A place where Minnesota's design community can blow its collective mind about creative expression in every medium from websites to landscapes, chocolate to bicycles.

500 Solutions for Working at Home

Posted: June 30th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: architecture, interiors, resources | Tags: , , | Comments Off

arch-500-solutions-book

My brother gave me a great book by Ana G. Canizares entitled 500 Solutions for Working at Home. It’s 423 pages of solid inspiration organized by type, including studios design for personal use, architecture, design, art and services. Each case study includes not just beautiful photographs but details, square footage and floor plans. This book is full of clever solutions from humble to lavish. At $15 new / $8 used (at Amazon) your investment could be as little as one and a half cents per studio solution. Of course there is a ton of inspiration online but it can be hard to track down and usually won’t come with this level of detail so this book is pretty good way to augment your search.


Home Studio: Yummy Gum

Posted: June 28th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: interiors | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

arch-home-office-yummygum-01

arch-home-office-yummygum-02

Here’s an interesting example. The two man web design shop Yummy Gum in the Netherlands renovated a small 215 square foot room into a beautiful studio space. An example of 215 square feet is a room that is 10 by 21.5 feet – larger than your average bedroom. Maybe not large enough if you added flat files, a silk screen and a paste-up table. However, unlike a simple desk in a corner this feels like a dedicated space where you could be dedicated to creative work. Check out the original post on Unplggd for more images of the clever ways they’ve kept the clutter (particularly all the wires) hidden away. I dig the cool laptop slot under the table (photo 2).

There are more home tours on Unplggd. They’re not all office or studio spaces but there are some interesting and inspiring ideas.


Get the Homely Out of Home Office

Posted: June 28th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: interiors | Tags: , , | Comments Off

arch-home-office-01

Many designers dream of starting a studio of their own. Somewhere between that vision and the beautiful agency spaces we’re used to working in lies reality: the home office. The benefits are obvious; no commute, fully stocked kitchen with no one else’s coffee cups in the sink, the ability to work outside or with your favorite music blasting. The drawback is that the work space is often crammed into the extra bedroom or the basement and nothing like the light and airy agency spaces we’re accustomed to. Space is critical to creative problem solvers because we constantly need to be drawing energy and inspiration to feed our work. What’s more, an insufficient space is a creative problem waiting to be solved and presents a distraction to getting our actual work done.

So, is it possible to rise above home office doom and create a studio space with all the benefits of being at home but without spending a fortune?

I’ve been looking around to see if I can find a way to believe the answer is yes. In doing so I’ve found a few sites that showcase amazing office spaces of the thousands of square feet variety:
This Ain’t No Disco
Office Design Gallery

Office Snapshots

And, some examples of home offices of the desk in a corner variety:
Desire To Inspire
Home Office Snapshots

There seem to be fewer examples of a sweet spot between but these are going in the right direction:
Fresh Home
Apartment Therapy

Working for yourself doesn’t mean huge budgets for office furniture but think of the money saved not commuting and not paying rent. Think of the money you don’t need to spend on agency style conference rooms and signage. Surely someone has found a way to put some of that savings into a home studio space that inspires creative endeavor? I think I’ll keep looking into it and will share what I find here. More and more people I know are launching out on there own – first rate talent – and they deserve a first rate studio in which to ply their craft. More soon.


UnSummit UpDate

Posted: June 26th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: events, input, local twin cities | Tags: , | Comments Off

View more presentations from Rohn Jay Miller.

By all accounts UnSummit 5 was a success. Personally, I met some great people and enjoyed many great conversations including “Ensuring Relevance With Good Design” hosted by Circadian, “Minnesota Start-up Culture” hosted by Jeff Pesek, and “Escaping Wage Slavery” hosted by Don Ball. My favorite presentation however was by an old friend. Rohn Jay Miller hit a home run with “The 25 Minute MBA: How To Anchor Projects in Real Business Success” which he has made available on SlideShare. Sadly, his fantastic delivery and the many nuances aren’t available for download. Don’t let that stop you from checking out the presentation above. And, if you find yourself intrigued give him a shout at Take5Interactive.


Riding Off Into the Sunrise

Posted: June 25th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: bikes, design, Interactive, output | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

interactive-saris

It’s hard to believe after almost 20 years of designing and over 35 years of cycling that nary the two have met. Needless to say, when the agency Lindsay, Stone and Briggs (LSB) based in Madison, WI contacted me to design the new website for Saris I was elated. Saris makes racks for consumers as well as parking and storage solutions for institutional clients. LSB and Saris have been wonderful to work with. The new (and if I do say so myself) improved saris.com has just launched and while few designs survive development unscathed I’m still as excited as when we began and eager for the next cycling+design combination.

Actually, I guess I’ve started the next one by volunteering to help the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition with a logo and website as we work to make Saint Paul as cycle friendly as Minneapolis (We’re way behind Minneapolis but I guess that’s why they aren’t called the Identical Twin Cities.) More on SPBC soon.


High Line Raises the Bar

Posted: June 18th, 2010 | Author: Cindy | Filed under: architecture, competitions, design, landscape architecture, opinion, urban planning | 3 Comments »

landscape-highline-01

The Minneapolis Park Foundation, College of Design, and Walker Art Center have teamed up to bring us a phenomenal lecture series, “The Next Generation of Parks”. Wednesday night’s conversation on New York’s High Line was the second of three summer events. If you didn’t get in the doors, or couldn’t make it, you missed something great, but you can find the full lecture here. Todd and I have been to many a lecture on the subject of design, landscape architecture, architecture, and planning. A few on bicycling, too. This, though, was far more than just your average power point presentation or ubiquitous “here is what I’ve done in the field” lecture. From the introduction by Cecily Hines and Andrew Blauvelt to the last word by Lisa Tziona Switkin and Robert Hammond, it was damn inspirational. Why? We’ll give you our top three reasons.

1. Not just envisioning potential, CREATING potential.

Robert Hammond appreciated the abandoned elevated industrial era ruin of a railroad in his West Village neighborhood enough to take action when it was slated for demolition in 1999. How many of us wonder about the things we see on a daily basis, but when they come crumbling down for surface parking we tell ourselves ‘there’s not much you could have done about it anyway, so don’t fret you didn’t speak up’? Like those cool abandoned grain mills in our Minneapolis skyline. Sure we envisioned a cool future for them, but when they were felled, ground up, and a slab of asphalt was put in their place. Not again.

Linear park in an abandoned elevated rail corridor? Of course. It is a no-brainer now. But, such was not the case before Hammond and his Friends of the High Line co-founder Joshua David, did something about it. Hammond and David used their entrepreneurial spirit to create a movement that resulted in an overwhelmingly successful public space, likely by every index imaginable.

2.  Project process and tactical brilliance.

A lot of the process was no different than what developers, planners, or landscape architects do for every project (develop concepts, present to the public, attend seven bazzillion meetings, gain support, refine concepts…implement). But, a lot of the process WAS different. Hammond et al. recognized the power in branding and visualization early on in the project, and as they enter phase two and three, we would predict their savvy in the realm of communication and its power is going to prove to be a game changer.

Before beginning the project, they had a year-long photography project commissioned in effort to show people the life of the rail corridor thus making the space visually (and we would argue emotionally) accessible to those who usually just experience the steel undercarriage of this elevated line. For more project awareness, Paula Scher at Pentagram created a so-simple-its-brilliant logo. And, they held a design competition with phenomenal renderings by the winning landscape architectural and architectural team James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. (Full design team listed here.)

The game changer? Well, the area where High Line Section Three would be is also currently slated to potentially house twelve million square feet of development. Of course, the current plan does not include what could be the coolest end of the High Line.

landscape-highline-02

Friends of the Highline are pushing for a temporary (and relatively inexpensive) walkway installation in this section. The renderings illustrating this temporary installation are gorgeous and compelling (and not available yet). If they are successful in receiving the okay on a temporary walkway they will create insurmountable public support. The public will LOVE IT and when Mr (Mrs?) Developer comes in to place what amounts to TWO DOWNTOWN SEATTLES (Hammond’s smart analogy), the outcry of “not to my Highline!” will be loud. Very loud.

Brilliant.

3.  1+2 = 3 for us. Listening to Robert and Lisa describe what we imagine is the abridged version of the project process and game changing tactics resulted in a new vision of possibility for us.

We could list the numerous calls to action we felt last night as a creative duo, but let’s just leave it with the most inspiring. Believe in your vision, hone your technical AND tactical skills, and surround yourself with crazy brilliant talent who will make you better at your own work. Push the envelope in design AND process. The High Line raised the expectations of our own work and the possibilities for public space in the Twin Cities. We hope it does the same for you.

landscape-highline-03
Above images by James Corner Field Operations, but retrieved from the High Line website.

landscape-highline-041 & 3 by flickr user don juan tenorio. 2 by flickr user lucas_roberts426, but retrieved from the High Line website.


UnSummit 2010 – June 26

Posted: June 15th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: events, input, Interactive, local twin cities | Tags: | Comments Off

event-unsummit

The 2010 UnSummit is an alternative, “unconference” for those in the interactive profession. It is being held on June 26th with the stated goals of “full participation, full dissemination and free admission — all the things that traditional conferences are not.” You can register here. The event will be held at the CoCo – Coworking and Collaborative Space in Saint Paul’s Lowertown district. This is perfect because CoCo is sort of an UnOffice.

I’m still a little unsure about what is going to happen at the UnSummit but things should get interesting as the group gathers to apply some brain pressure against the community’s collective hemorrhaging. The official theme is “Solve for X. Where X = your problem.” So, unless your problem is fear of open-ended conference themes you should come and participate in the unintended consequences. Hope to see you there.


Bicycle Portraits: South Africa

Posted: June 11th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: bikes, photography | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

photography-bicylcle-portraits-01

photography-bicylcle-portraits-02

Speaking of South Africa (which is currently on the lips of every soccer fan on the planet) photographers Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler are trying to publish a book called Bicycle Portraits chronicling their travels across South Africa. It’s tough to get a book published so in an effort to make it to print they are looking for pledges. Check out this fascinating and new (to me at any rate) approach at Kickstarter. Great portrait photography is a really challenging art form requiring both technical and social expertise. Get a preview of these wonderful portraits on the day one publications website and you’ll see what I mean. Then drop by Kickstarter and pledge your support or post an encouraging comment.

photography-bicylcle-portraits-03


Gorgeous Design Rocks

Posted: June 11th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: artifacts | Tags: , | Comments Off

artifact-gaivota-rocker

Despite liking rocking chairs just fine it has always seemed to me that for the most part they are not as attractive as their stationary brethren. Certainly, I have never been inspired to post about one before but this rocker designed by Reno Bonzo is just too damn sexy to ignore. Learn more about the Gaviota Rocker or purchase at the Bodie and Fou website. For instance, it won a Brazilian design award, is priced in British pounds and ships from France. That’s not just a chair it’s a world tour. The only problems I have with this rocker is that I have a house full of small rooms and no legitimate need for a rocking chair. The obvious solution being to move to a bigger house and have children. If that is not an option for you consider adopting some great grand parents.


Get Your Social On

Posted: June 10th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: input, landscape architecture, opinion | Tags: , , | Comments Off

interactive-designintelligence2

Following up on the theme of my resent marketing presentation for the Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects I was just made aware (thanks to chapter president Richard Murphy) of a terrific article emphasizing the need for firms to engage in social networking. The article “If You’re Not Online, You’re Behind” was written by architect Evelyn Lee and published on the Design Intelligence website. It’s a great introduction to Linked In, Facebook and Twitter. Refreshingly the story does not obscure its purposeful and simple moral -why you should get involved – in the cloud of jargon and statistics common in discussions on this subject.

Design Intelligence (a publication of the Design Futures Council) is targeted squarely at the architecture profession. This is an important point. I’ve spoken to many a Landscape Architect who has a small but legitimate chip on his/her shoulder acquired through years of experience providing a design service that seems all too often to come as an afterthought to a site’s architecture. Personally I think it is important to see more synergy between structure and landscape. For this to happen landscape architecture firms need to gain a stronger presence in the minds of architects and in the public consciousness. Social networking can help achieve this because it is functioning (for better or worse) as the new town square where hundreds of millions of people are asking questions. If you don’t want architects to be providing all the answers about landscape architecture you need to jump into the fray.