September 3, 2012
Your work, craft, and creativity – they’re all fueled by many things, not the least of which is time to relax, recharge, and play. With that in mind, here’s hoping that today’s holiday (at least for those of us in the U.S.) is a productive one.
Above: The “terrace” in Konstantin Grcic’s Munich studio, a spot where he and his team can step outside for a breather and relax in their choice of chairs, from Grcic’s own Chair One and Myto designs to classic Plastic Molded Side Chairs by Charles and Ray Eames.
Photo by: Oliver Mark / Dwell
April 2, 2012
Shipping containers repurposed as a studio or kitted out into livable spaces aren’t a new idea. But Jeff Wardell and Claudia Sagan’s reuse is unique for the fact they converted two shipping containers into a home office and a guest bedroom inside their huge warehouse space in San Francisco (a 3,200-square foot former Chinese laundry and tooth-powder factory). Read more
August 30, 2011
Here Eugene Stoltzfus talks about his worklife – from his experience as chairman of the Rosetta Stone, a language software company, to his return to practicing architecture.
Your architecture firm was founded in 2006 after you left your job as Chairman and President of Rosetta Stone – the language software company. What spurred that change? I had joined my brother and brother-in-law to start Rosetta Stone because they had invented a language-learning system that was very impressive and seemed to have the potential to change language learning, as it has! This was in 1992, in another recession, and I was ready to leave working for someone else as an architect. Actually, working for Rosetta Stone had a lot in common with architecture because we were all about generating the unknown. I always knew I would return to architecture so when a change-of-control opportunity presented itself for Rosetta Stone in 2006, I was happy to sell most of my interest.
Above: The Singer’s Glen Schoolhouse.
You buy older buildings and give them a new life but you also work for clients remodeling and building from the ground up. What kind of project do you prefer? My first choice is building from the ground up. Sundial House (below) was an opportunity to put together a lot of my ideas. I think of it as a manifestation of the nexus where function, material, form, site, ecology, engineering and construction come together.
I do also like working with existing buildings, particularly old ones like the Singer’s Glen School (above), where structural forces and materials give form in a natural integration. Doing a modern contrasting intervention based on the values of simple revealed brick and timber construction is very appealing to me. We got into buying, and giving new life, as you say, because right after I left Rosetta Stone, the recession hit, and it wasn’t a good time to start an architecture business.
Above: The Sundial House.
You are also a furniture designer. I came across your work at the Dwell conference this year – the cork pieces seemed to really strike a cord. What drew you to that particular material? We love cork because we can use it as structure and finish, it can be shaped three dimensionally, and because cork has that subtle give that makes it so accommodating to the touch. The response to the Euclid Series was very gratifying. People loved touching it, sitting on it, and playing with arrangements of the squares, rectangles and cylinders. We like being a part of the chain of invention and seeing the ideas that other people come up with.
Above: Inside the Sundial House. The coffee and side table were designed by Stoltzfus using cork.
Does your work life spill over into your home space? How do you strike a balance between your architecture practice and the rest of your life? Balance? Who said anything about balance? Actually, while I have to admit I am somewhat consumed by my work, it feels integrated into my life. The furniture line was started because I was designing furniture and objects for Sundial House. The meditation hut came because I wanted a solitary place where I could meditate, a protected place that could be left out in the weather. Something like the design of the meditation hut has brought me so much satisfaction, I don’t really think of it as work. Of course, the practice of meditation, in itself, brings tremendous balance into one’s life.
What inspires you in your work? I am inspired by the idea of openness to the new. I see it in so much of the architecture, art, and music that is around us in our communicative world, but also in the most unexpected places.
For instance, sometimes I see something and my eye misinterprets it for something else and that is the beginning of a new object. I had glanced at a picture of fireplace logs on andirons but I caught a quick moment where my eye interpreted the logs as a bench, so our Andiron Bench was born.
One of the things that inspires me the most is when we get a simple idea and immediately see that something about it does not work. That is an opportunity to look at it in a new way or let it evolve into something we had never thought of. Designing is as much about letting go as it is about finding the new.
Learning to generate options, plowing new ground, and letting go are extremely good exercises for human beings. I say sometimes that while we are contributing by building structures and designing objects, what is for sure being made is us, as human beings.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
October 15, 2010
Where we’ve been this week….
1. Shelterpop Is AOL trying to be cool? My latest copy of Dwell a beautiful shot of Claire Danes on the back cover and it’s an ad for AOL. In my googling I found my way back to AOL’s Shelterpop. Lots of great interiors eye-candy. Where to start: An interesting home office
2. Dwell It’s an obvious link for Lifework but it’s worth reminding you to check out Dwell’s website because the latest issue is all about working from home…something we know a thing or two about! Where to start: The Live/Work issue isn’t online yet…but while you are waiting check out senior editor Aaron Britt’s interview this Herman Miller textile expert Susan Lyons.
3. Boing Boing This site is slightly overwhelming in its vastness. It reminds me of getting the New Yorker every week. You know it’s packed with great stuff but will you have time to read it? Where to start: Alleviate this problem by using the subject headings to whittle down the content. This morning I was drawn to the post on the new TED app for iPads.
4. Architizer An excellent site for architecture and design news. It’s beautifully designed, easily navigated and pic heavy – all good thing! Where to start: World’s Coolest Offices competition. I love the idea of a home office winning this competition. Send in your designs and lets see what happens.
5. Habitus Living An Australian design journal that covers some of the extraordinary residential work coming out of Australia – and the Pacific Rim. Where to start: The LIVE section collects all the great houses in one spot for you. Check out the Maximum Garden house in Singapore.
August 30, 2010
A behind-the-scenes slideshow from Dwell sparked my interest so I contacted Amanda Dameron, Dwell’s digital content editor to find out more. She was visiting Herman Miller Headquarters with senior editor Aaron Britt to interview designer Susan Lyons about her work with us. The pic above by Amanda shows one of Lyons’ current projects. She is looking at new colors for the Eames plastic molded chair. “Here, pieces from the original offering in fiberglass are considered. The chair shells, once made of fiberglass-infused plastic, are produced in environmentally friendly polypropylene, a decision made by the company almost a decade ago.”
Tell me about your visit. How long were you there? We were only in Michigan for one full day, but I think we made the most of it. It would be hard to pick a highlight, because I’d have to say the trip was near perfect. The weather was gorgeous, there was so much to see and capture, Susan Lyons and Mark Schurman couldn’t have been better guides. I think the whole group—which also included our filmmaker Gary Nadeau and his assistant, Jason—was just so excited to be there, to get this special glimpse. It’s really a remarkable place.
The Marigold Lodge was the greatest—I loved seeing George Nelson’s old hangout in the back! I like to imagine him back there, designing and carousing.
You spent time in archives. What was your favorite piece there? My favorite nook of the archives was the drawers that held the Girard textiles—they were so incredibly vivid and well preserved. The catalogues and print advertisements were a kick to see as well. We had so many places to visit and film that day, and there wasn’t much time to spare. It was such a shame to leave…I could have happily stayed there all day.
Can you share your impressions of Susan Lyons’ work at Herman Miller? Susan’s talent astounds me, her nuanced treatment of color is fascinating. After listening to the color of the Eames chair, I am not going to venture a guess—I leave that up to the expert (Susan).
August 24, 2010
I wasn’t the only one wandering the halls of Herman Miller this summer. Dwell was there (look out for our interview with online editor Amanda Dameron) and so was Lish Dorset from Craftzine. I’ll be posting more about my week-long stay and maybe we can get Lish to dish a bit more!
Image: Lish Dorset
Balance, Design, Products
April 6, 2010
Last week we ran an interview with Francesca Connolly, one of the four women behind Remodelista. This week we hear from Sarah Lonsdale. Sarah, who lives in the Napa Valley with her husband and two children, is the daughter of an architect and has lived through five renovations and two ground-up constructions. She is also the author of Japanese Design. She brings all that design nouse, plus a good dose of warm minimalism, white interiors and Belgian linen, to her Remodelista posts.
How would you describe your workspace? What is the design aesthetic? I love my desk (pictured above) which is a wooden top that I had for years when I lived in Japan placed atop some recently acquired French metal industrial trestles. As much as I consider myself a minimalist and have a house that is fairly clutter free and simple, my desk is usually piled high with magazines and papers. My first job was in a production company in Japan where the way to demonstrate creativity was to have a desk with piles of interesting stuff and images and I don’t think I have ever stopped working that way. Once a week, I go through everything and clear it up then the piles begin again.
Does anyone else use your office? I’m afraid I am quite territorial. My husband works from home a lot and we each have our separate offices and respect each other’s space and it seems to work well.
How do you organize the space? My office is basically my desk and some shelves where I file papers in simple wooden file holders from Ikea. I also use large, natural grass baskets for storing magazines; they look good and can be easily moved around.
What impact do you think color has on a workspace? I spend my day looking at so many images daily, that great light is essential. I love an all-white space mixed with natural tones, grey stone colors and textures such as rough beige linen. That said, I would like to paint one wall of an otherwise white space this Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe grey (pictured above).
What desk accessory can’t you do without? My original 1227 Anglepoise “salvaged” from my father’s office. I also love Muji gel ink pen (pictured below) which I stock up on whenever I am in New York or London.
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? There is nothing I would like to replace however I love coming across a great find whether it be a chair in a garage sale or a piece of vintage furniture in a shop (which is how I found my current desk chair and the trestles). Those are the times I find myself adding pieces to the home.
What inspires you? We moved from the city to the Napa Valley over three years ago and being surrounded by such great natural beauty is pretty compelling. Being able to get on my bike and cycle on a country lane and see the seasons change is very poetic. I am a forager and invariably haul a branch or some fallen lemons ( or whatever is in season) back home to display. It’s a creative outlet in a way.
You see so many great workspaces. Is there one that really stands out for you? I have been thinking about this Japanese house recently by architects, Takaharu and Yui Tezuka and how for me an office really only needs a desk, some bookshelves and good natural light. An office along the lines of this bedroom (with shelving instead of bunks and a window to the ground) would work perfectly for me.
How do you manage a balance between work and the rest of your life? Since I work at home on the computer all day it is very tempting to be online the whole time. Multi-tasking is great but I am making an effort to close my computer when my children return from school even if it is only for 30 minutes so I can give them my undivided attention. The nature of this work is endless so being able to close the computer and do others things is really healthy.
January 29, 2010
Here’s our weekly round-up of favorite sites.
1. Unhappy Hipsters I wanted to post this yesterday when I discovered it but held off so it could top the list today. First, I am a huge fan of Dwell magazine and everything the magazine represents. I love it’s aesthetic, the writing, the houses they find. I completely relate to the people in their stories. But Unhappy Hipsters takes those earnest ‘at-home-with’ photographs from the pages of the magazine and turns them on their modernist heads. With one sharp, witty, damn hilarious line the writer (who is anonymous…I’ve emailed to see if I can get an interview) undermines all that is serious – and slightly dull – about these sort of shoots. All that earnestness and lack of irony is just begging for this kind of attention. And what do the guys at Dwell think? “Admittedly hilarious Dwell sendup,” says Dwell’s managing editor Michele Posner on her Twitter account. Where to start: Anywhere and everywhere – it’s all good. (And kudos to the editor for choosing a Tumblr blog – they are beautifully designed.) Via The Foodinista.
2. Unbeige The title of this mediabistro blog is just so good – there is certainly nothing beige about their design coverage. One minute your reading about a competition to name designer David Stark’s new puppy Droog and the next moment your immersed in a piece on Apple’s new iPad. The editors, Steve Delahoyde and Stephanie Murg, are tireless. And we all benefit from their hyperactivity. Where to start: At the top with the most recent post…it’s a news site after all.
3. T Magazine And while we are on news The New York Time’s T Magazine blog is always worth a look. As you would imagine, it is well written, and it’s T, so it’s stylish. It’s also a really nicely designed clean blog – lots of white, large graphic pics. And interesting stories. Where to start: If you’re like me you’ll go straight to the Design stories.
4. FFFOUND! This is a cool image sharing site. It works a bit like Pandora – you tag what you like and you’ll get more of that sort of stuff. Although, as far as I can tell, you can’t register anymore. But even as an ‘outsider’ you’re taken on a wonderful journey through curated images that would take you weeks to find otherwise. Where to start: Click on an image you like and scroll down to see others you may like … and just keep clicking.
5. The Patent Desk At heart aren’t we all design geeks? According Andrew Lynch – the site’s founder – “this is a celebration of the ideas and illustrations found on patents.” In amongst all the noisy, highly designed blogs out there The Patent Desk is the equivalent to a walk in the woods. It’s entirely in black and white, the typeface looks like a typewriter (American Typewriter Light is my guess) and the images are hand-drawn illustrations. It’s beautiful. Where to start: Check out the Eames patent for their leg splint.