I found this over on Treehugger. Berkeley-based architect/owners Karl Wanaselja and Cate Leger’s have created an inexpensive backyard home office for their architecture studio. Below is a great interview with Wanaselja explaining exactly how they did it. The cost? The shipping container was $1800.
Brooklyn-based Roll & Hill produces contemporary lighting and was founded by designer Jason Miller in January of last year. While the company may be young Miller’s work hit the big time back in 2003 with his Superordinate Antler Lamps. These now ubiquitous lights launched Miller’s career and paved the way for Roll & Hill with its stable of designers that include Lindsey Adelman, Partners & Spade and Rich, Brilliant and Willing. Here we take a tour of Miller’s workspaces.Yes, there is more than one.
1. How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I live currently in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. From 2001 to 2008 I lived and worked in a loft apartment. At the end of 2008, my business had taken over the entire loft. I was living in my 100 square foot bedroom in the back. It was time to separate work and home, so I moved into an apartment in Greenpoint. I still work out of the same loft.
2. Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I would say my aesthetic is contemporary, with a American slant.
3. How do you keep your work space organized? It is a constant battle. I have come to realize that I am a bit anal.
4. When you set up your home office what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? Yes, there was one huge obstacle! There is no place for a home office in my apartment. I live with my girlfriend and our daughter in an apartment that we thought we’d be in for just a few months. Over a year later we are still here. All of our stuff is in storage. My work space at home is on a sectional couch from West Elm (no comment) that was here when we moved in. I work with my feet up, computer on my lap and surrounded by my daughter stuffed animals.
5. Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet right now? A desk!
6. What desk accessory can’t you do without? I like to keep my work area pretty minimal. On my desk at work is usually assorted papers and my computer. The one accessory I need to have is a calculator. I know there is one on my computer and even one on my phone, but I like having a cheap solar powered calculator next to me.
7. What would you change about your work space? I would love to have more privacy. That is the major drawback about working on the couch. My daughter loves to play with the keys on my computer. It makes it hard to work when she’s holding down the the “delete” key.
8. What inspires you? Other people doing great things.
Check out Elle Decor for a slideshow of Roll & Hill’s designs.
Bill Birchard’s new book Merchants of Virtue explores Herman Miller’s commitment to building an environmentally sustainable business. That word ‘sustainable’ gets tossed around a lot these days. How did Birchard define it? ”For a company, sustainability means operating with no long-term impact on the health of the planet or its people. The definition widely recognized by business comes from a U.N. commission report from 1987. The commission defined “sustainable development” as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” That’s the definition Herman Miller adopted, and many others have also. Many people today have expanded the definition to include a wide range of benefits to the communities and society in which we live. The short definition of sustainability is leaving the planet as good as we got it, for the benefit of our children and grandchildren. ”
Birchard interviewed over 100 people for the book – from CEO to factory heads. He also found himself trawling through our extensive archives. The result is an in-depth look at a company committed to sustaining the planet for generations to come. Here we take a tour of Birchard’s home office in Amherst, New Hampshire, where he wrote the book, and learn about his work habits.
“I use a pivot screen, which I usually keep in the vertical position. It’s much easier for writing, since you can see (and move, cut/paste, etc.) a lot more copy.”
“I keep many sizes and kinds of notepaper, tablets, and post-it notes in the shelves in front of me, and I use whichever seems to “feel” right when I’m brainstorming. Sometimes I use a post-it to capture a small thought. Sometimes I use a tablet to sketch out a long chapter lead. Sometimes I use cheap paper or the back of an envelope for “throwaway” thoughts I’m “testing” but doubt I’ll keep, etc. Although I also keep many notes on the computer, I find the tactile and sketching qualities of paper helpful in shaping thoughts and arranging priorities. I’m definitely not in favor of a “clean desk,” since inspiration for metaphor, etc., come from anywhere, even pictures of family camping trips, etc. The exception is when I’m writing. I write almost exclusively from electronic documents on my computer, since the volume of documents needed to write a book is much too great to arrange on a desk.”
“By the way, one of my favorite quotes about writing (which will appear in my upcoming book on writing), is the following, which explains why a good chair, an Aeron, is so important to me:”The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” It’s from Mary Heaton Vorse, suffragette, journalist, novelist, single mom, 1874-1966. I spend a lot of time glued to my chair.”
Update: Herman Miller has just been recognized as a leader in corporate sustainability by The Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World). This is the eighth year we’ve garnered the attention of DJSI World. It was launched in 1999, and was the first global index tracking the financial performance of the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide. Herman Miller joins 300 other companies in the top 10% of leading sustainable companies in the world.
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.