Balance, Design, Products, Technology
December 27, 2010
What does the home office of an insect artist look like? And what exactly is an insect artist? Kevin Clarke, whose exquisite work is available at Bug Under Glass, reveals all in this interview about his San Francisco-based bug room.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I am in insect artist making traditional and non-traditional insect and natural history displays. I have worked in my current San Francisco studio for the last 2 years, and the “Bug Room” resides in an old 2-bedroom apartment built a year after the 1906 earthquake.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? A Cabinet of Curiosities meets modern museum. I love mixing and linking detailed cultural objects (money, maps and stamps) with natural history. An aesthetic I am fond of is apothecary and industrial looks – I am fascinated with scientific and industrial instruments.
As someone 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? My studio is divided into two areas, with lots of crossover. One side is a standing workbench where I design and assemble shadowbox displays and also ship items. The other side of the studio has a large glass desk where I prepare insects for display, send emails and perform clerical duties on my computer. Everything else – supplies, inventory and inspiration – fill the walls from floor to ceiling on various shelving systems. One program I have found very useful, which helps my distaste of loose papers, is Neat Receipts, a scanner and software that files my receipts and documents on my computer. Another system that has saved some of my sanity, and helped me organize my day and workspace, is the book called “Getting Things Done”.
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? With such a limited space it has to be well organized and open in the middle because I do a lot of moving around.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you wish you had? More insect drawers to store prepared insects. More storage in general would help.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Drawers! Little ones, medium ones, and big ones. Preferably labeled.
What would you change about your own workspace? More space and a new spot for my electronic drum kit that is the last dusty reminder of when I had extra time.
What do you most love about your space? It gets lots of morning sun and is quiet.
What inspires you? The amazing diversity of shapes, patterns and colors of the natural world. Everyday you can see something new if you look hard enough.
Balance, Design, Products
November 26, 2010
New Jersey-based graphic designer Mia Jang shares her home workspace with us. She’s the designer behind one of our favorite calendars for 2011.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I’m a designer, full-time mommy and maker. I love taking photographs, love playing and making music. I live in New Jersey, in a small town very close to Manhattan, with my wonderful husband and two beautiful kids. I used work as graphic designer until I concieved my first child back in 2007. I decided to stay home and it all started from there. STORYBYMIA was launched. I’ve been working with papers at home and I still enjoy it so much.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I love everything simple and clean and cute and natural. Nothing complicated.
How do you keep your office organized? I work with my kids around since they aren’t in school yet, so it’s not easy to keep my office organized as you can imagine. I recently moved my office to living room and new shelving (below) from IKEA really helped. I also make sure kids have enough space so they can play and learn and make crafts with me.
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? Safety for kids. I design on my computer but my work involves with paper cutter, corner rounder, scissors…not child-friendly thingss. So I tried to have a specific spot to put everything dangerous. And I try to keep everything as neat and organized as possible since our house is tiny and kids are all over the place and I had to make sure nothing gets lost or messed.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? More storage units. or….just bigger house!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Post-its and sketchbooks. I love scribbling and doodling and it helps me remember important things and also inspires me for new designs.
What would you change about your own workspace? I wish to have my ‘own’ office, of course. No kids or husband to mess around…haha but I do love their company. I just want a little bigger space or storage areas. Plus I would love to have more sunlight, it’s pretty dark in our living room even in the afternoon.
What do you most love about your space? What I most love about my home office? It has everything I love. My family and my work and food in the refrigerator.
What inspires you? My husband and my kids. Everything they love. Animals and trees and sky and clouds and flowers.
November 3, 2010
A while back we took a tour of Lara Parent’s home office. Lara is a photographer and her space is wall-to-wall images. No pin boards for this woman. Lara sent me her office’s most recent incarnation. She’s now rid herself of a chair! Here’s Lara:
“When we were reconfiguring my studio/office, my husband and I were talking about working on the floor as kids. I was sharing how I used to love drawing while lying on the floor and he was sharing with me how he used to draw or make little things while using the top landing step on the second floor of his house as his “table” and the 2-3 steps below him as his “chair/stool”
I also love that I can see so much of the sky, the trees, an occasional bird. It’s calming. I love the light from this west-facing window.
As for the space itself, it feels larger working closer to the ground. I notice more of my environment. Being at such a low vantage point also has inspired me to clear the clutter, to strip the book shelves to reference books, magazines, journals, photo files, etc, that I actually pull out and draw inspiration from. It also minimizes the big rectangle computer monitor that now dominates the space. By putting the computer so low, it disappears a little from view. But I am still trying out the low work space…I don’t have the seating fully worked out. The straw cushion is comfortable, but it lacks the necessary back & lumbar support. I can’t work for long stretches on the computer…which maybe is a good thing as it gets me to get up and stretching. Often.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
November 1, 2010
Sharon Suh recently left her corporate job as a photo editor to pursue her passion for photography. Here she shares her freshly minted home office.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? My new home is in West Hollywood. I have been bi-coastal for the last two years between Cobble Hill in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. I started my own business as kid’s photographer in 2009, and it has been going well after the Daily Candy story that came out recently. Check out my website! When I bought the new place I was just coming out of an emotional breakup and finding this space was the answer. I found a reason to FOCUS and find myself again, and I realized I had a very small budget. But that turned out to be a great challenge. It was an interesting change, from being in a corporate art department environment as a photo editor at various magazines in New York, (Vanity Fair, Glamour, InStyle, GQ,Travel and Leisure and Bon Appetit) to working from home full-time as a kids photographer. Freelance is a beautiful thing but since you are home so much, you have to really love the space you are in! And I do love it. Nate Berkus recently called me to feature my space on his show for a piece on designing a small space on a budget which aires on November 10.
Describe your style? Simple and with a slap of striking. I am drawn toward fashion, photography, interior design and food that are these two things. In character, in manners, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity. I think Henry Wadsworth Longfellow might have written that but the sassy girl in me needs a smack of subtle visual drama.
How would you define your aesthetic? Graphic and simple. The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
How do you keep your office organized? Being a photographer, I find that the best computer for photographers and designers is the Mac Book Pro or the 27 inch iMac. I have the Mac Book Pro and it’s fantastic. My next purchase will be the iMac when I can afford it. I DISLIKE clutter so I only have on my desk what I need.
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? LESS IS MORE. GREEN. I am trying to go paperless and liked the idea of buying second hand or recyled products so that it could be the ultimate green office. COLOR. Color of the room or walls are very important. Color will stimulate productivity and if you are feeling blocked or lethargic, then paint the wall a vibrant color or wallpaper. If you don’t like it, you can always go back.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? The Setu chair in white or the Sayl chair in Red. It’s so chic.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? My vision boards inspired by Nate Berkus, my Mac computer and a great chair.
What would you change about your own workspace? I got my desk at a garage sale for $20. I was in a rush putting my office together so I know that I will be finding another one soon that is either made of recyled materials or at a vintage store or garage sale.
What do you most love about your space? The striking color, and the art work all around me. I have my three vision boards that keep me focused. One vision board has photos of my feet. It’s a series of places all over the world that I have travelled too. Next the most recent thank you cards I have received. I am a big fan of being thankful for everything you have, and not keep thinking of all the things that I don’t.
What inspires you? Artists inspire me. A few artists that have inspired me are graphic designers Fabian Baron and Robert Festino, editor LIz Tilberis, designer CoCo Chanel, photographers Richard Avedon, Peggy Sirota, Terry Richardson and Bruce Weber, painters Alex Katz, Ellsworth Kelly and Cy Twombly and the list can go on and on and on.
Design, Products, Technology
October 22, 2010
Name: The UNstudio Loft
Location: Greenwich Village, New York
Size: 550 m2
Designed for dual use as both an art gallery and a loft living space, the undulating walls and curvilinear features of the UNstudio loft caught our attention as a dream space for anyone who collects art, books and loves the minimalist aesthetic. Our tech side appreciates the use of 18,000 LED lights illuminating the ceiling and shelving, while our favorite room is the stunning office space with flowing worktop and a city view to die for.
As noted, the look isn’t for everyone, but for those of us aspiring for a more minimalist aesthetic, there’s a lot to admire about the space. Most notably the interior architecture itself “framing” all the decorative, art and printed elements into the forefront. Also, we’re envious of the LED lighting system, which can be programmed to change to various degrees of warmth or cool, depending upon the time of day and weather. We like the idea of integrated interior architecture light therapy! And of course, we always love any space where we can’t find a cord or cable in sight.
Photos by UNStudio
Story by Gregory Han.
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
October 18, 2010
Here is the second half of Friday’s interview with the couple behind creative agency ::CRONAN::. Karin Hibma and her husband Michael started Cronan in 1980 and count TiVo, Michelle Obama and Amazon amongst their clients. They work from their home on three acres in the Berkeley hills. Here’s Karin’s side of the story.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve been working from home on and off since college. As an artist, home life, art work and work are often combined. And where is home? Years ago, home was a great studio apartment in a neighborhood in Berkeley where great things were happening, revolutions in food, coffee, thinking and creativity. Three moves and thirty plus years later, home is in Berkeley again, this time on three acres in the hills above what is now known as the “Gourmet Ghetto” – and next to the University of California, Berkeley.
In the 1970’s I was doing research and managing large projects for some of the most creative designers, artists and filmmakers – one great project was “Creativity – the Human Resource” where I got to meet and work with the top contemporary Americans who’d made major contributions in the arts and science to tell their stories; in 2010 I’m working with my husband and partner Michael Patrick Cronan to combine those same research skills with years of experience in creating businesses and working with clients to develop brands and identities for amazing companies and products and effectively tell their stories. We also have a private label product development and manufacturing company — we created the award-winning clothing line called Walking Man.
Describe your style? My personal style is wabi-sabi – I like elegance and simplicity but warmed by nature and use.
How would you define your aesthetic? Our friend Leonard Koren — coiner of the expression and author of the book Wabi-Sabi– just wrote a new book — Which ‘Aesthetics’ Do You Mean? Ten Definitions. I would say mine is warm, human, influenced by nature and experience.
As someone with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized? My best organizer is my Herman Miller Burdick Desk. My client for the “Creativity” project was the Burdick Group in San Francisco; while we were creating the “Creativity” exhibit, one of the teams there was working on this design for Herman Miller. Bruce Burdick described them as “workbenches for executives.”
When George Nelson came to visit – he called it “the wave of the future”. It’s a big, open rectangular work surface with smaller rectangles attached to two aluminum beams, and a beautiful round glass tabletop. I can totally switch from computer work to organizing to contemplating and writing by changing from the big work surface to the glass table (which has spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay) and back again. I don’t own the desk, I have it on permanent loan (very wabi-sabi) from my pal Paul Saffo, so it makes it even more inspiring to work at.
As far as organizing my computer I’m still using a PowerBook G4 as my main computer – I can run some old Classic programs on it. My family teases because I have so many programs open all at one time, but I can easily switch from one task to another. Best is my big screen Apple monitor(s) that’s attached to the PowerBook, I can have multiple programs in view and use all the time.
Are there any particular programs you find really useful? I love an old program called “InControl” – one of our production managers years old got me started on it – I use it both for calendaring and for collecting notes on my research, inspirations and ideas. I haven’t found anything like it. I use several search engines, it’s hard for some people to imagine, but much of the day-to-day information from years BEFORE the search engines is not available – books and libraries and people are still important resources for finding information.
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? My main desk actually faces true north, according to my iPhone compass – pretty cool. I have places for people to sit with me, places to work on my own, and space to store most of the research I accumulate working on projects. We have a huge library, it’s spread all over the house.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you wish you had? I wish I had…. Hmmm??? I’d like a TiVo remote for my life… When Michael named it years ago, who knew you could pause live television? I’d like to be able to pause and/or replay moments, plus have TiVo gather all my favorites for my viewing pleasure. It’s still possible!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? A little keyboard stand that our son Shawn HibmaCronan, a sculptor, created for himself and loaned (I guess it’s on permanent loan, too) to me. It lifts my computer keyboard up to just the right height for work. I also have two Ron Rezek Orbis lamps, they give just the right pools of light for each big work surface and don’t take up visual space.
What would you change about your own workspace? I need more storage space – I like to put things away when I’m not working on them, but have them near me for quick results. I’m probably going to work to go more paperless – that would be a big step and save on the clutter.
What do you most love about your space? I love the view, I love being with my family and garden and that clients come to visit and feel like they’re in a special creative space.
What inspires you? My wonderful husband and partner Michael, our sons and their friends, my dad, our clients, our friends and amazing community. New projects, travel, learning about new businesses, art, music, books, great foods and wine and time with all of the above!
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
October 15, 2010
When I spotted the jars of garden produce that Michelle Obama had packaged up so beautifully to give away as presents I was intrigued. Who had designed the packaging? Who gets that job? I want that job! Alissa Walker tracked down the story before I did and ran a great piece on the branding of the Obama vegetables here. It turns out Michael Cronan and Karin Hibma of creative agency Cronan were behind the packaging. They are also the clever minds behind the name of Amazon’s Kindle and the naming and brand design of TIVO.
I’m following Alissa’s story with a look at their hillside workspace. Often when we run these stories on couples it makes sense to cover it all off in the same post. This one I will run over two days and as you read on you’ll see why. I hope you enjoy these posts as much I enjoyed putting them together.
First up is Michael Cronan. I’ll follow this with Karin Hibma’s interview on Monday.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? We have been working at home for about 6 years. We moved because the property just seemed perfect for us. We are in the Berkeley hills, a three acre place with good size house that functions well as office, working and living space.
We focus on working with new companies or new ideas in more established companies. We provide brand strategy as well as the name and visual identity for a company, product or service. The work spans from high tech to consumer foods, goods and services. We concentrate on who our clients and/or their products truly are and who/what they wish to become as our template for operation.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Our style is relaxed, open and informal which is based on our backgrounds in fine art and our experience with highly successful entrepreneurs, presidents and CEO’s. Our aesthetic borrows from every other aesthetic. We look at culture, history and spend a lot of time trying to see “around the corner” to create strategies and tools that advance our clients’ goals. We are recovering modernists who love the modern form but recognize that design is essentially about enabling people to create better outcomes and we work to those ends, adopting the style that best conveys the message.
As someone with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Except for one of our first offices, which was a tiny 530 square feet, we have always had studios that averaged 5000 sq. ft. With this move it was time for a change and, as we have all experienced, technology has enabled us to essentially conduct the wide scope of our business from two large office/studios, one on each floor of the house. (Michael is also a painter, “Matchsticks” below is part of his 2001 Still Life series. For more work click here).
Karin works on a Burdick Desk combination set and I work on two tables, which we designed, they were part of our former conference rooms. The other two conference tables make a terrific meeting and dinner table, especially when we have large groups or get the Thanksgiving cohort of family and friends. I have two Aeron chairs at the desk and I have a Leaf Lamp on my desk that I use constantly, our oldest son Nick Cronan works with Yves Behar at fuseproject and this is a signed original (their younger son, Shawn is pictured above with Michael. Shawn is a sculptor and furniture designer. You can see his work here.)
We have always used Apple products since we worked with them long ago. I have three screens (which are not Apple) and also use my space as a painting studio as well, so an innocent visitor might think I am an artist that became a stock trader. Karin’s relies on a powerful laptop that holds everything and she plugs it into large screens in her office when she works there. I use a large Apple server and rely on my laptop to work on design and presentations when we are traveling. So we use similar tools but use them very differently.
The primary reason we can work like we do is the internet and the elegant and useful services that it holds. When a project requires, we work with an extended family of people (many of whom worked full-time for us at some point) almost completely online. They are web specialists, music folks, production experts and folks to help facilitate the work. These are folks who understand our standards and best practices and who generate fun in working together.
Are there any particular programs you find really useful? My programs are Illustrator, Photoshop, Keynote, PowerPoint, Word.
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? We wanted the office and studios to be relaxed and efficient at the same time, and as it turns out that has been a factor contributing to the growth of our business… it’s a great place to dive deep into the big picture. One of the benefits to my office/studio is the big fireplace, on cool winter (and summers in Berkeley can be cool, too) I have a big roaring fire of eucalyptus logs – great ambience, and warm! To be safe, we have redundant internet systems that help us make sure that our connectivity won’t go down and are sufficiently backed up on our computer systems, both of those lend a certain serenity. To be relaxed, and this was important to us, we wanted to have views and space around us, and to be able to be comfortable indoors and get outdoors easily. Both of our offices have big windows and doors. Being creative requires a conducive space — whatever that means to the individual creator — ours requires that “flow”.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you wish you had? I want more and bigger screens and ways to manage them. And I really need triage cord management!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? A green teapot that forever reminds me to be mindful or else I spill tea all over my desk.
What would you change about your own workspace? I would have twenty foot ceilings!
What do you most love about your space? Our home functions as a great place to have a business, our dining room is a great conference room, the living room is a cool place to interview and entertain people. The porches and kitchen and patios give us indoor/outdoor space. It is large enough to give us an expansive mood and it even accommodates Karin’s dad, who is 93 this year, as well as his health care folks. The place feels like a summer camp in the middle of Berkeley with outstanding views in a pretty high density city. So I would say that the positive impression that our former offices communicated is achieved here as well. Our clients often choose to come and visit us whenever possible. Imagine a summer camp three minutes away from Chez Panisse.
What inspires you? It will undoubtedly sound “schmaltzy” but it is the truth. I personally have to say the single most inspirational element in my life is my partner Karin. Her insights have always help take me to new levels of thinking. Next, our kids, who are both grown and in successful design and art careers, generate much inspiration around here. Their ability to do and think amazing things is rewarding to see and it definitely keeps me on my toes. After that include almost everything including the stuff I hate. Feeling that passionate about something means that I have to investigate further and learn the source of the irritation, it can lead to some interesting insights and inspirations.
Above is ‘Chalkbox”, another painting from Michael’s 2001 Still Life series.
October 12, 2010
The Manhattan townhouse renovated by Ghislaine Viñas that we covered last week will throw open its doors on Sunday (October 17) as part of the Tribeca Loft Tour. Profits from the tour go to Friends of Duane Park. Via NY Curbed.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
August 9, 2010
Mark Frauenfelder is a writer and illustrator who lives in Los Angeles. He is the man behind Boing Boing, a hugely successful blog that focuses on tech, culture and science. The blog attracts millions of visitors each month with content that jumps from stories on geodesic domes to infographics. He takes time out of his busy day to give us a quick tour of his work space.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I’ve been working from home since 1995. I live in Los Angeles and I’m the founder of Boing Boing (a blog with 12 million page views a month) and the editor-in-chief of MAKE, a technology project magazine. I’m also an illustrator and a book author.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I prefer a spare, clean style, but I am constantly fighting against clutter. I have an old steel desk, painted gray, which I really like.
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? My lifesaver is the combination of having a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M sheet-fed scanner and the Evernote application. I scan every piece of paper that comes my way — bills, press releases, receipts, user manuals, tax papers, contracts, business cards — basically anything that’s flat and fits into the hopper. The digitized files are stored in Evernote’s cloud so I can access them anywhere — on my iPad, my iPhone, any computer. Evernote OCRs the documents so I can search for anything by keyword. These two things have gone a long way in uncluttering my life!
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? I like a bright workplace, so I chose to work next to a window.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I’ve always wanted an Aeron chair, and I’m getting close to treating myself to one. But even more, I’d like an Eames lounger with matching ottoman to take naps.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? My 19-inch Mac display. It’s connected to my MacBook pro.
What would you change about your own workspace? I’d love to figure out a way to hide all the ugly cables all over the place.
What do you most love about your space? I don’t have to commute to work. It would kill me to have to drive on the LA freeways every day.
What inspires you? When I go to Maker Faire, a DIY festival that attracts 80,000 people, and I see all the incredible creations people have made in the basements and garages. I also like visiting artists’ websites every day.
As editor of Boing Boing so many interesting things come across your desk. What’s the strangest work environment you’ve come across? This capsule office by Selgas Cano (photographer by Iwan Baan) is strange and attractive!
August 2, 2010
A rather elegant cat landed in my inbox recently. Alexie Hiles, an illustrator and graphic designer based in France, sent the images through of Mr Grey in response to our Pets in the Office series. I was intrigued by her space and her work so I asked her to share a little bit more.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve been working from home full time as freelance graphic designer for 3 years, I’m working mostly in the fields of institutional and culture communication in France. I am also an illustrator, which I enjoy most and I try to post a sketch as often as possible on my tumblr blog. I would love create children books now! I’ve always had a place to draw where I lived as long as I can remember.
And where is home? Our home is in Lille, in the north of France, between Paris, Brussels, London and Amsterdam. I really enjoy living in one of Europe’s cross roads. We bought our house 2 years ago from one of my partner’s former architecture teachers. I like the idea that the place where I spend most of my days has been a home office for a long time.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? The house was built in 1930, we are furnishing it slowly with furniture found in jumble sales or vintage stores from the 30′s to the 50′s. The home office is the place where I feel free to stick any pictures I love anywhere on the walls just because I want to be able to see them all the time (and take it away when I’ve had enough of it). It is full of tins, old books and toys I find everywhere.
How do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. I organize myself with a pen and a paper – everything starts in my big blue notepad (they are always the same, I only change the colors of cover when I buy a new one). All my lifework is in there. I once threw one away by mistake, and had to have a look in the street paper recycling bin to find it… my neighbors thought I’d gone mad that day. When my notepad’s closed my workday is finished. Also shelves! Plenty of them – so that books, magazines etc. can stand vertically, instead of horizontally in piles. Filling the shelves with the books I love when moving in, it is always a great pleasure.
Are there any particular programs you find really useful? I use Skype everyday, it changed my way of working in team with other freelance graphic designers, they became kind of colleagues in a way!
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? When we moved into this house the ground floor walls, where I work now, were already covered with bookshelves which was ideal, and the former landlord had given us a beautiful old “double desk”. We just had to refresh the white paint, sit down, and work. We added a big old workshop table where I like to draw because it is far from the computer and a big “cat-approved” sofa to make the place warm and comfortable, friends are always welcome to sit down and have a drink and a biscuit.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? Honestly not really… I might need to find a place on the walls for a proper inspiration board to avoid flyers, articles and post cards everywhere, that’s all I am thinking of for the moment.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? My “gigantic” screen, I miss it when working away from home on my portable computer.
What would you change about your own workspace? My workspace is a bit dark in winter, I need better lighting.
What do you most love about your space? When the sliding glass windows are wide opened in spring and summer I feel like working outside and I love it.
What inspires you? I receive the Grain Edit newsletter every day. I love art and graphic design from the 50′s, I love the clear, simple and efficient style. I admire the way artistes use subtle and bright colors. Charley Harper is one of my favorite illustrator. I also admire japanese illustrators such as Yoshitomo Nara, for the same reasons I guess. Apart from this, I think that if you pay attention around you, everyday life is always very inspiring.