It’s always good to hear from Lifework readers. You are definitely a smart, opinionated and design savvy group that continue to keep me on my toes. I got an email last week from Martin Reid, a creative director from Scotland. Martin thought I might be interested in his office. And, boy was he right. Take a look at what you can do in a 100-year-old granite tenement with a couple of Mirra chairs and a lot of design nous.
Tell us about the kind of work you do. How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I’ve been working as a graphic designer for over ten years and have recently just set-up my own business. I run my own advertising and design agency working across a variety of disciplines including branding, advertising, graphic design and web. I work with a variety of clients covering a wide range of businesses including technology, retail, fashion, oil and gas. I like to work with different clients as each project can offer new creative opportunities to try something which exceeds what my clients maybe expect or what is seen as the norm for their business. I’ve been working from my home studio part-time for about 5 years. At the start of this year I decided the time was right to quit my full-time work for a leading design agency and concentrate on my own business full-time after being presented with the opportunity to work with some new clients.
Home is in Aberdeen, Scotland, the ‘Granite City’ as its better know. My home studio on the second floor of an old victorian granite tenement. The building itself is over 110 years old and still has many of its original features and is situated in the west-end of Aberdeen. With great views over the city every time I look out the window there is always something new to look at which can bring a welcome distraction from looking at a screen all day.
Aberdeen is starting to get a creative buzz again with new art exhibitions, galleries, boutique shops and other creative ventures popping up all the time and its nice to think that people appreciate good art, design, architecture, everyone seems to be a lot more switched on to the creative scene.
Describe your style and how it relates to the space you work in and also the work you produce. I wouldn’t really say I have a specific style when it comes to what I do. I would say that my way of thinking is to produce creative, intelligent and effective designs that fulfill and sometimes exceed the original brief. Ideally I produce design work that I am proud of, that makes my clients happy and maybe educates clients about the benefits of good design.
More from Martin after the jump…
Although I buy a lot of design books I try and and avoid following any trends. I treat every project with a fresh eye and try to keep it simple – what is the message and who is it for. I think sometimes these key elements can get lost or diluted when things become over-complicated with too many graphical elements. Normally simplicity is key.
How do you keep your work space organized? I always have a daily tidy up of my desk first thing in the morning. I feel a lot more relaxed and focused when all I have on my desk is a pad of paper, pen and cup of coffee. I have some large bookshelves which gives me easy access to all my design books, but also I can keep all the stationary, printer ink, paper behind closed doors which makes the room feel clean and tidy.
When you set up your home office what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? The most important thing I was concerned about was light. I painted the entire room white and bought white gloss bookshelves. Even on a dull day the room feels bright and fresh. I’ve also got my desk directly under the window so the sun doesn’t reflect directly on the computer screens. It’s also great on a warm summer day being able to open the windows and enjoy the breeze.
I was aware from time to time I would have clients visit so I wanted the studio to feel like a professional place of work and not just a spare room in someone’s house with an Apple computer. I’ve bought some nice graphic related prints and got these framed so these help add some colour to the walls and can be changed around from time to time. Also the Mirra chairs can be a real talking point with clients.
Spending up to 14 hours at time in front of a computer can be really tiring. After some careful advice and research I decided to treat my back and my studio to the two Mirra chairs. Having worked as a designer for over ten years and mostly sat at a computer, the Mirra chairs are probably one of the best pieces of home office furniture I’ve purchased. Sometimes they are too comfy and can lead to an unscheduled afternoon nap when I’ve not had a coffee, it’s one of the perks of being your own boss I suppose.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet right now? I must admit I have a bit of a thing for chairs. I think the Eames soft pad chairs are the ultimate in timeless design when it comes to office furniture. They just live and breath that cool, classic design of the 1960′s but they look like they could have been designed yesterday. I also love the Eames plywood chairs, I can picture two of these in the red lacquer finish in my home studio for visitors and clients. They have an almost technical, engineered look to them but still look very comfortable and relaxed.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? I just recently purchased a Siemens Gigaset S795 office phone. I don’t normally get excited by something as mundane as an office phone but the guys who have designed it have put some really nice touches. Being able to sync my address book on my Mac to the phone has been a life saver. With over 250 contacts its great being able to just type a name and all the details are on the phone. It also looks nice and is well designed as opposed to having a chunk of grey, bland plastic for an office phone.
What would you change about your work space? I really think it needs two red lacquered Eames plywood chairs! On a serious note a few more plants would be good, although I look out over gardens we had to have our trees cut down last year which was a shame. To compensate for this I bought a few plants of the studio which help add a bit of nature indoors. I think sometimes people can underestimate the difference having a few plants around your studio/office can have on your overall mood.
What inspires you? More than anything else its people. I get real inspiration from the people I meet. From new clients who are filled with ideas and ambitions to my paper supplier at GF Smith who is always an inspiration when it comes to paper and what amazing uses it has for a designer. Meeting new people online through design blogs and creative networks to just nipping out for a coffee to get away from the screen for a while. It’s these interactions that can inspire and motivate anyone to do great things.