Balance, Design, Products, Technology
September 22, 2010
All the prizes have been unlocked in our Design for You competition. Which means those Eames rockers will be won by a lucky five. You just have to enter your email to be eligible for the draw. Today we’re talking to artist and illustrator Josh Cochran about his finely detailed designs and what it was like flying out to Los Angeles to paint a chair.
How long have you worked in your current studio? And where is it? I have worked at my studio for almost 3 years. It’s an old pencil factory buildling in Brooklyn that has been divided up into smaller studios. I work as an illustrator for a pretty wide range of clients in advertising, editorial and television.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? My work is linnear, graphic and obsessive. My drawings are influenced by comics, vintage children’s books, woodblock prints and contemporary graphic design. I work primarily with a pencil on paper, sometimes I paint, sometimes I silkscreen but overall, I try to keep my process pretty simple.
As an artist how do you keep your space organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? My space is not huge so I have to be good about how I organize things. I’ve had a couple of desks built with custom shelving around it which has helped with storage. It also helps me have different work stations for when I work on digital things versus analog messy work. At times the computer can be a real distraction so having it on a different surface from my drawings helps a lot. I have a dry rack for prints and flat files to store larger work. On the computer I love using programs like iCal and Excell for managing clients and deadlines and Dropbox for file organization.
What would you change about your workspace if you could? I would probably add another table and more shelving. Right now I have these book shelves built into my drawing desk and it would be nice to have more room for my growing piles of books.
What do you most love about your space? I love the large custom tables I helped build. They were originally meant to be used for silkscreen but I just spread everything out on it.
Tell me about the experience of painting the Eames chair? How much prep did you have to do? What inspired the final design? Painting the Eames chair was an incredible experience! I didn’t have a whole lot of time to paint something super intricate so I decided to limit my colors to black and a bright magenta. I prepped a bit for the chair here in my studio by working out sketches of each of the little vignettes. The final design was really inspired by the shape of the chair, I wanted it to be organic to mirror the form. We were also by the theme we were given “Making the world a better place” which inspired me to come up with something fun.
What inspires you? Living here in Brooklyn, surrounded by a ton of talented and ambitious people really inspires me on a daily basis.
September 20, 2010
This week’s Design for You prize is a signed copy of Steve Frykholm’s Lemonade poster (below). Here Frykholm and Clark Malcolm, who has been a writer and editor at Herman Miller for more than 20 years, chat about the company picnic that began the poster series, Lilliputians, the Peace Corp and how you decide to stop printing such iconic posters.
But first a bit of background: Frykholm, who is Herman Miller’s Creative Director, VP and recipient of the 2010 AIGA Medal, has been in charge of forming Herman Miller’s image and graphic identity over the past 40 years. One of the many tasks he took on was to design a poster every year for the company’s annual picnic. He produced 20 posters between 1970 to 1989.
Over the years the posters have won critical acclaim and been included in exhibitions and collections all over the world including the New York Museum of Modern Art, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Danish Museum of Decorative Art, and the Library of Congress. The posters often surface on Ebay fetching anywhere from a $150 to $700. While a full set of posters went for $7000 at a New York auction in 2009.
Clark Malcolm: When you started working at the company the picnics were a real big event right?
Steve Frykholm: They were a real event and that’s all caps. It was a big deal to the employees and their families. They hired me in February of 1970 and Joe Schwartz came in and said to me, ‘Now you are our first internal graphic designer could you design a poster for the picnic. Would you?’ And I said sure, it sounds like fun. He said, ‘Well the name of the picnic this year is sweet corn festival.’
CM: Why did they call it that?
SF: It was one of the few that had a name. But, you know, who was I to challenge it. I was the new kid on the block and I knew a little bit about screen-printing. They really just needed them to put up around the buildings. There was another designer working with me at the time, his name was Phil Mitchell. I said, ‘Why don’t we just do an ear of corn? I will stick it in my mouth and you draw it.’ So we did. And I cut the stencils and we had the screens made and printed them after hours down in the basement because the fumes were pretty intense coming from the ink.
Read on for the rest of the interview.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
September 17, 2010
By now a lot of you have checked out the Design for You contest page. Have you noticed the music that plays with the Behind the Scenes video? That’s Portland-based Mnemonic Sounds.”For the video featuring the five artists painting chairs, I think the song Lonely Heart works so well because it provides a sense of enthusiasm and excitement about the artists while providing a modern electronic sound to pair with a sleek clean artist/furniture visual video,” says Peter Suk, who along with Megan Ouchida, are the driving force behind Mnemonic Sounds. I talked to them about their new CD and the ins and outs of working from a home studio.
How long have you both worked from home? And where is home? We are two members of the band Mnemonic Sounds, a Portland based electronic-indie-pop band. Megan and I both work from our respective homes but did most of our writing, recording, and producing at my home studio located in the heart of the downtown Portland in a neighborhood known as Nob Hill.
Megan and I are both working musicians, fresh off of recording our debut album together, entitled Muscle Memories. We worked on this album in my upstairs home studio space for the last year and half.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? With the challenge of having to record live instruments and vocals within a room not really designed for sonic clarity, it took some imagination and cleverness on our part to turn a loft like room with lots of windows and a tin roof overhead into a space in which we could come away with quality, clear recordings. Since our music contains quite a bit of electronic instrumentation with synthesizer bass sounds, keyboards, and drum samples, the real challenges came when we had to record live vocals or guitars in such an open space. Since the area is so open and hardly insulated, we ended up using the corridors that divide the open loft-like space into 3 different sections to funnel and in essence create an isolation booth in which we could record. What the loft space did offer was a vibrant, well-lit space that let in a great deal of natural sunlight which made recording much more of a pleasurable undertaking; a stark contrast to most recording spaces that require no windows and are usually sealed tight.
As musicians how do you keep your studio organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? It can easily become an indistinguishable tangle of cords and more cords when trying to keep a home studio organized and running. In general, we would label and organize all the various types of chords and instruments on hooks in columns to keep them separate and identifiable. Same with the instruments – all in their right place. Often times, recording requires quick changes to the physical setup and a creative moment can get away from you quickly if you don’t have the instruments and cables and hardware set up in a clear fashion.
Program wise, we recorded Muscle Memories on software called Pro Tools, a fairly standardized software for the recording industry. Additionally we also used Reason, Ableton Live and even Garage Band which are all different types of software for recording and editing music.
As a producer of other artist’s music, I worked primarily from this home recording space on my MacBook Pro with the above mentioned software to record and produce various local artist’s in Portland. Last year I simultaneously recorded two other CD recording projects in the home studio.
When you were setting up the studio what did you have to keep in mind? Designing a recording studio space in a space normally designed for a living room posed quite a few challenges. Mainly we had to utilize our space in such a manner that allowed us to divide an open area into separate rooms so that the sound coming from the windows and from the engine hum of the computer and all the other recording hardware would not be audible in the space in which we set up microphones to record an electric guitar or a vocal.
For example we would use the sliding pantry door, a bathroom door and a cabinet, along with some blankets to create an makeshift isolation booth.
More often than not, the space would require patience on our part as frequently, birds would sit on our roof and chirp for a half hour at a time, or someone mowing their lawn a block away would be picked up by a vocal mic.
What would you change about your workspace? The home studio is a pretty open space, which gave a nice room amibiance to a lot of the instruments we were recording (ie guitar), but when it came time to record vocals, we had to get creative. Peter had me perched on a bar stool with a microphone enclosed in the kitchen’s food pantry. I became very comfortable with his pantry over time but I suppose if I were to change anything about our workspace, our workspace would include a vocal booth. Double pane windows that still maintained the view would have been nice as well.
What do you most love about your space? At the risk of being redundant, the windows and the great view were really motivating and inspiring especially when you spend ten hour days in the same room as each other and begin to lose sense of time. When it’s dark out, it’s time for a drink!
What inspires you? Megan: I am inspired by artists who can create something beautiful out of nothing. Peter: I am inspired by fellow artists who are able to have a clear vision of something they would like to create while having the drive and discipline to see it through to the finished product. The creative turned into pragmatic turned into art. The most inspiring part is when you are able to share your art with someone who can find something in your art that is relatable and invokes a genuine response.
Images: Portrait of Megan Ouchida and Peter Suk by Lindsey Byrnes.
Balance, Design, Products
September 13, 2010
Our Design For You contest continues. Here’s a peek at the work desks of Charles and Ray Eames – the designers behind our next prize, the Hang-It-All. Ray Eames designed a variety of toys and furniture pieces specifically for children, including this wall-hung coat rack in 1953 for Tigrett Enterprises Playhouse Division. It was reissued by Herman Miller in 1994.
Enter to win a Hang-It-All by going to the Design For You contest page.
Below is Charles Eames’ desk. The last image is Ray’s desk. I love the chaos of both workspaces – Ray more so than Charles!
Above: Ray Eames’ desk.
Images via Eames Office.
September 10, 2010
We’ve had a nice response to the Design for You contest so far. I thought I’d leave you today with some more shots of the Eames chairs after the artists spent some time on them. These prizes will be unlocked in the final week of the competition. Look out for interviews with the artists coming up on Lifework.
Andrew Holder‘s design.
Josh Cochran‘s design.
Phil Lumbang‘s work.
Mark Giglio’s rocker.
Christopher Lee’s rocker.
September 9, 2010
As a company Herman Miller is known for great design and working for a better world around you. This contest celebrates both of those things by giving you lots of chances to win great designs and have fun doing it.
How will it work? The more people who enter, the more prizes are unlocked. Each prize is better than the last. For the grand prize, you could win one of five artist painted Eames Rockers (above left to right: Andrew Holder, Philip Lumbang, Christopher Lee, Mark Giglio, and Josh Cochran). Each chair is one-of-a-kind. Stay posted for interviews with all the artists and sneak peeks of the chairs.
Simply enter your name and email address to be eligible to win. You only need to enter once to be eligible to win throughout the contest.
A drawing takes place each week if we reach the sign-up goal for that week. If we don’t meet the goal, there is no drawing. The contest goes on to the next prize. For a list of all the prizes click here.
Make sure to get all your friends and family to sign up because getting others to enter is another way to win. Get the most people to sign up and you can win an Aeron chair. So enter now and good luck.
The first prize? A signed copy of John Berry’s Herman Miller: The Purpose of Design, with a foreward by Eames Demetrios. According to Berry the idea behind the book was “to support the understanding that design is about problem solving and is broader than just products. The current/second version added three chapters and updated the timeline to 2009.”
“I joined Herman Miller in 1980 as Director of Corporate Communications, later becoming Vice President of Corporate Communications reporting directly to the CEO. That included a range of responsibilities that grew and changed over the years. The archives were under my responsibilities, so I had a good understanding of what was there. My first week was spent with George Nelson who came to Zeeland to provide my orientation.”
“I was also asked to be HMI’s liaison to the Eames Office. Charles had died in 1978. I became close to Ray. She introduced me to Eames Demetrios while he was still a student at Harvard. I was a frequent visitor to the Eames Office, 901 and the Eames house. When I left HMI in 1996, Eames Demetrios asked if I would become part of the Eames Office to function as their PR consultant and be their liaison back to HMI. I continue in that role today.”