Workspacing, part 1

An inspiring workspace isn’t easy to create. And yet, after we get our act together and design a space that is right for us, we know that our work will be better. We will be more motivated, our mind will be clearer. This workspace will allow new ideas to flow and focus time to be cultivated.

When thinking of a type designer’s desk, we may have a few images in mind: the messy, crazy-artist desk with ink all over and paper flying around. But at the same time, we may imagine the ultra-organised designer where every file is cataloged in a neatly labeled folder, a huge monitor and the newest tech gadgets.

Out of pure curiosity and an unmet wish to be a fly on some Alphabette’s walls, I’ve set out to explore some of our workspaces.

Feel free to reach out to any of them, ask questions and share what you thought.

Let’s begin!

Dafne Martínez

Typeface design and editorial design

Where is your workstation located?
Mexico City

When do you normally work at your desk?
From morning until afternoon (or any time it is necessary)

What is the first thing you do when you begin to work?
I always start my work day by checking my email to find out what happened in the time I were not there while having a cup of coffee, or tea if my stomach is not on the mood 😉

A lovely spot that speaks a lot about me! The Mafalda cup with pencils that I have had since I was 9, Mafalda is a comic strip starring six years old girl who reflects the Argentinian (and I would say Latinoamerican too) middle class and progressive youth, is a pretty brilliant and concerned person about humanity and world peace with an innocent but serious attitude toward problems. The blue dinosaur, a bookmark that I received for my birthday from my dear partner Sandra, it totally rocks. My red headphones that also match the speaker, music covers all my life. The colorful backpack is a souvenir of a visit to Thailand, a really deep memory that contains the basic materials to go anywhere and practice calligraphy.

 

 

On the left side, on the orange board a postcard sponsored by Isabel Urbina ♥ (thank you), and a postcard with a sweet message written in Pouchée’s typeface from St Bride Library. The lamp to help me with detailed tasks and to illuminate better during meetings.(*^_^;)
Finally the pink magazine rack carrying the printing tests of various projects in progress and the printer a very helpful tool.

 

 

What is the thing you love most about your workstation?
I love that there is plenty space to work on the computer and an extra desk to work manually without the need of leaving the room, also there is a huge closet where I keep all my calligraphy stuff and diverse objects such as paper, art materials, and cables, they are always at hand without being perceived at first sight.

What inspires you the most about your workstation and its surrounding?
Being a peaceful place full of plants and color. It always helps me to be calm to be able to think clearly. In addition, each piece of decoration on the walls is a memory of a place where I have been or a gift from new friends ♥ each piece is stimulating for my mind in itself but also triggers the story behind it.

What is your #1 tip for productivity/workflow?
Some of the things that have worked for me are: first making a list of all my assignments, locating the most urgent and most important ones to do first, and taking a look at the list every time I start work or finish a task. I also take a few minutes off, at least every hour and a half to two hours, to keep myself cool and fiercely focused. Sometimes I take the opportunity to water the plants or do some minor chores around the house. Finally, I assign a special time to check email or social networks, two or three times a day maximum (so I can avoid spending all day there :D)

Your favourite action at your workstation?
To put my feet up on the chair to rock while listening to music, singing and drawing digitally.

What is your favourite tool to work with?
I prefer to work on my ideas, written or drawn, with a pilot pencil and a notebook, I prefer handmade ones because I can obtain personalized designs in size and paper, in addition to consuming a product from one of my binder friends.

🔥

Rapid-fire questions

Organised or messy?
Organised

Work style: Digital or analog
Digital

Coffee, tea, alcohol or water?
Coffee

Laptop or a huge monitor?
Huge monitor

Taking notes: in a notebook or typing?
Write in a notebook

Monochrome or colourful?
Colourful bliss
 


 

Alice Savoie

Type designer & researcher in type history

Where is your workstation located?
Lyon, France

When do you normally work at your desk?
9—6pm French time, Monday to Friday

What is the first thing you do when you begin to work?
I put the kettle on to make tea, and then open my calendar and emails.

I occupy a double desk in a large studio that I share with other designers and architects. Until the 1980s the building used to be a silk factory (the traditional activity of the Croix-Rousse quarter in Lyon). The high ceilings were specifically fitted to accommodate the ‘Jacquard’ machines, which were used for silk manufacturing.

 

 

What is the thing you love most about your workstation?
I have a double desk and a large bookshelf, which provides me with a lot of space to store and spread my books!

What inspires you the most about your workstation and its surrounding?
I really enjoy the light coming from the roof and the plants hanging from the ceiling, as well as our little backyard which is packed with small trees and aromatic plants.

What is your #1 tip for productivity/workflow?
I try to avoid multitasking and structure my day as much as possible by allocating specific times of the day to different tasks. I also try to leave the office in the evening knowing what the plan is for the following day.

Your favourite action at your workstation?
Being able to focus.

What is your most dreaded action at your workstation?
Having to run to the door when the bell rings, because it is quite a distance and people tend to be gone by the time one of us gets to the door, unless we run!

What is your favourite tool to work with?
I love my very comfortable chair, my slightly-higher-than-normal desk, and the fact that I work with two screens. I also recently left behind my Intuos graphic tablet to replace it by a Magic Trackpad, which was a very good move!

🔥

Rapid-fire questions

Organised or messy?
Organised

Work style: Digital or analog
Digital

Coffee, tea, alcohol or water?
Tea

Laptop or a huge monitor?
Laptop

Taking notes: in a notebook or typing?
Type in docs

Monochrome or colourful?
Monochrome

 


 

Namrata Goyal

Type Designer & Typography Enthusiast.

Where is your workstation located?
Alwar, Rajasthan, India

When do you normally work at your desk?
Daytime

What is the first thing you do when you begin to work?
Usually answer some emails and check slack messages.

I like collecting conference name badges. They can be seen hanging from the curtain rod next to my desk in the top left corner. Living and working away from colleagues and friends, these make me look forward to our next hangout and the next conference!

 

 

 

What is the thing you love most about your workstation?
It is quite compact. So I HAVE to keep it tidy.

What inspires you the most about your workstation and its surrounding?
Firstly, it’s very personalised to me– the feature wall, the books around, they all are inspiring. Secondly, every time I need some perspective, I stare out of the window and I have a view of the hills close by to where I live. Also, sometimes leads to daydreaming but I am not complaining!

What is your #1 tip for productivity/workflow?
If I feel unproductive, I get away from my desk and usually take a walk or a nap. Or I step away from my computer to sketch a little bit.

Your favourite action at your workstation?
I love tracing sketches on my desk. I raised the glass to create a light table, that also functions as a narrow shelf.

What is your most dreaded action at your workstation?
Calligraphy, only because the space is quite small.

What is your favourite tool to work with?
Oh, lately its my small wacom intous. I am getting back to using a pen tablet for sketching digitally and for making notes/comments, etc, and its been really nice! The tiny size makes me like it even more… feels like there is a theme here.

🔥

Rapid-fire questions

Organised or messy?
Organised

Work style: Digital or analog
Digital

Coffee, tea, alcohol or water?
Coffee

Laptop or a huge monitor?
Huge monitor

Taking notes: in a notebook or typing?
Write in a notebook

Monochrome or colourful?
Colourful bliss

 


 

Briar Levit

Professor of Graphic Design

Where is your workstation located?
Portland, Oregon

When do you normally work at your desk?
This year, I’m at my desk every day, all day. During normal years, I’m in class half the time, and at my school desk some, and at my home desk some.

What is the first thing you do when you begin to work?
I check my email.

 

What is the thing you love most about your workstation?
I love having all my things at my fingertips at this long desk. I’ve hidden my printers at the top of my bookshelves, but they are easy to access too. I love my IBM Selectric, which sits on my desk return as a friendly reminder of how far typesetting has come in the past 70 years or so.

What inspires you the most about your workstation and its surrounding?
I love all my books and artifacts that continue to collect around my space.

Your favourite action at your workstation?
Using my pencil keeper and sharpener.

What is your most dreaded action at your workstation?
Writing emails.

What is your favourite tool to work with?
Lately, I have really enjoyed working with ReadyMag to build my website. I never learned to code and I feel like I can finally control how a page looks typographically and work like I do in page layout programs. I’m actually looking forward to making another website, which I haven’t cared to do in a very long time!

🔥

Rapid-fire questions

Organised or messy?
Messy

Work style: Digital or analog
Digital

Coffee, tea, alcohol or water?
Coffee

Laptop or a huge monitor?
Huge monitor

Taking notes: in a notebook or typing?
Type in docs

Monochrome or colourful?
Colourful bliss

 


 

Elena Peralta

Graphic and Type designer

Where is your workstation located?
Madrid, Spain

When do you normally work at your desk?
In the afternoon or in the evening.

What is the first thing you do when you begin to work?
Get my paper sketches and my markers out of the drawers.


 

I like to change my setup from time to time and have things that inspire me or bring me good memories around. Now I have a picture from Greece, a stone carving I made last year, a postcard with Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting, Production Type’s specimen, some sketches and Marie Boulanger and Marion Bisserier’s poster which I’m absolutely obsessed with. That one is staying for a while!

 

 

What is the thing you love most about your workstation?
The plants and the sunlight in the afternoon. I’ve been growing Amaryllis for a couple of years and I enjoy having them around.

What inspires you the most about your workstation and its surrounding?
I like working with space around me. Having such a long desk to draw, having the computer, the printer and being able to do many things simultaneously is what works best for me. That combined with the light and the plants outside my window make it a great place to work at.

What is your #1 tip for productivity/workflow?
Having things at reach works well for me, not needing to stand up to get my prints, my sketchbook or my nibs just makes things easier.

Your favourite action at your workstation?
Working while listening to some random songs.

What is your most dreaded action at your workstation?
My desk gets messy fast with papers and tools so doing cleanups is tiring.

What is your favourite tool to work with?
I like to work with a sketchbook to write ideas and paper, markers and whiteouts to sketch.

🔥

Rapid-fire questions

Organised or messy?
Messy

Work style: Digital or analog
Analog

Coffee, tea, alcohol or water?
Water

Laptop or a huge monitor?
Huge monitor

Taking notes: in a notebook or typing?
Write in a notebook

Monochrome or colourful?
Colourful bliss

 


 

Alessia Mazzarella

Type designer

Where is your workstation located?
London, United Kingdom

When do you normally work at your desk?
Most of the time. But for particularly tedious tasks like revising my kerning strings or update scripts, I work from the couch with my laptop!

What is the first thing you do when you begin to work?
I drink a glass of water and stretch my neck and shoulders.

My desk doesn’t fit much, but it certainly has space for my Hot Wheels Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles van. I take it for a spin every now and then, I like the sound the wheels make on my desk mat.

 

Last summer I finally switched to a mechanical keyboard that I can program as I want. It’s saving me so much time, even if I annoy the hell out of my partner with my clickety-clack. So far, I only have three different layers, the red one is the standard keyboard, on the green I programmed macros and shortcuts for when I design type, and the cyan one is for emojis.

 
What is the thing you love most about your workstation?
In the summer, at sunset, when the sky is clear, the light hits the wall behind my computer turning the atmosphere of the entire room. I also like that my workstation is so small, that when the door is open it completely hides it from the back of the room.

What inspires you the most about your workstation and its surrounding?
I keep the surroundings quite minimal and distractions free (apart from my TMNT van). I got the smallest desk I could find to be forced not to clutter the space, I have a very messy drawer for that.

What is your #1 tip for productivity/workflow?
Time the tasks. I started doing it last year, it can be done by simply noting the start and end time on a spreadsheet. I use one of the many apps available so that I don’t have to worry too much when I take a long coffee break or forget to stop the timer, and it also reminds me to start it. It helped me understand how much it really takes me to do my work and I became more efficient in using my time.

Your favourite action at your workstation?
Starting a new project, having an idea for a new typeface, mapping out its brief and its scope and testing out the rough design on screen.

What is your most dreaded action at your workstation?
Troubleshooting fonts issues. Which is also the action that gives me most satisfaction once I find the cause and the solution to the problem.

What is your favourite tool to work with?
I usually work directly on screen. I have a sketchbook nearby for notes I’ll never be able to decipher later due to my illegible handwriting, and for very rough sketches. For important notes, I use iA writer, I have used it for so long that my brain no longer processes any information that is not set in a monospaced font. I write very fast (hence the illegibility) and like inky pens. I only ever use LAMY Safari fountain pen with black ink and Uni-ball Eye Micro in red ink. I got a box of the red pens when I was doing the MA in Type Design in Reading, they worked well for marking-up type proofs, and I’m still less than halfway through.

🔥

Rapid-fire questions

Organised or messy?
Organisedly messy

Work style: Digital or analog
Digital

Coffee, tea, alcohol or water?
Coffee

Laptop or a huge monitor?
Huge monitor

Taking notes: in a notebook or typing?
Type in docs

Monochrome or colourful?
Colourful bliss

 


 

Oh! This was fun! Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3, and feel free to leave a comment!

3 Comments Workspacing, part 1

  1. Lauren

    I love getting a peek at others’ workstations, and these are some great ones! The TMNT van is especially endearing 🙂 It makes me want to add something playful and tactile to my own desk.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.