February 13, 2012
Your home office may be comfortable, customized to your specifications, and as hard-working as you are—but sometimes everyone needs an escape from the everyday work routine. One way to shake things up? Coworking, or sharing an office environment with others working on their own projects.
Communities like LooseCubes.com that let you find temporary space to rent by the day or the month (like Hoboken, NJ’s MissionFifty, above) are a smart place to start. Look for workspaces that inspire, teach you something, or that simply give you a fresh perspective. Here are a few spots available across the country that recently caught our eye. Read more
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
February 3, 2012
Where we’ve been this week…
1. Inhabitat ran a post on a beautifully designed little prefab cabin inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.
2. Interior Design magazine “10 Questions with Konstantin Grcic“ - who designed, among other pieces, Chair_One.
3. Huffington Post for their piece on the Eames’ film “Powers of 10″.
4. Co.Design on how plywood change the world…look out for pieces by Ray and Charles Eames.
5. Architizer for Drew House - an amazing building that includes a tubular section for the living area.
6. The Office Stylist for her post on 22squared’s cool office space.
7. Cubicle Refugee for her lovely, color-driven tumblr blog. Lots of eye candy during your coffee break.
8. Pinterest has so many good boards loaded with home office ideas but make sure you check out Design Studio for really eclectic mix of images.
9. Poppytalk for her home work space post.
10. Habitus for their interview with BassamFellows.
Balance, Design, Products
December 2, 2011
Where we’ve been this week…
1. Treehugger for their interview with treehouse designer Pete Nelson. Fewer tree houses are used as home work spaces than was originally thought.
2. Core77 for their ultimate gift guide because suddenly it’s that time of year again!
3. Architizer for the MIMA House – a contemporary home that responds to the changing use of space with moveable walls.
4. Design Milk’s Designer Desktop series closes with the wonderful Dieter Rams.
5. Grain Edit for the post on Dutch illustrator Raymond Lemstra. Great work and a helpful link to Lemstra’s store (good holiday gifts perhaps?)
6. Design Observer’s Alexandra Lange on the interiors of Kevin Roche. You’ll spot some beautiful Eames pieces in the shots.
7. Unbeige for alerting us to the fact that Philip Johnson’s Glasshouse now has an online shop. Help raise funds to save the house and find great gifts. Perfect.
8. The Selby for a wonderful peek into publisher Angelika Taschen’s home.
9. PSFK for their post on architect David Adjaye’s pavillion outside the Design Miami tent.
10. Metropolis magazine’s piece on what a toy can do for architecture.
October 5, 2011
Over at Blue Ant Studio’s blog Joel Pirela has just started a new series offering up shots of creative people’s desks. I was invited to contribute (my desk is above) and was thrilled to see some of my favorite bloggers were already there. Check out the images below and head over to Blue Ant Studio for more.
Above: Joel Pirela’s workspace.
Above: Design Milk’s Jaime Derringer’s home office
Above: Marcus Fairs at the Dezeen office in Stoke Newington, north London
June 9, 2011
We spend a lot of time trying to hide cables and cords away, out of sight. But what are you supposed to do when there’s just no way to avoid having them visible? We say, embrace them! Check out these examples and get some ideas below.
Design Star season 5′s Michael Moeller adorned a gray wall with a contrasting red-orange cord for maximum color pop.
Balance, Design, Products
April 18, 2011
Teacher, graphic designer and blogger Jennifer Kennard gives us a tour of her home workspace.
Tell us about the kind of work you do. How long have you worked from home? And where is home? Currently, I am a collector of stories, ideas, books and typography materials and I write about each for my online design blog, Letterology. I also teach part-time for one of the most rigorous and impressive graphic design programs in the Northwest, at Seattle Central Community College. A great deal of my time is spent working at my home in Seattle, Washington—where I can carve out various spaces for my different disciplines—preparing lesson plans, writing, researching and photographing materials for class and Letterology. With the exception of 4 years working in the design industry in Los Angeles in the 80s, I have spent much of my career as a graphic designer and illustrator in Seattle. Before LA, I shared office space in downtown Seattle with fellow designers, and then returned to Seattle and have continually worked from home since 1988 which must make me about 110 years old now.
Describe your style and how it relates to the space you work in and also the work you produce. I work in so many mediums, it is hard to describe a style. My fine art, might involve printmaking, photography, colored pencil work, paper sculpture, book arts, digital or a combination of any of these. My design work may begin with research, thumbnails drawings and hours at the computer, so I tend to run all over the house. I would say the single-most important element in all of my design work is the typography. This ingredient has to fit with the era I am trying to evoke so I research extensively and fiddle with the typography until I’m satisfied, just like most designers. I have a fairly good resource library of design materials and books I’ve been collecting for years and it is nice to have them in one place where they are accessible for the most part. I wish they were all in one room, but that isn’t going to happen. At least they are under the same roof and I’m not running between office and home.
I find the most difficult thing about working from home is balancing the work part from the living part. I love what I do, but it consumes much of my life right now. I try to take breaks to either go for a daily walk or a run or meet up with friends when I can. Some of my work is self-imposed, but the teaching consumes a tremendous amount of time. When I’m not teaching there is new software to learn, and maintenance to be performed. It’s a constant task having to be your own IT person too—or MT—a misinformation technologist in my case.
With exception of an occasional logo assignment and personal work, I have essentially chosen to take a reprieve from my artwork this past year. I’m not happy about it, but I will return to it eventually. As an experiment last October I decided to try and add at least one post a day to Letterology, and with a few exceptions, I have kept to this schedule. I can’t say how long it will continue at this pace, but I have been enjoying the process and have learned a tremendous amount about the work of so many other great designers and artists. It has been a real education on many levels.
How do you keep your work space organized? I keep a small studio office in one room for performing actual artwork; my dining room has been transformed into my production room with two printers, a scanner, copier, an iMac server, bookcases and a make-shift photo studio. These days I do all of my writing on my laptop at the kitchen table as it has the best sound system and lighting in the house. Essentially, most of my house has been transformed into an office. Organization is a continual struggle because of lack of space. I keep nicely labeled binders of ephemera and an endless file system so I can retrieve information easily and I was very fortunate to acquire a ridiculous abundance of nice wooden flat files many years ago which has been a tremendous asset for storing art papers and materials. Some people have good shoe karma. I seem to have good flat file karma.
When you set up your home office what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? Since 1988, my husband and I have been living in a nice old 1913 two-and-a-half-story house overlooking a wooded ravine. It is a very rustic setting, but consequently it is dark and the electrics are not entirely upgraded yet. I can never get enough good lighting. With the exception of the living room, all the rooms are rather small, so this is why I’ve had to migrate into other parts of the house. My husband Paul, has been very gracious about my large footprint, but I am seriously considering moving my entire office into the living room now so we can reclaim the other rooms as living space again. It think it could be a fun alternative.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? I’d have to say my pink celluloid Apsco “Midget” pencil sharpener. It’s useful and the pink plastic just makes me smile.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet right now? Two beautiful custom fir bookcases with glass doors—long and low, to fit on either side of my desk where I can put my old typewriters on top of each. A better work stool would be nice too. I have a nice old wooden one from the early 1900s which a neighbor of mine restored, but it is not that durable. Built for looks, but not for function.
What would you change about your work space? Certainly the lighting, but I am in great need of more storage as well. Because I work in so many disciplines, I have acquired a lot of tools, equipment and materials. I need most of these items accessible, but I’d like more shelving and cabinets to store them. It is my biggest organizational quandary right now.
What inspires you? Skilled craftsmanship for one. No matter what it may be—if it is well-made, well-drawn, well-printed, well-written, or well-designed from the heart—it shows. I’m inspired by so many things, but foremost, by nicely designed and printed books—old and new; well-crafted typography; mid-century pattern design; the artwork of British artists Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden; the photography of Karl Blossfeldt; snow and ice formations; decorative hand-lettering; the packaging of dimestore toys made in Japan from the 50s and 60s; so many book designers and illustrators; my students; visual information display; animation; old office supplies; the colors of moss after a fresh rain (a Northwest thing); an alpine hike; and music. I cannot imagine working without good music.
Balance, Design, Products
April 4, 2011
We came across artist Mark Sahm on Twitter. Can you guess why we were interested in his work? Read on to find out…
Tell us about the kind of work you do. How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I make paintings with hand-rendered die-cuts and LED backlighting, but I also work as a design production manager in Manhattan (to pay the bills). I commute between NYC and my townhouse in Stamford, CT. My wife and I moved here in 2007, and it was actually the first time I had a proper studio. All the way from college until then, I either painted in my bedroom, a garage, and even an unheated storage space. But those sacrifices were good, since I’m able to truly appreciate it now. You don’t know relief until you don’t have to paint with gloves and a hat on during the winter!
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? My style and aesthetic are contemporary and abstract, but I’m always trying to evolve. I also try to embrace as much technology as I can. Aside of using low-energy LEDs to light my paintings, my composition design makes heavy use of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Often I will snap a digital photo of the painting in progress, and play with different colors and shapes in AI & PS to get the best option. This helps to reduce mistakes, as dried acrylic paint is as unforgiving as a woman who caught her boyfriend cheating.
How do you keep your work space organized? It’s strange, but when a camera comes into the studio, almost everything magically finds its way to the bins, shelves and closets! But when I’m at work, I like having everything out in front of me to see what might inspire me as I’m immersed in the process. Once you’ve acquired a fair amount of art materials, you forget about things that are hidden away. So when the time calls for spontaneity, you go with what catches your eye.
When you set up your studio what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? Our building is a New York style brick townhouse built in 1890, but renovated in 2007. My wife and I wanted to use the basement as the studio, but it was the only area that hadn’t been renovated. This was compounded by the fact that we didn’t have the money to afford a professional contractor to do it all at once. So over the span of a year, I did a lot of the work myself— laid a subfloor, hung drywall, installed a drop ceiling, and so on. But the rawness of the space allowed us to quadruple the amount of ceiling lights, as well as adjust many of the soffits to fit shelves and workstations in different nooks. Of course, not a lot of art was produced that first year. But the investment has already paid itself off tenfold in karmic value.
Is there any piece of studio furniture you covet right now? Is it any secret? I want an Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman to sit in while I’m sketching! Although, I wouldn’t dare keep it within 30 feet of my paints for fear of a drip. I’d have to keep it in a giant plexiglas display cube when not in use. But I’m saving up to get one someday, so if anyone knows of one with paint drips already on it, call me, I’m in the market.
What accessory can’t you do without? It’s actually something inexpensive and commonplace: A utility knife with a fresh blade. Cutting through thick canvas with several layers of acrylic on it dulls an edge very quickly, so I go through 1 to 2 industrial strength blades per painting.
What would you change about your studio space? You know you’re an artist when you’ve once asked your partner, “Honey, what do you think about turning the living room into an art studio?” Obviously, the answer would be more square feet. But right now I have most of the tools I need and want. So I’m focused on creating art that helps make someone’s room complete.
What inspires you? This answer could be endless for me, so I’ll give you four examples: Music that makes the hairs on my arms stand up. An idea that invigorates my mind so much that I can’t leave the studio until I’m completely exhausted (or out of caffeine). The belief that creativity is never truly dead, despite what the cynics say. The knowledge that my art and design heroes were all unknowns once, and they worked hard to become great— so maybe I can too.
March 29, 2011
I’m really enjoying sfgirlbybay’s Pinterest page devoted to work spaces. Beautiful ideas here.
March 28, 2011
A year ago Suzanne Rico lost her job as morning co-anchor on KCBS-TV (Channel 2). The reason? She was a victim of a major restructuring. “I went from news anchor to news nobody in the three minutes it took for new News Director Scott Diener to fire me.” Suzanne has been reinventing herself ever since that fateful day. She and her husband jettisoned their comfortable life in Los Angeles and began a long, worldwide journey in search of a slower, simpler life. Where will it end? ”With two little kids and a 15 year old Labrador in tow, I’m either headed for enlightenment or an expedited check-in to the looney bin,” Suzanne says. She is documenting their travels on a blog aptly titled Walking Papers. Here she talks about her new mobile office.
You recently went through a big change in your work life. Can you tell us about that? I went from working on deadline ALL the time to working on no deadline at all. This, I would say, is the best thing that came with getting fired. The worst is having no paycheck. The second best thing about getting fired is not having to put on make-up, fancy clothes and heels in the pre-dawn hours–especially if I had been up with a sick kid all night and felt like the living dead. The best lighting a major news network can provide will not make you look or feel good in these circumstances–not to mention allow you to form a cohesive sentence. Now if I have a bad night, I can work in my pajamas and eat grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup (did I mention I no longer have a paycheck?). The journey from well-paid anchor to un-paid blogger feels like a re-birth. I am in the process of discovering who I am when I no longer have to squeeze myself into the confines dictated by a news job. I have total choice. I am my own boss. When my children need me, I can put the computer to sleep. This is liberating, fulfilling, exhilarating and scary as hell to a lifelong workaholic career woman.
With all the travel you are doing right now how do you keep yourself organized? When do you find time to write? And where do you do it? I write in the car, train or airplane as much as possible, but I take my computer anywhere that I think I will have five minutes to write. I work between stints as referee, waitress, circus clown, Lego-builder, teacher, healer, and story-teller because my husband and I are all things to our children right now. All the help I had back when I had a paying job is gone–and I don’t miss it. I work late after the kids are asleep in whatever random room we are staying in, comforted that my family is there but relieved that, for the moment, I have the night to myself. These stolen moments are enough.
Chaos has always made me jumpy. This is likely because I lived such a structured life for so long (be one minute late to the set, and you miss a live broadcast). I stay organized by being a minimalist. I clean as I go, throw away everything that isn’t crucial to my work (and often find that I need that “trash” later), and every few days I empty the contents of my black back pack onto the floor and repack it, organizing snacks and sunscreen, power cords and Tylenol, home school supplies and vitamins. Being on the road has its advantages, as you are limited in what you can bring by space. I am forced to travel lean and when my work area gets messy (as it often did in the “micro-car” we rented for a three week road trip down Argentina’s rough Ruta 40) I stop down and clean up. With my computer, camera, power cord, adapter and a good power source (sometimes difficult to find!), I have all I need.
What piece of technology besides your laptop are you most attached to? My husband is my second favorite technological tool. He’s like Rain-Man in that he can learn anything and has this vast ability to retain information. I am technologically challenged, so he is my go-to guy when something goes haywire with my computer or iPhone. He says he has to stop enabling me so that I learn for myself, but I figure it’s easier just to make sure we never get divorced. If I had to pick a real thing, I would say my iPhone. I haven’t made one call on it in months, but I use it to jot down thoughts and often take it with me on my runs, so that when an idea hits, I can record it in a voice memo. Plus, it holds my favorite photos. Do I sound like a commercial for Apple?
What inspires you? My children make me laugh and cry–two emotions that always provide inspiration. When my three year old looks at the vast African sky and sighs, “Look at all the colors!”, I see the world through his eyes and my problems seem small and solvable. When that same exhausted kid has a melt down as we are being questioned by a stern customs agent (a long line of annoyed travelers staring as I wrestle him off the ground) I try to breathe and know that parents everywhere have walked in my shoes. Bad or good, my children provide my best material.
Lately, a beautifully constructed sentence also inspires me. A well-written sentence is like a house design that blows you away with its perfection, functionality and originality. Ever since I changed my life a year ago, I have been learning the art of writing. I now read much more slowly, inspired by each lovely line. It is also inspiring to have something suddenly click in my own writing–the invigorating moment that my thoughts take form and the story comes together. I don’t know where this new love of travel and writing will take me, but the ride has been awesome so far. I know I am incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to walk new paths and try not to take it for granted.
Balance, Design, Products
March 25, 2011
Canadian artist and art director, Chris von Szombathy, splits his work day between two desks – one dry and one wet. Take a look.
Tell us about the kind of work you do. How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I work as both a visual/graphic and audio artist/art director. Because most of my work is quite small or digitally based I am able to do 90% of it out of a very small space and have done so for about a decade. Since I have had struggles with agoraphobia working out of the home was a necessity for me in the past, a comfort for me now as I work towards a more stable existence. I live in Vancouver, Canada.
Describe your style and how it relates to the space you work in and also the work you produce. Stylistically my work deals with what I see as a broad visual language; incorporating illustrative and advertising styles (my interests and preferences) as a container for the emotional content that is around that day (my experiences and questions). Really though it’s just whatever pops into my head that I like and has what it takes to go beyond the drawing board. My sensibility, at least what I try to achieve in the editing process, really is just a bold, clear something with attention to details. For me it’s about filling a space with an object that seems to have clear intentions but leaving enough room for interpretations to feel unhampered. It’s also how I try to work within physical spaces as well. However, wet paints and computers don’t mix so I do have to keep some separation!
How do you keep your work space organized? I like to keep things always in the same place so that when I need something I can reach for it with my eyes closed. It’s the same way that I also organize files in my computer. Everything should end up in places that will be the first place you’ll look. Organization, though, only creates flexibility if you create a flexible structure. Creating the space and freedom to be messy isn’t the same as being messy. It’s only messy if it’s an oversight.
When you set up your home office what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? I dislike working on carpet. I also believe in smells being really crucial. It’s definitely one of those things that, although it doesn’t end up in the final product per se, can affect your pace and awareness. Everyone complains that I work in the dark too much so having good lighting was also, apparently, something to be aware of. I find I focus better in dimmer lighting however.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet right now? No. I covet kitchen hardware way more. I treat my entire living area as a work(ing) space, barring the fact that the computer stays stationary. If I’m comfortable with where my pillow is then I’m comfortable where I’m working.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? A pencil. It’s the one thing I end up looking for more than anything else.
What would you change about your work space? I would probably be living in a more open floor plan and everything would have cupboards and wheels and clean linens. That’s where I’m going. Most of your workspace is really between your ears so being able to change your space to suit your daily needs quickly is something that I am still trying to construct.
What inspires you? The most inspiring thing is a deep breath; if you can still do that then things are going forward. Lacking ideas is never the problem. It’s judging the arriving idea that causes problems. On a personal level though, my family always inspires me. Their support is endless and their curiosity is deep. What more to ask for?