunity to look at it in a new way or let it evolve into something we had never thought of. Designing is as much about letting go as it is about finding the new.
Learning to generate options, plowing new ground, and letting go are extremely good exercises for human beings. I say sometimes that while we are contributing by building structures and designing objects, what is for sure being made is us, as human beings.
Balance, Design, Products
August 26, 2011
Where we’ve been this week…
1. Hilde Andersen’s Pinterest board devoted to home workspaces.
2. Freshome for their post on 30 Scandinavian home offices (including this one complete with a black Eames Molded Plastic chair above).
3. Birch + Bird Vintage Home for their post on creating a shared workspace.
4. Simple Style is a Chinese online design magazine (click on translate to get it to English). I like their link and pic of Offcut Design’s office supplies.
5. Architizer for its post on the R.R. House in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It brings to mind the Eames House with the way it opens on one side to the site through a gridded glass facade (below).
6. Materialicious for the post on 10 interesting home offices. It’s always nice to see so many Herman Miller pieces!
7. Architectural Record for their coverage of Cooper Joseph Studio’s writer’s cottage in Ghent, New York (below).
8. Design Milk for the Dominus Plus iPhone Clock.
9. BB-Blog for their How to Work Better mural post (via Swissmiss).
10. And finally graphic designer and consummate blogger David Airey for his post on a new book, You Are the Map Maker, about creatives and their work habits.
August 24, 2011
Keep the end of the summer feeling sunny with our latest Playlist from Todd St. John, founder of HunterGatherer–the Brooklyn-based studio/workshop that counts, among its many cool accomplishments, this commissioned music video for Yo Gabba Gabba.
What do you listen to while you work? I usually switch between radio, Internet radio, and iTunes. I have a turntable in the studio, but it doesn’t get played all that often when I’m working.
How do you listen? I don’t really like headphones if I can avoid them. I usually listen over speakers.
Do you have any favorite music providers? KCRW has some good shows. WNYC, though not for music. Sometimes Newtown Radio. I’ll check out the usual blog downloads sometimes as well: Pitchfork, Gorilla vs. Bear. I’ve been listening to some of the mixes on indoek.com recently as well.
Does music influence your work? I think on the obvious things, like a record cover—definitely. When I animate, I do like to have music to work to if possible. In something like the “Sea Friends” animation, the music structurally drives the piece. I can’t say that for other things music affects them in any direct way. Maybe indirectly.
Where do you find music recommendations? Friends, mostly. People in the studio. I used to buy more vinyl, so that was always a way of stumbling into new (or new old) things.
Above: Untitled silkscreen on paper by Todd St. John.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I have no idea. I actually had seriously thought of being a composer before I was a designer. The two things are very related in my mind. Things like contrast, pacing, restraint, and texture all translate directly.
Love and Peace, Quincy Jones
For Beginners, M. Ward
Don’t Toss Us Away, Lone Justice
Paris 1919, John Cale
Substitute, The Who
Street Life, Roxy Music
Erase You, ESG
No Such Thing, Agent Orange
Watermelon Man, Herbie Hancock
The Vibrator, Jack McDuff
Walkabout, Atlas Sound
Sweet Jane, Velvet Underground
Images: Todd St. John
Balance, Design, Products
August 24, 2011
Mark Frauenfelder posted this excellent film yesterday on Boing Boing. It’s by Aaron Trinder and gives you an insight into how differently we all work. For some a clean, sparse desk is essential and for others it’s a litter of papers and pictures. How do you feel about your desk? I’m in Michigan this week meeting with the Herman Miller team but when I get home I will post some pics of my new desk. We recently moved houses and converted our new garage into a home office…and playroom and spare bedroom. The desk was really important to me. In this multi-purpose space it is the one area that is truly mine. And I agree with Mark – I wish this short little film was longer.
Desk – Music and Sound Design from Aaron Trinder Film:Motion:Music on Vimeo.
August 23, 2011
1. Papermate White Pearl Eraser (Set of 12), $9.99 Even the handwriting font on this premium eraser is a classic. Get it: Discount School Supply
2. Know-It-All Pencil Set, $10.00 This smart set of No. 2 pencils would have been your number-one pick during pop-quiz time. Get it: ReForm School
3. Hand-stitched leather pencil case, $40.00 Keep your writing utensils in chic shape with this case crafted from vegetable-tanned Italian cowhide. Get it: Zenok Leather
4. X-Acto Ranger 55 Heavy-Duty Pencil Sharpener, $28.99 Give your modern workspace a twist (or, we should say, a crank) using this retro design. Get it: Amazon
5. Chalkboard Tablet, $22.00 List-making gets easier (and eco-friendly) when you create them on tablets made from high-school bleachers, reclaimed black leather, and chalkboard paint. Get it: Peg and Awl
Want more product picks? Check out my various collections and random finds on Pinterest.
August 23, 2011
Gregory Han, Unplggd’s editor, weighs in on the overwhelming amount of social media available to us. I’m just like Gregory in my social media habits – in fact looking at that list the only thing I’m not involved in is foursquare! Joining Google+ was the tipping point for me. I am now in the throws of trying to figure out how to cut back. And it looks like Gregory is going through exactly the same thing. (Note: This is obviously a hot topic. Check out this piece I came across on Boing Boing…distraction can be seen as the flip-side of concentration – and meditating is the key to treading a line between the two.)
Gregory Han: “I’m currently taking inventory of all the log-in passwords and accounts in my password management application (LastPass changed my life), and it really hit home after scrolling through the seemingly endless list of services how many darn online social-style sites and apps I’m signed up to use. Facebook, Twitter, Twitpic, Spotify, LinkedIn, Last.FM, Music Beta by Google, WordPress, Flickr, foursquare, Pinterest, Tumblr, DailyMile, I Heart It, NeighborGoods, and most recently, Google+. And these are just the ones I still frequent/use, with a few like StumbleUpon, Nike+, and Polyvore fading out into the distance where Friendster and my old LiveJournal account have gone to pasture…
It all started off so fun, but somewhere down the line, maintaining a steady stream of content and sharing across all these sites can end up feeling like a job in itself. Am I neglecting my still infantile, pink-toed Google+ stream? Did I get to responding to all of the various Twitter DMs received, shout outs from friends and readers? It’s been awhile since I added photos to my Flickr feed. Hey, here’s a handful of Pinterest RePins! And I just remembered all of the membership sales sites I subscribe to…
Not this situation is anyone’s fault but my very own, as I’m admittedly what writer Robert Anton Wilson once labeled as a “Neophiliac” (is there a cream for this type of itch?) when it comes to new services promising an Aladdin-ish, whole new world. I could make the argument it’s all related to both my personal and professional life, but in the end, all these online social services create as much work as my paying job already presents. Masochism is inviting more email notifications willingly into your inbox.
So this weekend, I’m going on the online equivalent of one of those sketchy “cleanse diets”, but in this case I’m aiming to shed some online bulk and close up a few accounts.
August 23, 2011
I couldn’t resist reposting this from Core 77′s CoreToon series. I’m sure you can guess why I was drawn to it!
August 22, 2011
Bruce Bolander designed the Chicago offices of the Whitehouse film editing company we featured in June. I was really impressed with his work and eager to share more of it with you. Here Bolander talks about the impact of place on design and his roots as a furniture maker.
Above: Bolander’s office is 100 feet across a driveway from his home in Malibu.
While studying architecture you also learned to build furniture. How do those skills impact the buildings you design today? I still design some furniture and every once in a while even build something. I think that designing and building furniture gave me a better sense of both material and assemblage, details of how different pieces (small in the case of furniture and larger with architecture) unite.
Above: The Mosquito table and Hoist stool designed and fabricated by Bolander.
For the Whitehouse Chicago office I designed the edit desks, the reception desk and also a table that we ended up using both in the lunchroom/café as well as in the conference rooms and other meeting areas.
It is a simple plywood table that is built with just a couple of sheets of plywood and simple tools. It is made of a top and two base pieces that all just key together. To illustrate the table to the client I built a rough prototype myself in a few hours.