November 25, 2010
Eight years ago, pastry chef Christine Moore left her job to have her first child. She switched from pastry to candy, starting with batches of caramels and marshmallows in her kitchen. Another two children later, Little Flower Candy Co. sells online and in stores across the country. Christine also opened a retail store and cafe in Pasadena, CA, where her family participates in all aspects of the daily routine and guests become close family friends. We are delighted to share her warm thoughts on family and generously integrating a full and creative life. Happy Thanksgiving!
My business isn’t just about food. It is about community. What I do is provide a nutritious environment for my friends and family that supports everyone, myself included.
It is my belief that life is a bounty. It is incredible to have a store, this incredibly sustaining place, to share my days with people. We are thankful to share joy, sadness, connectedness, laughter, life’s milestones. My family comes and goes throughout the day. My husband is there by my side. My three-year-old son, a once preemie baby who inspired me to break out, my strong boy now, laughing and swiping a cookie. My nine-year-old daughter, a strong swimmer, diving through her studies and doing her homework at my office desk. My eleven-year-old daughter, bringing her girlfriends in and proudly sharing the bounty. This is my ideal life.
My children get to see work and to learn the process of work. When our fathers went to work, they went away, we had no idea what they did or where they went. My kids get to learn about sweaty, boiling pots hard work, but also how fun it is, and they get to do it right along with us. I tell them that no one can take the hard worker away from you. Work is no problem when you have this balance of being able to write your own parameters and follow your own creative whims.
My ideal life work space? This one, with all its highs and lows. Tired legs and full bellies. Bring it on.
Little Flower Herb Scones
AP Flour 3 3/4 cups
Baking Powder 2 Tbs
Salt 1 Tbs
Salted butter, cold, cut in pieces 12 oz. (3 cubes)
Eggs 4 each
Heavy Cream 3/4 cup + 2 Tbs
Buttermilk 1/4 cup
Tarragon, chopped 1 packed cup
Chervil, chopped 1 packed cup
Chive, chopped 1 packed cup
Flat leaf parsley, chopped 1 packed cup
Sift dry ingredients together and place in bowl of large mixer fitted with paddle. Cut in butter. Let mix for 2 minutes on speed 1. Add all herbs and mix until incorporated. Slowly add eggs and cream. Mix until incorporated. Roll out onto lightly floured surface, 1” thick. Cut with plain 3” round cutter and place on lined sheet pan. Yields 15 scones. Brush with buttermilk.Bake at 325F until golden. Approximately 15-20 minutes.
Citrus Pomegranate Compote
Water 1 cup
Sugar 1 generous cup
Pomegranate seeds to taste
Thinly slice citrus peel and all. Remove seeds. Place in pot with water. Bring to boil and then turn down heat to simmer. When compote consistency is reached, add sugar. Cook briefly until syrup thickens but take off heat before citrus gets candied. Add pomegranate seeds to taste.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
November 19, 2010
This is the last in the BROODWORK Ideal Live/Work Space series. It seems fitting to end with Iris Anna Regn, Broodwork’s co-founder, and her husband architect Tim Durfee. Here they share thoughts on their own soon to be expanded home. For Iris and Tim – aided by an open, thoughtful design, and imbued with their combined intelligence - this home is where a central aspect of their work will be woven into the fabric of their lives.
Work, space, some practicalities: we are more interested in how work happens in places than in “places for work.”
We both have multi-disciplinary, collaborative design practices and often work together. We live in a small cabin of a house in Los Angeles with one child, one cat, a Mini, and a dwarf hamster. At home we share a desk located in front of a big window from which we can watch our daughter and her friends play on two tree-swings.
In our future house we hope to build on this small example of telescoping space: where the different parts are simultaneously visible, welcoming different modes of living.
ABOVE: Over-easy house, DurfeeRegn
Iris: I have always admired the way Marguerite Duras worked – stolen spaces in her living room, or in a simple sunny nook. Having work areas in various locations of the house, somewhat defined (by Duras as stacks of books and ashtrays), allows for the different functions and humors.
Duras writes: “There are houses that are too well made, too well thought out, completely without surprises, devised in advance by experts. By surprise I mean the unpredictable element produced by the way a house is used…” (Practicalities: Marguerite Duras Speaks to Jerome Beaujour, Grove/Atlantic, Inc, 1993)
Some situations engender productive improvisation. “Misused” programmed spaces, leftover or residual spaces, selective ambiguous specificity
Iris: When our daughter was an infant we took her to R.I.E. parenting classes, where we learned about open-ended play. Encountering this idea as the result of serious developmental research lent new conviction to thoughts we had about spaces which allow occupants to define their own desires.
Tim: I believe the best architecture balances the use of somewhat abstract, objective systems with subjective specificity. To consider a place for working is equally a process of structuring an environment with an optimistic potential for use, and a somewhat intuitive referencing of places I have experienced. For me, “live/work” inescapably conjures an adolescent memory of the fake wood-paneled basement room we called the “library,” where all of the books not worthy of the living room were shelved: I’m OK, You’re OK, The Amazing Mrs. Polifax. I wrote term papers to the sound of the freestanding dehumidifier periodically shuddering on, pulling gallons of water from the summer air.
Duras: “… most modern houses… don’t have passages… for children to play and run about in, and for dogs, umbrellas, coats and satchels…passages and corridors are where the young go when they’re four years old and have had enough of grownups and their philosophy.“
ABOVE: Rather than being an idle “deck,” an outdoor space could be on its way somewhere. hood-House, DurfeeRegn
At times merely the appearance of utility can be comforting, and inspiring – even when it is not clear exactly what the purpose of a space or object might be. We think of it as a kind of selective or layered specificity that encourages thought, participation, and sometimes even community.
ABOVE: Growth Table, DurfeeRegn. Photographs: Matt Shodorf
Tim: Kitchens in particular, have this quality – they are the most purposeful-looking of domestic spaces, and can lend a certain focus to tasks that have nothing to do with food. A kitchen makes for an excellent place to pay bills, as though the responsible management of money is assured in the location where the food is kept and prepared. As a teenager in Brussels I built model airplanes and plastic Big Daddy Roth hot-rods in a tiny kitchen on the third floor of our house. I sat on a high stool, which afforded a view through a single, small window. The gray patter of low-country drizzle, David Bowie on auto-rewind.
November 11, 2010
This interview with Juliette Bellocq is the fourth in the BROODWORK IdealLive/Work Space series. Her studio, Handbuilt specializes in work for cultural, educational and non-profit organizations. In addition, Juliette teaches at Otis College of Art and Design, is part of Project Food LA, a multi-year project seeking to propose alternative nutrition choices to underprivileged communities. Juliette is also a member of BROODWORK, a collective focusing on the relationship between creative practice and family life.
Juliette: The perfect working space is made entirely out of layered sheets of paper: cottony, soft-like-skin paper. In a giant block note, any unsuccessful design attempt is forbidden: trace on the walls, draft, carve the wrong marks and repent: tear the sheets. No one will ever know what went through your mind. Write on the tables, the corridors, the floors, the bed, whenever the promise of an idea arises.
Good pieces are harvested, bad ones systematically shredded and randomly re-pasted in beautiful Ellsworth-Kelly-like, “arranged by chance” collages. Nothing to lose, just recycle; and in the morning, one could start fresh, on blank surfaces.
But here it creeps already: the fear of the blank page. The paralysis caused by an infinite amount of possibilities…I have to rethink this pristine fantasy before I cannot think at all. And as I look around at the desk onto which I am writing — on a minuscule piece of paper — it seems pretty clear that I do not have much control over space after all… My desk has won, a long time ago. The stratification, the piles, the clusters, the collections, the archives, the rejects, the relics, the treasures, the samples, the samplers: everything that has helped me think is right there and seems to be going nowhere.
I clean, I push, throw away, relocate and compile, but somehow, the desk seems on a mission to never clear up. As confusing and ambiguous this abundance might look, its message to me is actually crystal clear: “However testing today’s task will be, I remain the living proof that work gets done on this table. Look, it has been done before, you can do it today.” Every morning, I seem to believe it.
As years pass by it seems that work and life become more and more intertwined. With children now, work time is limited by tighter schedule constraints but also tends to be fueled by more personal/family interests. I still like to keep professional and family activities separated but it happens quite frequently that a child’s nap becomes an opportunity to wrap up an assignment. Before long, tools become toys, books become dinosaurs’ houses, and layouts become coloring books. The partition between home and office disappears and everyone is working/playing. From that view point, I have enormous expectations for my family and professional lives to come. It will have to continue to get better and better by becoming more and more fulfilling, joyous, convivial and creative for all of us. Nothing less and for that, I might need some help.
The office must become very supportive. It starts knowing me better and constantly reminds me of what inspires and interests me. “Let’s not re-invent the wheel, Juliette,” I hear it say, “here are the designers and artists that have most quickened your heartbeat lately; first, clean up your eyes with their amazing work.” Then, in the anguish of the design process, the desk whispers: “Listen, I generated constructive criticism based on what the people you admire the most in your field and family would say about your work at this minute.” A button on my keyboard automatically generates questions. Interrogations like “Could you erase fifty percent? How does this relate to today’s news? Could it be a comment on our food system? Can you make this by hand?” would fire at me along with much needed clear directives: “Hide the best parts. Color-code it all. Try one hundred more. Crop it like Sister Corita would. Make it for someone extremely curious…”
Sensing my adrenaline level go dangerously high, the speakers channel my Nick Drake radio on Pandora. In extreme cases, the desk prepares a quick slide show of unrelated material and mandates it to be incorporated in the work. My thoughts are evaluated at every moment, sorting out the distraction and the analysis. And when the balance materializes, all the time gained, recorded on a little counter, is used to draw on cottony, soft-like-skin sheets of paper.
Obviously, I am not asking for much; just a little bit of balance, once in a while, something good I made to show my family and a few minutes here and there to draw.
November 4, 2010
The BROODWORK Ideal Work/Live Space series continues with Ellen and Norman Galinsky. We visit their beautiful stone home in an artistic enclave in Palisades, New York just across the river from Dobbs Ferry. Norman is an artist, Ellen is the founder and president of the Families and Work Institute. Together they have navigated the work/family/life nexus in creative and interesting ways and we are thrilled to share their story on Lifework.
Ellen: “I have always looked at my work as an adventure. In the way that rock climbing or exploring new lands or flying are adventures, my work feels like an adventure to me. Rather than scaling the highest peaks or seeking a new land, I have followed questions. Questions that I think matter. Questions that I think will help me if I find an answer. Questions that I think will help others if I find an answer. And in spending my life following questions, I have found that an answer, or a partial answer, always leads to new questions.
There is no lack of things to wonder about, to be curious about, to seek to know. The books I have written are adventures in finding answers to questions: How do parents grow and change led to my book, The Six Stages of Parenthood. What do children think about their employed fathers and mothers led to my book, Ask the Children. And how can we keep the fire of learning burning brightly in children’s eyes led to my most recent book that involved ten years of research, Mind in the Making.
My research has likewise been fueled by the desire to seek answers to questions about how employers and employees are responding to the changes in work and family life today. And the organization that I co-founded 21 years ago, the Families and Work Institute, has been pursuing these questions ever since.
Photography has also been a way that I have sought answers to some of life’s most seemingly intractable questions. The question I have been pursuing for more than three decades is: what happens to what we try to create, try to build, try to maintain, try to preserve? We spend so much of our lives attempting, each in our own way, to leave indelible footprints that will outlast us. Yet on a daily basis, we fight against the encroachment of dust and decay. I have spent the past three decades photographing this stunning nexus between death and rebirth, following how nature re-sculpts our creations all over the world. [One of Ellen's images below.]
It is probably not surprising that I am an iterant worker in my own home and in my workplace. I didn’t even have a home office until about three years ago. At first I had a pad of paper and then I had a portable computer. With each new project, I find a different place to work (her upstairs office is pictured above and below is her latest workspace). My latest workspace is in my son’s old bedroom, but now that Mind in the Making is finished, my computer and I may just find a new place to go.
Norman: I displayed talent for visual art at an early age, but it was my focus and achievements in math and science that led to my first career in the mid 1960’s as a chemical engineer. Throughout my years in industry, however, I never lost my passion for art and I continued to study painting and drawing. After seven years, I made the decision to leave engineering to concentrate on my art. I completed an MFA program at Columbia University as part of this career shift. In some ways, I didn’t completely leave engineering because my abstract geometric work continues to be inspired by many aspects of my scientific and technical background. Over the years, my ongoing interest in consciousness explorations, and spiritual issues also has informed my imagery. In addition, my study of Chinese martial arts, specifically Tai Ji Quan, and qigong, as well as various energetic healing practices and meditation disciplines has also had seminal influences on my art.
Just at the time I was transitioning into an art career, we located the building that was to become our home and my studio. It has ended up playing an integral role in both my work and our family life ever since. It afforded me the room and opportunity to expand and evolve into an art career, and also the space to begin teaching Tai Ji and qigong in the studio, which I have done for nearly 25 years, as well as in regional hospitals and health centers.
When we first saw this building, we realized it had been a victim of neglect. No wonder it had been on the market for years. Yet it was easy to look past the peeling paint, the dilapidated walls, and the unkempt surrounding land. What I focused on was the huge amount of SPACE that sang to me—the flexible space to create the type of studio I had dreamed of, and a glorious living space to raise our family.
This building became our home and our workspace and has remained so for more than three decades. Located 12 miles north of New York City overlooking the Hudson River, it is a huge 19th century four story sandstone barn with a seven-stall horse stable enclosed within the building. Although it was converted from a barn into a residence in the 1930’s, we still refer to it as a “work in progress.”
The studio area, which originally housed the carriages, took about a year and a half to renovate into a working studio. The many exposed stone interior walls were left in the upper living areas, but those in the studio had to be covered and insulated to retain heat and provide display areas. The 18-step “commute” from our living areas upstairs to my studio downstairs provided a minimal yet clearly defined separation between work and family. The close proximity between the creative time in an art studio and the give and take events of family life with growing children provided a uniquely rich environment for inspiration and creation.
October 28, 2010
We continue the Ideal Live/Work Space series with artist Rebecca Niederlander of BROODWORK.
“What is my ideal live/work space? It is a well-designed space in which living with the profound is a given. It isn’t an easy thing to accomplish. This year the world lost the amazing Jane Blaffer Owen, who reincarnated a near ghost town in New Harmony, Indiana into the glorious spiritual retreat it is today. It took her an entire lifetime of dedicated work, and the process continues.
She involved Philip Johnson, Richard Meier, Jacques Lipchitz, and many other creatives in designing an ideal space to think and to create.
And to love. It was on a trip to New Harmony that my then boyfriend and I realized we ought to move in together (in a few months we celebrate 22 years together). Therefore, I’m tremendously honored to be among the artists whose works she chose to populate the complex. I could go on and on about this place and if you haven’t been there, then find a way to make the trip.
What Owen created was a rare place where there was enough breathing space to imagine possibilities.
I’d like that in my ideal live/work space, too.
Imagining possibilities requires the ability to be positive. Positiveness requires the ability to laugh. “Dying is easy but comedy is hard,” actor Edmund Gwenn is credited as famously saying. Similarly, artistic creations which make one laugh or smile or believe are ideal to me. So there needs to be both a physical space that is ideal and a mental one. Of course they are intertwined. Following on the conversation begun by Alain de Botton last week—YES, YES, YES how we live in architecture most certainly affects one’s day to day life. The exploration of this is a significant component to my own sculptural work. Exploring the experience of the individual-be it works that are large meanderable installations or individual works designed for specific homes-allows for a wide range of play. There would be a lot of play in my ideal live/work space so that one can pretend to be a very small insect in a paper forest, or the king of the forest.
Speaking of playing at being king of the forest, BROODWORK participant Juliette Bellocq (who will share her views in this space in two weeks) asked me what it would be like to live in one of my sculptures. She could mean this:
But she got me thinking about the larger possibilities. This would be fun to live amidst.
However, I think it would be ideal to do this:
And as long as I had a place to make a pie, I think my family will happily join me in our special squiggly house.
October 21, 2010
A couple of years ago I was on an architecture tour in Los Angeles. We had seen a bunch of houses and were ending the long (and rather hot) day at a home flung far back in the hills behind the city. We got lost. The driveway was dirt. I wasn’t holding high expectations but the building was a gem and suspended above the dining table was a wonderful, crazy, scribble of green wire – a sculpture by Rebecca Niederlander. I took a photo of it. Many photos actually and I tracked Rebecca down – I won’t say stalked! But I found her and in finding her I discovered BROODWORK; here was an extraordinary coalition of artists, architects, designers and writers who all share one thing – they are deeply immersed to the integration of their work and their family life. This was the first time I had come across a group that celebrated the impact family had on one’s work.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to fold them into the Lifework family ever since. Along came the Post Family and the birth of the Ideal Live/Work Space. And it became clear that this was a perfect place to explore the work of BROODWORK.
After a productive meeting with Rebecca and architect Iris Anna Regn (who co-founded BROODWORK with Rebecca) we are now ready to launch the latest Ideal Live/Work Space series. I think you’re going to enjoy it. The first participant is acclaimed philosopher and author Alain De Botton. Look out for his post later today. We will also visit Rebecca’s Eagle Rock home and studio; the home Iris is designing with her husband, architect Tim Durfee; graphic designer Juliette Bellocq and Families and Work Institute founder Ellen Galinsky and painter Norman Galinsky.