Balance, Design, Products, Technology
October 20, 2010
What song does Bosco the dog listen to while his owner, Jean Lin, covers commercial interiors and architecture for otto, forecasts trends for WGSN, or designs for her women’s clothing line, Dressed in Yellow? Take a listen.
What do you listen to while you work? This depends on what work I’m doing and what kind of mood I’m in. If I’m writing, I generally can’t listen to music with intense lyrics, so I’ll listen to the mellower jazz like Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue or melodic electronic stuff like Múm and The Album Leaf.
When I’m drawing or working on my clothing line, anything goes. It helps to have something upbeat like MGMT or thought-provoking like NPR. I’m addicted to This American Life and Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
How do you listen? I almost always use my computer, either with my iPod or streaming online.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I grew up in Massachusetts and there is a great chain there called Newbury Comics. They now have a website where you can order CDs and vinyl, but back in the day it was a great spot to find new music and a creative atmosphere.
Does music influence your work? Once I designed an entire collection while listening exclusively to Miles Davis. It wasn’t a conscious source of inspiration, but when it came time to present what I had made, I realized that the moody spirit of the music had found its way into the clothes. You can see it here.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? My brother Jasper and boyfriend Rory are always recommending music they think I’ll like. If it wasn’t for Jasper I would still be listening to Weezer’s first two albums on repeat.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? Well…I inadvertently named my clothing company after a line in Young MC’s “Bust a Move”. I’ll let you decide.
In The Beginning, K’Naan
Re:Definition, Mos Def & Talib Kweli
Heartbeats, The Knife
Wagon Wheel, Old Crow Medicine Show
Hey, The Pixies
Dead Sound, The Raveonettes
Drop It Like It’s Hot, Snoop Dogg and Pharrell
My Block (Nitty Remix), Tupac
In The Air Tonight, Phil Collins
The ’59 Sound, The Gaslight Anthem
A Sunday Smile, Beirut
Cry, Cry, Cry, Johnny Cash
The Subtleties of Chores and Unlocked Doors, Des Ark
Images: Jean Lin
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
August 11, 2010
A lot of you loved last week’s post by Brian Greene about pencils (incidentally, so did Boing Boing). And some of that is due in part to the post’s whimsical-cool illustrations by artist Jordan Awan. In addition to being a contributor here at Lifework, Jordan’s also the Art Director at The New Yorker and the founder (along with wife Morgan Elliott) of Springtime Studio Illustration. Here’s the music that makes up the Brooklynite’s (probably very long) workday.
What do you listen to while you work? I usually listen to rock and roll or just enjoy silence, which is sometimes easier for me to work to. The mix below is decently representative of what I like to listen and work to. Otherwise, I listen to opera; I also like to work to Philip Glass Ensemble.
How do you listen? My old record player finally gave up the ghost, so these days I listen to iTunes on the computer, or I use an iPod.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I haven’t really explored those too much yet. Last FM seems quite good; the little time I have spent on it, I’ve been impressed with what they recommend based on the channel you create. Pandora is fine, too.
Does music influence your work? I’m more overtly influenced by literature or visual art, so it’s interesting to think about music influencing me. Actually, for a long time I was stealing titles for paintings from Simon and Garfunkel song lyrics. So, that’s something.
I think John Cage’s funny and beautiful “Suite for Toy Piano” is really inspiring, and is maybe a close relative of what I aspire to do. I admire how Mozart could write something that is simultaneously silly and elegant, for instance his exuberant Overture to The Marriage of Figaro. Artists like Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, or Lou Reed, each of whom invented a new version of a musical vernacular, are very creatively motivating.
Where do you find music recommendations? My wife has had an influence on my musical taste, which probably happened naturally as our records and libraries got mixed together and her music would be on when I’m in the apartment. She got me interested in Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, Buddy Holly, Gillian Welch…blues and all its offspring, I guess. Music that is very American. Other than that, sometimes a friend will give me a good recommendation.
What song or artist best represents the work you create? Maybe Elvis? Might as well as be the king. A friend once told me that a Beat Happening song called “Indian Summer” sounded the way my drawings looked.
Child’s Christmas in Wales, John Cale
Redondo Beach, Patti Smith
Spanish Harlem Incident, Bob Dylan
Cannibal Resource, Dirty Projectors
Waterfall, The Stone Roses
My Girls, Animal Collective
This Must Be the Place, Talking Heads
Sweet Jane, The Velvet Underground
Elvis Presley Blues, Gillian Welch
In the New Year, The Walkmen
From Stardust to Sentience, High Places
Images: Jordan Awan
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 30, 2010
By day, Andy Pratt is a Creative Director at Funny Garbage, an interactive studio in Manhattan, where he’s worked with clients like Cartoon Network, Smithsonian Institution, Crayola, and Noggin/The-N. By night, he runs Andy Pratt Design, a small design studio where he focuses on his quirky-fun line of paper goods. Between gigs, we asked him to give us the rundown on the music that makes up his day.
What do you listen to while you work? Depending on my mood, I like my music to either have a good amount of rock in it (Hot Snakes, Gun Club, or Can), have some good energy (The Go-Team!, CSS, or Cody ChessnuTT), or be mellow and relaxed (Bon Iver, Andrew Bird, or The Books). I also like to listen to This American Life and Radiolab if I am not in the mood for music. And I recently had a baby, so I’ve been slowly introducing kid-friendly artists into the mix, like They Might be Giants, Alexi Murdoch, and Kimya Dawson, so we won’t get stuck listening to traditional kids songs that will make us go mad.
How do you listen? At work, I used to listen to music with headphones through my computer, but I found that I was having to take them on and off so many times that I decided to get some good Harman Kardon speakers instead. While I am working at home, I usually listen to music through my iPod, which is hooked into a good Altec Lansing speaker dock.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I’ve been listing to music on thesixtyone.com for a little while now. I also like to check out Last.fm every once in a while.
Does music influence your work? That’s a good question. I like to think it has an influence just anything else that inspires me, but I can’t point to any specific element.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? I would say most of my new music is introduced to me by my friends—they are much more on the pulse than I am! We also have our iTunes libraries shared at work so it is fun to browse the various playlists and see what I can discover.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I like to think my work is like The Go! Team. It has a ton of energy, is really fun, and hopefully brings a smile.
Can’t You Wait, Geographer
To Rachel or Sharon, Wynn Walent
Flume, Bon Iver
Girl Is On My Mind, The Black Keys
Sex Beat, The Gun Club
Light Sweet Crude, Obits
Bottle Rocket, The Go! Team
Run [I'm A Natural Disaster], Gnarls Barkley
Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex, CSS
Junior Kickstart, The Go! Team
Look Good In Leather, Cody ChessnuTT
Images: Andy Pratt
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 16, 2010
You will probably do one of three things after reading this interview with Lisa Jones from Portland, OR’s Pigeon Toe Ceramics:
1. Immediately download the eclectic picks from her playlist.
2. Wish the plant sitting in your office was potted in one of her handmade creations.
3. Finally get yourself tuned into Morning Becomes Eclectic (it’s our third mention in a row—get there already!)
Do you listen to music while you work? This is always changing depending on what the studio mood is, but I always tend to return to a few artists, they feel like old friends…The Magnetic Fields, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Band of Horses, Grizzly Bear. I’ve had Janelle Monae’s album on repeat a lot lately.
How do you listen? We have an iPod docking station in the studio along with a radio so we get our daily dose of NPR.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I have four assistants, and when we’re not making up playlists off each other’s iPods, we’ve got my iPhone plugged in and playing Pandora. It’s like having a built-in DJ in my studio, and I really like the surprise of not knowing what is coming next. It also introduces me to a lot of new music, since I don’t have a lot of free time to read music blogs or scour Pitchfork.
Does music influence your work? Very much so. I tend to gravitate toward music that has a low-fi, natural, spontaneous quality to it, and I think that directly correlates to my aesthetic, which has an understated, homegrown, rustic imperfection to it that provides a nice contrast to my modern design bents. New collections or designs often spring from a feeling I get from a color or a sound—it’s crucial to my whole sensibility. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you just have to blast Queen or Lady Gaga and bust out some work; but for the most part, I use music to create a more meditative work atmosphere.
Where do you find music recommendations? My employees are always great about bringing in new music to the studio; I also have a few friends whose taste I trust that will suggest artists. (Word of mouth is the best kind of advertising.) Morning Becomes Eclectic and our local public radio station’s weekend music program In House also introduces me to a lot of new bands.
All is Love, Karen O and the Kids
Tennessee, The Silver Jews
Home, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Still Crazy After All These Years , Paul Simon
The Greatest, Cat Power
Shelter from the Storm, Bob Dylan
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel
Jesus, etc., Wilco
I Feel It All, Feist
From, Dr. Dog
Sons & Daughters, The Decemberists
Parenthesis, The Blow
Images: Lisa Jones and Alicia Carrier
Balance, Design, Technology
June 9, 2010
We discovered the smart work of fashion-lifestyle photographer Anna Wolf after interviewing Design*Sponge’s Grace Bonney (Anna shot Grace’s portrait—see it here). Soon after, we happened upon her blog and thought, “Hey, bet she’d create a pretty cool playlist.” And she did. Take a look and a listen.
Do you listen to music while you work? When I work in studio, it’s a lot of really mellow music. I’m on the phone and writing emails a lot, so it needs to be something that can kind of blend into the background. When I’m on set, it tends to be more upbeat and more poppy.
How do you listen? In studio (which I share with my boyfriend), we’re all on a network. So our computers feed into a receiver and through really good speakers. On set, I’ll rent a portable iPod dock or a lot of times I bring this little red speaker that you plug your iPod/iPhone into. It’s small but super loud and is so easy to just throw in a bag and go.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? Well, I’m probably pretty late in the game, but I am really loving Pandora right now.
Does music influence your work? I think music most influences me when I’m working on personal stuff. Not so much on set or when I’m in studio doing all the back-end business stuff. There was a time in college when I was staying up super late, listening to Red House Painters on repeat, and making collages and little books.
Where do you find music recommendations? Most of my music comes from friends, people who know what I like and tell me to download a certain artist or album. I really do love Morning Becomes Eclectic on NPR, but don’t listen to it as much now that I live in NYC.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? Wow, that’s a really serious question! I’ve been totally in love with the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack lately—songs by Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The music is so hopeful, sincere, and beautiful. Some songs are really mellow and some move faster with more energy. When I first heard the album, I thought it was all different artists since the songs are so varied. I think I could get behind that album as representative of the range of my work!
Live to Tell the Tale, Passion Pit
Hideaway, Karen O and the Kids
Sorrow Tears and Blood, Fela Kuti
Into the Sun, Diplo
The Only Living Boy in New York, Simon and Garfunkel
Fun Powder Plot, Wild Beasts
No One Does It Like You, Department of Eagles
I Get Low, Timber Timbre
Re: Stacks, Bon Iver
Ash Wednesday, Elvis Perkins
Nickel Bags, Digable Planets
Send It On, D’Angelo
By Your Side, Sade
Hometown Glory, Santigold
Peace Train, Cat Stevens
Two Weeks, Grizzly Bear
Knife, Grizzly Bear
Turn Me On (Kevin Lyttle cover), CocoRosie
Everyman…Everywoman, Yoko Ono
Images: Anna Wolf; Studio Photos: Monica Pendergrass
May 26, 2010
Los Angeles-based chef and caterer-to-the-stars Lulu Powers is out to remind people that entertaining is supposed to be fun—not a chore. Her new book Lulu Powers Food to Flowers aims to inspire readers to enjoy themselves alongside their dinner guests (it’s a party, after all), so it’s no surprise that the playlist she created for us is lively, energetic—and would pair perfectly with her Ginger-Lime Cocktail (take a listen, then try the recipe here).
What do you listen to while you work? When I’m working, I love to listen to upbeat music. My tastes are very eclectic—I could be listening to anything from Elton John and Diana Ross to Linkin Park and Lady Gaga.
How do you listen? I mostly listen to my iPod through my home stereo or sometimes through my computer.
Do you have any favorite music websites? I like Pandora, iTunes, and kcrw.com (especially Eclectic24).
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? My husband, who is very into music, knows my taste and always suggests things. Susan Mazo, a dear friend of mine who works for Warner Music Group, always has great recommendations. And every radio station I listen to—if I hear a song I like, I find out who the artist is and put it on Pandora. I also may hear a good mix in someone’s house and ask, “Who is this??”
Does music influence your work? I love “happy” music—fun, fun! I want my work to put a smile on my clients’ faces, like I would a friend coming for dinner. They walk in the door, they hear fun, happy, upbeat music, you give them a cocktail, and they’re bound to have a great time…
Read on for Lulu’s playlist
May 20, 2010
“Usually when we hear the term ‘audiophile,’ we tend to immediately think ‘overpriced audio gear.’ Surprisingly, this isn’t the case with Dayton B652 6-1/2″ 2-Way bookshelf speakers. Somehow, some way, it manages to deliver sound that’s surprisingly decent, all for a ridiculously affordable price of $25 a pair.
The speakers are about 12 inches tall, 7 inches wide, and 7 inches deep. Pretty much perfect for the kitchen sound system if we ever saw one.
According to a friend of a friend over at Cnet, one of the most annoying sacrifices you’ll have to make is dealing with the spring clips for the speaker wire, though we personally don’t see it as much of a problem if the sound is as good as they make it out to be.
If you’re looking for some geeky audiophile speaker talk on the sound quality, you can check out their write-up on the speakers over here. But if you’re going to take the plunge, you’ll be needing a receiver or some sort of amp to drive the passive speakers. Just pick one up from your local thrift store and you’ve got yourself an instant little makeshift stereo system.
You can read more reviews on the speakers over here. Shipping starts at around $11.
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
May 12, 2010
Four years ago, the neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, got a little more colorful with the opening of Saipua, a handcrafted soap and flower boutique run by Sarah Ryhanen and her partner Eric Famisan. Sarah took a (well deserved) breather just after last weekend’s Mother’s Day rush to tell us about the rain-inspired mixes on her laptop and how music can add to the emotion behind her dreamy creations.
What do you listen to while you work? Lately, I listen to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Phil Collins, The Knife, Simon and Garfunkel, Barbara Streisand, The Roches, Edith Piaf, Dead Can Dance, Arthur Russel, Arab Strap, Belle and Sebastian, Wild Beasts, Black Mountain, Echo and the Bunneymen, and Kid Creole and the Coconuts.
How do you listen? We plug our laptops into a sound system in the studio. Lots of times I’ll make a mix for the occasion, so I have a ton of mixes on my laptop with names like “Rainy Sunday in September” or “Rainy Monday Night with Martini” or “Mother’s Day.” (It’s funny—I have a lot of rainy-day mixes.)
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I look at Pitchfork sometimes. But in general, I hear about new music from my partner Eric, who’s much more plugged in, or from friends.
Does music influence your work? It definitely does. It’s hard to give specific examples, but I sometimes get really emotional when I’m working with flowers. Music, especially when I work alone, tends to add to the experience of checking out of reality and tapping into the subconscious flow or process of creation. Not to sound out-of-control corny, but the bottom line is the pleasure principle—arranging flowers is really pleasurable (incidentally we listen to a lot of Janet Jackson, too). Music just adds to that intrinsically aesthetic process. Wine is nice, too.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? Eric keeps me up to date with new music, which I know very little about. He also listens to a lot of hip-hop and jazz—not always things I would turn on, but enjoy nonetheless. (I mean, I love some Naughty by Nature and Expose.) My friend Aaron is also a walking music-history library. My love of Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Julie Cruise and all that weirder late 80′s/early ’90′s ethereal femme jazz comes from his immense record collection.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? Kate Bush. So feminine, creative, beautiful; ultimately, such an amazing storyteller. She has such an imagination! I aspire to that sort of creative synergy in my life.
Read on for Sarah’s playlist…
May 4, 2010
Freelance writer, author, and editor David Hochman writes about entertainment, cultural trends, technology, and more for the likes of The New York Times, Esquire, Forbes, Details, The Huffington Post, and Food + Wine. A former senior staff writer at Entertainment Weekly, he also published his first children’s book, The Potty Train, in 2008. Just before creating our first album-only playlist (he always has the same few compilations on repeat during work hours), David spoke to us about the magic of the Shazam application, getting music tips from the people he interviews, and learning to play the mandolin as an adult.
What do you listen to while you work? For years, I’ve listened to the same few jazz albums over and over at work. These particular time-tested selections inspire and focus me because they don’t have lyrics, they’re smooth as silk, and they have just the right energy to stir clear, creative productive work.
How do you listen? Though the little white Apple headphones on my trusty black MacBook, via iTunes.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? Shazam, which identifies almost any song when you hold up your cell phone, is a true miracle of our age. So is Pandora. I’m a big fan of Hear Music’s bricks-and-mortar locations and also like the Genius Recommendations on iTunes.
Does music influence your work? Yes. I learned to play the mandolin as an adult and got a deep appreciation for acoustic American hillbilly music along the way. Click here for the essay I wrote on the subject for Reader’s Digest.
Where do you find music recommendations? My brother has an ear for the obscure and the funky. My friend Larry opens my eyes to African soul. I often ask people I interview—including musicians—what their go-to iPod tunes are.
What song or artist best represents the work you create? Perhaps Louis Armstrong. He played the spectrum from silly pop to complicated jazz to deep blues. That’s roughly the territory I cover as a writer.