Balance, Design, Technology
August 10, 2011
We are trying something different this week. Here are two playlists – one to get you fired up and the other one to keep you focused. We approached two men who are deeply involved in the music world. Andy McGrath is the general manager of White Iris Records which launched last year. It’s the label counterpart to commercial music collective Black Iris – and Rob Lowry is the assistant producer at Black Iris. They recently renovated their offices and studio in Los Angeles’ Echo Park with the help of interior designer Wendi Weger (watch out for an interview with Wendi next week).
Above and below: Wendi Weger “We needed to transform a pretty gray and drab office space. One requirement was that the design be functional in terms of soundproofing certain areas, so we made a curtain out of accordioned industrial felt, covered one wall entirely in cork, wrapped sound-absorbing panels in burlap, and incorporated lots of rugs and other textiles.”
Above: Wendi “With this part of the office we started to skew west coast beach rather than midwestern lake because Daron has his surf boards hanging up, so we gave him a 10 foot marlin over his desk and at that point each room took on a unique identity.”
Andy McGrath’s Inspiration Playlist
1. Chad VanGaalen ‘Phantom Anthills‘ - for me, this is productivity and inspiration embodied in a song!
2. FIDLAR ‘Wake Bake Skate‘- this one puts a hop in my step every time I hear it.
3. Computer Magic ‘Grand Junction‘- this track is super fun.
4. Dawes ‘Love Is All I Am‘- these dudes have a super classic, bright, SoCal sound. This is the first Dawes song in a line of many that that would encapsulate so many emotions for me. Probably my favorite music video of the past 10 years, too. These guys inspire me everyday. Yes. Every. Day.
5. Guards ‘Sail It Slow‘- this song is huge.
6. Averkiou ‘Holland & Headaches‘ - This band rips so hard. It’s Jesus and Mary Chain meets Ride meets My Bloody Valentine. They get extra points for the inspiring Boyd Shropshire created album art.
7. Other Lives ‘Landforms‘ - there’s a calm and focused aspect to this song. It’s like a cool breeze or a cool wave rushing overhead. Refreshing.
8. Waylon Jennings ‘Lonesome, On’ry and Mean‘ - Waylon looking real rough in this video but absolutely crushing this MEGA JAM is inspiring in and of itself. Taken from Cowboy Jack Clements old ’70s show.
9. Unknown Mortal Orchestra ‘Ffunny Ffriends‘- another breezy jam.
10. King Tuff ‘So Desperate‘- feel’s like a road song. Makes me wanna get outside, explore and interact..
Above: The vending machine is stocked with various snacks and drumsticks – just in case.
Rob Lowry’s Thinking Person’s Playlist
1. Superhumanoids ‘Mikelah‘ - There’s nothing like a great opening track; it sets the mood for the entire album. Unfortunately, this track is a single, so you have to build your own soundtrack around it (and they set the bar pretty high). Superhumanoids have a subtle and beautiful romanticism about them that puts them stories above the sudden resurgence in 80’s-influenced music. “Mikelah” is a sweeping, gorgeous accomplishment.
2. Julianna Barwick “The Magic Place” - One would think layered harmonies and strings of oohs-and-ahhs would become tired and redundant over the course of a four-minute song, but Julianna defies logic. This song feels like you’re flying blindly through the clouds only to come out on the other side to find everything you were ever looking for.
3. Bill Callahan “Jim Cain” - Bill has a voice that centers you upon impact. His spoken/sung vocal delivery, paired with the beautiful strings and finger-picking backing the track, brings to mind a walk in an enchanted forest at dawn. If your mind’s not clear by song’s end, there are deeper seeds planted.
4. Sade “Your Side” - No one does it better than Sade. The track is so smooth, it sounds like the entire thing has been auto-tuned. Her voice brings a peace of mind that few others can. Completely organic, completely intuitive.
5. Explosions in the Sky “Postcard from 1952” - Equal parts understated and epic, “Postcard” brings you from calm to chaos and back to peace in a way no vocal melody could have ever justified. This song’s able to heighten emotions within you without being overbearing or forcing you to feel a certain way. The soundscapes on this track are so wide open but immediately intimate, like you’re wrapped in a sleeping bag on an open field. Explosions gives so much and asks so little in return.
6. Josh T. Pearson – “Honeymoon’s Great! Wish You Were Her” It’s a powerful and strange feeling when you already know what the lyrics to a song will be before the vocals kick in. Josh T. Pearson has a Masters’ in this. And because you know what he’s going to say, it allows more time to spend focusing on the intricacies of his instrumentation and the feeling he’s emoting, which is a key to being able to concentrate on other various endeavors.
7. Twin Shadow – “Tyrant Destroyed” Sometimes, a song feels so familiar and comfortable it’s as if you were lying in a bed made of its arrangement. George Lewis Jr. has had this affect on me, and “Tyrant” is the perfect example of something that completely occupies and embodies your being while allowing you to focus your mind elsewhere. It’s the song in the background of your day-in and day-outs, complimenting but not overbearing.
Above: Wendi “My friend and frequent collaborator Matt Sams had that wallpaper in his house and I became obsessed. You can find it here: www.cavernhome.com. It’s called Blackbird.”
August 9, 2011
Do you remember when you were a kid and enjoyed hours and hours of finger painting? Well, it’s not too late to start again! Using a stylus, you can revisit those childhood years and use your tech in similar fashion.
Just Mobile AluPen The AluPen is a great “pencil shaped” stylus that just feels great in the hand. You will see an increase of the amount of control that you will gain while interacting with your favorite touch sensitive device. Made of solid aluminum, it has a soft rubber nib. This is the ideal one if you are looking into a lot of drawing and hand writing.
August 9, 2011
Rebecca first heard of Lullatone when her daughter was an infant and she was looking for soft ambient music… Lullatone soon became a household favorite. Lullatone’s founders, husband and wife Seymour and Tomida, have released 9 albums, made music for films, commercials, apps, museums and much more for clients including Target, Adobe, Toyota, NHK, and MOMA. They also host a weekly children’s TV show that airs in central Japan every Saturday morning. Their ideal live/work space? They are living in it. Here is a small glimpse into their simple house and studio, nestled in the north of Nagoya, Japan.
Our whole home is 1200 square feet. 200 of it is dedicated to the studio room, but the lines tend to get blurred a little. For example, right now, the recording room has some coloring book pages on the floor from our son Niko coloring in here while I am mixing our new record. And, sometimes we use the other rooms for recording a little. And we’ve used the stairs and hallway before as a kind of echo chamber to add a real at-home kind of sound to some tracks.
August 8, 2011
Each year we take one of our timeless designs and reinterpret it for the Select program. Last year we offered the Eames Hang-It-All with walnut balls in place of the familiar colored ones. This year we have re-imagined George Nelson’s beautiful tray table, taking our inspiration from Nelson’s 1955 mid-century masterpiece, the Flock of Butterflies clock. We are also offering the tray separate to the table – something we’ve never done before.
The table was originally available in walnut or teak veneer. This version is in white ash, finished with a process that stops the wood from yellowing. For the inlay we used walnut and santos palisander veneers. The table’s column is made from brushed stainless steel with black umber steel legs. The table stands 17 inches high; the tray top is 18 inches in diameter. As with the original, the 2011 Select edition is presented in a special take-home container about the size of a pizza box.
Available as part of our Select program until February 6, 2012, or until supplies last.
August 8, 2011
Drive by this live/work space in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake and you’re not quite sure what you’re looking at. The undulating metal fence reads like a piece of sculpture. The cement-board structure behind could be a home, it could be a duplex, it could be an office. In fact it is the home and office of architects Jenny Wu and Dwayne Oyler of Oyler Wu Collaborative. I visited the space during the Dwell house tours last month and was impressed with how they’d set up their live/work space. A common design language linked the office/public space downstairs with the private/home area upstairs, creating a clean-lined oasis on a busy urban road.
In 2001 Oyler Wu was established when you were both were living in New York City. You both went to Harvard – did you meet there? Yes, during our time there we entered a couple of competitions together. The partnership turned out to good one – in a couple of ways.
You are currently located in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles where you’ve taken a 1930′s residential duplex on a very busy street and turned it into a live/work space. Can you describe that process? The building wasn’t residential when you took it over. At the time we purchased the building in 2009, there was a wood flooring company operating out of the ground floor, and it was in serious need of an overhaul.
Although it had been renovated numerous times, there was never any real attempt to change the exterior from the pseudo-Spanish style stucco box to something more modern. Because of its simplicity, we saw the potential of the building to become a simple, elegant volume.
Because we have been doing most of the work ourselves, the renovation has happened slowly, beginning with those elements that just made it livable. And over the two year period, we’ve begun slowly adding design elements.
The building is clad in cement board with recessed aluminum windows. Why those material choices? The cement board was chosen for its simplicity and the honesty of its materiality. The clear coating reveals the richness of the board and the nailing pattern across the surface. We felt that there was beauty to that that one just can’t get with a stucco surface. The deep recessed windows came out of the need to flatten the surface of the building. The existing building essentially required a second layer, and that process ultimately made the walls incredibly thick. Recessing the windows was a way of expressing that thickness.
You have stripped the interior back to its essentials, exposing the 1930′s wood frame construction. Tell us how those design decisions impact they way you work and live in the space? Nearly everything we own is modern. The exposed wood (and the shelving that was made from wood salvaged during the renovation phase) made for a contrast with those more modern elements in a way that we felt was complimentary to both. I’m not sure that particular aspect dramatically changed how we live so much as it highlights the aesthetic qualities of both. What does change our lives is the live/work configuration of living upstairs and working downstairs, as well as the incredibly vibrant Silver Lake neighborhood.
What inspires you in your work? We’re occasionally asked this question, and we always have a hard time answering it. While we love the work of so many architects (Gaudi, Otto, Miralles, Saarinen to name a few), our work more often works in an evolutionary way. We tend to draw on unanswered questions and tectonic discoveries produced in previous projects as well as specific contextual problems of a given project (a site constraint, for example). It’s also fair to say that we’re constantly inspired by our students (at the Southern California Institute of Architecture – SCI-Arc).
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
August 5, 2011
1. Phaidon’s Agenda lets the book publisher showcase their great nose for a design, architecture or art story. The stories here are not confined to the book’s they’ve published. It’s a smart way for the brand to get the word out about new books and at the same time feed our design appetite.
2. The Design Files for Lisa Madigan’s home and home office (below).
3. Houzz for it’s collection of home offices. Can you tell I’m looking for new spaces.
4. Wanken for the post on an incredible holiday house in Argentina – it would make the perfect backyard office.
5. Kinfolk is a gorgeously designed new online food magazine. Now I know what to have for lunch.
6. Design Sponge’s Sneak Peek because it’s nice to see the Eames Molded Plastic chair with dowel legs mixed with other pieces so beautifully.
7. De Vetpan Studio’s blog for its luscious photography and their review of a Wacom Bamboo iPad Stylus.
8. Fast Company’s story on a bamboo bike where the frame is grown in shape.
9. Brain Pickings for the Power of 10 Flipbook post.
Powers of Ten, Flipbook from Joe Marianek on Vimeo.
10. NPR’s 3-Minute Fiction for the perfect work break. Great stories that take 3 minutes to read.
August 4, 2011
We’ve talked about ways to extend the lifespan of your batteries, the life of an older machine, and what automated diagnostics you should run on your PC, but what are some good basic tips that cover both Apple and Windows computers? In this post we take a look at 5 tips we have gleaned from Genius Bar and Geek Squad visits and from our own user experience.
1. Always Keep at Least 5 GB Free
A computer needs about 10% free disk space at any time. One thing we’ve noticed on our machines is that anything less than 5GB is going to land us with problems. Essentially, computers need breathing room. Without that free space, there’s nowhere for temporary files to be stored. Also, when the RAM gets full, it will start swapping things in and out of memory by using your hard drive. If it’s full, then not only can you not save stuff, but your computer has no where to dump stuff from RAM. To top it all off the worst thing that can happen as a result of a drive with no space? Data can get corrupted. Want to find out what applications are taking up a bit of space? We love using DaisyDisk for this purpose. This application is by far the nicest and easiest way of seeing what files are taking up your space on any drive. As you are cleaning out your files, just make sure not to delete any files or folders with the name “Library” in as they normally contain settings and can result in you losing contacts and other media depending on the file. Another great application we love is Xslimmer. Xslimmer gets rid of Intel/PowerPC code and additional language files that your machine doesn’t use/need to free up space and improve performance and load times.
2. Really Remove Applications
Since not all applications come with an uninstaller, it’s important to really delete the applications you want to remove. For a majority of applications on the Apple side, generally moving them to the trash works well but often they leave other files lying around on your system. To really remove an application on a Mac, Drag and drop an application into a program like AppZapper and it will find all the associated files and remove them for you. It’s branded as “the uninstaller that Apple forgot,” and we are pretty big fans. For PC users, CCleaner will do a similar job and will also take help take care of #5.
Balance, Design, Technology
August 3, 2011
This week’s Playlist is from Rick VanderLeek of Fairly Painless Advertising who counts Herman Miller as one of his clients and has an iTunes playlist that could run for a month without repeating a song. Here he references not one, but two, great music sources from previous Playlisters: Justin Gage’s Aquarium Drunkard and Designers.MX from Blake Allen. Do great minds think alike? Find out with this new mix from the Saugatuck, Michigan-based art director and graphic designer.
What do you listen to while you work? I work at all hours, so it’s more about the time of day that determines what I listen to. If I broke it out, I think it’s fair to say mornings are usually acoustic/folk. Afternoons I typically listen to more indie/rock. At night, I usually turn to more beat-driven/ambient/electronic music, and often jazz.
How do you listen? During the day, earbuds. Occasionally I’ll unplug and DJ in the creative department at the office. I love turning people on to new music. I listen through Seige Audio headphones while I work at home.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? If I’m listening to music online, it’s usually KCRW’s eclectic24. Lately I’ve been checking out Designers.MX. Such a good combination of music and design. I want to create a mix for them. I’m currently checking out Spotify.
Does music influence your work? Well, it must in some way or another. I listen to it all the time. It’s hard to pinpoint how a specific album or song would influence me through my design. However, I could design a poster in a shorter time listening to Animal Collective or Girl Talk than I would listening to an acoustic Neil Young album. An aspect of my job that I love is helping with the musical direction for a video or film Fairly Painless is working on. Whether it’s the pensive tone of The Album Leaf or an upbeat RJD2 jam, it’s a challenging task matching music with picture.
Design, Products, Technology
August 2, 2011
1. C Shelves VoonWong&BensonSaw designed this series of C-shaped steel tables and shelves to be combined, stacked, or placed back to back. Get info: vwbs.co.uk
2. Aurora Display Case, $49.53 per unit 500 colored pencils (available by subscription) become a piece of artwork when you display them in this conversation-starting case. Get it: glb.felissimo.jp
3. BURO Desk Set, $150.00 Reminiscent of wooden building blocks, these desk accessories by London-based DesignWright come in green, purple, or gray. Get it: Lexon
4. Gear Tie, $4.49 and up Put a twist on wrapping up loose ends (like computer cords and ear buds) with these bright organizing solutions. Get it: Nite Ize
5. QABLE, $39.00 These unique cable extensions work especially well when you’re wall-mounting an item that requires a visible power line. Get it: Biegert & Funk
August 2, 2011
Nowadays companies are more apt to offer new hires the benefit of a virtually commuting. But there are still plenty of jobs which require workers to hit the road (or airlines), thus also bringing up the need to be properly equipped for mobile workflow. Here are several solutions for those of us who need to work here, there and everywhere…
Dell Latitude E6320 A powerful mobile station packing 2.6 GHz i5 processor and 320 GB drive, the Dell’s 13.3″ screen is not too big, not too small, and weighs a travel friendly 3.7 lbs. The Latitude comes with a built-in broadband communication module (fancy word for wi-fi) and also useful travel security features like data encryption and fingerprint recognition so you have to worry less about anyone compromising your Facebook page spreadsheets.
Inergie mCube Mini You can slip the mCbube Mini’s 2.4 oz adapter into your carry on and practically forget it’s there. The petite device allows users to take advantage of the growing number of flights with in-seat power outlets, and comes with 10 adaptors capable of charging almost any device you may have (as long as it’s not a Macbook!).