Design, Products, Technology
September 9, 2010
Designers excel at thinking about form and function. They are less adept at thinking about objects as cultural expression, says Prasad Boradkar, an associate professor of Industrial Design at Arizona State University and author of a new book, Designing Things: The Cultural Meaning of Objects.
“It’s not a part of normal design discourse to talk about theory—to talk about how we [designers] think about objects,” he says. He hopes the book, which is an interdisciplinary look at the cultural meanings of the things we use every day and the designer’s role in that process, will be the impetus for more discussion.
The book also explores the worth of things, the making things, the greed imperative, planned obsolescence, and even fetish objects, all the while using product examples from companies like Nike, Bling H2O, and Herman Miller.
He was inspired to include Herman Miller in the book not just because of the iconic nature of some products but also because of the company’s values, including the way it embraced design early and for the right reasons, its emphasis on durability (the 12-year warranty), and sustainability. And he admires the way the company engages external designers. It’s a great way, he says, for the company to get “a fresh perspective every time.”
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.