April 29, 2013
With its streamlined-yet-slightly-eclectic interior and striking panoramic view of the Manhattan Bridge, there’s no doubt that creativity is the main objective of TODA, a multidisciplinary design studio in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. This tour from Apartment Therapy Tech takes a look inside the company’s space, a mix of neutral tones and minimalist style with pops of color and artistry that aren’t surprising in a studio dedicated to visual communication, industrial design, and architecture. Get a peek inside the inspiring, versatile space here. Read more
April 22, 2013
We find endless inspiration in the work of award-winning artist and illustrator Chris Silas Neal. Find out what inspires him in this tour of the straightforward, no-nonsense studio he shares with four other illustrators/designers in Brooklyn, New York. Read more
April 18, 2013
Today’s clue in the “Everywhere in Your Day” contest at the Herman Miller Store takes flight thanks to Fredericks & Mae, the art/design team of Jolie Mae Signorile and Gabriel Fredericks Cohen. Based in Brooklyn, the duo met after forming a “materials crush” on each other as students at Oberlin College. When they moved to New York City in 2008, they began collaborating on projects and soon found success with a series of decorative arrows hand-crafted from wood, feathers, thread, and gold or silver. “We became interested in the idea of making objects that had a muddled heritage,” explains Gabe. “We started looking at things that popped up in different places around the world, seemingly at the same time, and how those objects would then appear in other places and change over time and space.” The result is the studio’s current collection of objects for the home, garden, and sky — board games, kites, bocce balls, and a skim board included — whose ancestry can be traced throughout history and in several spots across the earth. Read more
April 15, 2013
In our regular office tours, we often see studios that serve as co-working spaces for the creative professionals who work there. It’s not often, though, that we get to hear these studio mates talk about each other’s work. In this thoughtful interview with illustrator Julia Rothman, we not only get a glimpse inside her workspace, but also get a glimpse of the admiration she has for the women with whom she shares the office: artists Caroline Hwang and Meredith Jenks. Get to know them all in this week’s tour. Read more
Balance, Design, Technology
October 25, 2012
From his Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn-based studio, Thomas Piper Jr. balances a multitude of roles: singer, songwriter, producer, photographer, cinematographer, and director. Take a look at how his home office — the headquarters of his creative venture, The People’s Republic of Sound — is evolving into a space that accommodates his complete artistic vision. Read more
Balance, Design, Products
May 27, 2010
Here is a slightly different take on our home office interview. Illustrator Jordan Awan drew his work space for us. I think it’s a nice change of pace. I’m a big fan of his work. Let me know what you think. Maybe more illos are called for! Check out his work at Springtime Studio and his blog here.
1. How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I started doing freelance illustration upon graduating from Pratt Institute in 2007. I have an apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, that I share with my wife, Morgan Elliott, who is also an illustrator. I typically do editorial and print illustration for clients like The New Yorker, The New York Times, or McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, though I have also done work as different as designing billboards for Puma or drawing patterns for dishware.
2. Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? That’s tough! I probably need a few drinks to answer this accurately. I’m typically attracted to an essentialized aesthetic, which is what I aim for in my illustration as well. I try to make every line count; no decoration or superfluous marks are allowed. The same goes for my living and workspace, I suppose!
3. As an illustrator with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? Living in New York, I (along with everyone else in the city) am forced to make every square foot of my apartment count. My poor office shelving is working overtime to help me keep supplies, sketchbooks, papers, and everything else in order. A system that works for me is: whatever I’m not using at any given moment immediately goes back into storage. This helps me keep everything organized while at the same time opening up my workspace. As for my computer, I have developed a system where work is categorized first by client, then by year, then by assignment. Each assignment folder has all the reference, sketches, versions and finals.
4. Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I’ve always wanted an Eames Storage Unit. It would make organizing papers and supplies so much easier. I also need to bite the bullet and get a laptop at some point soon!
5. What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? I have a vintage Dazor drafting lamp that I’ve come to depend on. It’s a classic, the same kind that illustrators have used since the 1940s. It gives off the crispest light that is perfect for keeping my eyes focused on the detail of what I’m drawing; it’s also articulated in such a brilliant way that I can get light from any direction.
The other office item that I can’t do without is this turn of the century drafting table, which was manufactured at an engineering school in Worcester, Massachusetts. The angle of the top is adjustable, as is the height, making it perfect for every medium. Mine was a gift from Morgan’s father, who remembers his father (an illustrator) working on one exactly like it. Back in the 40s and 50s, there was a resurgence of interest in this kind of classic drafting table; apparently, all the young illustrators in New York and Westport, Connecticut would use them and refer to it as “working on the board.”
6. What would you change about your own workspace? I’m actually pretty satisfied with my workspace; I think that in New York, once you spend a few years doing paintings while sitting on your bed or hunched over the kitchen sink, you’re thankful for even an empty corner! But if I could change anything, more space would be nice. And yes, I did once spend a year in a studio apartment doing paintings over the kitchen sink.
7. What do you most love about your space? I get great sunlight and fresh air through two big windows. That makes such a huge difference when I’m working! It also allows me to have plants in my work area, which makes the space more inviting.
8. What inspires you? Oh, anything, everything… mostly drawing in my sketchbook or reading fiction and philosophy. Going out for long walks in the city never fails to inspire me, too.
Balance, Design, Products
March 29, 2010
With healthcare top of mind right now it seemed timely to include an interview with Jay Parkinson, the co-founder of Future Well. Parkinson is a pediatrician and preventive medicine specialist with a masters in public health from Johns Hopkins. He works from his apartment in Brooklyn and hopes to make the country not just healthier but also happier.
First tell us about Future Well. The site is only a few months old and like a lot of start-ups you’re working from home. How much time do you spend in your home office? The Future Well is a creative firm that marries the worlds of design and health. We identify creative opportunities within the health space and design beautiful solutions that positively impact health and happiness. Sometimes we identify the opportunity and find the right partners to execute it and sometimes we build it ourselves. Other times, we help guide clients so the product/service is simple, elegant, and wrapped up with a business strategy that leverages their core competencies.
Health needs products and services that make optimizing our health and happiness fun, easy, and, most importantly, simple. This applies to to the traditional healthcare industry as well as this new consumer space we’re calling health creation. So we work with some traditional companies as well as companies who are looking to enter the consumer health space.
We launched The Future Well in the beginning of February after I left Hello Health and Grant Harrison left Humana as VP of Innovation. Scott Switzer, the co-founder of Open X is our third partner.
I actually spend a ton of time in my home working on my laptop. In fact, it’s by far the unhealthiest thing I do in my life. I want to be active as I work. Just think if we could replace sitting with moderate activity! So many people sit for 8 hours staring at glowing rectangles. It’s really a public health problem. What if we could replace just one of those 8 hours with activity? Our nation would shed billions of pounds!
How would you describe your workspace? What is the design aesthetic? I’m a minimalist and don’t want to have any more space than I really need. If I don’t use something on a weekly basis, it doesn’t exist in my home or office. I’d much rather buy experience than things. And I have this thing for symmetry. So I feel a bit weird buying two of everything, but I like the balance. My space also has to be bright and happy. The natural lighting has to be magical and blanket the most important parts of a room.
I also love photography. I consider myself a photographer so I tend to hang photos I’ve taken of my friends or people I love. And I can’t let go of my roots. I grew up in rural Missouri and my grandfather had a zoo of taxidermy in his trophy room– so I convinced him to give me a few of them. I have a javelina and a reedbuck. I also a dog and don’t want him sitting home alone for hours on end. So I really enjoy working from my home and don’t see us getting an office space anytime soon. We’d all like to keep the structure of The Future Well as decentralized as possible. Nowadays, so many things can be done virtually. I think the definition of “workspace” is significantly changing.
Does anyone else use your home office? Does my dog count? He uses it as a play space but only when I’m trying to get serious work done. Scott and I sometimes meet here to do some work, but that’s rare.
How do you organize the space? Since I don’t have many things and mostly work only on my MacBook, I try to arrange a room to maximize open space. I have a long and narrow Brooklyn apartment so furniture is arranged to feel like I have more open space than I really do. Many people have walked into my apartment and asked if I just moved in!
What impact do you think color has on a workspace? There are happy, productive colors and sad, distracting colors. The color of a workspace should surely be designed for happiness– because productivity and creativity stem from happiness.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? I’m such a minimalist, I don’t even have a desk! So I’d have to say my MacBook. But next to my sofa I have two Bisley file cabinets where I hide things when I’m not using them. They’re beautiful little storage pieces that hold more than they should. I have two white ones next to my bed as well. When you live in a small space, creative storage is key. I couldn’t live without those Bisley’s cleaning up the clutter of my space.
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? I’d love to replace my sofa as my primary workplace. I’m on a mission this weekend to find a standing desk, drafting table, or maybe even a pulpit!
What inspires you? People who design elegantly simple things in response to questioning the status quo. I’m so frustrated by health and healthcare in America. I truly believe being healthy can be so much easier if we rethink our physical environment, what it means to receive and pay for healthcare, the supply of food we eat, and the small changes we can make in our life that make a huge impact on a person’s sustainable health and happiness. Our nation’s health has been quickly deteriorating. If we want to improve our health, we have to use good design as a trojan horse to create things that make a healthy lifestyle as easy as possible.
Balance, Design, Products
January 26, 2010
Matt Hickman, is a freelance journalist and consultant who covers lifestyle, design and green-living. I talked to him about his Brooklyn home office.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve worked from home on and off for six years — half of which was spent as a graduate student. Home/work for the past three years has been a two bedroom, fourth floor walk-up apartment in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Red Hook, a heavily industrial waterfront area was once marked by gangster grittiness of all stripes … first the mafia and later urban gangs. The waterfront area is now infamous as a haven for working artists, designers, and writers since it’s slightly off the grid. Geographically, Red Hook is no Siberia but the lack of a convenient subway stop keep the rents low. Everyone seems to know each other and the smattering of bars, restaurants, and boutiques are predominately run or staffed by locals. There’s an organic farm, community gardens growing in vacant lots, historic longshoreman bars, waterfront parks and piers, and, um, an IKEA [the frame below in Matt's entryway is from IKEA]. I couldn’t imagine working from any where else … although it is refreshing to shed the pajamas every so often and attend proper meetings.
What does a ‘normal’ day entail? An average work day revolves a lot of moving around from bed to desk to couch to a stool in the kitchen. Lots of “walk” breaks and trips to Fairway market for lunch. Workdays kind of flow on and on, starting early and ending late. I spend a lot of time looking out my windows and thinking since there’s great light, little noise, and few distractions. I have city views and a full-frontal view of Statue of Liberty sitting in the lower New York Harbor. During late summer afternoons, I charge my laptop, grab a a blanket, and head to my roof where I get WiFi.
Is there any form of technology that helps you? My MacBook desktop is cluttered with Sticky Notes, otherwise my virtual organization habits are pretty minimal. I keep an old fashioned paper calender. IM is my virtual water cooler. Since I do miss the daily interaction of being in a proper office full-time, saying hello to friends and colleagues while taking a work break is a godsend (most of the time).
How do you organize your space? Is there a desktop tool you can’t do without? Working from my living and bedrooms, I have to keep everything organized and in-order (organizing and cleaning and redecorating is my ultimate work-from-home procrastination tool). Public radio is usually on at all hours and there’s a steady supply of caffeine in the fridge. Magazines and books (mostly fiction and memoir) are on hand for periodic recharging. Stamps, good pens, my Blackberry, and loose pieces of paper are all required in my work area. And then there’s cable television ….
What inspires you? Living in a creative enclave in the middle of the city really keeps the inspiration levels high. If I was working from home elsewhere in the city, I’d feel flat-out stifled, much more claustrophobic. It’s liberating (but, yes, at times lonely). I’m often inspired by — and frequently write about — the people around me … sustainable furniture designers, clothing designers, gardeners, art curators, dancers, web designers, eco-entrepreneurs, musicians, craftspeople. I don’t have to venture far. And I like that.