Here is the second half of Friday’s interview with the couple behind creative agency ::CRONAN::. Karin Hibma and her husband Michael started Cronan in 1980 and count TiVo, Michelle Obama and Amazon amongst their clients. They work from their home on three acres in the Berkeley hills. Here’s Karin’s side of the story.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve been working from home on and off since college. As an artist, home life, art work and work are often combined. And where is home? Years ago, home was a great studio apartment in a neighborhood in Berkeley where great things were happening, revolutions in food, coffee, thinking and creativity. Three moves and thirty plus years later, home is in Berkeley again, this time on three acres in the hills above what is now known as the “Gourmet Ghetto” – and next to the University of California, Berkeley.
In the 1970’s I was doing research and managing large projects for some of the most creative designers, artists and filmmakers – one great project was “Creativity – the Human Resource” where I got to meet and work with the top contemporary Americans who’d made major contributions in the arts and science to tell their stories; in 2010 I’m working with my husband and partner Michael Patrick Cronan to combine those same research skills with years of experience in creating businesses and working with clients to develop brands and identities for amazing companies and products and effectively tell their stories. We also have a private label product development and manufacturing company — we created the award-winning clothing line called Walking Man.
Describe your style? My personal style is wabi-sabi – I like elegance and simplicity but warmed by nature and use.
How would you define your aesthetic? Our friend Leonard Koren — coiner of the expression and author of the book Wabi-Sabi– just wrote a new book — Which ‘Aesthetics’ Do You Mean? Ten Definitions. I would say mine is warm, human, influenced by nature and experience.
As someone with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized? My best organizer is my Herman Miller Burdick Desk. My client for the “Creativity” project was the Burdick Group in San Francisco; while we were creating the “Creativity” exhibit, one of the teams there was working on this design for Herman Miller. Bruce Burdick described them as “workbenches for executives.”
When George Nelson came to visit – he called it “the wave of the future”. It’s a big, open rectangular work surface with smaller rectangles attached to two aluminum beams, and a beautiful round glass tabletop. I can totally switch from computer work to organizing to contemplating and writing by changing from the big work surface to the glass table (which has spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay) and back again. I don’t own the desk, I have it on permanent loan (very wabi-sabi) from my pal Paul Saffo, so it makes it even more inspiring to work at.
As far as organizing my computer I’m still using a PowerBook G4 as my main computer – I can run some old Classic programs on it. My family teases because I have so many programs open all at one time, but I can easily switch from one task to another. Best is my big screen Apple monitor(s) that’s attached to the PowerBook, I can have multiple programs in view and use all the time.
Are there any particular programs you find really useful? I love an old program called “InControl” – one of our production managers years old got me started on it – I use it both for calendaring and for collecting notes on my research, inspirations and ideas. I haven’t found anything like it. I use several search engines, it’s hard for some people to imagine, but much of the day-to-day information from years BEFORE the search engines is not available – books and libraries and people are still important resources for finding information.
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? My main desk actually faces true north, according to my iPhone compass – pretty cool. I have places for people to sit with me, places to work on my own, and space to store most of the research I accumulate working on projects. We have a huge library, it’s spread all over the house.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you wish you had? I wish I had…. Hmmm??? I’d like a TiVo remote for my life… When Michael named it years ago, who knew you could pause live television? I’d like to be able to pause and/or replay moments, plus have TiVo gather all my favorites for my viewing pleasure. It’s still possible!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? A little keyboard stand that our son Shawn HibmaCronan, a sculptor, created for himself and loaned (I guess it’s on permanent loan, too) to me. It lifts my computer keyboard up to just the right height for work. I also have two Ron Rezek Orbis lamps, they give just the right pools of light for each big work surface and don’t take up visual space.
What would you change about your own workspace? I need more storage space – I like to put things away when I’m not working on them, but have them near me for quick results. I’m probably going to work to go more paperless – that would be a big step and save on the clutter.
What do you most love about your space? I love the view, I love being with my family and garden and that clients come to visit and feel like they’re in a special creative space.
What inspires you? My wonderful husband and partner Michael, our sons and their friends, my dad, our clients, our friends and amazing community. New projects, travel, learning about new businesses, art, music, books, great foods and wine and time with all of the above!