Balance, Design, Products
December 30, 2010
Ex-Taschen editors Charlotte and Peter Fiell established Fiell’s publishing in July 2008 with the aim of “publishing beautiful, content-rich illustrated books across a range of interesting and pertinent subject areas. Some of the books we author ourselves, and some we commission from other authors whom we respect and trust.” I found them through two of their beautifully designed books: The Little Book of Shocking Eco Facts and The Little Book of Global Facts (which arrived at my house today, thank you Doug! It’s a very inspiring little book that I highly recommend). I hope you enjoy their London-based home office.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? We have worked from our home in West London for the last 15 years and I think it has worked really well because we have always had separate offices – probably we would have driven each other mad otherwise. Working from home has its pros and cons, but definitely one of the greatest advantages is being on hand if you have children…it was great when our daughters were small as we could fit work around them rather than the other way round.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Our look is definitely eclectic – a mix of contemporary office furnishings with “furniture classics” from the 50s, 60s and 70s….Charles Eames, Pierre Paulin, Vico Magistretti, Charles Pollock. We think it is really important to work in a pleasant space so we try to make our workspaces as un-officey as possible by having art on the walls and lots of interesting objects from our personal design study collection.
How do you keep your home office organized? Peter manages to keep a pretty tidy office, but unfortunately my desk is a mess of stacked paper as is my computer desktop….when it gets too bad I have to have a ruthless spring clean….which is very therapeutic.
When you put together your home office what did you keep in mind? It was important for us to create workspaces that had lots of book shelves and filing capacity, but also we made the conscious decision not to use desks or office chairs that looked too corporate.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? An antique plan chest would actually be a really useful piece of furniture for us, but unfortunately we don’t have the room to accommodate one!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Our Folle stapler it is just a beautiful yet functional object, Fiskars scissors are pretty great too…
What would you change about your own workspace? More space for more book shelves!
What do you most love about your space? Looking out through the window into the jungle-like garden which is planted with enormous palm trees.
What inspires you? We love the research that lies behind our books, especially when we make historical discoveries and, of course, working with other creative people such as the authors, editors and graphic designers is also highly inspiring.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
December 29, 2010
Jeff Carvalho edits Selectism, a men’s lifestyle blog that started up in 2007. In an interview with Wallpaper magazine Jeff talks about the beginnings of Selectism. “David Fischer of the streetwear website, Highsnobiety, wanted to build a new property focused on more transitory menswear for that individual looking for a mix of street centric fashion and traditional menswear. By March of 2008, Selectism was running full-time to fill that content void.” And fill the void it did. Selectism turned out to be one of the strongest, and certainly best designed, online men’s destination. Here Jeff shares his workspace with us.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I started working from a home office in the Summer 2007 when I began full-time work on Selectism.com (a men’s lifestyle and fashion blog) and consult work. My workspace was inside a loft which was directly across the street from Boston’s Fenway Park. 88 to 90 days out of the year, ball park traffic – both human and vehicle – ruled. In 2009, I moved outside of Harvard Square on the Cambridge side of the Charles River for a bit of relief. I haven’t left yet.
Describe your style? My style is pretty simple. I prefer a very clean workspace which holds only the essentials. My desk and desktop are as bare as I can keep them, which can be a struggle at times.
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? At the end of each day, I do my best to reorganize it back into order. There is something about bringing my workspace back to order which actually keeps me focused when I sit down first thing in the morning. It is a bit habitual. Many friends tell me that workspace clutter is how they manage their day. I’m just not one of those people. I have to be organized (on both desktops) to stay focused. I also rely heavily on email filters and labels for both task management and assignment. I use Simplenote for lists but plan on moving to something more robust like Things sooner rather than later.
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? Well to be honest, the space I am in on this side of the Charles was initially supposed to be temporary. For this reason, most of office is still in storage. Everything from books, music, ephemera, and artwork are packed away. As I need a reference piece, I’ll dig through the boxes and take only what I need, which keeps the room pretty bare – in a positive way. There are lessons learned from this office which I’ll take with me to my next space. Natural light was the most important requirement. In the loft, I only had light during the early morning. Today light flows from two sides of the room, but both indirect rather than coming from windows directly in front of my desk. Also, a desk under-mounted USB hub makes plugging in devices fast and easy. I highly recommend diy’ing your own.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you particularly enjoy? I’ve had a Herman Miller Aeron chair for over 10 years now. It has been the one constant in my workspace since 1999 when I purchased it. While other parts of my workspace turn over often (think swapping iMacs every 16 months), the Aeron has always remained. Every three months or so, I work out of our Berlin office for a few weeks and their chairs are difficult. I miss the comfort of the Aeron immediately.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? The (massive) custom amplifier on my desk. I plug a pair of Sennheiser 595 headphones into it. That’s the amplifier’s only function – a headphone amp. It serves its single purpose role better than most devices on my desk.
What would you change about your own workspace? Maybe a bigger desk and some shelving so I can pull the books and magazines out of storage.
What do you most love about your space? Being able to look outside my windows and see green grass and sunlight.
What inspires you? Music inspires me every day as does the “hand made” movement which you can find at craft fairs like Renegade. It is inspiring to see what work people develop in this area – from printing, to accessories. It is incredibly impressive.
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.
Balance, Design, Products
July 2, 2010
For the past three years Oklahoma-based art director Kelly Beall has been juggling her day job and her passion for blogging about design. You can read her musings at Design Crush. Here she shares her home office with us.
How long have you blogged from home…and where is ‘home’? Design Crush began in June 2007, but I didn’t start blogging from my current home until I purchased it in July of 2008. I live in a 3 bed, 2 bath ranch style home with one entire bedroom devoted to my artsy side. It really is a dream come true. I blog from this refurbed red desk that I got at a hotel sale five years ago. I’m in the process of finding the perfect desk chair since my old one recently broke. For now this straight back will do and better my posture at the same time!
What does an average work day involve? I’m sort of meticulous about my blogging schedule. I have a day job as well as Design Crush, so I have to time manage extremely well. My weekdays start around 6am and I get into the office by 7:30. I spend roughly an hour perusing my reader and following up on emails. Then I’ll plan what posts I want to put up that day, write and code everything, and schedule them to drop throughout the next eight hours. After work, say three nights out of the week, I’ll research posts and do anything extraneous that’s hanging out.
I just got the new Mac mouse and it’s amazing. It has definitely changed the way I work. Is there any form of technology that really helps you with your work? It sounds cliche, but definitely my MacBook Pro. Without a doubt the versatility it allows is astounding. I lug it everywhere with me. This past January I spoke at the Alt Summit in Salt Lake City and thanks to my laptop was able to live tweet a lot of the information that was being passed on through the different panels. It helps to break down any barriers that might exist as far as internet access and getting content out to my readers.
How do you organize your space? My physical space is organized according to inspiration. I want anything within my line of sight to have an indirect influence on what I’m doing at any given moment. So my desk faces my inspiration board and the window directly next to it looks out onto the back yard. My home magazines are immediately within reach to the right and a large amount of my art supplies are stored within boxes are the shelves to the left. I’m also really old school as far as planning goes, paper all the way.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? My speakers (not shown). I listen to music all day, every day. It plays a big part in determining my mood for the day and can really heavily influence my design on a good day. I live on blip.fm.
What is your favorite piece of office furniture? It’s actually the Chiasso Studio chair I currently have at work. I’m hoping to replace the current one in my home studio with the very same. It’s so comfortable!
What inspires you? The easier question would have been what doesn’t? I’ll just stick with the biggies to spare you: mid-century modern architecture and design, great logos and books.
June 28, 2010
Christin Fonn is immersed in the world of Norwegian design – not as a designer but as a student – she is writing her master’s thesis on the topic and also remodelling her apartment. In her spare moments she works on her design blog Fine Ting og Sjokolade.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? My home is in Oslo, the capital of Norway. We bought our apartment last year, and have been remodeling since. The room we are planning to use as a home office is not finished yet, so for the last six months I have been sitting at the kitchen table writing my master thesis in art history. I’m writing about the Norwegian design community, at home and abroad, in the Scandinavian Design years, around 1955.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I try to mix new and old, and think its important that some of the things we surround ourselves with have a history. I especially love objects from the 50s and 60s, and combine them with a modern, simple interior. White walls are a good base for teak furniture, and all my old tinboxes and enamelobjects from the Norwegian producers Cathrineholm and Emalox.
How do you keep your work space organized? A lot of binders are the clue for keeping my table clean. I work with newspaper articles from the fifties, and the copies have a tendency to cover my entire work space. To keep track of my thoughts Ive hung a large piece of paper on the kitchen wall. On the paper I’ve written down the main structure of my thesis, and I constantly add new information to it. Seeing my thoughts written down like this, help me see new connections and what is really important.
You are remodeling your apartment right now will you have a space for a home office? We have just started with the last room, which will become a combined office and guest bedroom. It’s quite a puzzle deciding how to decorate it, and we still havent made any definite choices. Time will show…
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I want many, many meters of bookshelves, so I can keep everything organised. The dream is to own twenty meters of Nisse Strinnings String-selves (www.string.se).
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Post it-notes for practical reasons, and my Moomin-mug because it makes me happy.
What would you change about your own workspace? At the moment it is of course to have the workspace somewhere else than in the kitchen, which is not very practical in the long run. Books and paper all over the place while trying to cook dinner is not a good thing..
What do you most love about your space? The large table where I can spread out all my notes, paperclippings and books. And in moments when my head feels like it’s filled with cotton, and it’s impossible to write anything at all, the view!
What inspires you? My friends, beautiful blogs, magazines, books, art-exhibitions, riding the tram and citywalks with music in my ears.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 24, 2010
Clothing designer, trained architect, teacher, and writer Martha McQuade makes simple, beautiful things from her studio in Minneapolis (be sure to check them out here and here at her UNIFORM Natural online shops. Inkblot table runner below). And this week, she made us a simple, beautiful playlist (be sure to check that out below).
Do you listen to music while you work? It depends on what I’m doing. If I am working on production sewing or photo editing, I will listen to podcasts (I love The Moth) or loud music (usually punk). If I’m doing something where I need to think, it will be quieter music. When I’m creating a new clothing collection, I’ll listen to something that feels inspiring to that particular collection, although it is usually something quite minimal in sound—ethereal/ambient.
What do you listen to? I think my musical tastes are all over the place. I tend to listen to stuff I’ve had forever because I’m too busy to find new music that I like. Generally, my heart lies in punk, minimal/ethereal/ambient, dance/electronica and breathy woman vocalists. I also like it when I can hear a guitar player’s fingers on the strings.
I sort of feel like my tastes don’t change too much, although when I was in grad school in the late 90′s, a friend let me listen to a demo tape given to him from a friend who worked for a radio station. It had the song “Greenlander” by Pavement on it. At the time, it wasn’t on an album and I remember the song really haunting me. When I asked the friend about it later, he didn’t remember it and had returned the tape. I periodically thought about the song, but couldn’t find it (and that was back before the Internet was so huge). Recently I thought of it again, looked it up on Google (it was finally released in 2002), and was disappointed that it really didn’t live up to my memory.
How do you listen? In my downstairs studio, I listen through a speaker system on my iPod, or on headphones if there are other people in the house. At my desk upstairs, I listen on my computer.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I really like Last.fm because you have the ability to build a library of artists that is easy to browse and search. They also have a function that suggests other bands you might like based on bands in your library. My 9-year-old even has his own account.
Does music influence your work? Certain music definitely influences how I think about design. I’m interested in design that is simple, but has a bit of interesting detail in the construction with an emphasis on texture. My Fall 2008 collection, titled “Land,” was really inspired by images of Iceland as well as minimalist ethereal music like of the Icelandic band Sigur Rós. What I think of as a spare but beautiful tone in their work really inspired me.
Where do you find music recommendations? I get music recommendations from friends for the most part. I find I don’t have the time to search for new music these days. And as I mentioned previously, I like how Last.fm will recommend bands based on what is in your library. As far as influence goes, either I like it or I don’t. I can usually tell right away if I like something—I can just feel it inside. I’m the same way with color. There are certain types of music that make me feel physically ill. (Bluegrass would fall into that category.) There are also certain songs that I just think of as happy songs, like “The Boat Dreams From the Hill” from Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. Strangely enough, most of the songs on that album are happy songs for me.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I guess I would like it to be Sigur Rós, but it’s not there yet. It’s where I aspire my work to be.
West Bay Invitational, Jawbreaker
Secret, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Sweetest Decline, Beth Orton
When I Grow Up, Fever Ray
Why Can’t I Be You?, The Cure
Go Do, Jónsi
Downtown Train, Tom Waits
Compression, Everything But the Girl
Pretty Little Girl, All
I Feel It, Lorraine
I Try, Macy Gray
The Walls Are Coming Down, Fanfarlo
Sir Duke, Stevie Wonder
Safe From Harm, Massive Attack
Three MC’s and One DJ, Beastie Boys
The Greatest, Cat Power
Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
Tribulations, LCD Soundsystem
Glósóli, Sigur Rós
Mouthful of Diamonds, Phantogram
Images: Martha McQuade and Sarah Rubens
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 21, 2010
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? Before [design and architecture blog] otto, and before I started writing about design, I worked as a fashion designer in the NYC fashion industry. I worked ridiculous hours in a design studio and never saw the light of day. When I decided to start my own fashion line dressed in yellow about 5 years ago, I needed to find a job that gave me flexibility. That’s when I started working from home as an editor of a design newsletter.
Today, I’m still in New York City and I work from home as editor of otto a+d, a trade blog that targets interior design professionals; I am also the US Editor for WGSN-Homebuildlife, a trend forecasting agency based in London; and of course I’m still designing for dressed in yellow.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I love the word “style” because to me it’s a matter of self expression, fashion and design are simply tools we use to achieve this. For this reason, my style is a bit all over the map. For me, style is what happens day to day when I reconcile comfort, mood, beauty, inspiration and restraint.
How do you keep your office organized? I hate to admit it, but I am quite disorganized by nature. I have towers of papers, books, fabric and press kits on my desk, threatening to fall on me and ruin my life. With all the different jobs I have going right now, I have come to depend on my Google Calendar. It is what keeps me from missing my deadlines, double booking appointments, and forgetting to buy a father’s day gift.
When you were putting together your home office what did you keep in mind? Honestly, I just hoped everything fit. Once it was clear that my small apartment could house all my enterprises, I wanted to make sure that my sewing table, drafting table and desk were able to get good light.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? Is there any that I don’t? I love design and have made a career out of looking at great design day in and day out. To me, the greatest design is when function, form and process work in harmony, and when that happens, how can I not wish that piece was in my life?
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Surface area. Since I’m a piler, I need the surface area to organize my papers visually!
What would you change about your own workspace? If I change something, my tower of junk might come unbalanced and fall.
What do you most love about your space? I get amazing light in here, and my windows face west looking at the Manhattan skyline. When the sun starts to set, the light has a magical golden glow that makes the entire space feel like a warm, fuzzy dream.
What inspires you? Great people who have done great things in their lives. One time I cried reading a book about the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. One time I cried when watching a documentary about the band the Pixies. One time I cried while watching the end of a triathlon. Other than making me cry far too much, these people inspire me to push myself harder, to work towards the best version of myself — be it designer, editor, daughter, friend, dog mom — possible.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 17, 2010
Talented Tokyo-based jeweler Keiko Okamoto shares her home workspace with us and talks about the idea of “beautility”.
How long have you worked from home? I have been making jewelry for about 12 years, the last 10 I’ve been doing it full-time. I have a sweet little workspace in my apartment, so I walk about 5 seconds to work!!
And where is home? I live in the old part of Tokyo. In this area, there are museums,Tokyo National University of Fine Arts, neighborhoods of craftsmen, and Japan ‘s biggest wholesale district. It’s a perfect location for working and I consider myself very lucky!
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Simple yet elegant! Well-made goods are not just useful but also beautiful. There is a long tradition in Japan of recognizing the perfection and beauty in things you use in everyday life. “Yo no Bi” as it is called, beauty in utility, is considered a very important value. I get enjoyment out of being surrounded by “beautility”.
How do you keep your office organized? In my case, I don’t need to keep the workspace organized. So everything I think or find is important and has it’s place. Sometimes it’s waiting there for years and sometimes I can use it right away. Somehow all my work is connected and ideas and techniques that might have found there origins years ago in larger or more abstract works resurface. I really like that.
When you were setting up your home workspace what did you keep in mind? I wanted to fill the workspace with bright natural light.
Is there any piece of home work furniture you covet? I love Aeron chairs. The overall ergonomic design of the chair is great. And I especially like the adjustable height foot rest.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? I’m a note-taking nut, so paperweights and clips are indispensable. And, likely quite different from a desk accessory – Skype – for staying close to my friends and customers around the world even though I’m half a world away from most of them.
What would you change about your own workspace? I’m actually pretty satisfied with my workspace, but I have a great interest in feng shui. I’d like to completely redecorate my apartment based on feng shui.
What do you most love about your space? The workspace has a big window, and I can occasionally see the picture-book scenery.
What inspires you? The first thing that comes to mind is classical ballet. Costume, scenic art, music and etoiles are a huge source of inspiration. And I love to make snap shots of things. I always carry a little camera with me. I’m fascinated by patterns – on a leaf, an iron fence, stone wall, texture of a tree, water-rimples and so on, most of my work finds its origin there.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 15, 2010
When asked why she blogs web designer Vered Carmel quoted Seth Godin: “What I found interesting is that more than half of all bloggers are doing it for themselves. (Always a good reason to do something). In other words, it’s not for commercial gain or to find a large audience of strangers. Instead, it’s a form of self-expression, a chance to be creative or share some ideas.” And, as she says, that sums up Vered’s approach to her writing. Here she shares her home office and her love of design.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? Ever since I can remember I wanted to be self-employed and work from home. To me this was the perfect combination of freedom, creativity and self expression while earning a living. First and foremost I define myself as a designer. I specialize in web design and as an autodidact have established some good programming skills throughout the years. This precious knowledge has come in handy when I discovered how much I love writing and as my passion for design and architecture took over I was eager to share this passion with the world and that is how Busyboo got started.
In addition, for the last 10 years my partner and I have been developing Shine, evolving from a web design studio to a company offering online marketing solutions for global high-tech companies – during all of this time we’ve been working from home. You will find us tucked away with our dogs in a quiet neighborhood, surrounded by green fields, oak trees and the sound of birds chirping in the background, since as much as I love the city I’ve always preferred to live and work with the countryside at my doorstep.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I would define my style as eclectic since I am inspired from pretty much everything; whether it’s the Japanese style with its modern minimalism or the romantic touch of an English style landscape design.
How do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? In general I am a very organized person, and you can see it in my workplace as well, where almost everything I need is within reach. The only thing I struggle with is trying to cover the vast amount of design information out there, going over thousands of bookmarks that continue to grow rapidly every day. It’s amazing, just when you think you’ve got it under control new ones start to pop up.
When you were setting up your home office what do you keep in mind? I was guided by the thought that this will be the place where I will be spending most of my time so I better make it my own. It’s cozy yet practical with lots of books, music, magazines and notes everywhere. It’s my second favorite place at home, the first being my garden where I can relax every morning and start off my day with a positive approach to life and a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you wish you had? Well, it’s kind of ironic, but I would love the Aeron chair.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? My graphics tablet and my 60GB Creative Zen Media Player.
What would you change about your own workspace? I remember I saw on the BBC Homefront TV show where Diarmuid Gavin designed a beautiful garden pavilion with a large open space, spreading out to its natural surroundings and blurring the boundaries between inside and outside – and I thought to myself this to me would be the perfect workspace.
What do you most love about your space? I love that I am surrounded by things that make me happy; the fact that I can lift my head and gaze at my favorite books, design magazines, photographs and the greenery outside my window or take a break and go outside to play with my dog Mikey, a beautiful blue eyed Siberian Husky.
What inspires you? People. Nature. Spirit. Form. Rediscovering the power of simple design.
Balance, Design, Products
June 11, 2010
Designer and collaborator Patty Johnson will make you rethink your office or the way you define the idea of a workspace. While technology allows us to be more and more mobile, working from the kitchen table or our beds, Patty takes that a step further and is working all over the globe in remote communities. Her home office moves with her from the Jamaica to Guyana (pictured above) and back to her house in Toronto (pictured below). Read on to find out more about her mobile studio.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? Home is Toronto, Canada and I’ve worked from home since my son was born 15 years ago. I am a designer who is interested in the interchange between research and design and commerce and culture. I operate worldwide with partners, enterprises, manufacturers, communities, governments, and designers creating new kinds of design programs and product collections. My mobile studio network looks to combine the strengths of complimentary groups to build new linkages, new cultures and new ideas. Below is a shot of my studio in Guadeloupe.
“ Love, Freedom, Flow” at ICFF this year was the international debut of the
New Caribbean Design initiative (her Jamaica workspace is below). The developing world is one of the next design frontiers, producing goods that fuse quality with creativity beyond just low cost. For a long time, design in these places has been relegated to handicrafts and regional products. There is no point in artisans and craft production factories in the Caribbean competing with mass-produced goods. They can instead compete on the strengths of the product, by focusing on the upper end of the market through high quality materials, detailing, production and design.
A focus on producing unique regional hybrids that combine craft tradition and contemporary design process is the aim of New Caribbean Design. Through the push and pull of cross-cultural collaboration the group has balanced traditional cultural practice in the Caribbean and forward-looking design solutions. In contrast with the familiar presentations of Caribbean culture – souvenirs and resort experience – this collection presents something much more dynamic: a living breathing culture with a critical role in the global design marketplace. The pots below are part of the collection we launched at ICFF. They are designed by Stella Hackett for Hamilton’s Pottery in St Thomas, Barbados.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Well, I would say that when I was a young designer I was inspired by and had a distinctly modernist aesthetic. Over time though, the real, messy world pushed its way into my pure and untouchable world. And I’m happier for it. I work collaboratively and inclusively with other designers, manufacturers both craft and otherwise, and, sometimes even with government agencies and development banks. Trying to answer all these diverse needs while creating products with integrity is sometimes a messy and uncertain business but I’ve found that this process produces very rich results. And, my austere and reduced aesthetic still manages to sneak in there too!
As a designer and curator of a mobile design studio how do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? Hmm. Good question. Frankly, I rely heavily on the search function on both my computers. It does seem that computers are not equipped to organize files in the traditional office sense and I have long given up trying to rationally organize things. And like most people now my computer files are a mash of the personal, the creative and the commercial.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? Well I am already very happy with my Eames Aluminum Group Chair. I do covet the Aeron Chair though!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Konstanin Grcic’s May Day Lamp and Sharpie Fine Line Pens.
What would you change about your own workspace? I’m quite happy with the current set up both at home and away. I like the flexibility of it – I’m available for both work and family – which is a juggling act at the best of times. If I could change anything I think it would be to build permanent design spaces in the places I work as a resource for the people that I work with.
What do you most love about your space? I love the mobility of my studio and I love that I can work in many spaces with many different people. Although difficult at times it has enriched my work and had a profound impact on how I think about design. I learned that people-centred design has a middle component, living between ethnography and interface. Hand manufacturing is the reality in much of the world, and designers, sitting at their desks sending off PDFs to unknown destinations, may be a modern paradigm, but ultimately a hollow one. I encourage designers to go and visit where their products are made, and, especially, with the people who make them!
What inspires you? Oh, just about everything. I love that the collisions of culture that are the basis of my work can strike a new balance between redundancy and relevance and explore the friction between the “preservationist” view of the handmade as intangible heritage and its real status as living tradition, and therefore, inherently and constantly innovating and adapting. And, I love the resourcefulness that you find in the most difficult and poorest of places and circumstances, and, that creativity still flourishes there.