Rebecca Niederlander and Iris Anna RegnWriter
Artist Rebecca Niederlander and architect Iris Anna Regn investigate the individual within the larger community. The good friends live in Los Angeles where they co-founded BROODWORK, a cross-disciplinary project that discusses the integration of creative practice and family life.
Rebecca Niederlander and Iris Anna Regn's Posts
June 2, 2011
Michael Rotondi, the former director and co-founder of SCI-Arc (Southern California School of Architecture), is the founder of RoTo Architecture. The BROODWORK: It’s About Time exhibition is honored to share 100 of Rotondi’s personal notebooks. His notebooking is the stuff of legend, an integral tool to his practice. RoTo’s mission has been to trace a continuity from past to present, while integrating a teacher-practitioner’s field of trans-disciplinary interests, within and beyond architecture. Here Michael speaks about his own continuous way of working and living and the ideal places where he can do both.
My ideal workspace is wherever I am when a thought or an image comes to mind and I can sit with my sketchbook. I have always carried a notebook with me, for at least thirty years.
This hand to paper, mediated by my fountain pen or RoTo pencils, switches on my mind and focuses my attention. As I draw or write, all of my senses become more acute—apprehending everything around me more clearly and precisely.
A paradox, but true.
Above: It’s All One Thing, installation of 100 Rotondi notebooks at BROODWORK: It’s About Time
If I am looking at something, someone is speaking, or my mind’s eye has conjured an image, I begin to diagram and write what I see and hear. Thoughts and ideas merge into visual thinking.
Above: Rotondi working with Ven. Lama Chodak Gyatso Nubpa
My hand moves at the speed of an evolving idea as it appears on paper. Writing and sketching is a form of uploading rather than down loading.
I work in this way, most often, at home, at RoTo (my office).
And at SCI-arc, and at Miracle Manor Retreat in the desert, which April Greiman and I own.
But I also work on the road (especially on a plane), which is my quiet time.
May 20, 2011
Jing Liu and Florian Idenburg are the founders of the award-winning architecture studio called Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu (SO-IL ). Since its inception, SO – IL has worked on an array of projects ranging in scale from a series of prints for the Guggenheim Museum to the master plan of a cultural campus in Seoul. In 2010, the studio was awarded a project in the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program as well as the AIA New York Young Practices Award. Here they share their own live/work project called Common Ground, a rethinking of what it means to live and work in the city, creating a communal oasis with an extended family of friends.
Above: Jing and Forian’s house in Brooklyn from Common Ground film, 2011, image by Iwan Baan
We started our office somewhere between Amalia and Francis, our two daughters. In hindsight, it might have been because we did not differentiate very much between work and family, and that we were just ready to explore the possibilities of our own ideas in the real world and to take on the responsibilities. So we did. We got married, had children, moved out of our mouse heaven, east-village studio and opened shop as SO-IL, all at the same time, and all intuitively.
Above: SO-IL offices, Brooklyn, NY
We never got to have the time to think about what kind of parents we wanted to be, nor what kind of architect. We fought the sleepiness through the night feedings by thinking about the window details. We brought the kids along to the numerous site visits on weekends. They were always happy guests at our office dinners and holiday parties, knew the name of every one of our staff members, and proudly invited their friends to the openings of our projects.
Above: Pole Dance for MOMA/PS1. Winner Young Architect’s Prize, 2010
There are many ways one can learn to become a parent, or to start an architectural office. Our way took its own course rather than being set out by us. The conflicts between the two did not result in compromises, but help us in making wise decisions. We rarely feel the split between the two roles, but one always makes the other more interesting. Sometimes we are impatient waiting for the next step, other times we feel chased by the growth of a child or the office. In time, we learn how to wait for the current and ride it when it comes.
Above: Design for nursery school, Prato, Italy, 2008
Now our older daughter is 4 years old and the office 3, there came a natural convergent point where we sought to rethink the model of the living spaces, as we increasingly find the over-priced housing market in New York structurally ignores the relational spaces in a residential environment. We wanted to test the viability of an architecture that facilitated a communal oasis in a hyper-urban setting.
Over dinners and tea times, we spoke of this desire and our dream with our “extended families”, our diasporic friends who sought out each other in this metropolitan New York. Once planted, how powerful it is, the way in which a seed bursts out of its shell and pierces though the dirt to reach for the light, of possibilities! Quickly, the dream grew in an infectious way. Now it has a name, Common Ground. It is a place to work and to live; to support and to depend; to be and to become.
Above: Conceptual model for Common Ground, currently exhibited at BROODWORK: It’s About Time.
Above: A still from Common Ground film.
May 13, 2011
Andrew Berardini has a long list of accomplishments and enthusiasms: he is an American art critic, writer, and curator of contemporary art; he has published articles and essays in numerous art publications; lectured on art history at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and has guest lectured widely. He was recently made adjunct assistant curator at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena and is currently Los Angeles editor for Mousse and senior editor for Artslant. All this thinking and writing happens at a desk and a chair, which become - between dropping off and picking up his daughter at school- a room of his own.
Space is an awfully difficult thing to deal with. It’s not even really a thing, which I suppose is sort of the problem. I actually wish that space was just an emptiness waiting to be filled, a vacuum to easily occupy with dancing fantasies and comfortable sofas; a clean, well lighted place, but it, perhaps unfortunately for us, isn’t. For any space to exist, it has to have some parameters of reality, some boundaries or markers that make it a space. Take Montana, a spacious place by most popular reckoning, it has that huge blue dome painted with wisps of lonesome clouds, the horizon line stretching in all directions giving way to fields and plains and badlands and the feel of the earth and grass beneath your feet, the smell of dust or cattle or big-rig exhaust and the sound of Hank Williams or lowing cows or wind or Eminem echoing in your ears. Or, let’s take another space. Even the whitest white box of an art gallery, all accouterments stripped down to their most starkly minimal, still has all the connotations of what it is: the drywall and white paint, the polished concrete floor, the spot lamps. They all mean something, a spatial language developed over years and years of showing art. Even when reduced to what seem the simplest and most spacious places, they all still give shape to the liquid of space.
May 5, 2011
Multi-faceted Nina Tolstrup trained as a designer at the prestigious Les Ateliers School of Industrial Design in Paris and has a BA in Marketing from the Business School in Copenhagen. She is currently designing products for companies while also taking a pro-active approach designing, manufacturing and selling her own ranges under the Studiomama name. Here she shares the joyous interweaving of work and family at home and on the weekends.
I have my studio at home and a workshop down the road. I love the area in which I live, it’s in the heart of the East End, situated close to Brick Lane flea market and Columbia Road flower market. I love the atmosphere and characters you find as well as the odd bits of bric-a-brac. I am by nature a collector and cannot help arriving home with some strange artifact that I’m sure will come in handy one day.
Our live-work space is hidden away from the densely urban populated area in a very narrow cobbled street. According to our local pie and mash shop owner, who holds the collective memory of the neighborhood, it is a former sausage factory. When we acquired the space an artist had been living there and it was a raw shell. I worked on developing the space, it was a labor of love! It is unusual in many ways, and somehow secluded in this urban melee. It would be nice to have more space as we are constantly accumulating bits and pieces and the space is becoming increasingly cluttered.
April 28, 2011
Jan Greenberg is the author of more than ten non-fiction art books for children and young adults with writing partner Sandra Jordan. Their latest book, Ballet for Martha: Making Appalacian Spring, is on the best book’s list of many publications including the
Washington Post and the
Boston Globe. Greenberg and Jordan’s books have been nominated School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, been on Booklist Editors’ Choice, IRA Teachers’ Choice, Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book and every one is an ALA Notable Books. Here she describes how she does it all from a well-lit space amongst tall trees.
All of the Greenberg-Jordan books are featured in the BROODWORK: It’s About Time exhibit.
When I was a teenager growing up in St. Louis, I loved to read and daydream. My favorite class was English. We talked about books. We wrote poems and stories. After that, it was all downhill, except for lunch. When the noon bell rang, I would stow my books on top of the lockers. My friends could identify my pile because of the papers sticking out every which way and the uneven stack of books ready to tumble down. My room at home wasn’t much better. Clothes lying in heaps, wastebasket overflowing, movie magazines, photos of Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter, and novels piled on the desk. It wasn’t until after I was married and had children that I became a neatness freak. If you come to my house now, you’ll notice that both the art and the décor are fairly minimalist. The first and second floors are all orderly and carefully arranged much like in our living room, below.
Here is the ideal study to go with the aesthetic of my house – spare, and pristine, paperless and modern.
April 28, 2011
One of the tremendous joys of working with Herman Miller as Lifework contributors is the possible interweaving of creative endeavors.
Our art and design collaboration, BROODWORK, has an exhibition called “It’s About Time” opening at Otis College of Art and Design this Saturday (April 30, 4-6 pm). The show explores the synthesis between family and the creative process. The photo above gives you just a little taste of what to expect.
One of the participants is an Irish artist named Eamon O’Kane (pictured in his studio below). His interactive installation work, A History of Play, relates the teachings of Friedrich Froebel. Froebel’s teaching methods influenced some of the most brilliant designers – including Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Ray and Charles Eames. In fact, you’ll see quite a bit of Herman Miller furniture throughout the exhibition.
We want to thank Herman Miller for the generous loan of the Eames pieces. Having such references that link the inter-generational nature of family and creativity is integral to this installation.
If you live in Los Angeles, please join us at the opening and make sure to introduce yourselves. And for the next month and a half we will be featuring the workspaces of some of the incredible participants in this exhibition. We very much look forward to sharing these with you.
March 31, 2011
Multi-talented Kiino Villand, a photographer, a director, and co-founder/editorial director of WSTRNCV Magazine, uses his house as a case study for integrating photography and editorial work with family, living in a setting that looks different all the time.
About 3 years ago, my wife, our daughter and I moved to Silver Lake, CA. As the second owners of a house built in 1937, we’re getting towards the tail end of a fairly substantial renovation. By far, the best feature of our place is the concrete regulation badminton court in the backyard. On first sight, it was obvious that this fairly unique feature would not only be ideal for hosting badminton tournaments (natch), but would be a fantastic outdoor studio for photography, film & video productions. On days when I’m not shooting, the court additionally works great as a roller-skating rink for our daughter. The goal is ease of use for shoot days and play dates alike.
As we get closer to finishing the overhaul, we’re still weighing the best direction to go in terms of setting up office space. Our project manager is my wife Andraleia, an interior and exterior designer who’s hands-on construction experience and amazing taste have made this a family effort. Andraleia would like nothing less than to get my butt out of the breakfast nook, where my temporary office is.
So we have our sights on one end of the badminton court as a place to build a small office plus multi-purpose makeup/wardrobe/equipment/guest room. Those are a lot of purposes. We’ll have to be efficient if we want to allow enough room to keep the court functional for the Silver Lake Badminton Club.
I often daydream about this perfectly organized space with its array of shelving, storage space and open desk area. Also of key importance will be the ability to allow for complete range in light levels. I prefer ample daylight when I’m writing or editing the magazine. But when working on photo editing and video editing, it needs to be very dim. This should be easily accomplished with a good set of blackout drapes or sliding panels.
The entire house serves also as a case study for Andraleia. Her clients see what the rooms actually look like and she can figure out first hand what certain materials work for what particular purpose (fixtures, patio pavers, etc.). It’s a tactile proof of concept.
Because of all this multi-functionality we regularly move furniture all over the place. I consider this a good thing.
Friends are always saying the place looks different when they come over. They’re always right, and always welcomed.
March 24, 2011
Trendsetter Clare Crespo takes the cake…the cupcake. A legend in cupcake circles, her book Hey There, Cupcake! 35 Yummy Fun Cupcake Recipes for All Occasions is a bestseller amongst cupcakistas, and foodies generally. Here she describes how she first defined her work, then her space, then took it from fantasy to reality via her two-car garage in Silverlake, CA.
I started playing with my food when most people do, in childhood. After a windy path through Louisiana and Texas and Italy, I ended up in Los Angeles at Cal Arts getting a Masters in experimental animation.
After having some jobs in some pretty nice offices (including producing piles of music videos), I realized that while I had a good job that was fun and challenging and lucrative, none of it was really mine. I was doing this funny sculptural cooking at home that was important in my everyday life and it felt good; maybe I could make other people feel good too. I wanted to inspire and encourage folks to be creative and express themselves in their everyday ordinary actions. Soon I found myself with the kitchen as my studio figuring out how to make a new career. I made a website with animated cartoons of my recipes called www.yummyfun.com. Make a sandwich and tell the world who you are. A book deal showed up and The Secret Life of Food was born.
And I guess to prove that I practice what I preach I decided to produce the photos in my home. I didn’t want the pictures taken in a studio. I wanted them to be in my life. With the food stylist Lisa Barnett, I made all of the food in my house. Eric Staudenmaier shot all the little tableaus. The house was completely transformed into some kind of mad scientist’s photo studio. Then came Hey There, Cupcake!
From my home office I continued to toy with business ideas that would make my dream grow more branches.
I designed food for a Spongebob Squarepants episode. I cooked my wackiest creations on the Today show, Good Morning America, CBS Sunday Morning, and many, many Food Network shows. I wrote recipes for magazines and books. I considered a brick and mortar bakery but thought it might squash my spirit, so I started the renegade pop-up bakery Treat Street with Crystal Meers and Mary Wigmore.
But I had always wanted to do a show. The Food Network asked me to do a traditional cook-in-the-kitchen cooking show. But I had a new daughter at the time and I wasn’t so interested in leaving her every day to go to some soundstage; and honestly, I wanted to do a really crazy fantasy kids show with puppets and a band and animation. So I gathered friends from the music video days (including my nice talented production designer husband, James Chinlund) and made it happen. Choosing NOT to follow anyone’s advice, we built a set in my two-car garage and created The Yummyfun Kooking Series. The DVDs have sold well in places like The New Museum, The Whitney, and Amazon.
And now, low and behold, the production company Fremantle Media has decided that they like Yummyfun too and will produce an episode. I am now working on Yummyfun with a writer and producers and all sorts of nice talented people. This time we won’t be in my garage and it has been a little struggle for me to figure out how that’s going to work, but I am ultimately excited to have a little more space. I still have my home office filled with petrified Jaws cookies, glitter, leopard cupcake liners, three million cake sprinkles and other assorted art supplies. And I have my kitchen where I can do my work and play with my food.
March 17, 2011
As Thomson Reuters’ China bureau chief, Beijing-based Don Durfee oversees news coverage for mainland China, including the work of over 100 journalists, photographers and TV staff. For this post, he remarks on notions of the ideal, shifting priorities and using collaboration.
First, let me say this: there is the workspace I fantasize about, and there’s the one I actually need.
In my dream, I lean back in my simple, comfortable chair and gaze across an empty maple desk, sunlight streaming in from the windows. My books are all neatly arranged on a bookshelf. I hide my Macbook in a desk drawer when I’m not using it. I swivel around in my chair to pour another cup of Sumatra coffee and adjust the volume on my stereo, which plays only my favorite songs.
But back to reality. I’m sitting at my desk in the Reuters News Beijing bureau. It’s a big, open—and sometimes chaotic—room, where about 100 journalists work, including cameramen, web designers, translators and reporters writing about everything from earthquakes to money. A drab Chinese official is speaking on one of the dozen TV screens around the room. Someone is yelling to me – “Can you believe that someone just called me to say that radiation from Japan has already arrived in Beijing? Ridiculous!”
I’m a reporter. Or, rather, an ex-reporter who now attempts to run a news operation through email, blackberry, online chatrooms, phone calls, meetings and conversations with the writers sitting a few feet from me.
When there is breaking news—and there’s been a lot lately, with Japan’s crisis and China’s crackdown on reporters—we have to work quickly and together. Hence the absence of walls and our desks, which are arranged in clusters of four so we can easily discuss stories, complain and tell jokes, all without getting up. That’s important, because nearly every story is a collaboration. At times five people will all be on the phone, conducting interviews for a single article that one person is typing up.
Every desk has at least two computer monitors, to make it easier to keep an eye on messages while writing.
The bureau isn’t the tidiest place. There are stacks of newspapers, and some broken printers and unused fax machines. Several of my colleagues keep great heaps of unsorted papers and books on their desks — treatises on China’s environmental policies, statistical almanacs and well-worn Chinese dictionaries. One especially prolific writer has so many papers that he can barely find his computer screen. The building management sent me a note the other day suggesting that his desk violates some fire code.
My office wasn’t always like this. In earlier days, I was a magazine writer. I had a dim, but warmly lit office with a mahogany desk and a shelf full of reassuringly familiar books. Pictures of my wife and two girls—babies back then—were on the wall under my favorite poster depicting Napoleon’s disastrous march on Moscow. There was always an iPod nearby so that I could find just the right music to match whatever I was writing. Astor Piazzolla for the long articles, Frank Black for the stories that called for a little aggression.
In other words, pretty close to my fantasy. (I’ve also tried to get close with my desk at home — pictured above — but in truth my daughters spend more time there drawing than I do writing.)
But my newsroom, rough around the edges, noisy and friendly, has its charms. At least there’s someone to talk to.
March 10, 2011
A full creative life involves many twists and turns. Being open to them creates new opportunities. Artist, writer and healer Ann Faison holds an MFA from Cal Arts in Music and Art, and her work has been exhibited widely including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Since the birth of her daughters she has discovered writing and body work are an integral part of her artistic life. Her first book, Dancing with the Midwives, has just been released. Here Ann describes her means to keeping it all in order.
My ideal workspace is spare, sparse, empty and clean. That way I can walk in, set down something I have in mind to draw, and draw it. Or I can sit my computer on the empty desk and write clear, succinct expressions, unhampered by the clutter and clumpy detritus that clogs my home.
Children (and cats) are exceptionally messy. Their boundless enthusiasm makes life one big tangle that is constant. How to untie the knots of an over-scheduled day. How to clear the rubble of snack time, meal time and glitter-glue time. How to cleanse the crustiness of the growing child. Dried cheerios in the jacket pocket. Rocks in the washing machine. I am not particularly neat, but the messier my life is, the more order I crave.