Balance, Design, Products
December 12, 2012
Italian designer Eduardo Alessi has a singular wit and energy. You can see it reflected in his work as well as distinct focus on sustainable products and materials. Eduardo believes if a product can make someone’s life a bit easier or even a bit more amusing, the product succeeds. His recent project, the ECO DIY Collection, is a series of 2D products made with recycled cardboard. The charming and minimal designs are modeled after endangered animals and include everything from a light to a speaker to a bookmark. Catch up with this desk-dancing-designer’s listening habits in this week’s Playlist.
September 29, 2011
David Airey is a graphic designer, author and since going out on his own in 2005 he’s become a touchstone for people working outside of the office. His post on how to transition to a life as a self-employed designer caught my attention in March of last year. Looking back through emails we’ve been dancing around this interview for a while now. I’ve reposted some of his writings here on Lifework but now we get a tour of his home workspace in Northern Ireland. And we’re not alone in our admiration of this designer – his design blogs Logo Design Love, davidairey.com and brand identity showcase Identity Designed attract more than one million monthly Pageviews.
Above: The view from Airey’s home office in Northern Ireland.
You’ve undergone major changes in your worklife – first when you moved from working in an office to basing yourself out of your home and then again when you moved homes. Can you tell us about those transitions? The first change (switching from an office to working from home) was in 2005 when I chose to become self-employed. My past employer became my first retainer client, giving me two or three days of contracted work per week (for 18 months or so). Because of which, I can’t remember too many nerves about going it alone.
People ask if it’s hard to motivate myself. I mean, there are always plenty of distractions when your home doubles as your workspace. Thankfully, I’ve never had much trouble. Maybe it was my upbringing — my dad made me appreciate the value of hard work.
What do I miss? Walking to work. I used to walk through the centre of Edinburgh each morning and evening. Loved it. Nowadays my daily commute takes five seconds. 10 if you count both ways.
Moving house is something I’m used to. Since first leaving my parent’s home when I was 19 I’ve lived at about 15 different addresses. That’ll be why there’s not a lot in my office — you tend to shed the junk each time you move.
You’ve set up a home workspace twice now – what did you do differently the second time? It’s six times. Six house moves since 2005. Each time for the better, though, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be completely happy with how my workspace looks (typical designer).
How does working from home impact your work? It’s hard to say. The work I produce now is of a much higher standard to what I was doing in my office days, but I’ve learned a hell of a lot along the way. Maybe if I stayed in an office, with more ease of receiving feedback from others, I’d be doing better. I don’t know.
You’re not only running a successful design business you also manage regularly post insightful pieces on your blog. How do you manage your time? I just do one thing at a time, whether it’s working on a client project, publishing a blog post, replying to emails, spending time with friends and family. But I limit the number of clients I work with at once, and each of my three blogs are only updated once or twice a week, so I’m probably not as busy as it might seem.
What inspires you in your work? Inspiration isn’t easy to pin down. I don’t think it’s necessary for the work I do. For me, what’s more important is motivation, and there’s one main aspect that keeps me going: I hope that one day I can fully support a family of my own, and if I’m to do that, I know I need to keep improving, keep streamlining my process, keep learning new skills, new approaches. The fact that I love my job and have a passion for design is a big motivator, too.
July 7, 2011
This month, Gilbert Rohde, Herman Miller’s first director of design joins the ranks of Raymond Loewy, Henry Dreyfuss, and Eliot Noyes, as one of twelve industrial designers honored by United States Post Office with a series of stamps showcasing the pioneers of American Design. For more on Rohde check out David Foster’s post on Discover.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
April 1, 2011
Meet Brendan Dawes, the brilliant mind behind MoviePeg – a little stand that holds your iPhone at just the right angle. This is the first time I’d heard about 3D printers and I’m still not sure I quite understand how they work but I feel confident that Brendan does. And I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.
What kind of work do you do and how much of it happens at home? And where is home? There was a time when I could easily describe myself as an interaction designer, and I still do that a lot. But I recently got into creating physical products so I think maker of things probably suits what I do a lot more. For me interaction in its widest sense is the commonality running through all the work – whether that’s an interface that encourages curious exploration such as doodlebuzz.com, the data visualisation of Cinema Redux or the packaging design on MoviePeg, the objects, if we can call them objects, have to illicit some form of emotional response from you. I’d like to think that I design objects that have the capacity to be loved.
Home is where a lot of the initial prototypes and thinking takes place. My office is more of a hackerspace come laboratory; a place where I can concentrate free from distraction or the noise of the everyday. All my personal projects were made in this space and even things like MoviePeg was first realised at home. I’d had this idea for a super simple iPhone stand after getting home late one night from London. I still have the cardboard version I made that night.
Home itself is a place called Southport, a Victorian seaside town on the north-west coast of England. I live in a Victorian town, in a Victorian house, go to work on infrastructure put in place by the Victorians and work in a building built by the Victorians, in Manchester the birthplace of the industrial revolution! They were pretty clever those Victorians and it’s amazing how much we still relay and use the things they invented. Yet with work as with everything else, things are changing – no longer does the “go to a place of work to do some work” model really work. I can’t say though I’m a big fan of total home working. I think it works for some people, but for me I have to have that social interaction that with a team of people. As someone who practices interaction design surely the best thing I can do is actually interact with other human beings?
Describe your style and how it influences the work you do and the space you work in. Random, eclectic, non-linear. I get bored quite easily so I’m always looking for new things to play with, to tear apart and to put together in new ways. So the space that I work in is a kind of extension to that. I’d love to say it was this modernist utopia of simple clean lines that is a completely considered space but it wouldn’t be the truth. Instead it’s a jumble of an old generic office desk, a Danish chair from Ebay, shelves from Ikea, and a horrible cheap shelving filled with industrial plastic bins brimming with curious electronic parts and objects that may or may not appear in a future project. One day I will start all over and build my dream space. Until then the space kind of works.
How do you keep your work space organized? I try and keep surfaces clean and clutter free as possible, and I try and keep things in compartments on the actual shelves. There’s no system as such but I can tell you where anything is at any time because the objects themselves have almost become part of the furniture. I also used to have something like eight hard drives, all stacked up on my desk, all with separate power and it was a nightmare to find files. I simplified all of them down to one hard drive – a Drobo; now it’s much simpler and, of course, uses less power. Plus it has very sexy blue lights on the front!
When you set up your home office what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? Nothing springs to mind.
What is your favorite piece of workspace furniture? I think the chair I use at home. My wife Lisa found it on Ebay a few years ago and whilst I haven’t a clue who made it I do know it’s Danish – which fits well with the 60’s Bang & Olufsen hifi I bought from Ebay. I love the size of it – it’s huge – and the leather and wood, but most of all the reason I love it so much is because of what Lisa went through to find a chair she knew I would like, spending days on Ebay to get the right kind of thing. It’s an object that is impregnated with a story and means so much more to me because of that.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? The Kum Long Point pencil sharpener is a thing of wonder. I own three of them; one at home, one in my bag and one at work. Having tried various pencil sharpeners over the years, and being a bit of a pencil geek, this thing was a revelation; a beautiful piece of design that does it’s job really well, like all good design should.
What would you change about your work space? Storage. Infinite storage shelves that could constantly expand, like some kind of shelf based hard drive for my things. Think I might need to work with a particle physicist to make that one happen though. But I can dream.
What inspires you? Right now the proliferation of personal 3D printers such as the Thing-O-Matic from Makerbot. I have this machine on my desk, I design something on the computer, press a button and kapow! There is the object that a few minutes ago was just pixels on a screen now being held in my hand. The possibilities of such things completely blow my mind; imagine a future were you can jump on the web, buy and download an object it and have it print out in front of you – no postage, no fulfillment, no packaging just delivered to you instantly. I’ve even designed and printed my own modular desk tidy system for my pencils that I use everyday. Why buy one when I can design one that was perfect for my needs and print it out? Of course it makes duplication and piracy really easy, in fact I know that our MoviePeg product already exists in a copied form on a 3D printing site. But those are things we’ll just need to work out as we move forward with this incredible technology. But here’s the thing – only a short while ago personal 3D printers were a pipe-dream, yet here we are today and I have one sat on my desk, at home. Who knows what will come about, next year, next week, tomorrow.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
July 28, 2010
François Chambard has never owned an iPod. Nor has he ever had a CD, a tape, or a record collection. But this founder of Brooklyn’s UM Project sure does know how to make a mean music mix. Check it out some of his recommendations (we think it’s the perfect list for the summertime).
What do you listen to while you work? All kinds of music. My tastes are very eclectic, but maybe “eclectic” is too much of a fancy word. A mish-mash really. I have never been a music guy so I am not sure if I am a good reference. I do not have an iPod, never had CDs, cassettes or LPs. I guess I never had the patience and time to grow and groom a music collection.
How do you listen? From the computer with speakers. Above is a picture of how we tried to make to look our cheap speakers look fancy with a piece of leftover bent ply (pictured top).
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I love the convenience and accessibility of Internet radio. I always end up listening to Radio Nova from Paris. I often go to Wefunk from Montréal and other Internet stations. One of my recent favorites is Attention Span, a jazz station.
Does music influence your work? It is hard to speak about a direct influence. It is more about energy level. I spend most of my time at the studio. Sometimes I need a boost; sometimes I need to be soothed. Just two random examples: The Specials will pump me up when I start to get tired. Beth Orton will help me stay in the zone, in that very special moment when you are so absorbed with your own work that you lose sense of time.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I am not sure which musician or song it would be, but there are specific instruments or sounds that I really relate to. Often those are sounds that have a spatial and spacey quality. In other words, sounds that have almost a 3D quality, which define a space in which I want to live and dream. For example, there is a recent version of “Summer Madness” by Kool and the Gang with a deep, floating synthesizer sound. I am totally addicted to it. I want to be part of that space. In Paris, there is this giant sphere at the Museum of Science and Industry (La Villette) with an ever-changing space-age sound rotating around it, composed by genius sound designer Louis Dandrel. The sound bounces back on the sphere and on the reflecting water pool around it and it is totally mesmerizing. Again, it defines more of a space than a sound, and I’d love my work (and myself) to be in it and not come back.
Everybody Loves the Sunshine, Roy Ayers
Je Bois, Boris Vian
Aeroplanes, Serge Gainsbourg
Reality and Fantasy, Raphael Galuzzi/Gilles Peterson
Too Young To Die, Jamiroquai
Ashes To Ashes, David Bowie
Dear God 2.0, Roots/Monster of Folk
L’irréel, Alain Bashung
Blue Monday, New Order
Lady Day and John Coltrane (and the most of the “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” album), Gil Scott-Heron
Private Life, Grace Jones
You Can Have Watergate Just Gimme Some Bucks And I’ll Be Straight, Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s
Images: Francis Dzikowski / Esto
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
July 7, 2010
Kristina Klarin is a color fanatic—and it’s evident in the cheery work she churns out from her studio in Milan (see her current collection of chunky wooden necklaces here and her decorative mushroom collection here). She took some time just before vacation to tell us a little about music and how it inspires her.
Do you listen to music while you work? It varies with the task that I was working on. If I’m working on something new or doing research on trends or colors, I usually don’t listen to the music because I don’t want to be distracted. I prefer to switch on TV in the other room just to have some working companion, so usually while I was writing down my ideas, Mrs. Fletcher was successfully solving homicides in the other room of our apartment.
How do you listen? I use the headphones to listen to my iPod.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I use Deezer a lot and also Jamendo when I have more time. I like the site because it gives independent musicians the opportunity to publish, share, and promote their music as well as the opportunity for us to enjoy them.
Does music influence your work? I really like to match the music with what I’m working on. I put on the music once I get the initial ideas of color palettes and materials, etc. For example, there was Vivaldi for my spring necklace collection and Maria Pradera for the summer ones. In addition, I go on YouTube to listen and watch music videos that have similar themes with my collection. Music helps me to construct a better working environment, stay focused on my plans, and inspire me with new idea.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? Well, recommendations sometimes come from magazines, sometimes come from friends, and sometimes comes from my husband. Because I’m interested in traditional textiles and costumes from all over the world, I find very interesting music while doing research on these elements. That traditional music from different countries often has influence on my musical taste.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I really like a large variety of music, and it would be very difficult to actually pick out one song or musician that represents everything!
Sebastian, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
The Ship Song, Nick Cave
Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?, Moby
Hope There’s Someone, Antony & the Johnsons
La Chanson des Vieux Amants, Jacques Brel
Le Banquet, Yann Tiersen
Gnossienne No.1, Erik Satie
Postcards from Italy, Beirut
Blue Tears, Black Heart Procession
Space Oddity, David Bowie
Images: Kristina Klarin
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 24, 2010
Clothing designer, trained architect, teacher, and writer Martha McQuade makes simple, beautiful things from her studio in Minneapolis (be sure to check them out here and here at her UNIFORM Natural online shops. Inkblot table runner below). And this week, she made us a simple, beautiful playlist (be sure to check that out below).
Do you listen to music while you work? It depends on what I’m doing. If I am working on production sewing or photo editing, I will listen to podcasts (I love The Moth) or loud music (usually punk). If I’m doing something where I need to think, it will be quieter music. When I’m creating a new clothing collection, I’ll listen to something that feels inspiring to that particular collection, although it is usually something quite minimal in sound—ethereal/ambient.
What do you listen to? I think my musical tastes are all over the place. I tend to listen to stuff I’ve had forever because I’m too busy to find new music that I like. Generally, my heart lies in punk, minimal/ethereal/ambient, dance/electronica and breathy woman vocalists. I also like it when I can hear a guitar player’s fingers on the strings.
I sort of feel like my tastes don’t change too much, although when I was in grad school in the late 90′s, a friend let me listen to a demo tape given to him from a friend who worked for a radio station. It had the song “Greenlander” by Pavement on it. At the time, it wasn’t on an album and I remember the song really haunting me. When I asked the friend about it later, he didn’t remember it and had returned the tape. I periodically thought about the song, but couldn’t find it (and that was back before the Internet was so huge). Recently I thought of it again, looked it up on Google (it was finally released in 2002), and was disappointed that it really didn’t live up to my memory.
How do you listen? In my downstairs studio, I listen through a speaker system on my iPod, or on headphones if there are other people in the house. At my desk upstairs, I listen on my computer.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I really like Last.fm because you have the ability to build a library of artists that is easy to browse and search. They also have a function that suggests other bands you might like based on bands in your library. My 9-year-old even has his own account.
Does music influence your work? Certain music definitely influences how I think about design. I’m interested in design that is simple, but has a bit of interesting detail in the construction with an emphasis on texture. My Fall 2008 collection, titled “Land,” was really inspired by images of Iceland as well as minimalist ethereal music like of the Icelandic band Sigur Rós. What I think of as a spare but beautiful tone in their work really inspired me.
Where do you find music recommendations? I get music recommendations from friends for the most part. I find I don’t have the time to search for new music these days. And as I mentioned previously, I like how Last.fm will recommend bands based on what is in your library. As far as influence goes, either I like it or I don’t. I can usually tell right away if I like something—I can just feel it inside. I’m the same way with color. There are certain types of music that make me feel physically ill. (Bluegrass would fall into that category.) There are also certain songs that I just think of as happy songs, like “The Boat Dreams From the Hill” from Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. Strangely enough, most of the songs on that album are happy songs for me.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I guess I would like it to be Sigur Rós, but it’s not there yet. It’s where I aspire my work to be.
West Bay Invitational, Jawbreaker
Secret, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Sweetest Decline, Beth Orton
When I Grow Up, Fever Ray
Why Can’t I Be You?, The Cure
Go Do, Jónsi
Downtown Train, Tom Waits
Compression, Everything But the Girl
Pretty Little Girl, All
I Feel It, Lorraine
I Try, Macy Gray
The Walls Are Coming Down, Fanfarlo
Sir Duke, Stevie Wonder
Safe From Harm, Massive Attack
Three MC’s and One DJ, Beastie Boys
The Greatest, Cat Power
Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
Tribulations, LCD Soundsystem
Glósóli, Sigur Rós
Mouthful of Diamonds, Phantogram
Images: Martha McQuade and Sarah Rubens
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 4, 2010
Designer Susan Stewart takes us through the Los Angeles home office that she shares with her husband.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I’ve worked from home since I left the fashion industry in 2001. We live in the Hollywood Hills near Laurel Canyon. My husband Jon works in the music industry doing A&R and as a marketing consultant and we share an office that had been converted from a 2 car garage and is attached to our mid-century post and beam home. I used to work in the house until I had Jonah, our almost 2 year old son. When it got too distracting to work with Jonah around, I re-did the converted office and moved in with Jon. His half of the space I painted black and hung his rock artwork and guitars on the walls. My half of the space is white. I haven’t gotten around to hanging anything up, but I kind of like it like that.
I run an interior design firm designing for both residential and commercial spaces, plus I publish a design blog called Design*ByProxy. Design*ByProxy was initially the name of a service I started through Susan Stewart Design. It gives clients an affordable option to get a room professionally designed by me. The client pays a flat rate per room and all the design is done thru the internet/email. They answer a questionnaire, measure their own space, send me digital pictures of their room and describe the design direction. I then provide a furniture floor plan, concept board that includes paint colors or wallpaper, furniture selection, window treatment idea and provide a shopping list with links of where the client can purchase the items.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I’m hired by clients to help them realize their own aesthetic and ideals ranging in styles from Classic to Modern, all with a West Coast vibe (easy not fussy). When you look at Design*ByProxy blog, you really get to see what my aesthetic is: design that innovates and inspires by embracing simplicity, luxury and humor. A signature look of mine utilizes a mix of vintage and modern pieces.
As an interior designer 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? I have big white binders for each client that holds all the paperwork (quotes, floor plans, swatches, invoices) divided into the rooms I’m designing. I keep them in a cabinet. I also have a “My Clients” folder in My Documents with sub-folders for each one. I work on 2 computers, a Mac and PC because some of the programs I use are only available on one platform. I use AutoCAD for Plan Drawings and Studio Designer for ordering on my PC. Then I use ArchiCAD and Google Sketch Up, both for 3D rendering on my Mac. I use Illustrator and Photoshop on both.
When you are designing a home office what do you keep in mind? Feng Shui and storage. I’m not a Feng Shui expert by any means, but I think in the office it is important to incorporate it’s principles as much as you can while keeping a visually pleasing design. I can always feel a space immediately that has bad feng shui.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you love? Yes, my Eames Aluminum Group Management Chair. Years ago I had a flea market find that looked cool, but ended up staining the muscles in my neck and was told by the chiropractor I needed a better chair to sit at while working on the computer. I ended up splurging on my dream chair (I was a student at the time).
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? It’s not really a “desk accessory” but a “desktop” accessory. I use GoToMyPc.com and it’s really great. It’s a remote control software service that enables my assistant to access my computer from hers through the internet. She can log onto my computer remotely and do the proposals, orders and invoicing without having to be at my office.
What would you change about your own workspace? I love my husband, but it would be great to not have to share the space. I only say that because he talks A LOT….not to me, but on the phone to his clients. It can be a bit distracting.
What do you most love about your space? The view from my desk of our Japanese pine tree and pond in our courtyard and my husband’s company.
What inspires you? Nature, colors, art, architecture, people.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 3, 2010
Ghislaine Vinas, who recently won Benjamin Moore’s 2010 Hue Award, is based in New York and was one of our visitors at the Herman Miller stand during ICFF. Ghislaine’s interiors are a warm take on modernism that utilize a strong and saturated color palette. Here we talk to the designer about her work space at the country home she bought 6 years ago.
How long have you worked from home? This is my desk at our country home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. We bought the house in 2004, spent a year renovating it and have been working on the interiors ever since. Being an interior designer, designing my own house is torturous and I don’t think I will ever be finished! If I need to get work done during the weekend and I’m not out on the deck with my laptop, you can find me here. I mostly use the time away from my New York City office to look for inspiration and to come up with new ideas.
And where is home? Home from Monday – Friday afternoon is downtown New York City. I’ve lived in the same loft for over 20 years right on the Hudson River. We work from the loft too. But life is crazy in the city and after my husband and I had our two little girls we decided to get a country house near my sister in Pennsylvania. So Friday evening to Sunday evening our home is in the country. It’s a little old farmhouse that my husband and I lovingly renovated with the help of my sister’s husband, Glenn who is a contractor.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I would say that my style is modern, fresh, clean happy and a wee bit quirky. I like things that can be cleaned off easily, I dont like too much clutter but I like that my home reflects who I am. I get enjoyment out of being surrounded by things I have found around the world or even in my back yard from local garage sales or flea markets.
As an interior designer with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized. The New York apartment pictured above seems typical of your work – strong bursts of color against a fairly minimal backdrop of white? We specialize in one style – we are not an office that does traditional through to contemporary – we stick to simple happy modern – this helps keep our samples to a minimum and has helped clean up things a lot in the NYC office. Over the years I have honed my style so I dont want fabrics or other samples lying around that I dont intend to use. Two years ago we got rid of all our brochures and binders and it was such a relief to “clean house” Everything is online anyway so we are good at bookmarking our favorite sites and pieces.
We keep all our fabric samples in drawers – there are 16 big drawers all color coded. Our tiles and other materials we keep in drawers too for easy access. We have big boxes that we keep sample in on projects we are currently working on and its always great to see how all the materials start coming together. All other material is kept in giant client binders – these binders contain everything from plans and elevations to color inspiration and specific furniture pieces. The binders are evolving constantly as we work on the projects.
Are there any particular computer programs you find really useful? I used to have interns do weekly color copies of magazine inspirations and I kept them in a giant lateral file but now we use Evernote to organize all my inspirational images as well as furniture pieces that I really dont want to forget. So now when I am looking for something its such a breeze to find.
When you are designing a home office what do you keep in mind? I keep in mind that peoples lives are busy and we dont always have time to put things away – this means that a stack of bills on the desk top may be reality. So a nice paper tray could be a smart investment. I try and reduce clutter by having upper cabinets that are easy to reach from a seated position that can store unattractive real life things you need at your desk. Also essential is a good “box box file” drawer right next to the desk. Top drawer for essentials including check books, good hand cream and lip balm , second drawer for stationary and stamps and the bottom drawer for filing monthly bills. You also need good lateral files for all the other things that need filing like taxes and investment, school and other info.
An attractive trash can under the desk never hurts . Its always nice to have a beautiful cup holder for pens and stationary and a beautiful stapler, tape holder and paper clip holder. Recently I have started working with personal organizers so that my clients can have perfect tabs on all their files holders and just the right drawer dividers.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I love the Airia desk (and seriously not because its for Herman Miller) and I adore the big e15 table especially in yellow (above). I dream of having a giant desk like it. I love my vintage saarinen chair that I have in my PA house. I had it reupholstered in a brilliant magenta – it makes the perfect desk chair.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? A cup of coffee in my right hand. I would really love to get a set of “Anything” desk accessories (below).
What would you change about your own workspace? Well, my little spot in PA is kinda perfect for me but my office in New York needs help. In New York we sit at long white counters and although I can look out the window at the river from where I sit, I would love to have a freestanding table to work from. I would love to get a giant table maybe vintage or Baroque looking and have it shop finished in a crazy color – like fluorescent red. Then everything around it would be white. A giant inspiration board is the second thing on my wish list. My little space in PA feels personal and has an aesthetic, my New York space is about function and lacks personal style.
What do you most love about your space? Well, my space in my PA house is very special to me – it’s full of fun little memories because all the pictures on the wall were given to me either by the artist themself or by friends. I love looking out the window and daydreaming. There are always bunnies out there in the spring and summer and it’s so ridiculously idyllic that it makes me smile. I love my comfy magenta chair and the pop of color the rolling file add. I love that I can go out and pick some flowers from the garden and put them on the desk. In the pictures are peonies from my front yard.
What inspires you? Anything bright and happy. I love seeing unexpected color combinations. I love seeing things that are out of scale – an image of something small that has been enlarged or visa versa. I love animal objects. The beach is my favorite place in the world and inspires me. I love my girl’s (Mia Soleil and Saskia Luna) art work. I love designing with my husband Jaime. I am inspired by very smart people who are also creative and who don’t take themselves too seriously. Collaborations with clients get my heart racing. Graffitti and urban wall art is beautiful and surprising.
Images: The PA office: Jaime Vinas, the New York apartment: Eric Laignel
Balance, Design, Products
May 17, 2010
Jason Munn is the name behind the award winning one-man studio known as The Small Stakes. Jason’s work has been featured in many of the top design magazines and is part of the permanent collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Jason’s client list includes Patagonia, Wired and New York Times magazine to name a few. He is also well known in the world of concert posters. Since 2003 he has been designing for indie rock’s hottest bands including The Pixies, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips and many more. Over 150 of these posters are featured in a book titled The Small Stakes-Music Posters which was recently released by Chronicle Books. Jason spoke to us about his home studio and the challenges he faced transitioning from a traditional office setting.
How long have you been working from home? I’ve been working from home full time for about the past seven years, before this I had been working in a couple different design studios. My first home/studio was a studio apartment, which became more and more challenging because there was not any type of separation between anything. Now we live in a two bedroom house, the second bedroom acts as my studio space
What challenges did you face transitioning from working in a design firm to a home based office? The biggest drawback for me about working from home versus in a design firm is the lack of communication or feedback while you are working on project. More and more I miss that aspect of a studio. Dirk Fowler, another designer and friend of mine who also works from home often send images of what we are working on back and forth to get feedback or advice from each other.
Working in a home setting, it’s easy to get distracted. Do you have any tips for staying focused on projects? I try to stick to a routine, but will be the first to admit I can have a hard time doing that. My wife has been back in school the last couple years, so she is often working late, so I’ll often do the same. When I’m stuck or in the thinking process during a project I tend to work in chunks of time and find myself walking around the block to take a break. I think the distractions of working in a firm versus working at home probably balance out, in the long run I feel I have less distractions. I do miss the commute to work a little bit, I used to walk to work and that was perfect for starting the day. Now if I have any errands or anything like that I typically do them first thing in the morning, so that becomes my commute.
Is there anything you would like to change in your workspace? As you can see I keep things pretty sparse and I often have the tendency to want to get rid of things rather than acquire them. I’m happy to have my own room to work out of versus having everything in the studio apartment. We also have a small room below the house that acts as the poster storage and shipping area, our shipping area used to be the kitchen in the studio apartment. I would like to try working from a space outside my house, maybe a shared space with a couple other designers. We’ll see, it hasn’t been a priority yet.