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Work-from-home is the new normal, so these top designers let us peek inside their home offices

Will definitely inspire. *May* inspire design envy.

Work-from-home is the new normal, so these top designers let us peek inside their home offices

More and more people are working from home as companies take precautionary measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. But just because we’re practicing social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t virtually pop into some designers’ home offices to see their set-up.

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Designers from Pentagram, Work & Co, Wieden+Kennedy, and more gave us a peek at what they’re working with when they work from home. Their spaces are big and small, eclectic and colorful, sparing and minimalist; they have dedicated desks and light-filled mixed use spaces (with tsotchke-laden bookshelves worth drooling over). May they inspire you to get creative with your space as you spend more time at home.

[Photo: Julia Hembree/courtesy Order & Standards Manual]

“We’re really lucky to have this little sunroom that kind of juts out from the apartment, so there’s always nice light even on a cloudy day. I wouldn’t say there is an aesthetic, but my pride and joy is the 1950s Danish desk I have set up, designed by Svend Madsen. I found it one night while working on a Saturday just outside my past job, Pentagram, on 5th Avenue. I managed to haul it in, and have used it for 10 years as my desk. You can’t see in this configuration, but it has a wonderful library shelf on the front side of the desk. One day I’ll have it in the middle of the room, Don Draper style.” —Hamish Smyth, Founder, Order & Standards Manual

[Photo: courtesy Natasha Jen]

“It’s a reading room, a nap room, and a hoarding ground. It’s eclectic, small but packed with books, artworks, furniture, toys, and useless stuff from around the world I’ve collected over my travels.” — Natasha Jen, Partner, Pentagram

[Photo: Katrinna Whiting]

“I moved from Oakland to Bed-Stuy just over a year ago. I’ve tried to maintain some of the same aesthetic I had in California in my current apartment by having a lot of plants and prioritizing sunshine especially to help me adjust to the winter months. My living spaces—dining room, living room and kitchen—are all in one large room so I’ve created separate spaces within the apartment to give everything the distinct space it needs, while keeping everything as open as possible.

I purposefully set up a very streamlined workspace faced away from the TV to help maintain focus. At my desk I have a monitor and Wacom pen along with a sound system so I can easily play music or listen to podcasts or audiobooks without headphones while I work. I even have a printer and scanner should anything come up. I tend to rotate between my couch on my laptop and the large desktop at my desk when I need to do detailed design work, but I never bring work into my bedroom.” —Katrinna Whiting, Design Lead, Work & Co

[Photo: James Hughes]

“Working from home is always a delicate dance — it obviously helps motivate you to have to physically travel further than out of your bedroom to do work. That being said, I used to freelance for years before working at Wieden+Kennedy, so I’m pretty used to working at home. The big thing is comfort: it’s your friend, making sure you can work as comfortably as possible. It’s also your enemy, as it is very easy to say, ‘I’m gonna spend the day in sweatpants and a t-shirt.’ One of the best pieces of advice I received early on was: ‘Approach the day like you’re going to work. Shower, go through your routine, put on clothes you would wear to work.’

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In regards to the aesthetic in my place, I’m fortunate to have the set-up I have, and on top of that, to be living with my partner who happens to be a set decorator (see: Uncut Gems.) Our styles overlap while differing just enough. But she’s the boss, make no mistake about it. In the end, I’m ultimately working for her.” —James Hughes, Designer, Wieden+Kennedy New York

[Photo: Simone Noronha]

“I’m afraid my home office is not terribly inventive. My space is decorated with postcards and notes from some of my close friends, and there’s always The Sopranos on one screen.” — Simone Noronha, Illustrator

[Photo: Bradford Shellhammer]

“My home office has been, until last week, a forgotten museum or design shop, filled full of floor to ceiling books and my coveted toy collection. I’d not spent much time in it to be honest. When I started working there last week, I loved the calmness of the indirect light, and the quiet. But I was not set up to stay alert for a nine hour stretch. The chair, Saarinen’s tulip, was perfect (I fidget, and the spin keeps me preoccupied), but I quickly realized I needed a new monitor, HD camera, and speaker. When I set all that up, I got comfortable. I am less distracted here than in the office, which has its pros. Zoom is amazing too. One benefit to working in my mini-library: looking around a picking up books I’ve not read in a decade or two. Now, if I can only find some time to read during the (the room does have a day bed).” —Bradford Shellhammer, vice president of buyer experience, eBay

[Photo: Mike Schnaidt]

“My wife, Eve, and I are both designers wfh right now, so we’re alternating days in the home office. We made the desk from an old piece of barn wood, and attached hairpin legs onto it. One of my favorite pieces of art is the drawing of my dog, done by a random person who saw the photo of him on Instagram.” —Mike Schnaidt. Creative Director at Fast Company

[Photo: courtesy Adrian Harwood]

“Our work from home situation is pretty casual since it’s not set up for two people to work full-time. That said, it’s very much integrated into the rest of our apartment, which we’ve put a lot of effort into making joyful, comfortable, and pleasant, so the transition has been surprisingly smooth. Keeping tidy, putting good music on, and good food on the table has been crucial for keeping our home a place we want to be in even when we’re not allowed to leave!” —Adrian Harwood, senior product designer, Doberman

[Photo: Ida Woldemichael]

“Sitting down to start my day (on a good day) begins with an organized desk space, and sunshine coming on on my right. Love sunlight! This a guest bedroom/office. Organizing vertically makes the space flexible, and the shelving gives access to important technical things to function in my day-to-day: pantones, paper samples, some of my fav inspiration. Little pops of color, and old and new items that are important to me (down to the rug) all make it feel warm & personal.” —Ida Woldemichael, associate creative director, Wide Eye

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[Photo: Lizzie Willett]

“I try to keep it clutter-free, light-filled and surrounded by plants. The desk is a standing desk which is a huge help for my posture and overall energy levels throughout the day.” —Lizzie Willett, designer, Wide Eye

[Photo: courtesy Zipeng Zhu]

“My space is chaotic yet organized. Things are everywhere but I know exactly what things are at what place. I have bright color and complex pattern everywhere. My favorite thing in my place would be my dazzling mural and the pillows I designed.” —Zipeng Zhu, art director, designer, and illustrator

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About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.

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