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 17, 2010
Jason Munn is the name behind the award winning one-man studio known as The Small Stakes. Jason’s work has been featured in many of the top design magazines and is part of the permanent collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Jason’s client list includes Patagonia, Wired and New York Times magazine to name a few. He is also well known in the world of concert posters. Since 2003 he has been designing for indie rock’s hottest bands including The Pixies, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips and many more. Over 150 of these posters are featured in a book titled The Small Stakes-Music Posters which was recently released by Chronicle Books. Jason spoke to us about his home studio and the challenges he faced transitioning from a traditional office setting.
How long have you been working from home? I’ve been working from home full time for about the past seven years, before this I had been working in a couple different design studios. My first home/studio was a studio apartment, which became more and more challenging because there was not any type of separation between anything. Now we live in a two bedroom house, the second bedroom acts as my studio space
What challenges did you face transitioning from working in a design firm to a home based office? The biggest drawback for me about working from home versus in a design firm is the lack of communication or feedback while you are working on project. More and more I miss that aspect of a studio. Dirk Fowler, another designer and friend of mine who also works from home often send images of what we are working on back and forth to get feedback or advice from each other.
Working in a home setting, it’s easy to get distracted. Do you have any tips for staying focused on projects? I try to stick to a routine, but will be the first to admit I can have a hard time doing that. My wife has been back in school the last couple years, so she is often working late, so I’ll often do the same. When I’m stuck or in the thinking process during a project I tend to work in chunks of time and find myself walking around the block to take a break. I think the distractions of working in a firm versus working at home probably balance out, in the long run I feel I have less distractions. I do miss the commute to work a little bit, I used to walk to work and that was perfect for starting the day. Now if I have any errands or anything like that I typically do them first thing in the morning, so that becomes my commute.
Is there anything you would like to change in your workspace? As you can see I keep things pretty sparse and I often have the tendency to want to get rid of things rather than acquire them. I’m happy to have my own room to work out of versus having everything in the studio apartment. We also have a small room below the house that acts as the poster storage and shipping area, our shipping area used to be the kitchen in the studio apartment. I would like to try working from a space outside my house, maybe a shared space with a couple other designers. We’ll see, it hasn’t been a priority yet.
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 23, 2010
We came across interior designer Kimberly Hall’s work in a New York Times’ story on an office makeover. I contacted her and asked if she’d share her own home office. Our timing was fortuitous as Hall and her husband had recently bought an apartment and turned the kitchen into a workspace. Here it is!
How long have you worked from home? Since February 1. And where is home? The Meatpacking district (14th between 8th and 9th.) What do you do? I am an interior designer. We work on predominantly residential work at the moment but we have also done contract work such as restaurants, retail, and office spaces. I was an associate at the Rockwell Group for 7 years so I have a strong background in hospitality.
Six years ago I opened a store called Kimberly Hall Kids, specializing in children’s’ furnishings and interior design. I had a small storefront and office on 21st Street and tried to pull off running the store (which did a lot of custom and one-off work) as well as my interior design business. It quickly became too much and I tried to expand accordingly.
In the end, one was diluting the other so I decided to close the store and focus exclusively on interior design work. My office remained in the same space until this year when my husband and I bought a new apartment. We had been living in an 800 square foot rental with 2 dogs, 2 young children, and the 2 of us. It was time for a change. The market was right to purchase and we found a 1500 square foot apartment.It had a 300 square foot wing at the back that was perfect for my office. It had high ceilings and I knew I could get most of what I needed in if I went vertical (a favorite trick of mine.) It was a great solution for us as it gave us a way to afford the apartment, reduce my “rent” and I now have more time at home to spend with my family.
I gutted the space, which had been the apartments kitchen (I still do not have a kitchen, for the record) including all of the walls and ceiling. I really wanted a classic loft feeling and by exposing the brick and all of the thick, old rafters, I have really achieved the feeling I was looking for. It was also, thankfully, the most economical solution.
Describe your style? My style is definitely eclectic, although I’d love to come up with a new word for that. I love almost all “styles” but get most excited by mixing styles and periods. We have done quite a few traditional homes with very contemporary interiors. I look at each job as a challenge to give the client what they are looking for and to personally challenge myself to come up with ideas and solutions that I have not come up with before. I tend to use a lot of color and incorporate art and other objects of personal significance in my interiors. Sometimes I have gotten the most exciting results using items that I could never have imagined fitting into a project.
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? We organize our projects into binders and I LOVE plastic page protectors! I should buy some stock. We also have a fantastic program that synthesizes all aspects of the design process from a business standpoint. It is called Studio Designer and interfaces accounting, purchasing, contacts, etc. into a single program.
I currently use a Mac but when I used a PC, I loved Outlook. I wish the MAc version was up-to-snuff, but so far I can’t seem to get it to do everything I want it to.
Regarding the physical space, we have it lined, stacked and otherwise filled, floor-to-ceiling with reference materials. It is clearly much easier to find information since the advent of the internet but I still like to keep hard copies of many of my favorites. We also have a fantastic materials library that we keep in bins that we load onto Ikea Expedit bookshelves. These are my favorites as I am a big fan of cubbies as opposed to shelves. I just find that it keeps things neater. We have literally thousand of fabric samples that arranged by color and sometimes type which makes it much easier to put schemes together than going shopping every time.
When you are designing a home office what do you keep in mind? I think it is imperative to have good “cord management”, especially in a home office. Having a jumble of cords is not only unsightly, it is extremely frustrating to problem solve if you don’t know what you are looking at. We make sure that we always place outlets in an appropriate location in relation to the work surface. I also find it very important to have a “place for everything” (as my mother used to say.) I especially like mail sorters which have a variety of slots. I label each slot with a project name or other type of category and anytime I have something related to that particular subject, I just slide it in there. It’s sort of an interim holding zone for paper that have not yet been filed into binders or files.
Obviously lighting is extremely important in a home office and I make sure to include adjustable task lighting in every project as well as a sliding keyboard tray which alleviates back and posture problems.
File cabinets are also a necessary evil but I try to make them attractive by choosing all white or even sometimes colored. Bisley offers the best colors.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I have always coveted a glass-topped desk on horses. Unfortunately, the nature of my work (or perhaps the way I work!) will never allow this but I keep dreaming that someday I will have an impeccable, clean and clear workspace with nothing on it but a computer and a phone. Also, like in all of the magazine photo shoots, there will be no cords attached to the computer or the phone.
I already have the item that I most covet and that is an Aeron chair. Several years ago I herniated a disc and this was the only place I felt comfortable. I slept many a night in that chair!
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? I love low, acrylic trays for organizing small objects on my desk. I put my stapler, tape dispenser, paperclip cup, electric pencil sharpener as well as post-it notes clustered into these trays so that I always know where something is when I need it and things don’t get scattered all over the work surface. I also have a tiny stack of plastic drawers that house my binder clips, push pins, extra post-its, and digital photo paraphernalia such as card readers and memory cards.
What would you change about your own workspace? If I had the space, I would like a “return” on both sides of my desk. This would allow me to keep the center surface clear while allowing me to keep my “piles” organized to either side. I also wish there was a way to input USB devices into the computer in a neat way besides those “hubs” you get from Staples. I can’t tell you how many of those things I have velcro’d to the shelves above my desk in an effort to alleviate the jumble.
What do you love most about your space? I love the contrast between the rough shell with the brick and wood and the bright, white, minimal, desk surfaces and bookshelves. I also especially love my FLOR cow-print carpet tiles (below). It adds the playful touch that I needed in the space and is extremely practical for spills, stains, and possible expansion!
What inspires you? I love to solve problems. For me, being an interior designer is a blessing and a curse. I am able to create wonderful looking, functional spaces but it is very difficult to turn it off. Everywhere I look, I am evaluating what I like, what I don’t like and how I would improve something.
I also love to read and to look at design magazines and books. I am constantly clipping images and creating image files on my computer. By having this comprehensive visual library, I am able to communicate to my client (and to myself) a vision for each particular project. I create concept image boards that are an impression of the vibe of the project. I find that if these are carefully edited, they become a very accurate “visual blueprint” of the project. I may keep a page from a magazine of a room that I hate but it has a fabulous button detail that I will want to remember for a future project. I can sometimes build an entire project out of a detail like that.
As a visual artist (I studied painting and photography) I am especially aware of proportion and composition. Since so may of my projects incorporate disparate items, I use this knowledge to make them look cohesive and balanced. This is, for me, the inspiration and the challenge. How do you make something successful from nothing?
April 9, 2010
Style is never far from Neale Whitaker’s side. From his beginnings as a fashion publicist in the UK, Neale has shaped a twenty year career in magazine publishing that spans continents and now sits firmly in Sydney, Australia and the worlds of food and design. In addition to an impeccable sense of personal style, Neale carries the dual role of editor-in-chief of Belle (an Australian interiors magazine) and associate publisher of ACP Magazines’ home and food titles. He spoke to us about his home office space and other obsessions.
How would you describe your home and how long have you lived there? I live with my partner David, who is a stylist and our three dogs – Otis and Oliver are Weimaraners, and Avard is an elderly Italian greyhound. We have lived in our house for almost five years. It’s a renovated late-Victorian terrace in Surry Hills, a vibrant inner-city suburb of Sydney.
Where is your home office? How would you describe the aesthetic? At the very top of the house – as far away as possible from mischievous, barking dogs. My aesthetic? Confused. The home office is a work in progress. It’s a small space so it has to be kept ruthlessly tidy.
How much time do you spend in your home office? What kind of work do you find yourself doing there? It depends on the changing demands of my life. I work full-time at the moment, so I try to keep home-office time to a minimum. It’s mostly emails – particularly to friends and family overseas – but I seem to spend far too long paying bills and generally keeping house. I’m an iTunes obsessive and I love searching for music that I have no intention of buying. I tend to research any articles I’m writing at home and I wrote my one and only book (The Accidental Foodie, Murdoch Books) there.
Does anyone else use your home office? Yes – David uses it in much the same way I do.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? Large paperclips, the biggest size. Small ones drive me nuts. Do you sense an obsessive nature?
What is your favourite piece of furniture? In the office it would be the Thomas Jacobsen desk. Elsewhere in our house it’s the bright orange Thonet dining chairs.
You’re exposed to such amazing design through your role on Belle. Is there a piece of furniture that you covet? Not as many as you might think. In my job I see many beautiful and desirable things, but the quantity diminishes the appeal. That said, I could happily share my life with the limited-edition Egg chair in chocolate brown leather.
What inspires you? Knowledge gained from past experience and the opportunity and unpredictability of the future.
Photograph by Steve Baccon, courtesy of Belle Magazine
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
April 8, 2010
The New York Times just ran a great workspace story in their home section. The Times asked interior designer Kimberly Hall to transform a living room into a place where novelist Emily Raboteau could work. Hall had a tight $2,000 budget. The results are pictured above. Make sure you go to the NYT’s site and scroll your mouse over the image…they’ve packed it with information. It’s a really nice way to do the classic makeover story.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
April 8, 2010
Interior designer Kelly Brown made two big moves a few years ago – she left Los Angeles for Richmond, Virginia and left her job to work for herself. 12 months later she says those were two of the best decisions she’s ever made. Here Kelly shares her story and her beautifully designed home office. Look out for more on home office design from Kelly next week.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I established Kelly Brown Interiors in Richmond, VA a little over a year ago with the intention of working from home. It’s hard to believe my office has come this far within just a year! Prior to moving to Richmond, VA I was living in Los Angeles working for a high-end residential designer. After moving to Richmond, I decided to take my BFA of Fine Arts in Interior Design degree plus 8 years of professional design practice and branch out on my own. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Describe your style? It’s a mix of modern and traditional, high and low. I never want a client walking into a room I’ve designed and define it as a particular decade or time period.
As an interior designer with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized? There are 4 things that keep me organized at all times.
1) I swear by these clear plastic see-through string envelopes. Every project I start immediately gets one of these with a label identifying the job. I keep fabric memos, finish samples, paint swatches and tearsheets of furniture selections in them. They’re within arms reach on my desk and when I need to leave the office I can quickly grab the project envelopes I need for the day, whether I’m headed to the client’s house or the design center.
2) My iPhone. Need I say more!
3) The MoblieMe “Cloud”.
4) And even with all of the clever gadgets and great software out there I still covet my…Franklin Covey Planner. I never leave my office without it.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? And what is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Hands down, the furniture piece I covet most is my Humanscale Liberty Chair. And it’s not technically a desk accessory but, I reach for it everyday and without it I can’t do my job. It’s my trusty Stanley MaxSteel 25′ Tape Measure.
What would you change about your own workspace? More storage! Sometimes the physical constraints of a room limit how much storage you can get out of a particular space. As my interior design business grows, so does my vendor library of catalogs, binders and fabric samples (they eat up lots of space!). I have room to expand for about another year. After that I’m going to need to start looking for a commercial office space! That’s my next business goal.
What do you most love about your space? The paint color (Mythic Paint‘s Heather Heights #197-2), the incredible southern sunlight that bathes the room just so and beyond that the view of a 100 year old gumball tree out my 2nd story window.
What inspires you? It’s always changing with the little nuances of everyday life but if I had to narrow it down to right now: Dwell Magazine, (the now defunct) Domino Magazine (I have every single issue, stored safely in the orange magazine holders – within arms reach), 1stdibs.com, lonnymag.com, Kelly Wearstler and Darryl Carter (Both for very different reasons: the first for her daring use of color and the latter for his restrained use of color). The city of Richmond and all the creative energy it harbors inspires me on a daily basis. It’s the juxtaposition of young and old – hipster, slightly disheveled college students set against a backdrop of the disciplined vernacular of turn-of-the-century buildings. That always gets me. And right now, this very minute – the changing of the seasons. The bursts of intense yellow and vibrant magenta. The buds of lime green swaying in the wind and creamy white petals scattered on the ground.