Silver linings?
Creative spaces.

In this year where we could probably all use a little more ease and love, I still don’t mind rolling up my sleeves to get down in the more meaningful parts. The fresh ideas to play, the inspiration to stretch, and more conversations to bring us closer. Things like our deep dives into creative culture–the risks we take for authenticity, for vulnerability, to open up possibilities.

Creativity is not just about craft–
it’s about choice.

One of the silver linings in being stretched quite thin and potentially pushing boundaries: We often get more clear on what’s most important.

After a few weeks spent ill and quarantined, I finally went out into the bright new world. Feeling quite fresh with the deeply layered snow, the sheen of the freeze coating nearly everything, and the sun! So. Much. Sun. Hello February! You’re almost gone, and yet I’ve just arrived.

Another silver lining – I’ve had a little more time than usual to reflect, and I kept my spirits from plummeting by dreaming about the changes to my flow. We’re all on the brink of bouncing back into a wildly vibrant world – new friends, new projects, many new possibilities. How will the changes to the way we parse out our time change us? And after merging so much of our daily grind into our personal space, what are our best environments for creative work?

You know I’m always prioritizing the right blend, the right balance for creativity. The environments and systems that support us are just one of four key ingredients–we also need to nurture our trusted partners, cultural abundance, and autonomy to pull it all together. But after these past weeks spent in the very slow motion of self preservation, my environment was truly a most important focus in getting me back to my creative capacity.

Movies, books, mags–I’ve been digging through so many cultural artifacts in this exploration, and I’ve come back with treasures!

Amid dreams of beaches + Bali, I found myself wishing … if I can’t be there right now, what about bringing a warm, balmy sun here? Remember when Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project transformed the Tate into a lazy, hazy sunset space? His production of presence is an inspiration in the balance of art + science.

“We are here to question ourselves, to examine ourselves, to see ourselves in the context of the world.” –Olafur Eliasson

In episode 2 of Apple TV’s Home series, Chicago artist and community designer Theaster Gates takes us on a tour of the spaces he’s developed. His vision is expansive. From the roots of his home and library, to the listening room on the block, cafe, community center, and material mill–he nurtures not only his own creative capacity, but also spaces for us all to explore and collaborate.

Journalist + author Michael Pollan’s personal inquiry into the art of architecture, the craft of building, and the meaning of modern work has been a model for my exploration as a writer. Across many topics, books, and articles, he continually dives into the relationship between man + nature, then writes his way through the reckoning of his explorations.

“A connection hinted at in words such as independence, individual, pragmatic, self made… To build a house in the first person, a place as much one’s own as a second skin, would require an explanation of self and place and work itself that simply could not be delegated to somebody else. The meaning of such place was in its making.” –Michael Pollan


If you haven’t gone down the rabbit hole of Cal Newport’s Deep Work, it’s worth considering our environment’s impact on the ability to focus. One of my favorite gems from this work–

“Deep work helps you quickly learn hard things. Let your mind become a lens thanks to the converging rays of attention. Let your soul be all intent on whatever it is that is established in your mind as a dominant, wholly absorbing idea.” –Antonin Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life

And another of Deep Work’s takeaways is a focal point in my next article–
Chicago architect David Dewane’s conceptual Eudaimonia Machine, a precise work space layout based on Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia, meaning the epitome of human capability.

I’ve been experimenting with practices to stay motivated in pushing boundaries through my work, as well as ways to sustain connections with community as we’ve all grown tired of our screens. The Eudaimonium model has given me interesting ideas for this well beyond interior design. I’ll share more about this in my upcoming article draft.

As I’m wrapping up this research phase, I’d love to know –

What’s been working for you as you’ve shaped new environments for working from home, maintained optimism for innovative work, found new resources to work through this long slog of uncertainty, or restored connections to the people and places we’ve been missing?

Drop me a line + let me know!

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