Balance, Design, Products
April 6, 2010
Last week we ran an interview with Francesca Connolly, one of the four women behind Remodelista. This week we hear from Sarah Lonsdale. Sarah, who lives in the Napa Valley with her husband and two children, is the daughter of an architect and has lived through five renovations and two ground-up constructions. She is also the author of Japanese Design. She brings all that design nouse, plus a good dose of warm minimalism, white interiors and Belgian linen, to her Remodelista posts.
How would you describe your workspace? What is the design aesthetic? I love my desk (pictured above) which is a wooden top that I had for years when I lived in Japan placed atop some recently acquired French metal industrial trestles. As much as I consider myself a minimalist and have a house that is fairly clutter free and simple, my desk is usually piled high with magazines and papers. My first job was in a production company in Japan where the way to demonstrate creativity was to have a desk with piles of interesting stuff and images and I don’t think I have ever stopped working that way. Once a week, I go through everything and clear it up then the piles begin again.
Does anyone else use your office? I’m afraid I am quite territorial. My husband works from home a lot and we each have our separate offices and respect each other’s space and it seems to work well.
How do you organize the space? My office is basically my desk and some shelves where I file papers in simple wooden file holders from Ikea. I also use large, natural grass baskets for storing magazines; they look good and can be easily moved around.
What impact do you think color has on a workspace? I spend my day looking at so many images daily, that great light is essential. I love an all-white space mixed with natural tones, grey stone colors and textures such as rough beige linen. That said, I would like to paint one wall of an otherwise white space this Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe grey (pictured above).
What desk accessory can’t you do without? My original 1227 Anglepoise “salvaged” from my father’s office. I also love Muji gel ink pen (pictured below) which I stock up on whenever I am in New York or London.
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? There is nothing I would like to replace however I love coming across a great find whether it be a chair in a garage sale or a piece of vintage furniture in a shop (which is how I found my current desk chair and the trestles). Those are the times I find myself adding pieces to the home.
What inspires you? We moved from the city to the Napa Valley over three years ago and being surrounded by such great natural beauty is pretty compelling. Being able to get on my bike and cycle on a country lane and see the seasons change is very poetic. I am a forager and invariably haul a branch or some fallen lemons ( or whatever is in season) back home to display. It’s a creative outlet in a way.
You see so many great workspaces. Is there one that really stands out for you? I have been thinking about this Japanese house recently by architects, Takaharu and Yui Tezuka and how for me an office really only needs a desk, some bookshelves and good natural light. An office along the lines of this bedroom (with shelving instead of bunks and a window to the ground) would work perfectly for me.
How do you manage a balance between work and the rest of your life? Since I work at home on the computer all day it is very tempting to be online the whole time. Multi-tasking is great but I am making an effort to close my computer when my children return from school even if it is only for 30 minutes so I can give them my undivided attention. The nature of this work is endless so being able to close the computer and do others things is really healthy.
April 5, 2010
OK, I know this isn’t a bulletin board but it’s an inspiring space. Lifehacker just posted an interview with the Office Stylist blogger, Sayeh Pezeshki. This is her own home office. So neat and tidy! Makes me want to do a major spring clean.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
April 5, 2010
You worked for many years as a stylist. Tell us about the transition from that work to gardening. You now run a business called Little Saplings that teaches children how to garden. After 20 years, and a baby, working as a stylist did not do it for me anymore. Little Saplings and working in the garden were a natural transition for me. I wanted a less superficial life and a career composed of more sustaining projects. I always loved working with kids and teaching was my first love!
When you’re not in the garden where are you working? In my car! My bedroom, the home office (which is a converted garage in the backyard). Everywhere. I try to catch as much of every moment as I can.
How do you organize your workspace? Once again this has to be on the fly! In my car I carry a gardening kit with me, a few kits actually. And I have my office in our studio/garage. I also write all my jobs out on a chalk-board door and have files on each client.
What inspires you? I think pure color inspires me. Growing up in South Africa surrounded by so much natural beauty definitely influences me. As well as seeing the kids taking things in and the enthusiasm with which they do.
What piece of technology or tools most helps you in your work? In the garden it’s my Felco pruners and my knee-high shovel. And in the office it’s my new labeling machine. It’s a huge help sorting things out. And my little Apple computer – it’s the brains of it all.
If you could change your home workspace what would you do? I have a vision of my workspace having big clear glass-sliding doors onto the garden and half of the workspace would be set up for propagation – high table tops with perfect lighting. As well as storage under tables in mesh shelves. A little modern/ Victorian greenhouse effect! On the other half there would be a desk and beautiful rug and storage, lots of bookshelves. I could go on and on!
What and who inspires you? The Bioneers and so many people who have been keynote speakers there. Kenny Ausubel, my little boy of course, the Venice Learning Garden, Christa Tippet – on NPR- interviews of importance! Cooking shows-I love KCRW’s Good Food and also anything with Jamie Oliver in it.
Photo credit: Larry Hirshowitz
Balance, Design, Technology
April 2, 2010
First tell me about your work. You’re a designer, but also a photographer and curator. What do you curate? I’m a designer for Facebook, where I currently design the interface for our mobile products (iPhone and the mobile web). I also curate two sites – Level & Tap, a site dedicated to selling fine art prints, and Simple Desktops, which is a free site for simple, minimal desktop wallpapers. I started Simple Desktops mainly because I was constantly searching for desktops beyond the basic few provided by Apple and couldn’t find anything out there I liked. (Below: a sample of desktops from Tom’s site).
Where do you work? Describe the space. How would you define your aesthetic? I’m a minimalist for sure. Currently my desk is sharing space in my bedroom, but it’s a fairly big bedroom. I have a sizable desk, and the computer takes up a fairly small footprint. It’s a beautiful, all white, slightly glossy top, which feels like a big white board or canvas. There is a large window that looks out into a nice courtyard in the condo complex, which has a calming water feature.
You’re moving house at the moment. What would be your ideal home workspace? Will you have that in the new place? I am moving. My girlfriend and I are moving into a traditional old Victorian in San Francisco, and I can’t wait. It has high 12-foot ceilings and beautiful hardwood floors. We opted for a two-bedroom space, and the second bedroom will be my new office. I have high hopes for this being my ideal workspace. I plan to set up another work area for some print work (with some photos and maybe some more traditional print work) and really anything I get excited about. (Below: “My New Toy” by Besim Mazhiqi from Tom’s Level & Tap site)
With all those different hats – designer, curator, photographer – how do you organize your day? Well, with the day job I do my best to front load any of my curating work in the morning, either before I get into the office or during the commute. I’ve setup a few systems online to help keep the time requirement down, but it’s an evolving process. It’s always a balancing act though, as Facebook is my primary focus and is not really a 9-5 day job. Recently my photography has been suffering, as I haven’t been able to get out and shoot nearly as much as I would like. I have an embarrassingly large camera and film collection that’s gathering dust in the cabinet. (Below: ‘Meta’ by Tom Watson)
Are there practical things you’ve done to organize your workspace – both your office/desk and the virtual workspace on your computer? I’m diligent about cleaning things up at the end of almost every day, both in the physical world and on my computer. I let things get messy, throw pictures around on my desk and save plenty of files to my desktop as I work; but, before I close the computer and call it a day, I file everything digitally and clean up the desk before I’m done. If I don’t, my mind ends up far too cluttered and I struggle getting things done the next day.
What inspires you? Ah, everyone always says “everything” here, and they’re right, but in general, simple, clever things inspire me. A photo a very few objects, well-lit, framed perfectly and with clear intent always makes me smile. I love finding a beautiful interaction in a new space as well. Recently in mobile design on the iPhone, the “Pull down to Refresh” interaction has started to become a standard, and it’s been fun to watch it develop. People were constantly pulling and pushing the list; someone realized this and took advantage of it in a way that felt incredibly intuitive. I know I’m blown away by something when I think, “Damn, I wish I had thought of that.”
I’ve been inspired by all of the submissions to Simple Desktops as well. I setup the site with a limited set of restrictions (no gradients, drop shadows, “bling”, words, etc.) and am constantly impressed by how creative people have been within those limits. Limits really do provide the perfect kindling for creativity.
Balance, Design, Products
March 30, 2010
The editorial team at Remodelista.com (l to r) : Julie Carlson, Francesca Connolly, Sarah Lonsdale, Janet Hall. (Pic via FIXR)
Francesca Connolly works from her brownstone in Brooklyn Heights that she shares with her husband and three children. She is the east coast member of the four-woman team that edits Remodelista – the go-to site for sophisticated renovators. Look out for our interviews with the rest of the Remodelista team over the next few weeks.
Connolly and her husband restored their down-at-the-heels brownstone with the help of architect Steven Harris. She is well acquainted with the burgeoning design scene in Brooklyn; she admires local lighting designer David Weeks and shops at local stores such as Layla. And she works on Remodelista from her dining table. No home office for this award-winning blogger.
How would you describe your workspace? How does it impact your work? I work at the dining room table. The space is light bright, uncluttered, and centrally located.
Does anyone else use your office? Everyone uses everything. I have no privacy.
You see so many great workspaces. Is there one that really stands out for you? Architects always have the best offices. They typically use inexpensive materials to create genius storage and work areas. Steven Harris Architects has a great office on the street level in Tribeca with floor to ceiling windows. They use the front of the space as a gallery for art exhibits making the space multi-functional, and engaging the local community.
How do you organize the space? I constantly try to eliminate clutter. I’m not super organized, but I know where everything is.
What impact do you think color has on a workspace? I prefer a white space as a backdrop for all the designs and colors I am looking at all day.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? A lamp and a notepad. Even though everything is done on the computer, I still scribble notes to myself.
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? I can’t genuinely say I have a need for it, but there is this steel base and oak top table (below) from Ochre that is on my wish list.
What inspires you? I have a background in textiles, so I am a bit of a fabric connoisseur. Because we live in Brooklyn, I have an affinity for a bit of urban glamour (a sequined pillow from Liberty of London, for instance). I like streamline upholstered furniture but can’t resist covering pieces in subtle florals, stripes, or velvets.
How do you manage a balance between work and the rest of your life? Working at home allows me to be in in easy contact with my family. I love being around for all the constant coming and going of children. It helps that having grown up in close quarters with two brothers, I have a great ability to tune things out when necessary.
Balance, Design, Products
March 29, 2010
With healthcare top of mind right now it seemed timely to include an interview with Jay Parkinson, the co-founder of Future Well. Parkinson is a pediatrician and preventive medicine specialist with a masters in public health from Johns Hopkins. He works from his apartment in Brooklyn and hopes to make the country not just healthier but also happier.
First tell us about Future Well. The site is only a few months old and like a lot of start-ups you’re working from home. How much time do you spend in your home office? The Future Well is a creative firm that marries the worlds of design and health. We identify creative opportunities within the health space and design beautiful solutions that positively impact health and happiness. Sometimes we identify the opportunity and find the right partners to execute it and sometimes we build it ourselves. Other times, we help guide clients so the product/service is simple, elegant, and wrapped up with a business strategy that leverages their core competencies.
Health needs products and services that make optimizing our health and happiness fun, easy, and, most importantly, simple. This applies to to the traditional healthcare industry as well as this new consumer space we’re calling health creation. So we work with some traditional companies as well as companies who are looking to enter the consumer health space.
We launched The Future Well in the beginning of February after I left Hello Health and Grant Harrison left Humana as VP of Innovation. Scott Switzer, the co-founder of Open X is our third partner.
I actually spend a ton of time in my home working on my laptop. In fact, it’s by far the unhealthiest thing I do in my life. I want to be active as I work. Just think if we could replace sitting with moderate activity! So many people sit for 8 hours staring at glowing rectangles. It’s really a public health problem. What if we could replace just one of those 8 hours with activity? Our nation would shed billions of pounds!
How would you describe your workspace? What is the design aesthetic? I’m a minimalist and don’t want to have any more space than I really need. If I don’t use something on a weekly basis, it doesn’t exist in my home or office. I’d much rather buy experience than things. And I have this thing for symmetry. So I feel a bit weird buying two of everything, but I like the balance. My space also has to be bright and happy. The natural lighting has to be magical and blanket the most important parts of a room.
I also love photography. I consider myself a photographer so I tend to hang photos I’ve taken of my friends or people I love. And I can’t let go of my roots. I grew up in rural Missouri and my grandfather had a zoo of taxidermy in his trophy room– so I convinced him to give me a few of them. I have a javelina and a reedbuck. I also a dog and don’t want him sitting home alone for hours on end. So I really enjoy working from my home and don’t see us getting an office space anytime soon. We’d all like to keep the structure of The Future Well as decentralized as possible. Nowadays, so many things can be done virtually. I think the definition of “workspace” is significantly changing.
Does anyone else use your home office? Does my dog count? He uses it as a play space but only when I’m trying to get serious work done. Scott and I sometimes meet here to do some work, but that’s rare.
How do you organize the space? Since I don’t have many things and mostly work only on my MacBook, I try to arrange a room to maximize open space. I have a long and narrow Brooklyn apartment so furniture is arranged to feel like I have more open space than I really do. Many people have walked into my apartment and asked if I just moved in!
What impact do you think color has on a workspace? There are happy, productive colors and sad, distracting colors. The color of a workspace should surely be designed for happiness– because productivity and creativity stem from happiness.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? I’m such a minimalist, I don’t even have a desk! So I’d have to say my MacBook. But next to my sofa I have two Bisley file cabinets where I hide things when I’m not using them. They’re beautiful little storage pieces that hold more than they should. I have two white ones next to my bed as well. When you live in a small space, creative storage is key. I couldn’t live without those Bisley’s cleaning up the clutter of my space.
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? I’d love to replace my sofa as my primary workplace. I’m on a mission this weekend to find a standing desk, drafting table, or maybe even a pulpit!
What inspires you? People who design elegantly simple things in response to questioning the status quo. I’m so frustrated by health and healthcare in America. I truly believe being healthy can be so much easier if we rethink our physical environment, what it means to receive and pay for healthcare, the supply of food we eat, and the small changes we can make in our life that make a huge impact on a person’s sustainable health and happiness. Our nation’s health has been quickly deteriorating. If we want to improve our health, we have to use good design as a trojan horse to create things that make a healthy lifestyle as easy as possible.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
March 26, 2010
Around the web this week:
1. An Accident of Hope Summer Pierre is an illustrator and author of The Artist in The Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week. Her blog is heartwarming, smart and packed with interesting interviews about people’s work lives. Where to start: The John Porcellino interview.
2. Contemporist Launched in 2007 this picture-driven site showcases great new design and contemporary architecture from around the globe. Where to start: Click on architecture for some great projects.
3. Blue Ant Studio If you like mid-century design you’ll love this blog. Where to start: The Art Studio. I love the Chair Exam poster.
4. The Office Stylist For everything you ever wanted to know about a home office. Where to start: A great post on hiding cables – the bane of every home office.
5. Arch Daily You will never need to buy another architecture magazine again. It’s all here. Where to start: Check out building of the year. There’s some incredible work here.
March 25, 2010
British illustrator Kate Banazi’s career as an illustrator began in a small, London studio but now happily occupies a home in Sydney, Australia, where she has lived and worked for the last three years. Kate shares her home with husband Alistair and 12 year old son Milan (also a talented illustrator.) Kate’s illustrations have appeared in Business Week, Australian journal Meanjin, Financial Review, Telstra, DT Digital, Future Living and in the last issue of Herman Miller’s very own Jugglezine (below).
How did your career in illustration come about? I originally freelanced in menswear design working on a tiny label with a friend, but after Milan was a born I couldn’t have as much fun in the fashion business, and that led me to freelance illustration.
How did you end up in Australia? I met my husband while I was on holiday here, on a blind date no less. We returned to London for four years where we decided to move to Australia, as we thought it would be great for Milan to grow up in the sunshine. Milan loves to go camping, mountain biking and snorkeling and the climate certainly helps for all those things.
Who do you illustrate for? Anyone who’ll pay me! It’s a varied, eclectic client base really and that suits me as its not straightforward illustration that I do. My clients include magazines, editorial, fashion.
What inspires your work? It could be anything. Sometimes nothing for months, then overload! I’m sucker for a piece of shiny orange plastic and a bit of brown corduroy. The brain works in funny ways!
Where is your home office and how much time do you spend there? It’s downstairs underneath the house in a quiet leafy setting. I’ve worked there for a year. It used to be in the house, but the space I have now is much more practical. I’m there for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I do try and keep some structure.
Which items in your office can you not do without? A scalpel and my drying rack. Two infinitely useful things to an illustrator.
Do you share the office with anyone else? No. It’s my space.
How do you stay organized? I don’t! It’s a constant work in progress. I do have method behind my madness and I constantly say that “I will get it done” but real life gets in the way. Even though it’s not tidy I know where everything is. Anyone moves my stuff and they die!
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
March 22, 2010
Matt Eastwood, an Australian advertising executive and the blogger behind things i have seen, shares his Sydney home and office.
You work as creative director of DDB Group but you also blog from home. How long have you worked from home…and where is ‘home’? I started “things I have seen” about 12 months ago. What originally began as an online scrapbook of my favourite things has gradually turned into something resembling a second job. I work in a creative industry already, but I’m extremely passionate about design and architecture, especially having renovated 3 houses over the years. Home is a two bedroom terrace in Paddington, NSW, which was once an art gallery. It’s my sanctuary. I’m surrounded by some of my favourite design pieces, from furniture to art to sculpture to objet d’art. I feel very creative there.
What is the biggest difference between your office and home workspaces? Home is just for me. In an office environment you are forced to accommodate a variety of tastes. At home, it’s all about me and my partner. I love an uncluttered, minimal space, with heart. At work I spend most of my day in meetings, helping channel creativity on behalf of client’s. At home, it’s all about my own personal creative journey. The view from my study at home is stunning. I look out over the whole property, right down to the garden and swimming pool at the back. And because my study is on the mezzanine level, I feel like I’m up in the trees. It’s extremely relaxing.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you and helps you in your work? I’m a Mac man through and through. I remember reading a quote, “the best technology is the technology you don’t see.” That’s what Mac is all about for me. You’re never aware of the technology invading your workspace, it just sits quietly behind you and enables you to be creative. The iPad is the thing I’m waiting for. I haven’t been as excited about a piece of technology for a long time. As a blogger, I feel like it really free me up. It will me allow to “create” from wherever I like. I can’t wait.
How do you organize your home office? I’m thinking here of your physical space but also your virtual space. My home office is extremely organised. “Freedom from Chaos” is one of my mantras, at home and at work. At home, everything except my rather large collection of design and architecture books, is hidden away. The same is true of my virtual space. My desktop is empty, apart from 2 icons – the hard drive icon, and a folder marked “blog”, where I keep reference images of things I’ve stumbled across. I use Apple’s “Time Capsule” to ensure that everything is backed up. Another brilliant example of technology you don’t see. It just works away in the background, without any involvement from me. I love it.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? What item do you wish you had? I couldn’t do without my “Magic Mouse” (Mac’s new mouse). It really is the perfect device. It gives my total control over my online experience. I feel like it is perfect. Although I wish I had a Wacom Bamboo Tablet. I’m considering one at the moment. But I’m also waiting to see if the iPad will perform some of the same tasks.
What is your favourite piece of furniture in your office? I sit on an Eames Aluminium Group Chair that I had specially upholstered in white mesh. I saw them in The Sanderson Hotel in London and had to have one. It’s such a beautiful piece. Of course, it’s wonderfully comfortable, but it’s also beautiful as a piece of sculpture.
What inspires you? I’m inspired by simplicity, in architecture, design and art. Van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion is like my version of a chapel. It borders on a religious experience. I’m humbled by its brilliance. But it also inspires me to create beautiful things. I guess that’s why I created “things I have seen”. I wanted to share the things that give me that same feeling of humility.
Photos: Jason Busch
March 19, 2010
Josh Leo sent this photo of his home office to Lifework last week and I am thrilled to share it with you. I’d love to see more colorful home workspaces. You can leave them in the comments section or email me directly at email@example.com.
Josh, who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says: “I saw your blog post about the use of color in offices and thought I would share mine! When my wife and I bought our house 2 years ago, this room used to have clouds painted on the a wall and the other walls were mint green. I needed an office (I do freelance video and design work) so I decided to go with a bit of a bold color. I already had a number of wood pieces and a white iMac so I decided to continue that color scheme with the addition of a moss green. The Eames circles on the wall added a bit of visual interest and the contrast between the white and green really makes it a fun room to work in. I updated the desk and storage units just two months ago when I got a new computer. I must be honest, when looking for desks I dreamed of having an Airia Desk or Enchord Desk (both fit the color scheme perfectly) but alas, my budget isn’t quite big enough for those purchases…yet.” You can see more images of the office in Josh’s flickr page.