Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
The Ambience of Caffeine.

So right now I'm alternating between heavy-duty crunch mode and heavy-duty nesting mode. I suspect that if I stay at MIT for more than just this next year, most of my Augusts until I'm well into my thirties will be like this. I'm trying to finish up all the open projects that I've been working on this summer while also prepping for the new semester, both mentally and physically.

In addition to a bunch of client work and the White Paper(s) From Hell, I've been doing a lot of thinking about interior decorating from both a functional and aesthetic POV. Our house is getting reshuffled (Laura's moving in, woo-hoo!) and I'm trying to figure out how to rearrange my studio so I can do more work at home instead of at Starbucks (to cut both costs and calories). Some lessons I've already learned:

  • A Studio Needs a Door. This may change once I have kids, although I suspect the addition of a baby monitor and some judiciously-placed videocameras will keep the "needs a door" rule intact. But, yes. One of the biggest troubles I had last year was my studio area was positioned directly between the kitchen and the stairs to the laundry room, so I had a near-constant flow of traffic streaming through. Not only that, but the lack of doors between my studio and the kitchen (and the living room directly beyond that) meant that peace and quiet was rare. My roommates are awesome and I won't begrudge anyone the right to watch 24, but according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, it takes about twenty minutes to get back in the flow of development once you've been interrupted. It's so true. So, so true.
  • A Studio Need Not Be Huge, But It Needs Some Space. At the recommendation of both my mom and my girlfriend, I've been reading a lot of books by Sarah Susanka, who advocates the 'Not So Big' concept of homemaking. At one point I'd fantasized about making a home that was sort of a cross between an enormous train station and an old farmhouse, but Susanka (and Long and Thomas) convinced me that it's much much cooler to build with details in mind than just space. For me, this was definitely one of those things that clicks as soon as you see it, but you needed someone to show it to you: it's more about intimate nooks and crannies than wide-open wasted spaces. A studio needs a little of column A and a little of column B; it needs both a sense of intimacy and safety, but it also needs lots and lots of open desk space to spread out one's drawings and plans, and to keep one from feeling claustrophobic and overwhelmed. One's studio should not trigger panic attacks.
  • Make Your Third Place Your First Place. So this is the real kicker for me, the concept of making my studio feel more like the places I run off to in order to get my work done. My Third Place is usually Starbucks, with occasional stopovers in places like Panera Bread, Borders, Caribou Coffee, Barnes and Noble... To that end, I'm starting to take notes on what it is about each of these places that I find so appealing, and what, occasionally, detracts from each of them. Very cool research, some fun thinking, and potentially a good book or magazine article. Hmmmm.

More on this topic as the room develops, but for now I gotta get back to work... School starts up again in a little over a week and it is zero hour. Lock and load...

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