September 22, 2011
Jennifer Bass and Lance Glover are founders of Treehouse Design Partnership, a Los Angeles-based firm specializing in environmental graphics, identity, book and furniture design. Jennifer’s book on her father, Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design, co-authored by Pat Kirkham, is due out in November 2011. Lance also teaches at the Art Center College of Design and is a member of the improvisational music/video collective Health and Beauty. Below, the couple describes how the studio integrates their design practice with their many other interests, including art-making, instrument-building, writing and music.
We moved our office to this space about 12 years ago, a modest 1,000 square foot corner of a 1950’s bow-string truss warehouse on what was then a sleepy industrial block of Culver City– since then the neighborhood has changed dramatically, with new art galleries, restaurants and bars cropping up almost daily.
Our intent for the space, in addition to being a home for our graphic design studio, was to balance our various activities and interests. To that end there is a soundproofed shop for building things (with a combination of new and inherited tools from Lance’s grandfather), space for making music and storing music gear (the main floor often becomes one big rehearsal room, and our daughter Amanda’s drum kit sits in a loft space above the shop), places to stash Lance and Amanda’s silkscreens and Jennifer’s many objects from nature that she uses both in and for inspiration in her art (tumbleweeds, branches, seed pods, rocks etc.), an area for flat files, samples library, bookshelves, a small kitchen, and a few under-the desk snoozing spots for our two dogs, Ben and Puma.
It is a space unstructured enough to allow for continuous experimentation– the only fixed elements, aside from walls demarcating the shop and Jennifer’s office are the kitchen and the bookshelves- everything else is on wheels or portable sawhorses.
We find that working in this environment brings an open-ended sense to our time there– on those days we’re not crunching a deadline, when the skylight darkens it’s a cue that it’s either time to go home or to step away from the desk (or workbench) and make a little noise…
September 16, 2011
Zoe Melo has worn many hats in her life: she’s been an international model; she has worked as a product developer; she’s a mother; she’s Brazilian but has also lived in New York, Portugal and now Los Angeles. A few years ago, she brought the various aspects of her life together in her design consultancy firm, zoemelo.com, which she founded with her partner Peter Scherrer, a graphic designer, out of their home in Culver City. The two then launched a product design firm and showroom called TOUCH that collaborates with emerging international designers and artisans and is specifically focused on social and sustainable design. Most TOUCH products are handmade or made in limited editions; in this design studio relationships and quality of life come first. The studio provides a structure for TOUCH designers, helping give them a global reach as well as educating the world that good design and sustainability go hand in hand.
We began TOUCH from our home, but after a year or so, the business grew and the space felt too small. We found our new studio, this terrific open ceiling space with room for our studio and a showroom for the amazing products we feature.
Above: TOUCH LA showroom
My desk there is usually full of objects, prototypes, samples, new materials, a travel journal and catalogs. I like to have objects around me, they are my inspiration and I constantly change them. I call it a curator’s mind revealed.
Above: Melo and American intern Jessica Hudson at the studio in Brazil.
Right now I am setting up our new studio in Brazil. It is a fantastic experience opening a new market and developing new projects and products with communities. I have reached my dream by combining travel and work, and have this mobility of using technology to coordinate various projects in different places at the same time. This is very satisfying work for me; to learn a lot about different cultures and places, while helping people to have a better living condition.
Above: A meeting with designer makers at Aglomerado da Serra Slum in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
I now travel to many countries to develop products in artisan communities and to organize exhibitions during design fairs and events. Since I am on the road for work constantly, I can say that my “office” goes with me wherever I am working. So I work from hotel rooms, airplanes, friends’ houses, cafes. In fact, after we created our office in a cloud, things became much simpler. Truthfully, wherever I am connected to the internet feels like an office.
Above: At designer Domingos Tótora’s studio in Maria da Fe, MG – Brazil. This encapsulates Melo’s ideal live/work space – a studio open to nature.
An ideal work/live space for me is the combination of having a studio, showroom, home and nature. It is a place that feels like I can produce much more without much of the stress of the big cities.
But when I am on the road, a library at a hotel is my favorite. The Unique hotel in Sao Paulo, Brazil is a very inspiring social space; the bookshelf, the Campana Brothers beautiful pouf, and the Gaetano Pesce chairs make it a perfect place for a design talk.
Above: Melo meets with designers at Unique hotel in Sao Paulo, Brazil – another ideal work space.
Maybe the best of all worlds would be a mobile office space, where I could travel around showing our projects and exhibiting our products and living deeply within the talents of the world’s creative peoples.
August 9, 2011
Rebecca first heard of Lullatone when her daughter was an infant and she was looking for soft ambient music… Lullatone soon became a household favorite. Lullatone’s founders, husband and wife Seymour and Tomida, have released 9 albums, made music for films, commercials, apps, museums and much more for clients including Target, Adobe, Toyota, NHK, and MOMA. They also host a weekly children’s TV show that airs in central Japan every Saturday morning. Their ideal live/work space? They are living in it. Here is a small glimpse into their simple house and studio, nestled in the north of Nagoya, Japan.
Our whole home is 1200 square feet. 200 of it is dedicated to the studio room, but the lines tend to get blurred a little. For example, right now, the recording room has some coloring book pages on the floor from our son Niko coloring in here while I am mixing our new record. And, sometimes we use the other rooms for recording a little. And we’ve used the stairs and hallway before as a kind of echo chamber to add a real at-home kind of sound to some tracks.
June 20, 2011
Artist Eamon O’Kane is Professor of Visual Art at Bergen National Academy of the Arts, Norway and has had over forty international solo exhibitions. His artwork hangs in numerous public and private collections worldwide including Deutsche Bank, Microsoft and Bank of Ireland Collection.
His paintings have focused on classic examples of modern architecture, including the Eames House, while his more recent work includes installations like the Eames Studio Limerick and Froebel Studio: A History of Play (pictured below). This installation, with its playroom quality, was inspired in part by the fact that Eames, as well as Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Piet Mondrian, were educated using the Froebel method of teaching with blocks and shapes.
Above: Eamon O’Kane and his installation Froebel Studio: A History of Play which was part of the BROODWORK: It’s About Time exhibition.
Here O’Kane describes his live/work studio in a wonderful abandoned plant nursery in Denmark.
May 20, 2011
Jing Liu and Florian Idenburg are the founders of the award-winning architecture studio called Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu (SO-IL ). Since its inception, SO – IL has worked on an array of projects ranging in scale from a series of prints for the Guggenheim Museum to the master plan of a cultural campus in Seoul. In 2010, the studio was awarded a project in the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program as well as the AIA New York Young Practices Award. Here they share their own live/work project called Common Ground, a rethinking of what it means to live and work in the city, creating a communal oasis with an extended family of friends.
Above: Jing and Forian’s house in Brooklyn from Common Ground film, 2011, image by Iwan Baan
We started our office somewhere between Amalia and Francis, our two daughters. In hindsight, it might have been because we did not differentiate very much between work and family, and that we were just ready to explore the possibilities of our own ideas in the real world and to take on the responsibilities. So we did. We got married, had children, moved out of our mouse heaven, east-village studio and opened shop as SO-IL, all at the same time, and all intuitively.
Above: SO-IL offices, Brooklyn, NY
We never got to have the time to think about what kind of parents we wanted to be, nor what kind of architect. We fought the sleepiness through the night feedings by thinking about the window details. We brought the kids along to the numerous site visits on weekends. They were always happy guests at our office dinners and holiday parties, knew the name of every one of our staff members, and proudly invited their friends to the openings of our projects.
Above: Pole Dance for MOMA/PS1. Winner Young Architect’s Prize, 2010
There are many ways one can learn to become a parent, or to start an architectural office. Our way took its own course rather than being set out by us. The conflicts between the two did not result in compromises, but help us in making wise decisions. We rarely feel the split between the two roles, but one always makes the other more interesting. Sometimes we are impatient waiting for the next step, other times we feel chased by the growth of a child or the office. In time, we learn how to wait for the current and ride it when it comes.
Above: Design for nursery school, Prato, Italy, 2008
Now our older daughter is 4 years old and the office 3, there came a natural convergent point where we sought to rethink the model of the living spaces, as we increasingly find the over-priced housing market in New York structurally ignores the relational spaces in a residential environment. We wanted to test the viability of an architecture that facilitated a communal oasis in a hyper-urban setting.
Over dinners and tea times, we spoke of this desire and our dream with our “extended families”, our diasporic friends who sought out each other in this metropolitan New York. Once planted, how powerful it is, the way in which a seed bursts out of its shell and pierces though the dirt to reach for the light, of possibilities! Quickly, the dream grew in an infectious way. Now it has a name, Common Ground. It is a place to work and to live; to support and to depend; to be and to become.
Above: Conceptual model for Common Ground, currently exhibited at BROODWORK: It’s About Time.
Above: A still from Common Ground film.
May 13, 2011
Andrew Berardini has a long list of accomplishments and enthusiasms: he is an American art critic, writer, and curator of contemporary art; he has published articles and essays in numerous art publications; lectured on art history at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and has guest lectured widely. He was recently made adjunct assistant curator at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena and is currently Los Angeles editor for Mousse and senior editor for Artslant. All this thinking and writing happens at a desk and a chair, which become - between dropping off and picking up his daughter at school- a room of his own.
Space is an awfully difficult thing to deal with. It’s not even really a thing, which I suppose is sort of the problem. I actually wish that space was just an emptiness waiting to be filled, a vacuum to easily occupy with dancing fantasies and comfortable sofas; a clean, well lighted place, but it, perhaps unfortunately for us, isn’t. For any space to exist, it has to have some parameters of reality, some boundaries or markers that make it a space. Take Montana, a spacious place by most popular reckoning, it has that huge blue dome painted with wisps of lonesome clouds, the horizon line stretching in all directions giving way to fields and plains and badlands and the feel of the earth and grass beneath your feet, the smell of dust or cattle or big-rig exhaust and the sound of Hank Williams or lowing cows or wind or Eminem echoing in your ears. Or, let’s take another space. Even the whitest white box of an art gallery, all accouterments stripped down to their most starkly minimal, still has all the connotations of what it is: the drywall and white paint, the polished concrete floor, the spot lamps. They all mean something, a spatial language developed over years and years of showing art. Even when reduced to what seem the simplest and most spacious places, they all still give shape to the liquid of space.
May 5, 2011
Multi-faceted Nina Tolstrup trained as a designer at the prestigious Les Ateliers School of Industrial Design in Paris and has a BA in Marketing from the Business School in Copenhagen. She is currently designing products for companies while also taking a pro-active approach designing, manufacturing and selling her own ranges under the Studiomama name. Here she shares the joyous interweaving of work and family at home and on the weekends.
I have my studio at home and a workshop down the road. I love the area in which I live, it’s in the heart of the East End, situated close to Brick Lane flea market and Columbia Road flower market. I love the atmosphere and characters you find as well as the odd bits of bric-a-brac. I am by nature a collector and cannot help arriving home with some strange artifact that I’m sure will come in handy one day.
Our live-work space is hidden away from the densely urban populated area in a very narrow cobbled street. According to our local pie and mash shop owner, who holds the collective memory of the neighborhood, it is a former sausage factory. When we acquired the space an artist had been living there and it was a raw shell. I worked on developing the space, it was a labor of love! It is unusual in many ways, and somehow secluded in this urban melee. It would be nice to have more space as we are constantly accumulating bits and pieces and the space is becoming increasingly cluttered.
April 28, 2011
Jan Greenberg is the author of more than ten non-fiction art books for children and young adults with writing partner Sandra Jordan. Their latest book, Ballet for Martha: Making Appalacian Spring, is on the best book’s list of many publications including the
Washington Post and the
Boston Globe. Greenberg and Jordan’s books have been nominated School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, been on Booklist Editors’ Choice, IRA Teachers’ Choice, Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book and every one is an ALA Notable Books. Here she describes how she does it all from a well-lit space amongst tall trees.
All of the Greenberg-Jordan books are featured in the BROODWORK: It’s About Time exhibit.
When I was a teenager growing up in St. Louis, I loved to read and daydream. My favorite class was English. We talked about books. We wrote poems and stories. After that, it was all downhill, except for lunch. When the noon bell rang, I would stow my books on top of the lockers. My friends could identify my pile because of the papers sticking out every which way and the uneven stack of books ready to tumble down. My room at home wasn’t much better. Clothes lying in heaps, wastebasket overflowing, movie magazines, photos of Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter, and novels piled on the desk. It wasn’t until after I was married and had children that I became a neatness freak. If you come to my house now, you’ll notice that both the art and the décor are fairly minimalist. The first and second floors are all orderly and carefully arranged much like in our living room, below.
Here is the ideal study to go with the aesthetic of my house – spare, and pristine, paperless and modern.
April 28, 2011
One of the tremendous joys of working with Herman Miller as Lifework contributors is the possible interweaving of creative endeavors.
Our art and design collaboration, BROODWORK, has an exhibition called “It’s About Time” opening at Otis College of Art and Design this Saturday (April 30, 4-6 pm). The show explores the synthesis between family and the creative process. The photo above gives you just a little taste of what to expect.
One of the participants is an Irish artist named Eamon O’Kane (pictured in his studio below). His interactive installation work, A History of Play, relates the teachings of Friedrich Froebel. Froebel’s teaching methods influenced some of the most brilliant designers – including Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Ray and Charles Eames. In fact, you’ll see quite a bit of Herman Miller furniture throughout the exhibition.
We want to thank Herman Miller for the generous loan of the Eames pieces. Having such references that link the inter-generational nature of family and creativity is integral to this installation.
If you live in Los Angeles, please join us at the opening and make sure to introduce yourselves. And for the next month and a half we will be featuring the workspaces of some of the incredible participants in this exhibition. We very much look forward to sharing these with you.
March 31, 2011
Multi-talented Kiino Villand, a photographer, a director, and co-founder/editorial director of WSTRNCV Magazine, uses his house as a case study for integrating photography and editorial work with family, living in a setting that looks different all the time.
About 3 years ago, my wife, our daughter and I moved to Silver Lake, CA. As the second owners of a house built in 1937, we’re getting towards the tail end of a fairly substantial renovation. By far, the best feature of our place is the concrete regulation badminton court in the backyard. On first sight, it was obvious that this fairly unique feature would not only be ideal for hosting badminton tournaments (natch), but would be a fantastic outdoor studio for photography, film & video productions. On days when I’m not shooting, the court additionally works great as a roller-skating rink for our daughter. The goal is ease of use for shoot days and play dates alike.
As we get closer to finishing the overhaul, we’re still weighing the best direction to go in terms of setting up office space. Our project manager is my wife Andraleia, an interior and exterior designer who’s hands-on construction experience and amazing taste have made this a family effort. Andraleia would like nothing less than to get my butt out of the breakfast nook, where my temporary office is.
So we have our sights on one end of the badminton court as a place to build a small office plus multi-purpose makeup/wardrobe/equipment/guest room. Those are a lot of purposes. We’ll have to be efficient if we want to allow enough room to keep the court functional for the Silver Lake Badminton Club.
I often daydream about this perfectly organized space with its array of shelving, storage space and open desk area. Also of key importance will be the ability to allow for complete range in light levels. I prefer ample daylight when I’m writing or editing the magazine. But when working on photo editing and video editing, it needs to be very dim. This should be easily accomplished with a good set of blackout drapes or sliding panels.
The entire house serves also as a case study for Andraleia. Her clients see what the rooms actually look like and she can figure out first hand what certain materials work for what particular purpose (fixtures, patio pavers, etc.). It’s a tactile proof of concept.
Because of all this multi-functionality we regularly move furniture all over the place. I consider this a good thing.
Friends are always saying the place looks different when they come over. They’re always right, and always welcomed.