George Nelson once called the ideal office “a daytime living room,” a place organized for productivity while still conferring the comforts of home. WHY recently asked some of the designers from Sight Unseen’s 2016 Hot List about the relationship between where they work and where they live. From living with prototypes of their designs to surrounding themselves at work with the stuff of home—food, plants, and pets carry the day—WHY takes a peek into how, for so many of them, the personal and the professional blur into one.
Alex Proba of Studio Proba
I am pretty lucky that I get to work in my home studio as well as in other studios and offices. I split my time between the two about fifty-fifty.
I am a person that needs complete order and silence to be able to create, which is often impossible to control when I work in other people's spaces. I’ve had to learn to let go of controlling spaces that aren’t mine. Therefore, I am even more precious and systematized in my own space.
My studio gets messy but just when I am actually creating. Once I am finished for the day I put everything back in order. It might be the German in me. Another very important thing to me is to be surrounded by plants because at the moment Studio Proba consists of just me. The plants make it feel like I have silent company.
I used to have a separate studio I would go to, and I really enjoyed that. I loved that I had to dress up and leave, but the studio space itself was not that spacious or inspiring.
So now I’ve got this beautiful large home/work space on the Bowery that is a way more generous studio than I had before. The challenge is that it's all-in-one. I've still been trying to dress up and “go to work” even though I just stay in. It all comes down to whether I feel good in the space and I make it work. The dream is to have a separate studio that is large, beautiful, inspiring, and very close to home, but the reality is I live in New York.
I work from home, which is a great luxury, and at this point I would have a really hard time giving up the convenience that affords. That said, we have outgrown the room designated as “the office” and soon I will need to annex the kitchen or a bedroom.
Adam Charlap & Andre Herrero of Charlap Hyman Herrero
We work out of offices in Dumbo in New York and Los Angeles. We have furnished our New York office, a large white loft in a former cork factory, in a romantically domestic way. A long French 1950s dining table serves as our work surface, and shelves lining the walls hold our library of books, fabrics, and material samples. Our Los Angeles space is more like an office pulled out of the 48th floor of an international style glass building, inserted into a stucco room of a Spanish colonial house. We like to think of the two offices as opposing experiments in melding domestic intimacy with office vernacular.
At home, I have a huge, ever-growing library of reference books, as well as furniture and objects by my favorite designers and artists. I also often live with my own new objects to see how they function in a real space, and how I can improve upon them.
Chelsea & James Minola of Grain
About a year ago, we moved into a new studio space in an industrial area on Bainbridge Island, Washington, after working for seven years from a home-based studio and garage shop. Working from home served us so well for so long, but we have a toddler now, and having the new separate space is a revelation for us. It is such a luxury to have two distinctly different spaces to live and work. The one link to home and work is food. We always pack homemade lunches and snacks to get us through the day.
Rafael de Cardenas of Architecture at Large
I work in my studio, and get my hominess at home.
Will Cooper of Ash NYC
I like a clean palette to walk into every day—whether it’s work or home. We are inundated with so much imagery on a daily basis and we design for so many different outlets that it helps to not be distracted by our surroundings. The hominess of our Brooklyn studio comes from the objects around us—tons and tons of books and magazines, interesting and inspiring vintage and contemporary furniture and art, and, most importantly, the people. A lot of the warmth and homey feeling comes from our amazing team.
I have a studio where my team and I work. To make it homey, we have lots of plants. The studio has a large south-facing window, providing us with an abundance of natural light, which the plants and I love. We used to keep some finished pieces in that area, but as we’ve run low on space, it’s just become another messy work area.
Rachel Gant and Andrew Deming of Yield Design
We work from our studio warehouse and we incorporate certain comforts from home. We were lucky to find a beautiful warehouse space with natural light and lush surroundings. We made sure to install a small kitchen and plenty of lounge spaces and outdoor areas for breaks. To be able to cook our own food and take a break on the couch helps give us those micro moments of relaxation. And most importantly, we are sure to bring our dog Clover along nearly every day.
I work everywhere! My home is tranquil and almost monastic—it allows me to decompress. However, we just bought a new place and I am going to do something completely different. My office is incredibly hectic and intense. My brothers tinker in there and are constantly messing around—it feels like our childhood. It’s fun and the energy is great. We play music, light candles—I'm huge on scents and senses. I think if all your senses are in tune and pleasantly engaged the work will be great.
Brooke Intrachat of Ouli
I work out of my home and on the go. It’s brilliant that so many people’s offices and studios can now exist outside of physical space—good or bad, communication and contact is ever-present. And, to be honest, some of my favorite designs have been conceived while out and about, not in my workspace. My home is a space where I find solace, which makes it an excellent think tank for design. I am lucky enough to surround myself with objects and things I love and this is where I often find the most inspiration.
I don’t try to make my home feel like a workplace or vice versa. I want each to be the best version of themselves.
The Extraordinary ManWith this 1978 essay, inventor and researcher Robert Propst pays homage to Herman Miller’s founder D.J. De Pree. If Action Office served as a systematic proposal for fostering success through optimal environmental conditions, here Propst examines the conditions—both cognitive and physical—generated by De Pree to foster his personal and professional prosperity.