Lara Parent is a Michigan-based photographer and blogger. We’ll be following her amazing office over the next year as she changes the ‘inspiration walls’ that surround her desk. The idea is to create a kind of visual diary of the space, so look out for upcoming posts tagged ‘Talking Walls’. But first we talked to Lara about working from home…
How much time do you spend in your home office? What kind of work do you find yourself doing there? Anywhere from 2-6 hours on any given day or evening. I mostly work on my photography: everything from exploring and editing to making photographs in my space. I have only been digital for a little over 4 years, so I feel like in this transition from film and the darkroom to the digital darkroom I am constantly learning. Lately I have also been making and editing videos and doing some occasional tiny sketches–some for a new body of work I am starting. When I first started out in photography, my focus was fine art for gallery and museum exhibitions, but I never lost my love for photographing people and collaborating with my subjects: I am fascinated by other people’s stories.
How would you describe your home office? What is the design aesthetic? I surround myself with objects from nature, man-made objects and images or illustrations that inspire me. I don’t know that I have a set design aesthetic…I guess it could be described as flexible and open, ever-changing. My office is a place where I can focus, create, think and just be. It has beautiful morning and evening light that never fails to inspire.
Does anyone else use your home office? I love it when my husband comes in to hang out, talk, or to give me feedback on my work. Our dog, Lucy, loves to nap in the space and bask in the patches of light throughout the day.
How do you organize the space? With great difficulty…a consistent way or system of organization is something I have yet to perfect. My husband who is an industrial designer, did an incredible job at laying out and creating a wonderful office space from a spare bedroom. He designed and built my main work surface and also helped me to figure out which work areas would work best for different projects and tasks. He also found ways to create the maximum amount of storage–control the clutter–in the existing space by knocking out a section of a wall to create a more accessible closet, to utilizing the space next to a dormer for built-in shelves that house my files and photo equipment. I have three main work areas in my office: the main desk [below] that houses my computer, scanner, printer, external hard drives, and Wacom tablet. I do a lot of my editing and other work on the computer at this area; another work surface on casters where I do most of my writing and sketching; and three of IKEA’s Malm cabinets that make up a nice work surface (when it is clear of stuff!) for cutting and packaging.
What piece of technology helps you most in your work? My laptops and my iPhone. I love portability and on occasion, the ability to work on a few things at one time. One of the things I enjoy most about the iPhone is that I always having a camera with me. I am forever stopping on walks or pulling over in my car to capture something beautiful or interesting.
What impact do you think color has on a workspace? A great deal of impact. I absolutely love color and always find it incredible when someone can make bright and saturated colors on their work space walls work for them. Because so many of the images and objects on my walls and shelves are full of color, when the background isn’t neutral, the color ends up competing with those images and objects and I have a hard time focusing on what I have posted. I get my color fix by the other blocks of color in my space: Goldfish FLOR carpet tiles, a window seat cushion in a similar orange, and my green office chair.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? My set of Prismacolor colored pencils (and a black marker, and paper with a bit of a tooth to it).
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? Furniture-wise, no. I adore my green Eames Aluminum Group chair and all of my work surfaces. I love that my chair and one of my tables are both mobile. Casters are essential! If there is anything I’d like to change, it would be the color that I painted my west facing tackboard wall. I love green. I love color. But after living with it for a few years and seeing how the green competes with the images, I’ve realized I must repaint in a more neutral color–likely white.
What inspires you? I am fascinated with people…how others see and what their stories are. I was always that kid who loved looking at other people’s photo albums, home movies, and the art and objects that people had in their homes. My husband also constantly inspires me: his thinking processes, the objects and spaces he creates and his kindness. I am inspired by people who are thinkers, who create, who are dedicated, who have passion, and who work to make things better. Light, nature and color are another a huge source of inspiration. I do my best thinking on days when there is a lot of light or at the lake when the clouds are dark and the light is dramatic. So much…