September 13, 2011
Adrian Granzella Larssen, Managing Editor of The Daily Muse made the move to working from home two years ago. She’s written a nice piece on the pros and cons of not working in an office here. She loves the freedom it affords but like a lot of us misses the social interaction an office offers. My home office is below and one of things I love is the quiet. I know I get a lot more work done at home without the interruptions and distractions of an office. What do you like and/or dislike about working from home?
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
December 28, 2010
Dee Adams is an interiors consultant, an artist and a senior producer at Yahoo! She lives in a airy loft in Oakland, California where she paints as much as her day job allows. I came across Dee on Ann Gorman’s blog, Where People Create. Here, I talk to Dee about her work, the practicalities of creating in a loft and how she fits it all in.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve been working from home in some form or another for the past 14 years. I’ve stolen hours where I can find them in between sleep and my various day jobs, so home has always been a continuous place of work.
Tell us a bit about your work? I wear a lot of hats around here including graphic designer, painter, boss lady, blogger and interiors consultant. By day I’m a Senior Lead Product Designer at Yahoo! and in all my in-between hours I’m running the studio here producing work for personal clients. Most of my fine art clients reside in New York, San Francisco, London and Sydney with work in both private and corporate collections. Graphic design clients include Taschen, GOOD Magazine and design shops like Rare Device and Renegade Handmade. I produce a wide range of products like interactive user interfaces, paintings, illustrations, logos, and infographics.
How big is your work space? The loft is 2200 square feet on the ground floor where most of the work occurs. Larger art pieces are transported in through the heavy double wooden doors. The living area upstairs has been deemed a no work zone.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you? I’m a bit old school. Blank paper and canvas still get the best response out of me because that’s where all my ideas start. Technical drawing pencils also get me excited. But if I had to pick a newer item, I’d definitely say high-end audio headphones. I’m a bit of a collector and audiophile when it comes to them and the bigger the better. I love headphones where the modern components are hidden inside retro looking shells.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? My orange flip clock. I can hear the gears grinding and it keeps me on task. It’s a stunning bit of machinery and always gorgeous to look at. When the days and nights blur together as I obsess over another project, it reminds me where and when I am.
Do you have any tips for organizing a home work space? I live and work in basically a large rectangular box. If something is out of place or disorganized you notice it pretty quickly. To stay organized means knowing my limits when it comes to how much I can store. The loft has no built in storage so supplies are kept to the level of what’s necessary to complete the job. Paintings are often hung to maximize the immense wall space and serve as a gallery display when clients come over for viewings. I also tend to group and organize items by colour so that they give the appearance of being part of a related group. My biggest secret is that my vintage lunch box collection serves double duty as a filing system for important papers and business receipts. Finding creative ways to keep organized allows me to keep the space from getting too cluttered.
Balance, Design, Technology
June 9, 2010
We discovered the smart work of fashion-lifestyle photographer Anna Wolf after interviewing Design*Sponge’s Grace Bonney (Anna shot Grace’s portrait—see it here). Soon after, we happened upon her blog and thought, “Hey, bet she’d create a pretty cool playlist.” And she did. Take a look and a listen.
Do you listen to music while you work? When I work in studio, it’s a lot of really mellow music. I’m on the phone and writing emails a lot, so it needs to be something that can kind of blend into the background. When I’m on set, it tends to be more upbeat and more poppy.
How do you listen? In studio (which I share with my boyfriend), we’re all on a network. So our computers feed into a receiver and through really good speakers. On set, I’ll rent a portable iPod dock or a lot of times I bring this little red speaker that you plug your iPod/iPhone into. It’s small but super loud and is so easy to just throw in a bag and go.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? Well, I’m probably pretty late in the game, but I am really loving Pandora right now.
Does music influence your work? I think music most influences me when I’m working on personal stuff. Not so much on set or when I’m in studio doing all the back-end business stuff. There was a time in college when I was staying up super late, listening to Red House Painters on repeat, and making collages and little books.
Where do you find music recommendations? Most of my music comes from friends, people who know what I like and tell me to download a certain artist or album. I really do love Morning Becomes Eclectic on NPR, but don’t listen to it as much now that I live in NYC.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? Wow, that’s a really serious question! I’ve been totally in love with the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack lately—songs by Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The music is so hopeful, sincere, and beautiful. Some songs are really mellow and some move faster with more energy. When I first heard the album, I thought it was all different artists since the songs are so varied. I think I could get behind that album as representative of the range of my work!
Live to Tell the Tale, Passion Pit
Hideaway, Karen O and the Kids
Sorrow Tears and Blood, Fela Kuti
Into the Sun, Diplo
The Only Living Boy in New York, Simon and Garfunkel
Fun Powder Plot, Wild Beasts
No One Does It Like You, Department of Eagles
I Get Low, Timber Timbre
Re: Stacks, Bon Iver
Ash Wednesday, Elvis Perkins
Nickel Bags, Digable Planets
Send It On, D’Angelo
By Your Side, Sade
Hometown Glory, Santigold
Peace Train, Cat Stevens
Two Weeks, Grizzly Bear
Knife, Grizzly Bear
Turn Me On (Kevin Lyttle cover), CocoRosie
Everyman…Everywoman, Yoko Ono
Images: Anna Wolf; Studio Photos: Monica Pendergrass
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 3, 2010
Ghislaine Vinas, who recently won Benjamin Moore’s 2010 Hue Award, is based in New York and was one of our visitors at the Herman Miller stand during ICFF. Ghislaine’s interiors are a warm take on modernism that utilize a strong and saturated color palette. Here we talk to the designer about her work space at the country home she bought 6 years ago.
How long have you worked from home? This is my desk at our country home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. We bought the house in 2004, spent a year renovating it and have been working on the interiors ever since. Being an interior designer, designing my own house is torturous and I don’t think I will ever be finished! If I need to get work done during the weekend and I’m not out on the deck with my laptop, you can find me here. I mostly use the time away from my New York City office to look for inspiration and to come up with new ideas.
And where is home? Home from Monday – Friday afternoon is downtown New York City. I’ve lived in the same loft for over 20 years right on the Hudson River. We work from the loft too. But life is crazy in the city and after my husband and I had our two little girls we decided to get a country house near my sister in Pennsylvania. So Friday evening to Sunday evening our home is in the country. It’s a little old farmhouse that my husband and I lovingly renovated with the help of my sister’s husband, Glenn who is a contractor.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I would say that my style is modern, fresh, clean happy and a wee bit quirky. I like things that can be cleaned off easily, I dont like too much clutter but I like that my home reflects who I am. I get enjoyment out of being surrounded by things I have found around the world or even in my back yard from local garage sales or flea markets.
As an interior designer with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized. The New York apartment pictured above seems typical of your work – strong bursts of color against a fairly minimal backdrop of white? We specialize in one style – we are not an office that does traditional through to contemporary – we stick to simple happy modern – this helps keep our samples to a minimum and has helped clean up things a lot in the NYC office. Over the years I have honed my style so I dont want fabrics or other samples lying around that I dont intend to use. Two years ago we got rid of all our brochures and binders and it was such a relief to “clean house” Everything is online anyway so we are good at bookmarking our favorite sites and pieces.
We keep all our fabric samples in drawers – there are 16 big drawers all color coded. Our tiles and other materials we keep in drawers too for easy access. We have big boxes that we keep sample in on projects we are currently working on and its always great to see how all the materials start coming together. All other material is kept in giant client binders – these binders contain everything from plans and elevations to color inspiration and specific furniture pieces. The binders are evolving constantly as we work on the projects.
Are there any particular computer programs you find really useful? I used to have interns do weekly color copies of magazine inspirations and I kept them in a giant lateral file but now we use Evernote to organize all my inspirational images as well as furniture pieces that I really dont want to forget. So now when I am looking for something its such a breeze to find.
When you are designing a home office what do you keep in mind? I keep in mind that peoples lives are busy and we dont always have time to put things away – this means that a stack of bills on the desk top may be reality. So a nice paper tray could be a smart investment. I try and reduce clutter by having upper cabinets that are easy to reach from a seated position that can store unattractive real life things you need at your desk. Also essential is a good “box box file” drawer right next to the desk. Top drawer for essentials including check books, good hand cream and lip balm , second drawer for stationary and stamps and the bottom drawer for filing monthly bills. You also need good lateral files for all the other things that need filing like taxes and investment, school and other info.
An attractive trash can under the desk never hurts . Its always nice to have a beautiful cup holder for pens and stationary and a beautiful stapler, tape holder and paper clip holder. Recently I have started working with personal organizers so that my clients can have perfect tabs on all their files holders and just the right drawer dividers.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I love the Airia desk (and seriously not because its for Herman Miller) and I adore the big e15 table especially in yellow (above). I dream of having a giant desk like it. I love my vintage saarinen chair that I have in my PA house. I had it reupholstered in a brilliant magenta – it makes the perfect desk chair.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? A cup of coffee in my right hand. I would really love to get a set of “Anything” desk accessories (below).
What would you change about your own workspace? Well, my little spot in PA is kinda perfect for me but my office in New York needs help. In New York we sit at long white counters and although I can look out the window at the river from where I sit, I would love to have a freestanding table to work from. I would love to get a giant table maybe vintage or Baroque looking and have it shop finished in a crazy color – like fluorescent red. Then everything around it would be white. A giant inspiration board is the second thing on my wish list. My little space in PA feels personal and has an aesthetic, my New York space is about function and lacks personal style.
What do you most love about your space? Well, my space in my PA house is very special to me – it’s full of fun little memories because all the pictures on the wall were given to me either by the artist themself or by friends. I love looking out the window and daydreaming. There are always bunnies out there in the spring and summer and it’s so ridiculously idyllic that it makes me smile. I love my comfy magenta chair and the pop of color the rolling file add. I love that I can go out and pick some flowers from the garden and put them on the desk. In the pictures are peonies from my front yard.
What inspires you? Anything bright and happy. I love seeing unexpected color combinations. I love seeing things that are out of scale – an image of something small that has been enlarged or visa versa. I love animal objects. The beach is my favorite place in the world and inspires me. I love my girl’s (Mia Soleil and Saskia Luna) art work. I love designing with my husband Jaime. I am inspired by very smart people who are also creative and who don’t take themselves too seriously. Collaborations with clients get my heart racing. Graffitti and urban wall art is beautiful and surprising.
Images: The PA office: Jaime Vinas, the New York apartment: Eric Laignel
Balance, Design, Products
May 6, 2010
As a designer, blogger, author, artist, founder of Authentic Jobs and father of four boys, Cameron Moll truly has his hands full. He talks here about his move to working from home and setting up a space in the house that allows him to juggle all his roles.
You recently became self-employed. Can you tell us about that transition? This is my second run at self-employment. The first was a little over three years ago, lasting for about two years. It went really well the first time, but an in-house design opportunity came along that I felt was too good to pass up. The decision to return to self-employment recently came with as much uncertainty as the first. Transitioning from stability to instability is never a fun decision to wrestle with, especially as the sole provider for a family of 6. But it’s been about 6 months now since the leap, and things are going really well. Most of my income is from projects that I own or have started. This is intentional, as I promised myself I’d never return to freelancing without residual income to supplement or even supplant client work.
As a result, I’m finding I don’t have to worry as much about income this time around as I did with the first, which was funded almost exclusively by client work. Instead, I’m constantly trying to juggle everything I have going on–blogging, tweeting, email, and doing all of the strategizing, design work and customer support for Authentic Jobs and my letterpress posters.
How would you describe your workspace? What is the design aesthetic? How does that impact your work? My workspace is a continual work in progress. I’ve worked out of the home both times, and my office has usually been tucked away in the corner of our master bedroom. This doesn’t yield a lot of room, figuratively and literally, to be all that creative. Only recently did I finally secure a room in the house as a dedicated office. I’m still defining what I’d like that space to be. Currently it’s somewhat minimalistic on a theme of black and silver. Functionally, I’d describe it as a “working dad’s office on a budget”–a refurbished 27″ iMac, speakers and a glass desk that I’ve had since the first self-employment, an IKEA Göran folding table painted black (below), and inexpensive framing. Admittedly, I don’t fully agree with the argument that one has to have an intensively creative workspace to do intensively creative work. No doubt workspace can have an affect on one’s work, whether positive or negative or both. But creativity is often just as much a mental discipline as it is a visual one. Great designers can do great work even in the absence of an inspiring workspace.
Does anyone else use your office? The wife shares the other half. She is also an artist, but her mediums are canvas and glass.
How do you organize the space? I struggle to do work if there’s a lot of clutter on my desk or in the surrounding area–I’d rather be cleaning and organizing than designing. So generally, I try to keep as little as possible on or around my desk space. For example, I’ve got two printers tucked under my worktable, one dedicating to printing shipping labels and another that does 13″x19″ prints for proofing my poster artwork. As much as I can tuck away under the table or in a closet, the better.
What impact do you think color has on a workspace? I personally don’t use a lot of color in my own workspace. I suppose that’s because I’ve never been all that great at using color in an interior design sense. Digitally I seem to manage color just fine, but real life is another story.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? Probably my sound system or headphones. Music usually plays an important role in helping me design. Sometimes it serves as motivation, other times to accompany a lengthy design session, and often to block out other distractions or noise around the house.
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? My chair. I failed to mention that as part of my “working dad’s office on a budget” setup. I’ve got an Aeron knock-off, which costs about 1/3 the price of an Aeron. If I could justify the expense, I’ve read enough positive reviews about Herman Miler’s Embody chair (above) to trust it would make my days go even smoother, given how muchI’m seated throughout the day.
What inspires you? Great music (jazz, classical, film scores, instrumental post-rock), the environment around me, working with my hands, industrial design, my family…lots of stuff. I do my best to soak it all in and allow it to hopefully affect my work when the time is right. In terms of the work I do, I love being challenged. My letterpress posters (below) grew out of a self-inflicted challenge to see if I do something along the lines of Veer’s Type City designs, but on a much bigger scale. I tend to produce the best work when the challenge is daunting. I suppose it’s because I’m a fairly competitive person. But I also enjoy producing stuff I’ve never done before. The day I stop challenging myself is probably the day I give up designing.
You and your wife have four children. How do you manage a balance between work and the rest of your life? I don’t know that I bother striving too hard for balance any more. I do my best to put my family first, and then try line up what’s most important after that. On some days, all that other stuff may take priority over family, but hopefully only for a temporary period. Working out of the home tends to only increase the elusiveness of balance. That’s the other thing I promised myself I’d do before returning to freelancing again, that of having proper office space outside the home to create a physical divide between work and home. I’ve not made good on that promise yet. But so far, things are progressing fine without it.
January 11, 2010
Virginia Heffernan has a great column in the New York Times Magazine called The Medium where she explores Internet culture. Her latest column struck a chord as it looks at working from home, particularly from a woman’s point of view. She sings the praises of telecommuting – ”this time in a feminist key.” She argues that women have benefitted even more than men from telecommuting as it enables them to more easily juggle their workloads. We’d love you to weigh in on this argument. Let me know what you think. You can email me directly at email@example.com.