January 20, 2011
Dallas Clayton started his career as a teenager writing and illustrating magazines and selling them to strangers. Later, as a new father, he wrote and illustrated An Awesome Book from home simply to encourage the idea of dreaming big and holding on to those dreams. He sold hard copies of the book but he also put it online for free to share it. When the hard copy sales escalated he created the Awesome World Foundation, which donates one book for every copy sold. He has always written from his home, and now runs the foundation from there as well. May his experiences inspire big dreams in your family, too!
My name is Dallas Clayton. I write kids books. I don’t require much space or many amenities to be happy. I guess I’m lucky like that. To be honest, I would be just as happy living in a van parked next to the ocean as I would in any variety of palatial estate. I’m not much for sprawl or grandeur, or making other people who don’t have any houses feel bad about it because my house has six basketball courts and a television made of diamonds.
But I can recognize that “van” is a pretty lackluster answer to what is my ideal space. Maybe instead of van, I should say craft. Vehicle. Traveling machine.
What does that look like? It’s going to need to be fast, so I can hurry all over the world meeting new friends and getting into new situations. Maybe even “warp speed” fast. You know, near-instant traveling capacities.
And its going to need a lot of room, so that people can come inside and hang out and eat food and play party games, and draw pictures on the walls if they want to. What good is it being able to get Iceland at warp speed if you can’t have a dance party when you get there? And it’s going to need to be able to fly, and go underwater also, because – well, you asked me to use my imagination…
…and while we’re at it, it should probably be able to go into space- maybe to the furthest reaches of space- the parts of space that could answer all sorts of questions about mankind and god and science and whatnot. I would also like it to be painted on the front like a mural at a pediatric dentist’s office (rainbow-colored misshapen animals, wizards, etc).
Oh, and it needs multiple swimming pools for when we travel to desert climates (you’re invited too, you know!) I would also like it if it could play music as it traveled, like an ice cream truck- but less annoying. Maybe it could play something easy on the ears, like Sam Cooke or Bill Withers, man those guys could sing. If only my house could sing as well as Bill Withers, I’d be a happy fella.
I guess since we are on the subject I’d like to make one final request of my ultimate home- if it could end poverty, disease, and global inequality and maybe across the board make people of the world feel better about themselves, well that would be great too. *
Thanks so much!
* They said I could use 600 words. I only used 428 words so far so I would like to use the remaining space to tell you that I love you and that maybe you should call your mom today if you get a chance or maybe if you see someone outside (it’s pretty cold these days) who doesn’t have a house you should try to talk to them or maybe buy them some food or maybe just even a big smile would be nice. I know isn’t much, but at the end of the day we’re all just people, right?
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
January 13, 2011
We asked Gregory Han, Apartment Therapy’s Unplggd editor, to think about his ideal workspace. Here’s what the Los Angeles-based technophile came up with.
When asked what my ideal live/work space would be, the question initially was digested as an overwhelming proposition. Ideals tend to overcomplicate and a truly meaningful place to live and work would be one where life’s complexities could be peeled away and where the simple answers for difficult questions could be tackled with both focus and calm. Given the opportunity to add or subtract, I believe the space I would most prosper within would be one of minimalism, but with well devised tech and storage options, maximizing the transition between work, relaxation and play seamlessly.
I find my most memorable moments of inspiration happen in two disparate places: in the bath tub (which I try to enjoy at least once every few days) and while hiking outdoors away from the madding crowds. In both cases, it’s because of the solitude and quiet each allows I find myself thinking and creating freely; internal dialogues, problem solving and just free-form visualization happen either while soaking in the tub or climbing into a creek carved valley. It’s a wonder I haven’t yet tried to work from the tub, considering my affinity for hot baths.
So where does that leave me now with the question of my ideal live/work space? Currently I work in a very small home office, really just a closet made into a noir darkened niche comprising of a shallow desk, some installed shelving, a task chair and a few computing components. Despite the tight quarters, it works well for what I do as managing editor, and as is the case in many design problems, due to the limitations I’ve been forced to edit, minimize “things” while maximizing utility. Taking what I’ve learned from both this home office and the previous slightly larger (but still quite small) home office, the desired space I’d most want is not one enlarged spatially, but a work area detached from my living space…but only a few footsteps away from a main living area.
Noek Design design these beautiful prefabricated shelters called deckhouse (above); the sheds evoke the feel of a traditional Japanese structure in their simplicity and the honesty of the materials used. Sliding doors and an expanded deck which melts the idea of indoor and outdoor space. I’d love to have one of these deckhouses situated in a darkened, lush garden with a pond or fountain just outside the window or placed on top of a hillside amongst trees with a distant view in similar fashion to Peter Daniel Frazier’s The Cube (below).
Solar paneling on the roof would provide a modest amount of energy for a lazy fan or ambient LED lighting and the overhang would help reduce the glare on the monitors (alongside the lush garden or tree heavy surroundings). I really love built-in features that were more popular amongst mid-century architects, so the dream desk would be a floating affair, an extension of the interior space itself rather than a separate piece of furniture, complemented with shelving above for books and compartments to hide away clutter.
The floating desk would also feature cable and wire guides underneath and in the back, while hideaway grommet style USB and power port connections would make charging or connecting and peripheral a breeze. And although I currently use a laptop setup and like the flexibility it allows, if I had a dedicated dream space, a more powerful tower model hidden underneath the desk would permit me to use to wall mounted 24″ panels (Photoshop is a hungry, hungry child and it always wants more RAM and a faster GPU).
I’m an avid iPad user, so the option to incorporate the tablet into my desk would be useful when I don’t need it in hand, but I want it nearby for use. If you’re an 80′s kid like myself, you might remember corporate bad-boy, Ed Dillinger’s desk from the original TRON (below). It was a touchscreen dream machine, and till this day I admire how the UI’s graphical presence could easily disappear into the darkness of the surface when turned off. I’ll settle for a flush mounted USB charger and docking solution, with a slide door which would hide the flush docked iPad into the desk.
Basically, I want a space where the tech is deeply incorporated into the space, but hardly noticeable, where quiet and solitude help facilitate focused thought, but with a clear connection to the outdoor world surrounding the small home office. The close proximity of a tub would also be appreciated, but now I’m just getting fantasy-land ridiculous!
January 6, 2011
Multi-tasking architect, blogger and creativity coach Alla Kazovsky speaks to the integration of her own work at home, the strong influence of family and “engaging the architect within.”
Above: Home. From the window systems to the shower enclosure hardware, from the landscape to the lighting, the house is a laboratory with enough creative inspiration for everyone.
My life’s overarching goal has been to build an environment that instills confidence as much as nurtures creativity of my children. The objective has always been to provide adequate room to grow with lots of choices along the way.
In 1991, for example, as a pregnant architect setting up my own child’s nursery I could not find much in terms of furnishings that respected the intelligence and sophistication I envisioned human beings possessed from day one. Thus, it was only natural to develop a product line of multi-functional modern furniture and accessories for children, some of which are available through New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Above: Modern Easel + Art Cart. Best Toy Award, 2002, Child Magazine
Specializing in design for children enabled me to enlist my daughters as collaborators and expert consultants. For instance, as I worked on the Discovery Carts for the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, both daughters, Mia and Nastya, were prototyping and learning with me. We playfully gained new appreciation for the beauty of gardens while producing three site-specific portable educational stations to engage children in learning about the institution through age-appropriate hands-on activities.
Above: Discovery Carts For the Huntington Gardens, 2002
When I found our dream house as a run-down distressed cabin with a 200-bush rose garden, my husband was very skeptical. It was quite a leap to imagine the potential weighing in functional and aesthetic considerations. I completely renovated the home’s interiors, opening the kitchen, creating a dining room and powder room, and expanding the bathrooms. It was an exercise in merging of old and new—in building, design, and attitude. By marrying new with existing elements I was able to create an ideal environment that offers a fluid variety of spaces to enjoy depending on the mood. I saw obstacles and constraints as opportunities to invent project-specific solutions, such as a free-standing swimming pool on sloping land, or an underground bath house.
Above: Table in the rose garden. To learn how to take care of our roses, the family took a seminar on rose-pruning.
And then, it dawned on me that I have been subconsciously designing not only our house, but our life, as if it were an architectural project. Admittedly, being your own client has been extremely gratifying, enabling me to take the time, to experiment, and to correct mistakes while considering every little-yet significant-detail!
Above: We turned the house into a space showcasing our daughters’ artwork. Here, our daughter Mia’s painting was translated into a mosaic, a focal point on the wall of the above-ground pool.
As my kids grew, I took up Creativity Coaching in order to continue to have influence in their lives. At that point, I became increasingly interested in psychological impact of architecture and began writing a book that pairs self-help and design with a premise that anyone can “construct” their own life or “engage the architect within.” I began blogging on the Huffington Post to give me the opportunity to regularly share my thoughts on the subject and to test the concepts while gaining a voice. To me, engaging the architect within is a matter of mindset — openness to begin before knowing the solution, awareness of different scales, and ability to move back and forth from an over-all concept to a small detail while constantly asking questions.
Above: Home studio
However, acknowledgement and validation that I get from my daughters is most valuable. I am lucky; recently Nastya admitted that our garden “is a hugely inspiring place for her.” And I heard Mia tell someone: “My mother created our house to be a place for our family to live, work, and grow up. Due to her encouragement and inspiration, I grew up as an artist, just like her.”
Above: Mia’s room.
December 23, 2010
Within the Rugh family, wonder leads the foursome into new explorations. Jaime is an artist working with paper and textile and an accidental teacher, while Jeffrey is a painter who also works for Prada. They settled in South Orange, NJ with their two children, after stints in Los Angeles and in New York City. Their open process of continually finding ways to integrate family and work has created a steady group of collaborations and new communities. Below they share their process and some of the friends they have met along the way.
Our house is a 131-year-old navy blue small folk Victorian for which the front door in our three-year ownership has gone bright green to deep orange and soon, maybe, black. We move and rearrange our things repeatedly and often make unconventional design based pairings based around our different tastes. And then we find the need to constantly refine the uses for our home. We began home schooling our daughter over a year ago, which is something we thought we’d never do but rather instantly found it a match for our lifestyle and our daughter’s style of learning. Our ideal is a home where a child can wonder and investigate.
Our days are an adventure stemming from an idea, a jumping off point and we go hunting inside our home and out for illustrations and reinforcements; variations on a theme.
We try and keep our lifestyle organic, fluid, often imperfect, and sometimes a mess. Perhaps our ideal workspace might have a robot solely programmed to clean up after us although surely an example is to be made of cleaning up the fallen confetti of snow-like cut paper from our dining room floor.
We allow our children to explore our work and our studios in the same way we do our yard or any playground. Everyone in the house is entitled to access of books, baking material, puzzles, musical instruments, dress up clothes, art supplies, and science projects, dolls, cars, trains, and fake money. We like to use children’s art materials in tandem with professional artists materials. Jaime assembles quilts on the floor of the kitchen, while Jeff has extended the size of his studio desk so our daughter Charlie makes her own paintings beside him. Additionally our idea of studio often extends into the beyond. Nearly every day Jeff reads and does research for his art amongst the fellow riders on the NJTransit train into the City. We work in fits and starts chipping away at projects as time allows.
We are fortunate to be present in our lives and as we have changed so has the work we make. In 2001, we started a New Year’s edition project inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s annual “LOVE” New Year’s card. Since the arrival of our children, the card has taken on new forms and directions, less about our art and more about the things that make up our children’s lives.
We embrace a collaborative approach to art and project making, thus we have always sought out people and families who work together, create editions and yearly projects. The Dolphin Studio in Stockbridge, Massachusetts creates a calendar designed by several members of their family, including the very young. We especially love the songs our friend Dan Zanes sings with his daughter, Anna, and his approach to music making. With a wild spirit and assortment of musical friends, young and old, he brings varied talents together from all the distant places of this world.
Last year we used a lyric from one of his songs on one of the posters we produce in our family workshop. Most recently we produced a series of silk screened posters that are meant to embrace and reflect on the lives of those we know who are on the Autism spectrum.
For us, ideal workspace as a term seems problematic as it suggests a fixed outcome or an answer. Our live/workspace extends beyond our home, out into the uncertain world and back again.
December 9, 2010
For Asuka Hisa, being the education director of a museum means developing and organizing education programs that give her an opportunity to bring the ideas of creative people to the larger community. In addition to organizing programs, she is the creator of such groundbreaking programs as Wall Works, where acclaimed mid-career artists create large-scale public art projects with K-12 students; and Emerging Artists Family Workshops where one learns and makes projects with fascinating up-and-coming artists. In this interview Ms. Hisa shares her thoughts on work, space, and the good life.
“Describing my ideal live/work space is a delightful challenge. In a portable way, it will always be wherever and whenever I have the peace of mind to think and dream—I could be walking a neighborhood, riding a bike, sitting in a café, or lying in my bed.
My indispensable sidekick is a little notebook in which I scribble my notes and draw pictures. Everything that catches my fancy gets scribbled down eagerly without concern for good penmanship. I simply must write it down. This perfect pocket notebook is a portable studio for my mind to wander, brainstorm, keep tabs, and plan. This essential notebook activity comes from years of working full-time at a dynamic little museum and raising a family. When juggling deadlines, projects, and the world of loved ones (and their demands), I find personal refuge in my notebooks where, in constant-quick-small ways, I feel like I am acting on my creative impulses.
Above: Notebooks old and new. Alter-ego character.
I love being at home, working at home, but I am too seldom at home. The children are now grown (16 and 18) and I am able to be an enthusiastic peripatetic in my city; a sucker for stimulation; a voracious consumer of local experiences. In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, I am invigorated, intellectually and creatively, by my urban hikes and I certainly consider them an extension of my live/work space. I finally set up a studio at home but I have yet to really use it. I am too accustomed to considering my studio to be everywhere. Let’s quote Virginia Woolf (author of A Room of One’s Own among other incredible works) “I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in”
Above: Studio/Home, sweet, Studio/Home (Photos: Edie Kahula Pereira and Asuka Hisa)
I work at a contemporary art museum called the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Art that embraces diverse aesthetic, cultural, and ideological perspectives comes in a daily dose. Several times a day, my walk through exhibitions from the museum’s front door to my desk inspires and prompts ideas. I encourage people to visit museums on a regular basis. It works.
Above: Exhibition installation view of Michael Asher (Photo: Grant Mumford, courtesy Santa Monica Museum of Art)
In my job as the museum’s education director, I try to get my office workspace and the department’s projects to expand through multi-faceted collaborations that go beyond the walls of the institution.
Above: My desk at work
Wall Works is one of my programs that involve hundreds of K-12 students in the creation of public artwork in partnership with the museum, artists, and the community. The project requires a film shoot; studio visits with artists; coordination with schools; and a professional installation off-site. Most importantly, it gets youth to learn about art and artists in a highly participatory fashion. The projects have turned a rather colorless hallway into an inviting and lively passageway. Students are part of a bona fide public art exhibition viewed by hundreds of visitors.
Above: Zippy’s Nicknacks, Tonics, and Magical Gadgets project with Bari Ziperstein
Above: blik and me (detail) project with blik surface graphics
Above: Listen, Tell, Draw (detail) project with Kim Schoenstadt (All photos, courtesy Santa Monica Museum of Art)
A good life is created by good work, be it professional or personal. The ideal live/work space? Right here, there, and over there.”
Balance, Design, Products
December 2, 2010
In April this year we took a tour of Laura Baker’s home office. As fas as I was concerned, it was pretty ideal, so I was very interested to see what she would come up with when presented with the central question of this new series: What is your ideal home office?
Laura: I’ve always gotten my best ideas sitting in coffee shops drawing in notebooks, away from the forced environment of a desk, so I’d like to find a way to free up my mind when I’m in my office. One thing I think would help would be a very large, perhaps 9’ x 9’ blackboard or whiteboard, so that I could design furniture and cabinetry full size. (See photo below).
The idea of getting to draw at that scale really appeals to me. I could stand back and really get a sense of the scale, and wouldn’t be wasting any paper to achieve that. I’d photograph the designs to document them before making working drawings. A number of years ago I visited the John Soane Museum in London. One of the many brilliant ideas Soane, who was an architect, employed, was a painting room where the paintings were hung on panels that hinged open to reveal more paintings behind (picture below). In this way he tripled his wall space. I think that would be a great way to work on presentations…different projects could be opened or closed as needed, and if the panels were magnetic or cork fabrics could be pinned onto the boards as well as drawings. I’d like the front of these panels to be painted cabinetry so it could all disappear. I’d choose a palette of whites to function as a neutral background.
This picture (below) is the fantasy version of the interior I’d like to have…it’s Frederic Mechiche’s home in Paris. I’d keep the furnishings very simple and have large work surfaces for drafting, making models, and sorting materials. I’d need lots of cabinets for samples of fabrics, building materials, books and so on. I’d be happy to have all the furniture resources scanned onto an external hard drive however.
Although this is a fantasy of what I’d like, thinking about it has made me realize that at least the blackboard idea is quite attainable, and I may start with that in my actual office.
October 21, 2010
A couple of years ago I was on an architecture tour in Los Angeles. We had seen a bunch of houses and were ending the long (and rather hot) day at a home flung far back in the hills behind the city. We got lost. The driveway was dirt. I wasn’t holding high expectations but the building was a gem and suspended above the dining table was a wonderful, crazy, scribble of green wire – a sculpture by Rebecca Niederlander. I took a photo of it. Many photos actually and I tracked Rebecca down – I won’t say stalked! But I found her and in finding her I discovered BROODWORK; here was an extraordinary coalition of artists, architects, designers and writers who all share one thing – they are deeply immersed to the integration of their work and their family life. This was the first time I had come across a group that celebrated the impact family had on one’s work.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to fold them into the Lifework family ever since. Along came the Post Family and the birth of the Ideal Live/Work Space. And it became clear that this was a perfect place to explore the work of BROODWORK.
After a productive meeting with Rebecca and architect Iris Anna Regn (who co-founded BROODWORK with Rebecca) we are now ready to launch the latest Ideal Live/Work Space series. I think you’re going to enjoy it. The first participant is acclaimed philosopher and author Alain De Botton. Look out for his post later today. We will also visit Rebecca’s Eagle Rock home and studio; the home Iris is designing with her husband, architect Tim Durfee; graphic designer Juliette Bellocq and Families and Work Institute founder Ellen Galinsky and painter Norman Galinsky.
July 16, 2010
“The ideal live/work space to me is centered around integration and not separation, the art of balance and not of juggling. These images represents the most important elements I value in my own space and tried to depict how they can work together.”
Sam Rosen is designer and photographer. He is also a member of The Post Family.
And this concludes our Post posts. It’s been great hosting this group of guys. I was so thrilled when they agreed to put their collective brain to this task of imagining the ultimate home work space. Thank you Post Family for your generosity, intelligence and time!
July 12, 2010
“Having worked from my bedroom in isolation for a few years, I have learned two very important things. 1. Physically separating work and home allows your mind to decompress and refocus. Always being ‘ON’ is mentally taxing. 2. Social interaction is infinitely important to healthy growth. Especially when you are in your mid 20′s. So here is how I would handle a live/work concept:
My ideal live/work situation is based on community, shared spaces and a distinct separation between home and work. In this campus, one building is devoted to homes and one building is devoted to businesses both retail and office. Both buildings have shared roof decks and backyards to encourage gatherings. The idea is to rent both apartments and work spaces to people as a package. And ideally these are independent businesses that foster local communities.
By Alex Fuller.”
Alex is a graphic designer and one of the seven members of the Post Family.