Balance, Design, Technology
October 12, 2011
What does Copenhagen-based stylist, blogger and designer Sofie Brünner listen to as she sips her first cup of coffee in the morning (besides the sound of her favorite jazz pianist playing next door)? Find out in this week’s Playlist.
What do you listen to while you work? Actually, I love listening to someone talk while working! That means I listen to a lot of radio and podcasts and collect all sorts of weird and wonderful information on music, political issues, and comedy. However, I also like listening to music, which is usually within the jazz, soul, or easy-listening rock/pop genre. There’s nothing like putting on an Ella Fitzgerald album while sitting down with the first cup of coffee of the day. I also happen to be lucky enough to have a boyfriend who’s a jazz pianist, who happens to practice just next door to me. That means I’m not always allowed to listen to music (headphones distract me), so I sit and listen to him practice the same tune over and over again.
How do you listen? I’m not very proud to say that I’m not that high-tech. That means I play music off my computer… or if I feel a bit more motivated, I put on a vinyl on my old vinyl decks. There’s something special and real about the scratchy sound of and old Joni Mitchell vinyl.
September 28, 2011
This week, smashLAB Creative Director and Partner Eric Karjaluoto dishes up a Playlist: a mix with an old-school A- and B-side. (Who knew that could feel so fresh?) Turn up your speakers for a listen to the tunes that pump through his Vancouver office. (And if the office looks a bit familiar we ran Eric’s rather tidy desk last week!)
What do you listen to while you work? I quite like metal. The texture, pulsating rhythms, and general mass of it, all works for me. (While I understand that I’m likely in the minority on this point, I also find that this type of music helps me focus on what I’m doing.) The rest of the time, I listen to a garden variety of acts, ranging from Paul Westerberg and The New Pornographers to Supertramp and Massive Attack. I can’t say that I’m particularly adventurous in my listening, but I remain quite open to anything.
How do you listen? At the office, I plug into those ubiquitous white Apple headphones, attached to a computer. At home, everything runs through a stereo, which has some quite decent speakers. The most enjoyable music listening experience I have these days is with my boys, Oscar and Ari. After my wife, Amea, reads bedtime stories to them, they join me to listen to music on my iPad. The sound quality isn’t very good, but I love introducing them to music. (At the moment, they’re awfully fond of ABBA.)
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I find Grooveshark quite handy. It’s nice to have access to so much music, and the UI is relatively simple.
Does music influence your work? Not like it used to. When I worked as a painter, I found the connection much closer. Certain music does invigorate me to move faster and feel energetic; nevertheless, the projects I work on are focused more on agreed upon objectives and strategy than my personal voice.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? I run home from work most nights, and do so tuned into a program called Q on CBC. The interviews are very good, and the host, Jian Ghomeshi, often introduces interesting new acts. Recently, I found The Rural Alberta Advantage and Austra as a result of his program. I like that he features a number of emerging musicians, and that so many of them are Canadian.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I find the comparison difficult one. While I identify with a lot of different music, I don’t see my work as being analogous to any particular artist or piece of music. In fact, I feel it’s my job to ensure that our agency never feels like it’s coming from any single voice or perspective. In that respect, I suppose we’re a little like a group of session musicians. Our clients bring us in when they need to get the job done, but it’s more about them, than us.
I’ll treat this like a mix tape, with the A-Side containing some (lovely) metal, and the B-Side being more reflective of that garden variety of listening habits I mentioned.
Painkiller, Judas Priest
What Doesn’t Die, Anthrax
That Was Just Your Life, Metallica
Jesus Built My Hotrod, Ministry
Poison Was the Cure, Megadeth
Damage Case, Motörhead
Hang Down Your Head, Tom Waits
Moves, The New Pornographers
After the Rain, Blue Rodeo
Beast of Burden, The Rolling Stones
The Twilite Kid, The Twilight Singers
Images: Eugene Huh
September 14, 2011
We’re always inspired by the smart food and music pairings made by Kasey and Matthew Hickey from Turntable Kitchen (and are especially fans of their new Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box — what could be better?). Take a listen to their Playlist—and a look at the workspace in their San Francisco apartment—in our latest post.
What do you listen to while you work? Matthew: That is a hard question for me to answer, because I listen to a really diverse range of music while working: lo-fi garage rock, French chanson, hip hop, 60′s Motown, indie rock, electronica, chillwave, cumbia, Argentinian folklorica, classic rock, and really just about anything else I get my hands on. I love discovering new music and that includes delving into genres that aren’t really contemporary. It just depends on my mood and what I’m doing. I think the diversity of our Musical Pairings speaks to the wide range of music we listen to while working in the kitchen. But to be honest, when I’m writing a post or working on stuff for the box (as opposed to when we are actually working in the kitchen), I’ll listen to an even wider range of music including stuff that just doesn’t create the right ambiance for a meal. Kasey: I listen to a lot of Pandora while I work mostly because, unlike Matt, I don’t collect music (I just mooch off of him!) I have a couple of favorite channels, based on some of my favorite artists – The Cults, Florence and the Machine, Beirut, MIA (when I need to wake up!), Sufjan Stevens, Feist, and Bon Iver.
September 7, 2011
Paul Vanzella—the multitalented designer, photographer, owner of Vanzella Graphic Design and co-founder of RedBubble—is clearly a busy man. Nevertheless, he’s agreed to create a very-chill new mix to help our Playlist series shift into autumn with ease. So grab your earphones and sit a spell to find a little inspiration all the way from his warehouse studio (below) in Melbourne, Australia.
What do you listen to while you work? Mainly ambient music—Brian Eno, Phillip Glass—sounds that permeate the atmosphere subliminally and operate sympathetically with the visuals I am working on. And also, if the mood shifts, I go to 50s and 60s orchestra music—love early Miles Davis, Julie London! And then, on the flip side, I can do Joy Division and The Smiths even.
August 31, 2011
Is it just us, or does it feel like the summer was over in a flash? At least we’ve still got the long Labor Day weekend to keep it going for a little while longer. Make it a good one with this easygoing compilation—a mix inspired by our 2011 summer Playlisters. We’d love to know what song typified you summer this year. Let us know in the comment section and we’ll put together a Lifework Reader’s Playlist for you.
1. I’m Not Ready by Surfer Blood from The Playlist: Designer Matt Singer
2. We Oh We by The Hidden Cameras from The Playlist: Industrial designer Matthew Weatherly
3. Kicked It In The Sun by Built To Spill from The Playlist: Art Director & Graphic Designer Rick VanderLeek
4. Wouldn’t It Be Nice by The Beach Boys From The Playlist: MacFadden & Thorpe
5. Run the Heart by Sleigh Bells from The Playlist: Designer Mike Devereaux
6. We Have Everything by Young Galaxy from The Playlist: Designer Katarina Häll
7. Norway by Beach House from The Playlist: Graphic Designer Timothy Goodman
8. Street Life by Roxy Music from The Playlist: Designer, Animator, & Filmmaker Todd St. John
9. For Today by Jessica Lea Mayfield from The Playlist: Jerinne Neils & Scott Flora of Blik
10. Unchain My Heart by Maria Minerva from The Playlist: Graphic & Web Designer Jonathan Rahmani
Image sources: Timothy Goodman, Mike Devereaux, Matthew Weatherly, Rick VanderLeek, Matt Singer, Todd St. John
August 24, 2011
Keep the end of the summer feeling sunny with our latest Playlist from Todd St. John, founder of HunterGatherer–the Brooklyn-based studio/workshop that counts, among its many cool accomplishments, this commissioned music video for Yo Gabba Gabba.
What do you listen to while you work? I usually switch between radio, Internet radio, and iTunes. I have a turntable in the studio, but it doesn’t get played all that often when I’m working.
How do you listen? I don’t really like headphones if I can avoid them. I usually listen over speakers.
Do you have any favorite music providers? KCRW has some good shows. WNYC, though not for music. Sometimes Newtown Radio. I’ll check out the usual blog downloads sometimes as well: Pitchfork, Gorilla vs. Bear. I’ve been listening to some of the mixes on indoek.com recently as well.
Does music influence your work? I think on the obvious things, like a record cover—definitely. When I animate, I do like to have music to work to if possible. In something like the “Sea Friends” animation, the music structurally drives the piece. I can’t say that for other things music affects them in any direct way. Maybe indirectly.
Where do you find music recommendations? Friends, mostly. People in the studio. I used to buy more vinyl, so that was always a way of stumbling into new (or new old) things.
Above: Untitled silkscreen on paper by Todd St. John.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I have no idea. I actually had seriously thought of being a composer before I was a designer. The two things are very related in my mind. Things like contrast, pacing, restraint, and texture all translate directly.
Love and Peace, Quincy Jones
For Beginners, M. Ward
Don’t Toss Us Away, Lone Justice
Paris 1919, John Cale
Substitute, The Who
Street Life, Roxy Music
Erase You, ESG
No Such Thing, Agent Orange
Watermelon Man, Herbie Hancock
The Vibrator, Jack McDuff
Walkabout, Atlas Sound
Sweet Jane, Velvet Underground
Images: Todd St. John
Balance, Design, Technology
August 17, 2011
We first spied the work of designer, illustrator, and art director Timothy Goodman when Ace Hotel asked him to create a hand-drawn mural in one of the rooms of its New York outpost (below).
Since then, the Cleveland-native has moved to San Francisco to set up shop with Apple Inc. Check out a few of the tunes he’s blasting through his earbuds in this week’s Playlist.
What do you listen to while you work? I love listening to TED talks and raunchy stand-up comedy while I work (I always need the ying and yang!). During basketball season, I like to have an NBA game on the background while I work at night. As for music, I listen to an array of stuff like indie rock, oldies, hip-hop, jazz, blues, classic rock, chillwave, and Latin—it just depends if it’s 2 AM or 2 PM!
Above: Goodman’s illustration for the May 11 Time cover.
How do you listen? When I’m working, I usually listen to my computer speakers or my iPhone with headphones. But my favorite time to listen to music is when I’m walking down the street, or while in a car on a road trip.
Balance, Design, Technology
August 3, 2011
This week’s Playlist is from Rick VanderLeek of Fairly Painless Advertising who counts Herman Miller as one of his clients and has an iTunes playlist that could run for a month without repeating a song. Here he references not one, but two, great music sources from previous Playlisters: Justin Gage’s Aquarium Drunkard and Designers.MX from Blake Allen. Do great minds think alike? Find out with this new mix from the Saugatuck, Michigan-based art director and graphic designer.
What do you listen to while you work? I work at all hours, so it’s more about the time of day that determines what I listen to. If I broke it out, I think it’s fair to say mornings are usually acoustic/folk. Afternoons I typically listen to more indie/rock. At night, I usually turn to more beat-driven/ambient/electronic music, and often jazz.
How do you listen? During the day, earbuds. Occasionally I’ll unplug and DJ in the creative department at the office. I love turning people on to new music. I listen through Seige Audio headphones while I work at home.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? If I’m listening to music online, it’s usually KCRW’s eclectic24. Lately I’ve been checking out Designers.MX. Such a good combination of music and design. I want to create a mix for them. I’m currently checking out Spotify.
Does music influence your work? Well, it must in some way or another. I listen to it all the time. It’s hard to pinpoint how a specific album or song would influence me through my design. However, I could design a poster in a shorter time listening to Animal Collective or Girl Talk than I would listening to an acoustic Neil Young album. An aspect of my job that I love is helping with the musical direction for a video or film Fairly Painless is working on. Whether it’s the pensive tone of The Album Leaf or an upbeat RJD2 jam, it’s a challenging task matching music with picture.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
July 27, 2011
This week, Brett MacFadden gives us a look inside MacFadden & Thorpe, the three-year-old design studio he runs with business partner Scott Thorpe (and their musician-by-night intern Clive). Listen up to this smart mix compiled by all three designers from their San Francisco-based workspace.
What do you listen to while you work? Like most designers, music is an important part of our creative process and our tastes are eclectic, worldly, sophisticated, massively edgy, and, indeed, beyond pioneering. We listen to Internet radio a lot and to more classic rock than our interns might appreciate, but that they quietly tolerate. We love classic rock because it’s generally older than us. We also like classic-country, classic-rap, classic-jazz and classic-cal. Scott would like to emphasize that we do not like Vampire Weekend, and I (Brett) support that, even though I saw them last year in Berkeley and it was a not unpleasant experience.
How do you listen? If we listen together, it’s traditionally though my iMac, which has decent speakers. But I recently brought a small Altec Lansing speaker in from home (a great product by the way) and now Scott is enabled to play music as well. Often I like to stream one of two great public radio stations—KEXP in Seattle or The Current in Minneapolis—then it takes the pressure off of being the DJ, and provides a steady wash of new music. Although, lots of times I’ll be playing one of these stations and I look around and everyone else has put their headphones on.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
July 13, 2011
Photo: Cara Robbins
I asked Alison Williams, who is the co-founder of The Academy of Archivists, to help me pin down exactly what she does. “I’ve been describing myself lately as a creative entrepreneur. I have my own company and I work with other companies, brands and artists to help develop their identities and get their work to the people who should see it, in whatever form that takes. I talk to people, think about things, observe, strategize, write, create. I feel lucky to have a job that I enjoy, working with amazing people.” And what role does music play in all that? Well, read on to find out.
What do you listen to while you work? When I’m writing I need music that is inspiring but not distracting, so I’ll listen to opera, or something without words. I love the soundtrack from Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain by Yann Tiersen. On the other hand when I am feeling daunted by a project or need to brainstorm I’ll either go to an album that I am entirely familiar with or something totally unknown. When I’m working with other people I am open to what they want to listen to.
Photo: Cara Robbins