Balance, Design, Products, Technology
May 12, 2010
Four years ago, the neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, got a little more colorful with the opening of Saipua, a handcrafted soap and flower boutique run by Sarah Ryhanen and her partner Eric Famisan. Sarah took a (well deserved) breather just after last weekend’s Mother’s Day rush to tell us about the rain-inspired mixes on her laptop and how music can add to the emotion behind her dreamy creations.
What do you listen to while you work? Lately, I listen to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Phil Collins, The Knife, Simon and Garfunkel, Barbara Streisand, The Roches, Edith Piaf, Dead Can Dance, Arthur Russel, Arab Strap, Belle and Sebastian, Wild Beasts, Black Mountain, Echo and the Bunneymen, and Kid Creole and the Coconuts.
How do you listen? We plug our laptops into a sound system in the studio. Lots of times I’ll make a mix for the occasion, so I have a ton of mixes on my laptop with names like “Rainy Sunday in September” or “Rainy Monday Night with Martini” or “Mother’s Day.” (It’s funny—I have a lot of rainy-day mixes.)
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I look at Pitchfork sometimes. But in general, I hear about new music from my partner Eric, who’s much more plugged in, or from friends.
Does music influence your work? It definitely does. It’s hard to give specific examples, but I sometimes get really emotional when I’m working with flowers. Music, especially when I work alone, tends to add to the experience of checking out of reality and tapping into the subconscious flow or process of creation. Not to sound out-of-control corny, but the bottom line is the pleasure principle—arranging flowers is really pleasurable (incidentally we listen to a lot of Janet Jackson, too). Music just adds to that intrinsically aesthetic process. Wine is nice, too.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? Eric keeps me up to date with new music, which I know very little about. He also listens to a lot of hip-hop and jazz—not always things I would turn on, but enjoy nonetheless. (I mean, I love some Naughty by Nature and Expose.) My friend Aaron is also a walking music-history library. My love of Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Julie Cruise and all that weirder late 80′s/early ’90′s ethereal femme jazz comes from his immense record collection.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? Kate Bush. So feminine, creative, beautiful; ultimately, such an amazing storyteller. She has such an imagination! I aspire to that sort of creative synergy in my life.
Read on for Sarah’s playlist…
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
April 30, 2010
This is the final interview in the four-part series on the editors of Remodelista – a blog full of chic design inspiration. Julie Carlson lives in Mill Valley, California with her husband and children in a house remodeled by Jerome Buttrick of Buttrick Wong Architects. She talks here about her home office in the living room (above) and working remotely with her fellow editors.
How would you describe your workspace? What is the design aesthetic? How does that impact your work? I am drawn to a modern, functional Scandinavian style and a streamlined aesthetic. I also am enamored of Bay Area design—the rustic modern architecture of Joseph Esherick, the organic shapes of potter Edith Heath, the paintings of Richard Diebenkorn. Also a lover of New England understatement. My workspace is typically my living room. My husband has appropriated the office as his own, which is fine with me as I prefer the living room, which gets much better natural light.
Does anyone else use your office? Since the living room in our home is part of a great room (which also includes the dining room and kitchen), there is a lot of flow in and around me when I am working.
How do you organize the space? Almost everything I do for Remodelista is stored and organized on my laptop, so I don’t have a huge organizational system for my workspace. I do have a lot of shelter periodicals that I peruse which I store near my chair in a large basket. I also have several systems for storing images on my laptop and for bookmarking blogs, because so much of our work revolves around finding and presenting beautiful imagery.
What impact do you think color has on a workspace? Most of the color in our home comes from seasonal flowers and branches we bring inside, as well as from art. My affinity for Scandinavian design translates into clean-lined, simple spaces with lots of white and warm woods. I like a workspace that is light and calming, without an excess of color.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? For sheer necessity, my laptop. I also love pencils; my favorites are from Cedar Pointe; they’re made of California incense cedar with a black eraser. Canoe in Portland, Oregon, offers them for $5 per dozen.
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? We are currently looking for a new dining room table. I love our current table (pictured below), but it only seats eight for dinner comfortably; we’d like one that seats at least ten.
What inspires you? The low-key modernist architecture of outer Cape Cod, where Marcel Breuer, Eero Saarinen, Walter Gropius, and Serge Chermayeff built vacation houses. (My first job was cleaning Saarinen’s house on Long Pond.) Also, the spectacular de Young Museum in San Francisco by Herzog & de Meuron, a trip to the furniture and home design department of Liberty of London, the deceptive simplicity of Jasper Morrison’s designs (his Glass Family drinking glasses are genius), and the Bloomsbury aesthetic.
You see so many great workspaces. Is there one that really stands out for you? I love this compact office by Brooklyn-based architects Delson or Sherman Architects.; the wrap-around built-in shelves and the built in desk and cabinetry, the window next to the desk, the Eames office chair.
How do you manage a balance between work and the rest of your life? Some days there is more balance than others, but thanks to several new technologies, we can each work remotely, which helps our editors work around the demands of family and home. Skype, Twitter, Google Docs, the iPhone, and the fact that we can all edit a post through the same online system allow us to work from Brooklyn, San Francisco, Napa and Mill Valley simultaneously. Remodelista is a truly virtual enterprise: after several years of working together, we finally converged in one place (for the first time) at a presentation for the flagship Design Within Reach store in SoHo, just last year.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology, Trends
March 31, 2010
Piers Fawkes is the editor-in-chief and founder of PSFK, a trend forecasting company that throws a very broad net. Check out their site and you’ll find stories on everything from design (David Trubridge’s lighting) through to marketing (capturing young car buyers in the auto industry). Fawkes talks here about our work lives, cell phone apps, Cloud technology, telecommuting and his own work habits.
As a forecaster how do you see the future of work? Will more of us be working from home? Telecommuting seems to be here to stay but how will it grow? The opportunity to tele-commute or work separately has been around for a long time now but we still are living in cities and working in offices. Cities and offices and cafes are where ideas get created by people coming together and reacting to one another. That doesn’t happen too well when people are apart. Sure a few people can work well in the woods but I believe that the rest of us need the energy of gathering to foster our creativity.
Saying that, Cloud technology allows us to work on a speed and scale that we haven’t been able to before. Even simple tools like Google Docs allows us to work with people around the world immediately. PSFK tells its clients that we can do trends research and innovation in any market because with these web based tools we really can.
What’s an innovation that has changed the way we work today? What innovations do you see on the horizon that will change the way we work over the next decade? I think ambient lifestreaming will evolve and impact the workplace. Right now there’s an incredible amount of information about ourselves that we’re volunteering both consciously and subconsciously (and of course without our knowledge). We’re seeing a lot of services and applications that allow us to visualize this data and the next step is to use it. For example, I have an App on my phone that monitors my sleep through the microphone on my phone and gives me a nice visual (Owl) – but that’s as far as it takes it. You can imagine that a similar app could measure my stress at work. What these applications will soon do is give me options to share personal data with services like Google Health or my building to get medical advice or just the heating turned down.
You come across fascinating people in your work. Tell us about the most interesting person you’ve met this year. Everyone who is speaking at my event PSFK Conference NYC on April 9. I know of so many innovators but these really are the cream of the crop. (Click here for the full list of names).
PSFK started with your blog in 2004 where you collected ideas you found interesting. Can you tell us how PSFK has developed? PSFK.com is a daily ideas site. We publish up to 30 times a day on an array of subjects from art to business, from cars to tech. It was launched in June 2004. PSFK began as my personal project when I moved from London to New. My first collaborator was Simon King and I mixed his initials with mine to name the site. Over time the site became popular as more content was published on a wide array of subjects by contributors from around the world.
In the summer of 2005, PSFK was first commissioned to provide advice to Anheuser Busch about trends in Europe. Our consultancy business has since grown and recently we today we are working Apple, BMW, Pepsi and Target.
In March 2007 in New York, I started the first of a series of conferences to bring to life the conversations that were taking place on the site. Since then, PSFK Conferences have taken place in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Singapore. In late 2008, PSFK created the Good Ideas Salons as intimate forums around single topics. These salons are run by PSFK and friends across the globe.
Then in January 2009, PSFK launched the Purple List network of experts to help introduce corporations and creative service organizations to innovation and research freelancers. At the end of 2009, with growth in staff to 10 full time, we moved to a new office on Broome Street in SoHo.
Do you still find your work spilling over to your home? Where do you work when you work at home? Before the move to the office space in Soho we worked over at a loft space on Broadway. In 2006 I borrowed a desk at the ad agency ‘Anomaly’ while I was working on PSFK which then was just a project. Surrounded by creative and entrepreneurial spirit my business took off and we grew seat by seat until they ran out of seats. I work a lot from home. I start work between 6.30 and 7 at my dinner table and work through to about 10.30. It’s the time I do research. I don’t check email, I don’t take calls, I scan 1,100 RSS feeds for the latest news. I do get distracted occasionally and play with my son and daughter Cy and Georgeanna.
What are you reading? A few chapters into the Happiness Project. Checking into Box Bottle Bag a bit. Sort of half way through Linchpin. Completed PSFK’s Good Ideas for 2010 book.
Where do you see PSFK in 5 years? Educator, retailer, charity, events space, VC fund, bar.
Images: Catalina Kulczar-Marin
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
March 22, 2010
Matt Eastwood, an Australian advertising executive and the blogger behind things i have seen, shares his Sydney home and office.
You work as creative director of DDB Group but you also blog from home. How long have you worked from home…and where is ‘home’? I started “things I have seen” about 12 months ago. What originally began as an online scrapbook of my favourite things has gradually turned into something resembling a second job. I work in a creative industry already, but I’m extremely passionate about design and architecture, especially having renovated 3 houses over the years. Home is a two bedroom terrace in Paddington, NSW, which was once an art gallery. It’s my sanctuary. I’m surrounded by some of my favourite design pieces, from furniture to art to sculpture to objet d’art. I feel very creative there.
What is the biggest difference between your office and home workspaces? Home is just for me. In an office environment you are forced to accommodate a variety of tastes. At home, it’s all about me and my partner. I love an uncluttered, minimal space, with heart. At work I spend most of my day in meetings, helping channel creativity on behalf of client’s. At home, it’s all about my own personal creative journey. The view from my study at home is stunning. I look out over the whole property, right down to the garden and swimming pool at the back. And because my study is on the mezzanine level, I feel like I’m up in the trees. It’s extremely relaxing.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you and helps you in your work? I’m a Mac man through and through. I remember reading a quote, “the best technology is the technology you don’t see.” That’s what Mac is all about for me. You’re never aware of the technology invading your workspace, it just sits quietly behind you and enables you to be creative. The iPad is the thing I’m waiting for. I haven’t been as excited about a piece of technology for a long time. As a blogger, I feel like it really free me up. It will me allow to “create” from wherever I like. I can’t wait.
How do you organize your home office? I’m thinking here of your physical space but also your virtual space. My home office is extremely organised. “Freedom from Chaos” is one of my mantras, at home and at work. At home, everything except my rather large collection of design and architecture books, is hidden away. The same is true of my virtual space. My desktop is empty, apart from 2 icons – the hard drive icon, and a folder marked “blog”, where I keep reference images of things I’ve stumbled across. I use Apple’s “Time Capsule” to ensure that everything is backed up. Another brilliant example of technology you don’t see. It just works away in the background, without any involvement from me. I love it.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? What item do you wish you had? I couldn’t do without my “Magic Mouse” (Mac’s new mouse). It really is the perfect device. It gives my total control over my online experience. I feel like it is perfect. Although I wish I had a Wacom Bamboo Tablet. I’m considering one at the moment. But I’m also waiting to see if the iPad will perform some of the same tasks.
What is your favourite piece of furniture in your office? I sit on an Eames Aluminium Group Chair that I had specially upholstered in white mesh. I saw them in The Sanderson Hotel in London and had to have one. It’s such a beautiful piece. Of course, it’s wonderfully comfortable, but it’s also beautiful as a piece of sculpture.
What inspires you? I’m inspired by simplicity, in architecture, design and art. Van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion is like my version of a chapel. It borders on a religious experience. I’m humbled by its brilliance. But it also inspires me to create beautiful things. I guess that’s why I created “things I have seen”. I wanted to share the things that give me that same feeling of humility.
Photos: Jason Busch
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
March 19, 2010
Artist Abbey Hendrickson is the voice behind Aesthetic Outburst, a blog that tracks the comings and goings of Abbey, her husband and their two children. She manages to balance all the facets of her life with a really appealing grace and humor (plus there’s some cool kid’s projects thrown into the mix!)
How long have you worked from home…and where is ‘home’? Home is in upstate New York, a little town between Ithaca and Binghamton. I’ve worked from here for just under one year.
What does an average work day involve? I have two kids under the age of three, so my day starts pretty early. I work between naps and late at night, whenever I can find a free moment to jump on the computer or sneak into the studio.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you and helps in your work? I’m absolutely addicted to our MacBook Pro. I was reluctant to make such a big purchase (and argued with my husband about it), but it quickly became my favorite thing.
How do you organize your space? I’m thinking here of your physical space but also your virtual space (any particular software or program that helps keep things under control?) If my space isn’t organized I feel overwhelmed, so I‘m always trying to come up with new systems to help. This also applies to my desktop; it needs to be clutter-free or I freak out. The software programs that I use most are Bridge and Photoshop. I’m a visual person and Bridge is great for organizing images.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? Super sharp pencils and Pilot precise pens are must-haves.
What piece of office furniture would you most like to change? I’d like more storage, so I would probably change my desk. If I had time to sit at my desk for more than a fifteen-minute stretch, I’d definitely have to change my chair. For now everything seems to be okay though.
What inspires you? The little moments in life are what inspire me the most. Seeing my sleepy children in the morning; watching my husband play outside with our two-year-old; long games of Scrabble; red wine and good food; lingering visits from friends and family; those are the moments that I’m talking about.
March 4, 2010
Photo: Chris Warnes
Deborah Bibby has worn a lot of hats in her worklife. She began editing fashion magazines and moved into interior styling. She had a book publishing business and is now the editor of Australian interiors magazine Real Living. I was lucky enough to work for the same company as Deb in Australia and can vouch for her inimitable style. When she’s not busy editing or dreaming up new book ideas you can find Deb blogging at Real Living.
As editor you have an office in the heart of Sydney. You live about 45 minutes away by the ocean. How much time do you spend in your home office? What kind of work do you find yourself doing there? My home office is like my sanctuary – it’s my creative place and I often lose myself in there for hours on a Sunday afternoon. It feels indulgent to sit and dream up ideas for work or for myself personally. Work really is my hobby (ssshhh)!
One thing I never do in my home office is tax, bill-paying or any other day-to-day chore. Instead, the space is for me to get creative. Prior to Real Living I used to have a small independent book publishing company, so ideas for books are constantly popping into my head. I have one running around in there at the moment, about old-fashioned beach houses across Australia. I am determined to capture their essence before they have all disappeared.
A few days ago, the cottage in front of my house was demolished to make way for an uninspiring modern glass box. I am not against strong contemporary architecture – done well it can lift the soul – but I do find it a little depressing when it’s all about the money and there is no respect for the emotions of a place. The buildings are often cheaply built, purely functional, emotionless structures. Soon the original beach house will be more valuable than the bunkers popping up everywhere and developers will struggle to comprehend it. Apparently the “McMansion” loses value the minute contracts are exchanged. A positive that did come out of the GFC was that the pressure was taken off families to keep up with the Joneses. Suddenly it’s okay to be a little humble.
How would you describe your home office? What is the design aesthetic? Less about style and more about the heart. I’d say my office has evolved over the years and acquired layers. I love the scale of my old architect’s desk – it’s weighty and substantial and makes me feel secure. The drawers are deep and smell of sawdust and paper. The retro curved plywood bench saves the space and stops it looking dated. I don’t think my office has a particular design aesthetic, but if I had to label it, I guess I’d call it “classic with an Australian edge”.
Does anyone else use your home office? No, the space is deliciously all mine (although I’d be happy to share).
How do you organize the space? I don’t. I tidied it up for your shoot but usually there are books, magazines, notepads, pencils and piles of paper across every surface including the floor. I don’t have a computer on my desk – I spend so much time in front of one at work, I don’t feel the need. I love a more tactile work space and am surrounded by images, rolls of wallpaper, bolts of fabric and precarious stacks of magazines. Although I do tidy up before I start any work so my head is clear.
In your job you must see a lot of great home offices. What inspiration have you taken from them? Have you seen the shots by Mikkel Vang of architect Rob Brown’s simple shed in Mudgee? [Two shots below - for more go to Vang's site] It’s not a home office, but it is inspiring – I think it’s important to try and bring nature into the workspace to keep the balance.
What impact do you think colour has on a workspace? A lot. That’s why I prefer a neutral palette – so I don’t get distracted.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? Sharp pencils and my iPod.
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? No.
What inspires you? All things visual. I love French Vogue and the editor Carine Roitfeld is inspiring with her irreverence. Elle Decoration is also a magazine I look forward to landing on my desk each month. Photographers Arthur Elgort, Ellen Von Unwerth and Australia’s Richard Bailey. More recently I have been seduced by the images of lifestyle photographer Mikkel Vang. Artists Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Adam Cullen and Martine Emdur – I have their postcards (that’s all I can afford) taped into notebooks. Peter Beard – I only have to flick through his book Fifty Years of Portraits to get carried away; is that weird? Music – Damien Rice’s 2002 album O. I am sure it would inspire anyone. I am also inspired by the sound of the tide coming in, and gathered flotsam and jetsam from the beach, like the shark-egg cases on my desk – they make me want to sketch.
February 16, 2010
David Airey just did a great guide to DSLR cameras on his blog. Lots of good info in a really easy to navigate post. Well worth a look if you are in the market for a camera.
February 12, 2010
This probably should have waited until next week’s High Five’s but it’s just too good to sit on. It’s a Tumblr blog simply called Workspaces and it is an absolute treasure trove of work spaces – from an old black and white photo of Walt Whitman‘s sitting at his desk to a crisp white contemporary home office complete with Eames chair. Tumblr does these sorts of picture-driven, text-light blogs so well.
Balance, Design, Products
January 22, 2010
Stephanie Congdon Barnes is the other half of 3191 Miles Apart. We ran an interview with her friend and blogging partner MAV on Wednesday. Interestingly, Stephanie recently moved out of her home office to a space down the street which she shares with her husband. We talked about the transition and how work still spills into her home.
How long have you worked from home? Can you tell us a bit about your work? I have worked from home off and on since the birth of my daughter ten years ago in different capacities. About four years ago I opened an online shop of my handmade goods and set up a studio workspace in a spare bedroom. Eventually, I gave up that space so my son could have his own room, and then, this past fall, I moved full-time to sharing a workspace out of the home with my husband, who is an architect. I still do quite a bit of work from home, but no longer have a dedicated workspace there.
I start my workday after I cook breakfast, pack lunches and get my kids to school. Sometimes, my husband Jack and I walk together up to our workspace (it’s about seven blocks from our home), sometimes we arrive separately. I spend part of my workday working with Jack on architecture projects and the rest of the time working on items for my shop and other projects like 3191 or our blog Shelter. I also use this time to make post office runs, look for supplies and source materials, take photos, volunteer at school and take care of household errands like grocery shopping.
We usually walk home for lunch together each day. I leave in the early afternoon to collect my kids from school and take them to activities or relax with them at home. After dinner and family time, my kids go to bed, and most nights I will work for anywhere from 2-5 more hours either catching up on email or doing the hand-sewing on my shop items. I bring home both my laptop and a basket of handwork each day.
How big is your work space? Our workspace is about 200 square feet and is housed in a great old historic building that used to be the telephone exchange. We each have a large work table, and we share some plywood cubicle shelves that my husband built. There’s a vintage round Herman Miller table for working together or meeting with clients.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you? Oh, I am not very tech-savvy. I do love my ipod and having all my music available to me digitally on my computer. Listening to music is a constant in my day.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? Well, as an artist I don’t have the typical office-workers desk! I love my Clover leather thimble more than anything.
Do you have any tips for organizing a home work space? From my experience, I would recommend having a space with a door that closes, so you can leave your work behind. Keeping my home and work lives separate was very difficult for me. It is much easier for my family when I can leave (most) of my work behind.
Other than that, I rely on baskets to keep stuff somewhat organized and uncluttered. I also store away everything that I am not currently using (excess fabric, books and supplies) completely out of site. Having a clear space to work in really helps me keep calm and less frazzled.
What do you wish you could change about the space? And what do you most love about it? We could use a little more space to stretch out in our office as well as more shelving for storage. I love the high ceilings, huge windows and natural light. I also love my neighborhood and the connections I am able to make with the people that live and work nearby.
January 20, 2010
Maria Alexandra Vettese (know as MAV) is a stylist and art director. Along with her friend Stephanie Congdon Barnes, she writes one of my favorite blogs – 3191 Miles Apart. They live in Portland – one in Oregon and the other in Maine. And they both have an excpetional eye for beauty. They also recently had two books published – collections of images from their blog – 3191: A Year of Morning and 3191: A Year of Evenings. I talked to MAV about her workspace.
How long have you worked from home? Can you tell us a bit about your work? What does a ‘normal’ day involve for you? I have shifted my workplace a few times in the last few years. I worked out of my apartment from ’04–early ’08 and then I moved to a street-level space. I was there until early ’09 when the water leaks were so bad we were forced out! Sad but true. So then it was back into a small apartment on the West End which my boyfriend and I turned into our workspace. We are still there now. A normal day for me involves getting up around 6am and taking the first two hours of the day to do my thing — shower, feed the cats, stretch, make a hot breakfast, drink coffee, straighten up around the apartment — that sort of thing. I like my days to start out as un-rushed as possible which is why I’m an early riser. Then I’m to work by 8am or 8:30 and stay at work till around 6pm. In the evening I am either home cooking and going to bed early with a book or sketchbook or I’m out with friends for dinner or drinks. I don’t work in the evenings anymore. I just refuse. It’s very easy when you work from home to see lines blurred with work/life. I’m really staunch about this and don’t even have internet at home. In ’06 and ’07 I worked non-stop and it really made a mess of me. Now I strive for balance even if it means I have to say “no” to a project I might want to do. There is only so much time in the day and I need to make sure I can spend a good bit of it giving love … to myself or to those in my life.
How big is your work space? It’s an 800 square foot apartment right now (250 of that is a bedroom and 200 a kitchen). We have two large rooms and a shipping area. It’s very indulgent to have so much space. This coming March that will change once again and we will go back to just a 250 square foot office room in the apartment.
I am loving my new Mac mouse right now. Is there any form of technology that really inspires you? I admit to not being very forward when it comes to technology. I’ve been pretty impressed with the iPhone but that is pretty old news. I guess I’m in the dark ages most of the time!
What desk accessory can’t you do without? A few … my old calculator, a can full of pens & pencils, an external hard-drive (since my laptop crash I am fervent about backing up my files) and old scissors that can cut through ribbon (love these old guys).
Do you have any tips for organizing a home work space? Get rid of clutter. Use baskets, bins, shelves, crates … whatever it takes. I keep my tables as empty as possible and as organized as possible even if it means putting stacks of things I’m working on on the floor. I think it’s a trick to your brain to have things cleaned off … makes the start of the day feel that much more together.
What do you wish you could change about the space? And what do you most love about it? I would much rather be working on the street-level again. I miss seeing friends on any random day and meeting new people who might just stumble into the studio. That said I get a ton of work done each and every day because I am working in an apartment without interruption. I love that my space is very changeable and on one day I can have up a wall of inspirational tear-sheets for a client and the next day I can throw up a seamless and be shooting photographs in that same space for another client. I love that it’s a space I share with another very talented and inspiring artist (who is not around very often so I get it mostly to myself). I love that it’s in a part of town that is quiet and yet I can walk to the PO, to a coffee shop and to get a slice of pizza.