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.
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, Technology
May 19, 2010
Can anyone keep up with freelance writer Lizzie Garrett Mettler? Between contributing to the The Los Angeles Times’ Home section, producing a column for Bon Appétit, and blogging regularly at DESIGNwatcher, she’s just launched a new blog, Tomboy Style. We convinced her to take a breather and tell us about the music that keeps her moving. Take a listen at the results.
What do you listen to while you work? It depends on the day, but usually I need something with a solid beat (which I know my neighbor doesn’t appreciate). In the afternoon, I tend to want to chill out a bit more and listen to some softer tunes.
How do you listen? I typically listen to music on iTunes with speakers connected to my computer, but I do have a turntable in the office that gets some use as well. Elton John’s “Honky Chateau” has been in heavy rotation on the record player lately.
Where do you find music recommendations? I find new music in a variety of channels like movies, magazines, and friends.
If your work was a song, what would it be? I’d like to think that it’d be “Express Yourself” by Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. But it would probably be more accurately akin to any other song in existence, like, say, “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses, “Welcome to the Working Week” by Elvis Costello, or “S.O.S.” by ABBA.
Read on for Lizzie’s Playlist
May 4, 2010
“Congratulations to Tim Grocott, whose DIY transforming home office eked out a win over Matthew M.’s impeccably decorated space in a neck and neck race which went down to the final minutes. The final tally was 114 to 101. We’ll be contacting all three finalists over the weekend to congratulate them personally and get each of their shipping information. A special thanks to Tim, Matthew and Tonya for entering their inspiring spaces in this year’s contest.
And don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten all of you readers who participated via Twitter and shared your favourite entries throughout the month. We’ll be going through the archives of tweets collected and will announce a reader winner of an Apple iPad early next week too, so keep your eyes open.
Thanks again to each and everyone who entered this first, but not last, Unplggd’s The Perfect Workspace contest!
See all The Perfect Workspace submissions here.”
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
May 4, 2010
It’s all about balance for artist Rebecca Niederlander. Her wire sculptures resemble intricate scribbles floating mid-air and rely on the careful distribution of weight to keep aloft. With her husband, daughter and the demands of an artist’s community called Broodwork, a slightly different, but just as intricate balancing act occurs in the rest of her life.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I’ve worked from home since early 2001 when we bought our 1959 ranch house in Eagle Rock (a Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood). My work is a body of suspended wire mobiles that were inspired by watching my studio get built. As the electrical wire was unwound from spools there existed this amazing tension that both remembered the experience of being tightly wound on the spool, but was also open to new formations. I became mesmerized by this simple medium that reflected the whole of life’s experiences so inherently.
My clients often tell me that they want to live with sculpture but had found it hard to place large weighty objects in their homes. My work is accessible for most any domestic settings. So the phrase working from home always makes me smile, since I want my sculpture to “work AT home” as well.
My other work is Broodwork: Creative Practice and Family Life. After having my daughter four years ago, I got even more curious about the practices of other creative people and how they organized their lives as they parented. This eventually lead to founding Broodwork with Iris Anna Regn. Our research showed that there was a large unnamed community of creative practitioners who found an unexpected perspectival shift after becoming parents. It wasn’t that their work took a massive shift, i.e. designing kids clothes or writing “kid rock”, but that their output reflected their new status as the responsible generation with an increased social consciousness and a heady optimism of investment in the future. The work was also frequently was done in small increments of time in home spaces to be nearer their kids.
Describe your studio space. How is that space connected to the rest of the house? Do you share the space with anyone? My studio is a 840 sq. ft. two-storey studio building at the back of our lot designed by architects Jack Burnett-Stewart and Julia Strickland. It is connected to the main house by a meandering decomposed granite path. The first floor of the building is my messy physical working space. It has 11 foot tall exposed joist ceilings, white walls, and a cement floor. The space under the stairs was designed as two four foot wide shelves that slide on rollers so I can store a lot of work and supplies under there. My husband designed a track lighting system for the first floor that incorporates regular track and gooseneck track. Since my sculptures are designed to fit into the particular architecture of the site, the gooseneck track really helps me figure out how the shadows will occur. Natural light comes in through double eight foot tall glass doors.
The second floor is the writing, thinking, reading and meetings space. It has a much more domestic feel with birch floors, lots of windows, a peaked ceiling and is shamelessly decorated with books. It is the truest respite space I have ever had and I adore it. I can feel my breathing slow down as I settle in up here. My husband sometimes telecommutes, so he has a Built Studio table that serves as his desk on that level with a nice docking system set up for his Mac.
It is quite wonderful to have a separate building to go to, but one that is only 100 feet away.
How do you keep your office/studio organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? In terms of organizing my different job hats, I’ve separated the different types of work into the different physical spaces. There is no computer in my studio. My work desk and Mac is in the guest bedroom of the main house, so that’s where I answer email, fiddle with Photoshop, work on websites, etc. I maintain my personal site from that computer using an old Adobe product. The Broodwork site is done with indexibit, which is great. Better still is that I share responsibilities for the Broodwork site with my co-founder, Iris Regn and with Juliette Bellocq. Juliette’s company, Handbuilt Studio, designed the site.
I listen to music constantly, so one of my favorite technologies is a system called Squeezebox that uses iTunes to play through any stereo or computer in the main house or studio. Totally brilliant. I should get stock for all the people I tell about it. Most phone calls are done from my iPhone, so I can be anywhere and am often in the backyard. I’m too honest to say my studio is organized, but I do know where the orange 12 gauge copper conduit is most of the times.
Is there any piece of furniture you covet for your studio? I’d love a two-set Celeste sofa. And I need to get more organized tool and gadget storage.
What would you change about your own workspace? Nothing really. Although sculpture takes up a lot of square footage, and it would be nice to have more even more space, I wouldn’t trade any of my green space for concrete.
What do you most love about your space? When we first looked at our place I fell in love immediately with the backyard. The original owners had been arborists, so the lot had about 20 mature fruit trees. Since my work has always been inspired by doodles and patterning, finding exquisite patterns in roots or branches or leaf shapes bring out the happy geek in me.
I also love going up to the second floor of the studio and looking out the big windows into the trees. I love the huge doors that make for easy transportation of sculpture and bring that garden into the studio. But most of all I love how my proximity to green space keeps me honest. I am constantly reminded of the inherent superior elegance of Nature. What I am striving for in my work is the sort of balanced tension that Nature accomplishes. Someone recently said my work was like looking at nature after man and I’m still processing that idea.
How do you strike a balance between your work and your family-life? Balance is a funny thing. I make suspended works that rely completely on balance. I often think this is because finding balance is one of the hardest things to do, so the most rewarding to achieve in any means. When Iris and I created Broodwork we wanted to provide a showcase for the intensely fabulous work that was being made in the midst of the demands of family life. We figured someone had found a good balance, but to be honest, I can’t say I’ve found it. I have an amazing husband who happily shares parenting with me, and who picks up the extra bits if I am at the edge of a deadline. I do the same for him. I guess ample communication is a big part of the balancing act.
Many of the creative people I know in LA didn’t grow up here, so our families are in other locales. I know it is a cliché, but it really does take a village and part of Broodwork is networking with other families. That is why our exhibits often involve programming at least one family-oriented event, so families can meet one another.
What inspires you? Things that reach out like an arm, a branch, a building, or an idea. Travel. Honesty. Beauty. My daughter’s laugh.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
April 30, 2010
This is the final interview in the four-part series on the editors of Remodelista – a blog full of chic design inspiration. Julie Carlson lives in Mill Valley, California with her husband and children in a house remodeled by Jerome Buttrick of Buttrick Wong Architects. She talks here about her home office in the living room (above) and working remotely with her fellow editors.
How would you describe your workspace? What is the design aesthetic? How does that impact your work? I am drawn to a modern, functional Scandinavian style and a streamlined aesthetic. I also am enamored of Bay Area design—the rustic modern architecture of Joseph Esherick, the organic shapes of potter Edith Heath, the paintings of Richard Diebenkorn. Also a lover of New England understatement. My workspace is typically my living room. My husband has appropriated the office as his own, which is fine with me as I prefer the living room, which gets much better natural light.
Does anyone else use your office? Since the living room in our home is part of a great room (which also includes the dining room and kitchen), there is a lot of flow in and around me when I am working.
How do you organize the space? Almost everything I do for Remodelista is stored and organized on my laptop, so I don’t have a huge organizational system for my workspace. I do have a lot of shelter periodicals that I peruse which I store near my chair in a large basket. I also have several systems for storing images on my laptop and for bookmarking blogs, because so much of our work revolves around finding and presenting beautiful imagery.
What impact do you think color has on a workspace? Most of the color in our home comes from seasonal flowers and branches we bring inside, as well as from art. My affinity for Scandinavian design translates into clean-lined, simple spaces with lots of white and warm woods. I like a workspace that is light and calming, without an excess of color.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? For sheer necessity, my laptop. I also love pencils; my favorites are from Cedar Pointe; they’re made of California incense cedar with a black eraser. Canoe in Portland, Oregon, offers them for $5 per dozen.
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? We are currently looking for a new dining room table. I love our current table (pictured below), but it only seats eight for dinner comfortably; we’d like one that seats at least ten.
What inspires you? The low-key modernist architecture of outer Cape Cod, where Marcel Breuer, Eero Saarinen, Walter Gropius, and Serge Chermayeff built vacation houses. (My first job was cleaning Saarinen’s house on Long Pond.) Also, the spectacular de Young Museum in San Francisco by Herzog & de Meuron, a trip to the furniture and home design department of Liberty of London, the deceptive simplicity of Jasper Morrison’s designs (his Glass Family drinking glasses are genius), and the Bloomsbury aesthetic.
You see so many great workspaces. Is there one that really stands out for you? I love this compact office by Brooklyn-based architects Delson or Sherman Architects.; the wrap-around built-in shelves and the built in desk and cabinetry, the window next to the desk, the Eames office chair.
How do you manage a balance between work and the rest of your life? Some days there is more balance than others, but thanks to several new technologies, we can each work remotely, which helps our editors work around the demands of family and home. Skype, Twitter, Google Docs, the iPhone, and the fact that we can all edit a post through the same online system allow us to work from Brooklyn, San Francisco, Napa and Mill Valley simultaneously. Remodelista is a truly virtual enterprise: after several years of working together, we finally converged in one place (for the first time) at a presentation for the flagship Design Within Reach store in SoHo, just last year.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
April 29, 2010
LA-based Laura Baker was lucky enough to be able to designer her own backyard home office. Here she shares her home office and tips on designing a space you actually want to spend time in! Always a plus with a home office.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I live in Santa Monica Canyon with my husband Steven and our two children. I’ve had this home office for about 8 years, since we built a studio behind our house. I designed the studio in reference to our house, which was designed by Craig Elwood in 1953. I created a small area to use as a home office, off the main living area of the structure. I’m an interior designer, and the nature of my work is very portable.
I have an office in Brentwood where I go when I’m drafting (I design a lot of custom furniture and cabinetry and find drafting by hand is part of the design process), having meetings, and putting presentations together, but my home office is where I spend time on the computer, researching, shopping, and doing paperwork. It’s also where I sketch ideas.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic?I have a simple, spare, yet warm approach to interiors, both residential and contract. I enjoy the interaction of modern and traditional, and use the juxtaposition in my work. Whether the space is a 1950s Case Study house or an old Spanish home I like to create a clean backdrop, allowing light and air to set off the spare interior. I use soft natural fabrics that drape well such as heavy linens and have a patina of age the way old velvet does, and make the space inviting with comfortable relaxed upholstery pieces and shots of color.
I incorporate a few interesting sculptural pieces to create interest, and life, and these things may be new, vintage, or antique, but they’re three dimensional pieces that create interesting views. In a space that gets good sunlight I like to work with pale natural colors and in darker environments highly saturated colors, even if they just function as accents, can bring a lot of energy to a room.
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? There’s nothing like a good file cabinet, which is where I keep my jobs organized in my Brentwood office. However, since I need to carry my files around with me I take the current project files in a tote bag that is always nearby. I just found a new tool that may help with the traveling files; a plain black file portfolio that Moleskin makes. There is something so appealing about their products, this has a very traditional feel, and in the age of technology I like it’s old fashioned quality. As this portfolio is small it may be the perfect thing to carry around. I create files for each job on my computer (a Mac Power Book G4 which is just about ready to be replaced), and I enter all the financial information into Quick Books which is terrific. I keep binders with back up copies of all invoices as well, as I like to have a set of hard copies.
When you are designing a home office what do you keep in mind? It’s important to make the home office a place you want to use, so having favorite things hanging on the wall, or on a nearby shelf is helpful. It’s good to have flowers on a desk…it’s like a gift to yourself when they’re in a place just meant for you.
The office should be of a piece with the rest of the home, designed with the same aesthetic and style. I always find out what kind of equipment needs to be accommodated; computer, printer, fax, phone, and so forth, and design to provide space for those things, and wiring channels to hide all the cables and cords as much as possible. Having enough specifically allocated storage is critical to enable a sense of order, as well as easy cleaning.
If it’s part of a larger room the storage can be disguised if need be. Good task lighting, is essential of course. And finally, a comfortable chair makes it a much more pleasant place to spend time.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I still use an old stool I’ve had since I lived in a very un-renovated loft when I was a student at Parsons in New York, and though I’m sentimental about it I think it’s time to indulge myself! I like to work on a high surface, so that I can stand as I sort through things, but it would be wonderful to have a really comfortable drafting stool. I love the Areon Work Stool in the graphite finish. I especially like the adjustable height foot rest. The airiness of the mesh would prevent a sense of crowding in the small space.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? A box of magnets, to add images to the wall over my desk which is covered with magnetic paint.
What would you change about your own workspace? I’d like to have a window seat, but given the case study design of our house it would be completely out of place! I encourage all my clients to include them to give me the vicarious enjoyment! At least with a comfortable chair I could daydream while looking out the window…not an easy thing to do on a wooden stool!
What do you most love about your space? I love the color of the walls…Farrow and Ball “Skylight”. I love having all my favorite books, magazines and art supplies at arms reach. I am almost glad there isn’t more space, because it’s forced me to edit. I love being able to open the sliding door and nearly be outside. I love my magnetized wall over my desk, for an easy way to arrange images that matter to me. And I love still being close to my family when I’m there.
What inspires you? The first thing that comes to mind is color. When I look at any color it brings to mind a whole world that I can envision around it. I’m very much a beach person, so the color and texture of driftwood, all the blues in the ocean and sky, and the feel of natural fabrics that were left out in the sun too long all inspire me. Inspiration can come from so many places…favorite flowers, objects, locations, can all be springboards. I find paintings to be a wonderful source of inspiration, and you can see some of my favorite artists on my blog.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
April 26, 2010
Chris Zawada is the editor-in-chief and founder of Lovely Package - a blog that covers the best package design from all over the globe.
You work from an ad agency and also from home. How long have you been working in both places…and where is ‘home’? I’ve been with TAXI Advertising & Design for 3 years. We’re a passionate group of people striving to produce award-winning campaigns and designs for our clients across the network of offices (Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, New York and Amsterdam). Lovely Package was founded in late 2008 in Vancouver, Canada where I currently reside.
What does an average work day involve? The average day tends to be a long one. I usually get up early and check my email to see what new package design submissions we have received. Myself and a team of 3 other editors will sift through the work and prep submissions that we feel adhere to a high standard of design which will be posted that day or throughout the week. From there it’s off to TAXI for the day where I still monitor the site, approve and delete comments and generally just make sure everything is working as planned. Being that I have other obligations during the day which don’t allow me to focus all of my time towards Lovely Package, I am grateful to have Helen Shaw who is also a Vancouver-based designer and our Deputy Editor help keep things running smoothly. Nights are typically filled with going through more submissions or scouring the web in search of those elusive lovely packages. Lately a lot of my free time is focused on building the new version of Lovely Package which visually and functionally will be a big departure from the current site. I think our readers are really going to like what we have in-store for them.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires and helps with your work? Hands down my iPhone. I was a late adopter to this technology having got mine a few months ago, but it has really changed the way I do things. Being able to reply to emails on the go and monitor Lovely Package both online and through the WordPress’ iPhone app has really increased my productivity. Now that I have it, I don’t know how I lived without it.
How do you organize your space? I’m thinking here of your physical space but also your virtual space. Is there any particular software or program that helps keep things under control? I hate clutter both in my physical and virtual space. You’ll find plenty of shelving and storage to keep things clean and organized in my environment. When it comes to my virtual space I like to keep it simple. No fancy applications, just clearly labeled and organized folders which house inspirational finds, resources, documents, etc. I then use Adobe’s Bridge to browse the contents of these folders.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? My computer of course!
What piece of office furniture do you most treasure? What do you want to replace? Working on a laptop allows me to roam around and work in various places so I really consider the entire house my office. I’d have to say that my favourite piece of furniture would have to be my Eames Lounge Chair. Not only is it a beautiful example of mid century modern design, it’s possibly one of the most comfortable chairs I have ever sat on. I have an older Keilhauer Tom office chair and while as comfortable as it may be, it looks a bit dated. I’d like to replace it with an Eames Aluminum Group chair.
What inspires you? Inspiration is all around. I may find it in the unique way a leaf has grown on a tree, or in the design of a piece of cutlery. When I need to be inspired I just step outside and take in the world around me.