November 29, 2010
With Thanksgiving safely behind us we begin to looking forward to the rest of the holidays. This year Hannukah starts early – December 1 to be exact. So we’re going to start our gift guide early too! I asked five Lifework contributors to put together their wish lists for the holidays. Here is Heather’s and as you’d expect it has a particularly foodie bent. Look out tomorrow for Brian Greene’s list. If you’re shopping for Christmas this will certainly give you lots of time to get inspired before the rush sets in.
(PS – don’t forget the Herman Miller holiday event runs until December 13. We are offering 15% off selected items and a fast ship service.)
The very best gifts to give are the ones you’d like to receive. And so I hope my husband is reading about all the lovely generous gifts I want to give, hint hint. But seriously, my gifty picks center around what is in fact my very, very favorite part of the holiday season: parties! So whether you’re the cooking in the kitchen or decking the halls, here are a few must-haves for making the seasonal scene.
1. WMF Profi-Plus Stainless Steel Ball Whisk, $30 at MoMa Unlike many kitchen utensils that rate high in looks, this one actually works. It has become my absolute favorite whisk, particularly when it comes to cleanup as there are no crevices for food to get stuck in. Also, the design means that the ball rods can generate more whipping action using less effort. It’s in heavy rotation in my kitchen and on my gift list.
2. Muji Water-Repellent Apron, $22.95 Can we talk about how totally chic this Japanese apron is? I love all things Muji for simplicity of design, and this apron is no exception. Perfect for the hostess on your list—you know, the one who actually cooks and looks good doing it.
3. Vange’s Desile Folding Chair, $335 It seems like I’ve been on the hunt for good folding chairs for a very long time. This bamboo eco-friendly version is the holy grail of folding chairs. Cut from a single 20mm slice of board, when closed, the chair is pancake flat (100 chairs = 2 linear meters).
4. Lanvin Crystal-Embedded Suede Ballerina Flats, $770 Good taste starts with shoes, and I love Lanvin’s update on the classic ballerina with this flirty little Swarovski crystal bow. To stay on your toes for the month of merrymaking ahead, forgo the heels and slip into something more comfortable.
5. Eames Hang It All, $179 I’ve been wanting this Eames Hang It All FOREVER! And this year I’ve found a way to give AND receive. I’m wrapping it up and putting it under the tree for my toddler who will love the colorful hooks. As parents, we make sacrifices…
6. Heath Ceramics Winter Scarlet Dip Bud Vase Set, $110 A friend once said she was suspect of those who seasonally decorate—and while I think she was talking gourds on mantles and lawn ornaments, I have to believe she would make exception for Heath’s seasonal bud vase set in seductive suede red, ruby red and linen white.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
September 8, 2010
Get ready: this new mix from Bon Appétit contributing editor (and Lifework writer and creator of The Foodinista blog) Heather John is so funky-fun, it may inspire you to start dancing at your desk (and perhaps even inspire you to grab a nice glass of vino or two—after hours, of course).
What do you listen to while you work? Mostly to Bowie, but I also listen to a lot of bluesy and rockabilly inspired stuff, and I definitely have a thing for 60s/70s French and Japanese chanteuses. It’s so pretty. I write about wine and I mean, who doesn’t enjoy tasting a bunch of French rosés to a little retro J-pop? When I’m writing, though, it has to be stone-cold silence.
How do you listen? We recently remodeled our garage into a home office and the acoustics are so harsh, so I’m still figuring that out. For now, from my computer and it’s less than perfect. I am lobbying to move our turntable in here.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? My husband used to work in the digital music business so he’s always trying to introduce me to the latest new thing, something about which I usually have zero clue.
Does music influence your work? I definitely feel like mood influences my work, and music influences my mood. Last week, I downloaded the new Eminem after WWD reported that Catherine Denueve was spotted with a copy in her basket—a woman who can do no wrong—but I don’t think anyone wants me to be listening to that while I write, right? I went for a run instead.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? My dad’s vinyl collection, which I’ve inherited (by which I mean, heisted). I grew up listening to a lot of Stones, Flying Burrito Brothers and Tom Waits—and classical, my mother comes from a family of professional classical musicians. For new discoveries—often of forgotten tracks—I turn to Oscar Garza’s excellent blog, to the sublime.
What song or artist best represents the work you create? Little Old Wine Drinker, Me by Dean Martin
Comment te dire adieu?, Françoise Hardy
Shake Sugaree, Elizabeth Cotten
Blind Love, Tom Waits
Some Girls, The Rolling Stones
Bohemian Like You, The Dandy Warhols
Five Years, David Bowie
Guess I’m Doing Fine, Beck
Don’t Let It Bring You Down, Neil Young
Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Tom Petty
Living for the City, Stevie Wonder
Cosmic Dancer, T-Rex
The Flower of Carnage, Meiko Kaji
Images: Heather John
July 9, 2010
Who? Heather John, Lifework contributor, blogger at The Foodinista and columnist for Bon Appetit
Where? Los Angeles, California
How do you take your coffee? What brand is it? Black with a splash of milk (Vitamin D milk, specifically Clover Stornetta; I grew up in the Bay Area so get very nostalgic for this dairy). Every few weeks I place an order for a couple pounds of beans from Ristretto Roasters in Portland, Oregon. All the roasts are medium, which makes for the most flavorful coffee. The Nicaragua Mancotal Free-Trade Organic I’m drinking right now tastes like chocolate with caramel and nutty aromas. Breakfast of champions!
Tell me about your coffee cup. I’m deeply attached to my coffee cup. It’s circa 2001, from Chiat Day’s controversial “Labels” campaign for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Whenever something irritates an art critic, I’m inclined to think it a success.
What happens if you skip your morning coffee? Nothing until about 4 pm, when I get a wicked headache and remember that I forgot my morning coffee.
May 29, 2010
The Edison Bulb is the lighting equivalent of a 4-inch Christian Louboutin pump. A light is made for lighting. A shoe is made for walking. Neither the Edison nor Louboutin achieves its design function all that well. (Louboutin himself once told me that some of his shoes were made simply for wearing in bed.) However, both objects are brilliant at being beautiful. More on Louboutins another time, but let’s focus on how pretty these simple MIT Cage lights are from Schoolhouse Electric, in matte bronze and hanging from the pitched ceiling by a simple brown twisted cord. You can find the carbon-filament Edison bulbs at specialty lighting stores, where the clerk is likely to roll his or her eyes when you ask for them. But your eyes will thank you not only for the very soft, calming glow these bulbs cast but for their sheer beauty.
Balance, Design, Products
May 27, 2010
Today is the day! My new George Nelson Swag Leg Work Table will be delivered any second now. I’ve been frantically unpacking all week—stacks and stacks of books and magazines, which is a real challenge because I’m genetically predisposed to alphabetize books within their subject categories and organize magazines chronologically. In the unpacking process, I’ve uncovered some real gems like a favorite Lee Friedlander poster from the MoMA exhibit in 2005 and a 1960s Gucci portfolio of my dad’s, which he gave me when I started college. Here it sits patiently on a white leather Eames Aluminum Group chair, awaiting the arrival of the new table..
Balance, Design, Products
May 26, 2010
What was the most challenging aspect to the remodel? Hands down, the garage doors. We live in one of the most historically intact neighborhoods in the country, and so when selecting doors, it was crucial to preserve the visual integrity of our 1920s cottage (yes, 1920s qualifies as “historic” in Los Angeles). But try finding a good-looking carriage door that doesn’t cost the moon and stars for your garage. It’s harder than you think!
So our contractor, Billy Hartman, built it. He had a welder make a metal frame, which he then covered with wood. I ordered some cast-iron straps and pulls from House of Antique hardware. And for paint, the color idea came to me while I was sitting on our front steps getting ready to go for a long run to clear my head. Slate blue! The color is Benjamin Moore Affinity #495 Azores. The dreamy cream trim around the door is a custom color and we will be repainting all the wood trim on the house this gorgeous hue next month. Also, the dingy Navajo White currently on the exterior stucco will also be repainted next month in a heavenly warm gray. And so the love affair with paint continues…
Balance, Design, Products
May 21, 2010
Today the third coat of high-gloss Benjamin Moore “Poppy” paint goes up on the bookcase. (The gray on the face is primer.) With each coat, the color changes ever so slightly—the first coat looked like a gorgeous Brandywine heirloom tomato. With the second, we swung back to more of a coral. Between each coat, our painter, Jeff Lee, sands down the paint so that it looks smooth as glass. I’m hoping the third and final application will live up to the color’s name: poppy.
[Heather's garage transformation is almost complete. She got ahead of us while I was in New York for ICFF. So next week we should get close to seeing the completed office! Cerentha]
May 4, 2010
Everyone should have a neighbor like Debra—that impossibly chic former investment banker turned decorator with a PhD in mysticism and perfect skin. I’ve been going back and forth on what stain to use on the back wall—ash, walnut, natural, oak? So I called Debra, who came up with the genius idea of using a 60/40 water/paint wash using the same paint that is going on the walls and ceiling. In a small space, she said, we needed continuity of color. The paint is Farrow & Ball Light Gray, which is also featured in our bedroom and living room. I emphatically believe it is the prettiest color of paint in the whole wide world, and sometimes I just gaze at our bedroom walls mesmerized by it. Out in the garage, the washed boards are going up on the back wall as we speak, and the effect is so beautiful—it looks like the weathered redwood homes throughout Sea Ranch near where I grew up.
March 1, 2010
Not much to look at, is it? That’s where imagination comes in. Like getting rid of that awful, concrete splattered rickety door and replacing it with new carriage doors. Painting them blue. Adding French doors to the side. Letting in more light. Until now it’s all been theory. But after several months delay, our extended houseguest has vacated the guestroom so we can finally break ground on our remodel. This weekend we emptied the contents of the garage into said guestroom and our contractor will tear up the concrete floor and pour a new slab. Having lived through a major remodel when we bought the house two and a half years ago, I’m bracing myself for the rocky road ahead…
1. Farrow & Ball Stone Blue – for the carriage door; 2. Farrow & Ball French Gray – for the stucco exterior; 3. Farrow & Ball Cream – for the wood trim.
Balance, Design, Products
December 18, 2009
Writer Heather John often finds herself working from the couch – at least until her garage gets converted into an office.
Heather John, who works from her home in California, has the enviable job of writing about wine and spirits for Bon Appetit magazine. She also blogs about food, fashion and design. I asked Heather about her plans to set up a new home office in her garage. Look out for more posts from Heather in the coming weeks as her renovation takes shape.
Give us an idea of the overall design? We’re adding French doors to let in more light, built-in bookshelves for my “library” of fashion, design, food, wine/spirits books as well as an area for wine/spirits tastings. The fantasy is to set up shop with a George Nelson table and an Eames Aluminum Chair (in light blue or tan, a girl can dream!), and mix in some antique rugs I “liberated” from my parents. I’m also OBSESSED with paint, specifically Farrow & Ball. I’d love to paint the walls in Dix Blue and then do something dramatic with the bookcases, either somber with Down Pipe (the color of lead pipes), or outrageous like Incarnadine—a crimson red similar to the paint David Hicks used at Baron Court in the 1970s.
Farrow & Ball Blue ‘Night’ was chosen for the dining room walls – more blue is planned for the workspace.
Keeping a workspace tidy is key. What will you do for storage? I’ve asked my husband to check out what kind of desktop storage is on offer at Muji while he’s in New York this week. I’d also like an industrial looking file cabinet. There are some affordable options at CB2. And some not-so-affordable options at Rehab on Beverly, specifically some vintage steel basket lockers recycled from factories and schools. Guess which ones I’m angling for?
What’s the desktop accessory you can’t do without? X-Acto Electric Pencil sharpener. I hate mechanical pencils, and nothing beats a freshly sharpened No 2!
What has the transition to home been like? I’ve been working in an office for the past 10 years, the first half of which were spent at the Los Angeles Times, and the second half at Bon Appetit Magazine. Transitioning to home has been more challenging than I would have imagined, mainly due to distractions—namely a 17-month-old toddler! Also, psychologically there’s something strange waking up in your work environment. This is ultimately why we decided to convert the garage instead of a spare room inside the home—that way I’m leaving the house and going to a dedicated work space, even if it is a few feet up the driveway from my kitchen door.
Wine tastings will move from the kitchen to the garage once the renovation has taken place.