February 19, 2013
Designer Javier García keeps himself busy not only as an industrial-designer-turned-graphic-designer/illustrator working in San Francisco, but also as an avid collector of mid-century modern design. Take a peek inside his Bay Area home office — a treasure trove of vintage pieces, including several by Charles and Ray Eames — in our latest tour. Read more
October 6, 2011
Mark Jensen is the principal of San Francisco-based architecture firm whose work includes projects like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s award-winning rooftop sculpture garden (above) to lovingly detailed hillside homes. Here we take a tour of his homes and learn more about a shift in the way we work that informs his residential designs.
Above: Mark Jensesn at work. Photo: Jensen Architects
You are the principal architect of an 18-person firm that was established in 1990. Can you tell us about what drew you to architecture? Two things: first, my German grandfather hand-crafted a collection of solid maple building blocks for his grandson (thankfully, he didn’t have the tools in his garage-shop to make “blobs”). Second, my high school geometry teacher (a “recovering” architect himself) took one look at my hyper-organized class binder and said to me: “Mark, you are going to be an architect.”
Above: The Kokoris residence. Photos: Cesar Rubio.
September 29, 2011
David Airey is a graphic designer, author and since going out on his own in 2005 he’s become a touchstone for people working outside of the office. His post on how to transition to a life as a self-employed designer caught my attention in March of last year. Looking back through emails we’ve been dancing around this interview for a while now. I’ve reposted some of his writings here on Lifework but now we get a tour of his home workspace in Northern Ireland. And we’re not alone in our admiration of this designer – his design blogs Logo Design Love, davidairey.com and brand identity showcase Identity Designed attract more than one million monthly Pageviews.
Above: The view from Airey’s home office in Northern Ireland.
You’ve undergone major changes in your worklife – first when you moved from working in an office to basing yourself out of your home and then again when you moved homes. Can you tell us about those transitions? The first change (switching from an office to working from home) was in 2005 when I chose to become self-employed. My past employer became my first retainer client, giving me two or three days of contracted work per week (for 18 months or so). Because of which, I can’t remember too many nerves about going it alone.
People ask if it’s hard to motivate myself. I mean, there are always plenty of distractions when your home doubles as your workspace. Thankfully, I’ve never had much trouble. Maybe it was my upbringing — my dad made me appreciate the value of hard work.
What do I miss? Walking to work. I used to walk through the centre of Edinburgh each morning and evening. Loved it. Nowadays my daily commute takes five seconds. 10 if you count both ways.
Moving house is something I’m used to. Since first leaving my parent’s home when I was 19 I’ve lived at about 15 different addresses. That’ll be why there’s not a lot in my office — you tend to shed the junk each time you move.
You’ve set up a home workspace twice now – what did you do differently the second time? It’s six times. Six house moves since 2005. Each time for the better, though, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be completely happy with how my workspace looks (typical designer).
How does working from home impact your work? It’s hard to say. The work I produce now is of a much higher standard to what I was doing in my office days, but I’ve learned a hell of a lot along the way. Maybe if I stayed in an office, with more ease of receiving feedback from others, I’d be doing better. I don’t know.
You’re not only running a successful design business you also manage regularly post insightful pieces on your blog. How do you manage your time? I just do one thing at a time, whether it’s working on a client project, publishing a blog post, replying to emails, spending time with friends and family. But I limit the number of clients I work with at once, and each of my three blogs are only updated once or twice a week, so I’m probably not as busy as it might seem.
What inspires you in your work? Inspiration isn’t easy to pin down. I don’t think it’s necessary for the work I do. For me, what’s more important is motivation, and there’s one main aspect that keeps me going: I hope that one day I can fully support a family of my own, and if I’m to do that, I know I need to keep improving, keep streamlining my process, keep learning new skills, new approaches. The fact that I love my job and have a passion for design is a big motivator, too.
August 22, 2011
Bruce Bolander designed the Chicago offices of the Whitehouse film editing company we featured in June. I was really impressed with his work and eager to share more of it with you. Here Bolander talks about the impact of place on design and his roots as a furniture maker.
Above: Bolander’s office is 100 feet across a driveway from his home in Malibu.
While studying architecture you also learned to build furniture. How do those skills impact the buildings you design today? I still design some furniture and every once in a while even build something. I think that designing and building furniture gave me a better sense of both material and assemblage, details of how different pieces (small in the case of furniture and larger with architecture) unite.
Above: The Mosquito table and Hoist stool designed and fabricated by Bolander.
For the Whitehouse Chicago office I designed the edit desks, the reception desk and also a table that we ended up using both in the lunchroom/café as well as in the conference rooms and other meeting areas.
It is a simple plywood table that is built with just a couple of sheets of plywood and simple tools. It is made of a top and two base pieces that all just key together. To illustrate the table to the client I built a rough prototype myself in a few hours.
Balance, Design, Products
January 26, 2010
Matt Hickman, is a freelance journalist and consultant who covers lifestyle, design and green-living. I talked to him about his Brooklyn home office.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve worked from home on and off for six years — half of which was spent as a graduate student. Home/work for the past three years has been a two bedroom, fourth floor walk-up apartment in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Red Hook, a heavily industrial waterfront area was once marked by gangster grittiness of all stripes … first the mafia and later urban gangs. The waterfront area is now infamous as a haven for working artists, designers, and writers since it’s slightly off the grid. Geographically, Red Hook is no Siberia but the lack of a convenient subway stop keep the rents low. Everyone seems to know each other and the smattering of bars, restaurants, and boutiques are predominately run or staffed by locals. There’s an organic farm, community gardens growing in vacant lots, historic longshoreman bars, waterfront parks and piers, and, um, an IKEA [the frame below in Matt's entryway is from IKEA]. I couldn’t imagine working from any where else … although it is refreshing to shed the pajamas every so often and attend proper meetings.
What does a ‘normal’ day entail? An average work day revolves a lot of moving around from bed to desk to couch to a stool in the kitchen. Lots of “walk” breaks and trips to Fairway market for lunch. Workdays kind of flow on and on, starting early and ending late. I spend a lot of time looking out my windows and thinking since there’s great light, little noise, and few distractions. I have city views and a full-frontal view of Statue of Liberty sitting in the lower New York Harbor. During late summer afternoons, I charge my laptop, grab a a blanket, and head to my roof where I get WiFi.
Is there any form of technology that helps you? My MacBook desktop is cluttered with Sticky Notes, otherwise my virtual organization habits are pretty minimal. I keep an old fashioned paper calender. IM is my virtual water cooler. Since I do miss the daily interaction of being in a proper office full-time, saying hello to friends and colleagues while taking a work break is a godsend (most of the time).
How do you organize your space? Is there a desktop tool you can’t do without? Working from my living and bedrooms, I have to keep everything organized and in-order (organizing and cleaning and redecorating is my ultimate work-from-home procrastination tool). Public radio is usually on at all hours and there’s a steady supply of caffeine in the fridge. Magazines and books (mostly fiction and memoir) are on hand for periodic recharging. Stamps, good pens, my Blackberry, and loose pieces of paper are all required in my work area. And then there’s cable television ….
What inspires you? Living in a creative enclave in the middle of the city really keeps the inspiration levels high. If I was working from home elsewhere in the city, I’d feel flat-out stifled, much more claustrophobic. It’s liberating (but, yes, at times lonely). I’m often inspired by — and frequently write about — the people around me … sustainable furniture designers, clothing designers, gardeners, art curators, dancers, web designers, eco-entrepreneurs, musicians, craftspeople. I don’t have to venture far. And I like that.