When she’s not working in midtown Manhattan, book cover designer and lifestyle blogger Anna Dorfman splits her time between two places (and, consequently, two work spaces): one in a small rental apartment in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, and the other in the city of Newburgh in upstate New York, where she’s slowly renovating an 1891 Victorian row house she shares with her husband Evan and two dogs, Bruno and Fritz. (You can see the home’s progress regularly on her blog, Door Sixteen.) Get a glimpse of both home offices (as well as Anna’s growing Eames collection) in this quick tour.
Tell us about yourself: what you’re passionate about, what inspires you, and where you’re going. I’m inspired by people who roll with the punches and who aren’t afraid to constantly reevaluate where they are in life and where they’re headed. The older I get, the less I worry about making plans or setting goals for myself, and the more I focus on making sure I’m happy and comfortable with where I am right now. Working in the book publishing industry right now means having to constantly adapt my skills as a designer to constantly-evolving formats. Ultimately, my job is to get people to read more books — whether that means a printed volume on a shelf or something that’s downloaded to an iPad. My heart will always lie with the physical, printed book format, but I’m also excited to see where we’re headed in the world of digital publishing.
How are your spaces set up? Where do you do most of your work? And what would you change if you could? I work for a publishing company in an office building all week long at my 9-to-5 job, so I don’t have a lot of control over my primary workspace. Fortunately, my department is set up in a big, open space surrounded by windows overlooking midtown Manhattan — I think I’d have a hard time being shut in an office or sitting in a cubicle all day.
If I’m being honest, most of my freelance work and blogging time happens on the sofa. I have a desk set up in the apartment that doubles as a dining table, but I seldom sit there unless I really have to concentrate and do a lot of writing. At the house, we have an office set up that doubles as a recording studio for my husband, a technologist and musician. The desk is made from my father’s old drawing table, and sitting at it to work always feels very special.
As I get older, my back doesn’t really appreciate how much time I spend working on the sofa, so I really need to be better about working at a proper desk! The one thing I can’t do is work amongst clutter. I know a lot of artists and designers like to be surrounded by inspirational images, but I find that kind of stuff distracting — aside from my computer, I really just want a notepad, a glass of water, and maybe a dog or two nearby.
You have several pieces by Charles and Ray Eames. Why did you choose them? I’ve been collecting vintage Eames shell and wire chairs since we bought our house — there’s an embarrassing number of them stacked up in our basement. They really do look great in old houses! I love the contrast between the ornate Victorian details of our house and the smooth, rounded curves of the shell chairs. I’m always on the lookout for new (old) Eames chairs to bring home and rehabilitate. They’re classics, and they go with everything. They’ll never go out of style.
Aside from the vintage Eames chairs, we also have a large Eames Storage Unit (ESU) in our dining room. It holds everything — extra cups and plates, candle holders, placemats, cookbooks, our telephone, magazines, tools, office supplies, you name it. And, of course, we have a couple of Eames Hang-It-Alls, which truly do function as their name promises.
Do you have other Herman Miller pieces? At my day job, I sit in an Aeron chair for hours on end. The Aeron really has become the gold standard among ergonomic office chairs, and for good reason. As someone with various joint and nerve issues, I can’t say enough good things about what a difference it has made in terms of comfort in my daily life.
Photos: Anna Dorfman. The Brooklyn apartment appears in the first two photos; the remaining are from the home in Newburgh.