Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 21, 2010
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? Before [design and architecture blog] otto, and before I started writing about design, I worked as a fashion designer in the NYC fashion industry. I worked ridiculous hours in a design studio and never saw the light of day. When I decided to start my own fashion line dressed in yellow about 5 years ago, I needed to find a job that gave me flexibility. That’s when I started working from home as an editor of a design newsletter.
Today, I’m still in New York City and I work from home as editor of otto a+d, a trade blog that targets interior design professionals; I am also the US Editor for WGSN-Homebuildlife, a trend forecasting agency based in London; and of course I’m still designing for dressed in yellow.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I love the word “style” because to me it’s a matter of self expression, fashion and design are simply tools we use to achieve this. For this reason, my style is a bit all over the map. For me, style is what happens day to day when I reconcile comfort, mood, beauty, inspiration and restraint.
How do you keep your office organized? I hate to admit it, but I am quite disorganized by nature. I have towers of papers, books, fabric and press kits on my desk, threatening to fall on me and ruin my life. With all the different jobs I have going right now, I have come to depend on my Google Calendar. It is what keeps me from missing my deadlines, double booking appointments, and forgetting to buy a father’s day gift.
When you were putting together your home office what did you keep in mind? Honestly, I just hoped everything fit. Once it was clear that my small apartment could house all my enterprises, I wanted to make sure that my sewing table, drafting table and desk were able to get good light.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? Is there any that I don’t? I love design and have made a career out of looking at great design day in and day out. To me, the greatest design is when function, form and process work in harmony, and when that happens, how can I not wish that piece was in my life?
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Surface area. Since I’m a piler, I need the surface area to organize my papers visually!
What would you change about your own workspace? If I change something, my tower of junk might come unbalanced and fall.
What do you most love about your space? I get amazing light in here, and my windows face west looking at the Manhattan skyline. When the sun starts to set, the light has a magical golden glow that makes the entire space feel like a warm, fuzzy dream.
What inspires you? Great people who have done great things in their lives. One time I cried reading a book about the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. One time I cried when watching a documentary about the band the Pixies. One time I cried while watching the end of a triathlon. Other than making me cry far too much, these people inspire me to push myself harder, to work towards the best version of myself — be it designer, editor, daughter, friend, dog mom — possible.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 17, 2010
Talented Tokyo-based jeweler Keiko Okamoto shares her home workspace with us and talks about the idea of “beautility”.
How long have you worked from home? I have been making jewelry for about 12 years, the last 10 I’ve been doing it full-time. I have a sweet little workspace in my apartment, so I walk about 5 seconds to work!!
And where is home? I live in the old part of Tokyo. In this area, there are museums,Tokyo National University of Fine Arts, neighborhoods of craftsmen, and Japan ‘s biggest wholesale district. It’s a perfect location for working and I consider myself very lucky!
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Simple yet elegant! Well-made goods are not just useful but also beautiful. There is a long tradition in Japan of recognizing the perfection and beauty in things you use in everyday life. “Yo no Bi” as it is called, beauty in utility, is considered a very important value. I get enjoyment out of being surrounded by “beautility”.
How do you keep your office organized? In my case, I don’t need to keep the workspace organized. So everything I think or find is important and has it’s place. Sometimes it’s waiting there for years and sometimes I can use it right away. Somehow all my work is connected and ideas and techniques that might have found there origins years ago in larger or more abstract works resurface. I really like that.
When you were setting up your home workspace what did you keep in mind? I wanted to fill the workspace with bright natural light.
Is there any piece of home work furniture you covet? I love Aeron chairs. The overall ergonomic design of the chair is great. And I especially like the adjustable height foot rest.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? I’m a note-taking nut, so paperweights and clips are indispensable. And, likely quite different from a desk accessory – Skype – for staying close to my friends and customers around the world even though I’m half a world away from most of them.
What would you change about your own workspace? I’m actually pretty satisfied with my workspace, but I have a great interest in feng shui. I’d like to completely redecorate my apartment based on feng shui.
What do you most love about your space? The workspace has a big window, and I can occasionally see the picture-book scenery.
What inspires you? The first thing that comes to mind is classical ballet. Costume, scenic art, music and etoiles are a huge source of inspiration. And I love to make snap shots of things. I always carry a little camera with me. I’m fascinated by patterns – on a leaf, an iron fence, stone wall, texture of a tree, water-rimples and so on, most of my work finds its origin there.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 15, 2010
When asked why she blogs web designer Vered Carmel quoted Seth Godin: “What I found interesting is that more than half of all bloggers are doing it for themselves. (Always a good reason to do something). In other words, it’s not for commercial gain or to find a large audience of strangers. Instead, it’s a form of self-expression, a chance to be creative or share some ideas.” And, as she says, that sums up Vered’s approach to her writing. Here she shares her home office and her love of design.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? Ever since I can remember I wanted to be self-employed and work from home. To me this was the perfect combination of freedom, creativity and self expression while earning a living. First and foremost I define myself as a designer. I specialize in web design and as an autodidact have established some good programming skills throughout the years. This precious knowledge has come in handy when I discovered how much I love writing and as my passion for design and architecture took over I was eager to share this passion with the world and that is how Busyboo got started.
In addition, for the last 10 years my partner and I have been developing Shine, evolving from a web design studio to a company offering online marketing solutions for global high-tech companies – during all of this time we’ve been working from home. You will find us tucked away with our dogs in a quiet neighborhood, surrounded by green fields, oak trees and the sound of birds chirping in the background, since as much as I love the city I’ve always preferred to live and work with the countryside at my doorstep.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I would define my style as eclectic since I am inspired from pretty much everything; whether it’s the Japanese style with its modern minimalism or the romantic touch of an English style landscape design.
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? In general I am a very organized person, and you can see it in my workplace as well, where almost everything I need is within reach. The only thing I struggle with is trying to cover the vast amount of design information out there, going over thousands of bookmarks that continue to grow rapidly every day. It’s amazing, just when you think you’ve got it under control new ones start to pop up.
When you were setting up your home office what do you keep in mind? I was guided by the thought that this will be the place where I will be spending most of my time so I better make it my own. It’s cozy yet practical with lots of books, music, magazines and notes everywhere. It’s my second favorite place at home, the first being my garden where I can relax every morning and start off my day with a positive approach to life and a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you wish you had? Well, it’s kind of ironic, but I would love the Aeron chair.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? My graphics tablet and my 60GB Creative Zen Media Player.
What would you change about your own workspace? I remember I saw on the BBC Homefront TV show where Diarmuid Gavin designed a beautiful garden pavilion with a large open space, spreading out to its natural surroundings and blurring the boundaries between inside and outside – and I thought to myself this to me would be the perfect workspace.
What do you most love about your space? I love that I am surrounded by things that make me happy; the fact that I can lift my head and gaze at my favorite books, design magazines, photographs and the greenery outside my window or take a break and go outside to play with my dog Mikey, a beautiful blue eyed Siberian Husky.
What inspires you? People. Nature. Spirit. Form. Rediscovering the power of simple design.
Balance, Design, Products
June 11, 2010
Designer and collaborator Patty Johnson will make you rethink your office or the way you define the idea of a workspace. While technology allows us to be more and more mobile, working from the kitchen table or our beds, Patty takes that a step further and is working all over the globe in remote communities. Her home office moves with her from the Jamaica to Guyana (pictured above) and back to her house in Toronto (pictured below). Read on to find out more about her mobile studio.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? Home is Toronto, Canada and I’ve worked from home since my son was born 15 years ago. I am a designer who is interested in the interchange between research and design and commerce and culture. I operate worldwide with partners, enterprises, manufacturers, communities, governments, and designers creating new kinds of design programs and product collections. My mobile studio network looks to combine the strengths of complimentary groups to build new linkages, new cultures and new ideas. Below is a shot of my studio in Guadeloupe.
“ Love, Freedom, Flow” at ICFF this year was the international debut of the
New Caribbean Design initiative (her Jamaica workspace is below). The developing world is one of the next design frontiers, producing goods that fuse quality with creativity beyond just low cost. For a long time, design in these places has been relegated to handicrafts and regional products. There is no point in artisans and craft production factories in the Caribbean competing with mass-produced goods. They can instead compete on the strengths of the product, by focusing on the upper end of the market through high quality materials, detailing, production and design.
A focus on producing unique regional hybrids that combine craft tradition and contemporary design process is the aim of New Caribbean Design. Through the push and pull of cross-cultural collaboration the group has balanced traditional cultural practice in the Caribbean and forward-looking design solutions. In contrast with the familiar presentations of Caribbean culture – souvenirs and resort experience – this collection presents something much more dynamic: a living breathing culture with a critical role in the global design marketplace. The pots below are part of the collection we launched at ICFF. They are designed by Stella Hackett for Hamilton’s Pottery in St Thomas, Barbados.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Well, I would say that when I was a young designer I was inspired by and had a distinctly modernist aesthetic. Over time though, the real, messy world pushed its way into my pure and untouchable world. And I’m happier for it. I work collaboratively and inclusively with other designers, manufacturers both craft and otherwise, and, sometimes even with government agencies and development banks. Trying to answer all these diverse needs while creating products with integrity is sometimes a messy and uncertain business but I’ve found that this process produces very rich results. And, my austere and reduced aesthetic still manages to sneak in there too!
As a designer and curator of a mobile design studio 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? Hmm. Good question. Frankly, I rely heavily on the search function on both my computers. It does seem that computers are not equipped to organize files in the traditional office sense and I have long given up trying to rationally organize things. And like most people now my computer files are a mash of the personal, the creative and the commercial.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? Well I am already very happy with my Eames Aluminum Group Chair. I do covet the Aeron Chair though!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Konstanin Grcic’s May Day Lamp and Sharpie Fine Line Pens.
What would you change about your own workspace? I’m quite happy with the current set up both at home and away. I like the flexibility of it – I’m available for both work and family – which is a juggling act at the best of times. If I could change anything I think it would be to build permanent design spaces in the places I work as a resource for the people that I work with.
What do you most love about your space? I love the mobility of my studio and I love that I can work in many spaces with many different people. Although difficult at times it has enriched my work and had a profound impact on how I think about design. I learned that people-centred design has a middle component, living between ethnography and interface. Hand manufacturing is the reality in much of the world, and designers, sitting at their desks sending off PDFs to unknown destinations, may be a modern paradigm, but ultimately a hollow one. I encourage designers to go and visit where their products are made, and, especially, with the people who make them!
What inspires you? Oh, just about everything. I love that the collisions of culture that are the basis of my work can strike a new balance between redundancy and relevance and explore the friction between the “preservationist” view of the handmade as intangible heritage and its real status as living tradition, and therefore, inherently and constantly innovating and adapting. And, I love the resourcefulness that you find in the most difficult and poorest of places and circumstances, and, that creativity still flourishes there.
June 7, 2010
Australian interior designer and blogger Dana Hughes shares her beautiful Sydney home office with us.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I’ve been working from home since November 2009. My husband and I share an apartment in an old style building in Elizabeth Bay in Sydney with high ornate ceilings and beautiful bay windows – I feel very lucky to be able to spend a few days here during the week. At the moment, I divide my time between working as a lead designer on high profile projects with an esteemed architecture & design practice, and crafting boutique interiors as a principal of my design business.
I also write a design blog called yellowtrace, where I share my love for great design and clever people in the areas of interiors, architecture, art, fashion, photography and anything else worth knowing about. I am on a mission to inspire others using design as a tool, so that they can become the best they can be.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I approach my designs with passion, emotion and honesty, and I always strive to separate who am I as a designer from the essence of my client, which isn’t always easy to do. I feel it is absolutely critical to create spaces that tell a story about the end user, rather than about me and my own aesthetic.
My design philosophy is based on a holistic approach which translates brands, ideas and my clients’ personalities into places. Each project begins with a strong concept which becomes an anchor for all ideas during the design process. I am drawn to inspiring, meaningful and enduring environments and experiences, frequently stepping off the beaten path to discover the unexpected for my clients.
How do you keep your work space organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? I have a large drawer cabinet where I store all of my sketches, drawings, samples and work in progress. I have also created little zones in my work space which are dedicated to different tasks – desk for computer based tasks, sketching, admin, blogging; floor for laying out samples and finishes (very glamorous!), seat by the window for thinking etc.
In terms of the technology, I simply couldn’t live without my large iMac screen which is absolutely ideal for creating visual presentations which require having multiple applications open and visible at the same time. Apart from the computer programs essential to my work like AutoCAD, Photoshop and Illustrator, I also rely heavily on Adobe Bridge for sorting and managing all my files. I also really love Apreture and Picasa which help me organise and upload photos and images, particularly for my blog.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you love? Neither of these are furniture, but the things I love in my home office are my computer and my reference books. Sad but true! Having said that, I adore the ceramic table lamp called “Cut Series” by Szilvia Gyorgy – when it’s off, it looks like a beautiful sculpture; when it’s on, it gives off the most beautiful light and casts stunning patterns on surrounding walls. I also really love large typography tea towels purchased at a market in Melbourne and a photo of oars taken by my husband.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Magazine holder which I use to keep an absolutely endless supply of loose pages in order. Also, although not a desk accessory, I absolutely cannot live without my rolls of yellow trace sketch paper (which is where the name for my business and blog comes from – you can read about it more in this post).
What would you change about your own workspace? I would definitely like more layout space – a bench under the window would be nice.
What do you most love about your space? Abundance of natural light, textured brick walls painted white and high ceilings – a perfect canvas for a creative work space.
What inspires you? Ah, this is such a difficult question to answer. I am inspired by so many things, from big and small, obvious and hidden, special and everyday. I recently wrote an entire post on this topic – you can read it right here.
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 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.
May 13, 2010
New Zealand born Helen Lennie is the Sales and Marketing Manager of Signature Prints, a custodian of renowned design libraries with the rich and beautiful Florence Broadhurst archive at its centre. Together with husband David Lennie, Helen has grown Signature Prints into a multi-national brand through their collection of fabrics, wallpapers and lifestyle accessories. Their international dealings demand work around the clock, so their work life melds into their home environment. I caught up with Helen in her Sydney home.
How did you and David meet? We met out socially. I was working for Chanel at the time and within what seemed a millisecond I was out of Castlereagh street, with sleeves rolled up and in the wallpaper industry. No-one quite understood! We’ve been together for 11 years.
How would you describe your home’s aesthetic? Our home is very simple but eclectic. I like the fact that it’s “lived in” as I couldn’t live in a museum where you couldn’t enjoy your surroundings. Its always changing and I try and I treat the aesthetic as though it’s impermanent. If we want to change something, we do. Sometimes it takes on a life of its own which we really enjoy.
Where is your home office? The official home office is upstairs and it has become a storeroom of sorts, so when David and I work from home, we work downstairs at the dining table. We have room to spread out here and it feels as though you’re a part of the home.
How much time do you spend in your home office? As little time as possible and then we seem to be working all the time! We do a lot of international work which keeps us busy at home. If things have to be done at 5 am in the morning, then they have to be done.
Indispensable piece of technology? It has to be my laptop. It makes communication so seamless and connects me to everywhere.
How do you keep organized? Every piece of work that I do at home gets packed away in my laptop bag and taken back to the office. We don’t keep anything here as it’s such a small space. The size of the space forces us to stay organized and keep everything as clutter free as possible.
How do you manage your work life balance? It getting easier but it’s a challenge. There are times when we say that we have to stop and I’m getting better at that as time goes on.
Design, Products, Technology
May 6, 2010
“My hatred for wires and cables has spiked up a few notches since making a move to a new apartment this weekend. The amount of hidden electronic tendrils unleashed upon dismantling my home office could probably be strung together to China (where probably most of this equipment originated) and back. And now at the new apartment, I’ve been reminded hiding necessities like powerstrips requires some planning, dictated by where nearby outlets have been situated. Sometimes you can’t hide away the mess through typical means. Cue in something like the Powerblock to block out the mess.
A future forward faceted plastic rock design cradles a powerstrip inside while also hiding low positioned wall sockets. It even flatpacks for simple shipment and construction. It’s been available in white for awhile now, with the black edition just announced, both for about $50.
[via Design Spotter]
By Gregory Han”
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.