May 30, 2013
Here at Lifework, we see a lot of thoughtful workspaces from the creative community in Portland, Oregon — and our latest tour is no different. Step inside this home office of freelance illustrator, designer, and maker Jenny Tiffany for a dash of inspiration. Read more
July 19, 2012
He’s based in Orange County, California, but Jonathan Lo, founder of J3 Productions and the mastermind behind the blog Happy Mundane, spends his weekends at a getaway in the San Diego area. And although the rented beach house is a place to take a break from the busy week, the space still acts as Jonathan’s official “second office.” (After all, who doesn’t have to sneak in some work on a Sunday every once in a while?) Appropriately decorated with pops of aquamarine, the temporary office offers everything a guy on the go needs: just enough room to work, a designated place for a printer, bits of art for inspiration, and easy access to the ocean when break time comes around. Read more
Balance, Design, Products
February 6, 2012
At a Pecha Kucha event for the American Institute of Graphic Artists last year, graphic designer Andrew Byrom presented a series of takes on what a business card should – and shoudn’t – be. His son passed out a wooden card made literally from “The Desk of Andrew Byrom.” Andrew’s witty presentation softened his rigorous rethinking of the function of graphic design, and the involvement of his 9-year-old son made it a family event. Currently, the Eames exhibition that Andrew curated and designed with Deborah Sussman for Pacific Standard Time is at the A+D Museum. Here Byrom speaks about his work, how he works, and Ray and Charles Eames.
You established your firm in 1997. What led to that point? After graduating from The University of East London in 1996, I worked briefly in the design department of Routledge, a leading academic book publisher. In 1997, I opened my own design studio in London and worked for various clients including Penguin Books, The British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, The Industrial Design Centre, Time-Out Online, and The Guardian newspaper. Around this time I also began teaching graphic design at The University of Luton and Central St. Martins.
I moved to the States in 2000 to teach at Northern Illinois University. In 2006, I moved to Long Beach, where I am a Professor at California State University. I divide my time between teaching, designing for various clients, and playing with my sons Auden, Louis, and Julian.
I have recently been commissioned to design typefaces and type treatments for The New York Times Magazine, UCLA Extension, and Sagmeister Inc.
Above: A quote from the Eames’ on Byrom’s dining room wall.
Balance, Design, Products
December 5, 2011
I came across Angelica Paez’s home work space on our Herman Miller flickr group. I was intrigued by her space and asked Angelica if she’d share some more about her Texas set up.
November 17, 2011
A few weeks back unplggd’s editor Gregory Han was invited to answer the following questions: What defines a workspace and what technologies do I find impressive today? One of our favourite bloggers, Design Milk, posed these questions to a panel composed of designers, artists, creatives, and yours truly, including Joey Roth of ceramic speakers, the always impeccable design spotter Tina Roth Eisenberg of swissmiss, Gretchen Jones, fashion designer and winner of ModKat, the most stylish litterboxes out there.
• Check out the full post over at DEFINING THE DESIGNER WORKSPACE.
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
October 17, 2011
Brooklyn-based Roll & Hill produces contemporary lighting and was founded by designer Jason Miller in January of last year. While the company may be young Miller’s work hit the big time back in 2003 with his Superordinate Antler Lamps. These now ubiquitous lights launched Miller’s career and paved the way for Roll & Hill with its stable of designers that include Lindsey Adelman, Partners & Spade and Rich, Brilliant and Willing. Here we take a tour of Miller’s workspaces.Yes, there is more than one.
1. How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I live currently in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. From 2001 to 2008 I lived and worked in a loft apartment. At the end of 2008, my business had taken over the entire loft. I was living in my 100 square foot bedroom in the back. It was time to separate work and home, so I moved into an apartment in Greenpoint. I still work out of the same loft.
2. Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I would say my aesthetic is contemporary, with a American slant.
3. How do you keep your work space organized? It is a constant battle. I have come to realize that I am a bit anal.
4. When you set up your home office what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? Yes, there was one huge obstacle! There is no place for a home office in my apartment. I live with my girlfriend and our daughter in an apartment that we thought we’d be in for just a few months. Over a year later we are still here. All of our stuff is in storage. My work space at home is on a sectional couch from West Elm (no comment) that was here when we moved in. I work with my feet up, computer on my lap and surrounded by my daughter stuffed animals.
5. Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet right now? A desk!
6. What desk accessory can’t you do without? I like to keep my work area pretty minimal. On my desk at work is usually assorted papers and my computer. The one accessory I need to have is a calculator. I know there is one on my computer and even one on my phone, but I like having a cheap solar powered calculator next to me.
7. What would you change about your work space? I would love to have more privacy. That is the major drawback about working on the couch. My daughter loves to play with the keys on my computer. It makes it hard to work when she’s holding down the the “delete” key.
8. What inspires you? Other people doing great things.
Check out Elle Decor for a slideshow of Roll & Hill’s designs.
October 10, 2011
Ben Goss is based in Sydney, Australia but as a true global worker his illustrations appear in publications all over the world. You’ll find his work in The Guardian, Black and White magazine and our recently released Better World Report (pictured above). Goss takes us on a tour that covers his three work spaces from his day job at Yello and his home office where he does his illustrating to his painting studio which he shares with another artist.
1. Yello I am here with a whole bunch of talented and creative people where brand strategy and well-crafted graphic design get done. It’s a big warehouse space converted into commercial studios. Good natural light come in. We have musical wars on the shared iTunes and it’s under a flight path so on occasion a low flying 747 roars by in the afternoon and drowns out the music.
2. Home Studio Where the sketching and illustration business gets done. I like to have lots of source material arround me books, web, magazines. The table is an old drafting table that can tilt to 90 degrees. The room is small but there’s enough space to move around and make a mess.
3. Painting Studio I share this space with another artist. We are seldom there at the same time and work around each other when the other is busy preparing for an exhibition. It is a great place to paint. It has good light with big floor to ceiling windows. Many days and nights are spent here working on large scale pieces.
Balance, Design, Technology
September 21, 2011
The last question we always ask Playlisters—“If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be?”—is notorious for stumping even the most creative of folks. But we think graphic designer Carolyn Sewell’s answer takes the cake. Take a look-see to learn what the Southern-born creator of Postcards To My Parents and Postcards To My Peeps listens to (and feels inspired by) in the home she shares with custom furniture designer and builder Richard Sewell of The Proper Carpenter.
What do you listen to while you work? Having to answer this, I’m realizing my listening style is quite manic…my process is a bit scattered (read: teeny tiny attention span) so my music shifts with my mood and focus. If I’m sketching or working in Photoshop or Illustrator then it could be anything from Black Keys and Beastie Boys to Arcade Fire and Heartless Bastards. If I’m working on copy edits or estimates, then I prefer to take it down a notch and listen to Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Ray LaMontagne, etc. And I’ve recently started listening to Debbie Millman’s podcast Design Matters…not only is her voice like a caramel blanket, but the creative folks she interviews are so amazing and inspiring that my skin starts tingling and my brain starts oozing. It’s a great feeling.
How do you listen? I work by myself in my home (so no need for earphones) and usually listen from my computer. I used to listen to my iPod when commuting to meetings, but found that I kept missing my metro stops. I’d get so wrapped into my music that I’d forget that I actually had a destination. Have I mentioned my short attention span?
Balance, Design, Products
September 20, 2011
Bill Birchard’s new book Merchants of Virtue explores Herman Miller’s commitment to building an environmentally sustainable business. That word ‘sustainable’ gets tossed around a lot these days. How did Birchard define it? ”For a company, sustainability means operating with no long-term impact on the health of the planet or its people. The definition widely recognized by business comes from a U.N. commission report from 1987. The commission defined “sustainable development” as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” That’s the definition Herman Miller adopted, and many others have also. Many people today have expanded the definition to include a wide range of benefits to the communities and society in which we live. The short definition of sustainability is leaving the planet as good as we got it, for the benefit of our children and grandchildren. ”
Birchard interviewed over 100 people for the book – from CEO to factory heads. He also found himself trawling through our extensive archives. The result is an in-depth look at a company committed to sustaining the planet for generations to come. Here we take a tour of Birchard’s home office in Amherst, New Hampshire, where he wrote the book, and learn about his work habits.
“I use a pivot screen, which I usually keep in the vertical position. It’s much easier for writing, since you can see (and move, cut/paste, etc.) a lot more copy.”
“I keep many sizes and kinds of notepaper, tablets, and post-it notes in the shelves in front of me, and I use whichever seems to “feel” right when I’m brainstorming. Sometimes I use a post-it to capture a small thought. Sometimes I use a tablet to sketch out a long chapter lead. Sometimes I use cheap paper or the back of an envelope for “throwaway” thoughts I’m “testing” but doubt I’ll keep, etc. Although I also keep many notes on the computer, I find the tactile and sketching qualities of paper helpful in shaping thoughts and arranging priorities. I’m definitely not in favor of a “clean desk,” since inspiration for metaphor, etc., come from anywhere, even pictures of family camping trips, etc. The exception is when I’m writing. I write almost exclusively from electronic documents on my computer, since the volume of documents needed to write a book is much too great to arrange on a desk.”
“By the way, one of my favorite quotes about writing (which will appear in my upcoming book on writing), is the following, which explains why a good chair, an Aeron, is so important to me:”The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” It’s from Mary Heaton Vorse, suffragette, journalist, novelist, single mom, 1874-1966. I spend a lot of time glued to my chair.”
Update: Herman Miller has just been recognized as a leader in corporate sustainability by The Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World). This is the eighth year we’ve garnered the attention of DJSI World. It was launched in 1999, and was the first global index tracking the financial performance of the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide. Herman Miller joins 300 other companies in the top 10% of leading sustainable companies in the world.
August 1, 2011
Los Angeles architects Silvia Kuhle and Jeffrey Allsbrook of Standard share their east-side home, tracing the design aesthetic back to their shared German roots.
Your design studio – Standard – is based in Los Angeles and in your work your European roots seemed to have merged with a particularly modern Californian aesthetic giving both a warmth and a rigor that is really striking. Can you give us a bit of background – you both studied architecture in Germany. How do you think that has influenced your work in California? We met in Germany, and while we went to different schools there, it was like an intersection in our studies. We both went to architecture school in the US as well, but on opposite coasts. In American schools the emphasis is on process and forms but in Germany the modernist project continues to be an influence; our work reflects some of that idealism. When we started to work together in Los Angeles, the dominant trend was to create new form. We were more interested in creating space, and in LA’s modern history. Early in our practice, we had the opportunity to work on a couple of projects that were interiors combined with landscapes, so we designed from the inside out. We worked with materials, openings in walls, views, and light; and less with the outward appearance of the building.
Your own home, aptly dubbed “The Tree House” is perched on a steep hill on the east side of Los Angeles. How did that site influence your design? We had lived on the site for about seven years before we started the project, so we understood the site well and we knew how we wanted to live there.
Under the tree there is a microclimate that’s usually about 10 degrees cooler than down at the street.
We wanted the house to be under the tree’s canopy, and to create the living space there. The south orientation and expansive views led us to open the house up on that side, and to keep the back more solid.
The material palette is very restrained – concrete, redwood and white cabinetry with marble in the bathrooms. How do you go about making those choices? We wanted to balance the materials and create contrast. In the main living space we defined the perimeter with white walls and cabinets, so the wood in the center of the room looks more like built-in furniture. It is a small house and the approach to materials and the glass help make it feel more expansive.
The home includes a desk/work area in the master bedroom. Do you find your work life spills over into your home life? Our work spills into our home life probably a little too much, and thankfully, this desk is rarely used for work.
Currently our office is very close to the house, so we try not to bring work home.
What inspires you in your work? Silvia: New York, aged finishes, vast (higher altitude) landscapes, Rick Owen’s fashion, Edith Heath’s ceramics (below).
Le Courbusier’s concrete (and glass) architecture, Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima’s material-less seeming architecture (below Sejima’s New Museum in New York City. Image via StarMedia).
Jeff: Furniture design: Charlotte Perriand, Joe Colombo, Jean Royere. Automotive design: Alfa Sprint Speciale, classic Bertone designs. The architecture of Jose Antonio Coderch (below Coderch’s Casa Ulgade, Barcelona 1953) , Mies van der Rohe’s early work.
Photos: Shots of Silvia and Jeff’s home by Benny Chan/fotoworks.