Defining The Designer Workspace

What defines a workspace? And how does the designer or creative’s workspace differ? I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at where some of our favorite designers, artists and creatives spend most of their time. How do they have their technology setup to help them be more efficient at their jobs (and do amazing things)?


Gregory Han is managing editor of Apartment Therapy’s technology division, Unplggd.

Tell us about your workspace.
About a year ago we moved into a new apartment where my partner and I found ourselves with a lot more space than before. That is, except for a workspace. With the move I lost a designated home office, and while I considered working from the dining table or from the couch in our living room, this didn’t appeal as a long term solution for a self-admitted neat freak. So instead, I sacrificed a bit of storage and carved out what could only be described as a very compact home office inside what was once our living room coat room closet.

I knew when I was designing the home office I would need to pare down elements, maximize vertical storage, and try my best to hide wires and cables running in and out of the “room.” But I also wanted to incorporate a strong design element which would make the space creatively inspirational, spatially calm. I applied textured surface black wallpaper from Graham & Brown to the walls, added a striking ceramic wolf head wall lamp as a focal point above the shallow depth console desk, accessorized with decorative tech like the bust statue USB hub, and wall mounted my monitor (Dell 2407WFP 24″ LCD) to maximize desk space and blend into the wall. If my home office was going to be literally a hole in the wall, I wanted it to be a dramatic black hole where the confines of the space wouldn’t be so evident, nor the technology hidden throughout.

What amazes you about what your technology can do that you would have thought impossible just a few years ago?
The ability to take our personal information, social networks and media anywhere and everywhere with us is a revolutionary and liberating change in how we live and interact. Before, people were confined to a single device, usually a desktop computer, and that’s pretty much where everything resided and was accessible from. But now you see everyone using laptops, smartphones and tablets, communicating with friends and exchanging ideas all of the time and from everywhere (perhaps too much so!). The idea of “sharing” our lives digitally has expanded to mean so much more in the last few years, alongside what we define as a computer. The fact that computer technology itself is so deeply integrated into our lives now while conversely also becoming less physically visible is an exciting trend.


Joey Roth is a California-based industrial designer who has made waves in the design world with his Sorapot teapot and Ceramic Speakers.

Tell us about your workspace.
One of the reasons I moved to LA is the ability to work outside year-round. When looking for a place to live, I wanted a secluded outdoor space with lots of bamboo to use as my office. I found the perfect place in Silver Lake, and I work out there whenever I can. While working, I usually have my laptop, sketchbook, and a cup of tea or coffee on my desk.

My laptop is small and very efficient, but not the most powerful. Unless I’m rendering however, it’s adequate for my needs: Chrome, SolidWorks, and sometimes Illustrator or Photoshop. I don’t usually listen to music while I work, but if I do, I use Foobar and headphones. Speakers are reserved for listening to music on its own.

I’m going to build a new workstation once Ivy Bridge processors are released next year. The system will be centered on a giant heatsink that will passively cool the processor. Because of the heatsink’s size and Ivy Bridge’s thermal efficiency, the system will require no fans. It will also use an SSD and forgo an optical drive. Along with fans, hard drives and optical drives are the only mechanical components of the modern PC. By eliminating these parts, my workstation will be completely solid-state (no moving parts), and silent.

I’m not sentimental about my sketchbook brand — some of my best ideas were drawn on yellow legal pads. I’m also open to any writing implement, as long as it’s a pen (I don’t want the ability to erase when I’m sketching).

I always concentrate better with coffee or tea.

What amazes you about what your technology can do that you would have thought impossible just a few years ago?
3D printing and high-quality video conferencing are the two improvements that have changed the way I work over the last 5 years. Both developments — being able to instantly touch an in-progress design and instantly talk to the people who will manufacturer it — drastically cut my development time and make it even more fun to design products.


Tina Roth Eisenberg runs her inspirational blog, Swissmiss, as well as heads up CreativeMornings, TeuxDeux, Tattly and her coworking space called Studiomates.

Tell us about your workspace.
I try to keep my desk as minimal and zen as possible. Browsing the web all day long I feel like I need to keep my surroundings minimal. I work on an iMac, at a self-made, built-in floating desk (it’s made out of a kitchen surface and is mounted to heavy duty brackets). I sit on a red vintage Herman Miller Eames chair.

What amazes you about what your technology can do that you would have thought impossible just a few years ago?
I am simply blown away at video conferencing these days. I speak to my Switzerland-based family or members of the CreativeMornings on a daily basis. The fact, that I can see their faces while doing so never ceases to amaze me. It’s a truly exciting time we live in.


Gretchen Jones is a fashion designer and winner of Project Runway, Season 8.

Tell us about your workspace.
My studio, is my living room, is my dining room. Keeping a space versatile enough is everything to me. I like using pencil and paper, so my desk is mostly reference materials, LOTS of paper everywhere and my HP ENVY 17 laptop. It enables me to hit and move at the beat of my creative drum! While staying flexible enough to also host a nice dinner in the midst of it all. Because of my wireless network, I have my printer hidden away in my “office” (AKA closet). It’s important to me that my workspace not take over, and my creative process keeps me cleaning up from project to project. Staying tidy and ready to adapt is key, as I tend to have to clean up in between projects. Clean space, clean head!

What amazes you about what your technology can do that you would have thought impossible just a few years ago?
Having the opportunity to study and research so readily is new for designers. The Internet has made taking an idea and expanding that into an inspiration so easy I can let my mind soar while developing my collection in any direction with ease. And using that to capture my creative process while sharing with my audience is now more important than ever. Modern technology keeps my finger on the pulse… and what’s not to love about that?


Rich Williams and Brett Teper run a modern design company called ModProducts, whose ModKat litterbox has revolutionized kitty cleanup.

Tell us about your workspace.
Our studio is the place we spend most of our time, and we wanted it to be quiet and inspiring at the same time. It has a very minimalist aesthetic with the most fantastic, energizing view of downtown Manhattan. The views along with the Apple products that have run my business (and my life) for the last 20 years inspire me daily. We have just upgraded to the new 27″ iMacs and I just got the iPhone 4S… it is amazing in terms of functionality, innovation and industrial design, I can do just about everything from my phone!

What amazes you about what your technology can do that you would have thought impossible just a few years ago?
I am most amazed by the fact that we can run our entire product design business from one computer. We do everything from our computers and phones; design, e-commerce, planning, shipping, inventory, customer service, accounting, meetings across the world, beautiful pics of my kids, hi-res videos of my cat… all right to the social mediasphere for everyone to see… it’s an amazing time! I just sent a printed card to my grandmother in Florida from my phone. It sounds silly, but I couldn’t do that a few weeks ago.

Join the conversation on Twitter – post a pic of your workspace and tag it #IntelEMP or put it on our Facebook page!

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.