Monday, May 21, 2007

Dwell Harlem House Opening!

Here are the final images of the office system custom designed for Dwell's Harlem House. Check here for a walk through the entire house, along with the people who came, and more images of the office!

Office System Installation in Dwell's Harlem house!

Saturday Night, the night before Dwell's Harlem House opening, we began installing the office system. After the install we filled the shelves with books, rolled the Steelcase chairs into the room, and finally went to sleep.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


After about two months we finally started building yesterday! It always feels great to see the project coming together. The next few days are crucial, we have to install the desk and shelves in a couple of days. Tomorrow we are picking up the desk chairs that Steelcase generously donated for the office.

Keep checking back as we are building everyday! Check out Flickr for all building images!

Design options for homeowners

We have created options for the desk area within the office space. What we have decided on is a desk in which both Alysia and David face the window. Desk drawers are interlocking in the same manner as the shelves. The shelves are designed to 'speak' to the desk by climbing up the wall while also leaning towards the desk. The window sits lower then the desk, here we included a short depth shelf that runs along the window and sweeps along the other wall to meet with the shelves. This shelf is designed to hold small interlocking cubes where David and Alysia's handheld devices can live. Slots are placed on this shelf for wire management. The images above are initial options for both the desk and shelves.

Check out other images at Flickr!

Full Scale Models

Our full scale models took most of the day to build, as we were still creating options for the homeowners. Materials used for this exercise were found in the rummage bin at school. Hey, we saved money while using unwanted materials, we can't complain. After building the models, we headed over to Harlem to show David and Alysia their options for the desk and shelves. They were very excited, we were even more excited because we had gotten final go ahead on the options given.

Look out for our next few posts including design options, building, and installation! Things are moving faster than ever now!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Jumping In: Initial Desk Concepts

We had less to go on for the desk area. David and Alysia needed space for their laptops, papers and printer. Other than that it was pretty much open, as far as how the space could be organized. We also started at a totally different point than with the shelves, to give David and Alysia different options of overall concept. We originally (and for a while thereafter) went with a wing-shaped design, trying different tricks to make the most of the limited space and prevent Alysia and David's chairs from bumping into each other. Towards that end, we envisioned an angled work area. We also played with secretary-style rollers as drawers and even as entire legs (with supports of course). Eventually we realized that it was just not going to work. Any legroom gained by angling the work area was lost due to the limits in desk width. After David and Alysia picked the slotted shelf concept and the somewhat-similar-in-look broken up desk concept, we realized that we needed to integrate the two. We also realized that all our clever but not quite functional solutions vis-a-vis leg room could be eliminated if we just put the two of them next to each other. In front of the gigantic beautiful window that they would love to look out of. So we plowed ahead and unified the designs. Next post: full scale cardboard and full speed ahead!

Check out the other concepts on our Flickr!

Jumping In: Initial Shelf Concepts

David and Alysia, the Harlem House homeowners, sent us images containing about 200 books they own. We jumped right into brainstorming about how we could make a shelving unit that spoke to David's organizational needs while incorporating Alysia's whimsical needs.

Both David and Alysia gravitated towards the concept of slotted rectilinear shapes that lock together, creating a system of organized chaos within the office space. They would pack down into a few sets of concentric shapes, specifically designed for easy moving and storage. Multiple configurations allowed for Alysia's need for variation.

Check out our model making experience on Flickr

Collective | 4 Branding

Next step for the team was to come up with a logo and business card layout. We wanted something simple, clean and a little bit fun. How can bright green ever not be fun?

Lyptus wood takes on Harlem

We received amazing news that a supplier of Lyptus wanted to donate their beautiful Brazilian hardwood to us for the home office space. Lyptus wood is a perfect material for this project since it is grown from renewable eucalyptus trees on forest plantations, ensuring environmental safety. Stuart Hanson of Brander Communications generously sent us more Lyptus then expected, 8 sheets of 4' x 8', 3/4" thick, and 4 sheets of 4' x 8', 1/2" thick. The Lyptus is a light cherry shade, which will compliment the redwood, reclaimed from Brooklyn water towers.

Closet Off/ Home Office On

Everything was going swimmingly until we heard about California Closet's interest in the Building Green in Harlem project. We (of course) still wanted to be involved, and luckily for us homeowners Alysia and David had an office in want of furniture. Instead of the master bedroom closet space, we would be working on the home office, where both Alysia and David would work, pay bills, and read scripts.

Design Task #2: A desk for two as well as shelves for about 200 books, all within an 8' x 10' space with a beautiful large window that overlooks the backyard/garden.

Material Search

After we established with Alysia and David (Harlem House homeowners) the types of materials they were interested in regarding their closet we began our search. What we found was a variety of reclaimed, sustainable, and innovative materials from local suppliers in the Brooklyn area. We also found an entire section of movie set backdrops, the perfect match for two actors, large display cases, and perforated aluminum .

Closet Ideation

Here is a quick peek at some of the initial ideas we came up with for the closet space in the master bedroom of the
Harlem House.

Check out all of our closet ideas on our Flickr site!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Building Green in Harlem House Project

We first got in touch with Alysia after hearing about her and David's search for "green closet designers." Being designers (designers-in-training at least) and all having a green-leaning mindset we jumped in with both feet. Here we pause to thank David and Alysia for taking a chance on a group of students. We traveled up to the upper west side to visit their current home, digital cameras and sketchbooks in tow.

Alysia and David's current closet situation was clearly not up to snuff. Clothes were crammed into a, shall we say small space. Stacks of jeans and overflowing hangers and all that. We spoke with Alysia for a while (David was up at the new house, toiling away), finding out what they liked and didn't like about her current closet, and what they wanted in a new one then headed up to Harlem to see the space.

We assume that if you're here, reading about our endeavors then you've seen the videos on Dwell. As nice as the house looks in those videos, construction and all, it's so much nicer in person. And the closet is huge. We continued the discussion with David, showing them both some of our preliminary sketches. And then there was wine. All in all, not a bad First Client Meeting Ever.

Still in high spirits, we were developing our ideas in between work for school. Then we got the call. California Closets was probably signing on, so we were losing our spot. Only we weren't losing a spot in the project. Somehow we had managed to impress David and Alysia with our bright eyed student-ness and they were going to shift us over to the office.

Now this whole process had taken place over a few weeks, including a week of limbo before we were sure that California Closets were definitely in. Which somewhat worked out to our advantage, since we had an opportunity to get some missed schoolwork done. But it cut down on our work time significantly.

We visited the house again as soon as possible, repeating the research and discussion we had previously done. The new office was a whole room, as opposed to the desk they had previously used. Still, it wasn't that large a room, so none of us wanted to waste any space. We also wanted to continue on a theme developed for the closet, that of combining Alysia's whimsy with David's practicality. Of course we didn't know how we would do that yet.

And that brings us all up to the present. The office design is in the works, with some concepts already posted. We're developing and then finalizing them and going full-scale later on in the week. Then it's time to do it for real.