Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gamechanger's floating office

The floating theme continues... Archie Workman runs Gamechanger ("an innovative new consultancy dedicated to exploring the future visions of people, businesses and technology that will alter the road map of their career, company and commerce in years to come") from his narrowboat the Whyayeman, pictured above and below. Here's how he describes the experience:
"We have had the boat for four years and spent most of that time converting her from a "live-aboard" to a narrowboat which goes places - the engineroom was just used as a store cupboard. We have a battery bank of four 12 volt batteries which through an inverter can drive the fridge, television, laptop, mobile phone charger, etc. A small galley at the front can handle the catering for most occasions and a we have a fully fitted bathroom with shower and loo and a fixed double bed in the back if work gets on top and we have to have a lie down."The pace of life on the canals is such that to have your office on water to me is just pure heaven and the scenery can change from day to day. She was berthed on the Lancaster Canal which only goes from Preston to beyond Lancaster at Carnforth so now lying at Nantwich we are at the crossroads of the Shropshire Union, Middlewich and the Llangollen canals which interconnect to Britain's inland waterway system of over 2,000 miles - we can go all the way to London - bring our own office and not pay any conjestion charge!

As part of my idea to use the boat as a working environment (and be able to proportion some of the costs for tax purposes) I intend to use it as a floating meeting room where my clients can discuss their projects in confidence but in a relaxing environment. Part of the experience is to sail for an hour or so up four locks which gets everyone working together as a team, hit the pub at Wrenbury and chew the cud on the way back to base. I dare say many shedworkers say it is working in a different atmosphere which can stimulate ideas and innovative thinking - that's what my company is all about, Changing your Game."

The Institute of Backyard Studies

Run by Mark Thomson, The Institute of Backyard Studies is "dedicated to the preservation and growth of backyard culture in Australia and elsewhere". Thomson knows whereof he speaks as he is the author of not one, not two but THREE excellent books about shedlike atmospheres Blokes & Sheds, Stories from the Shed and Makers, Breakers & Fixers. Here's what he says about the Institute:
"To some people, a “backyard operation” is synonymous with dodgy, low quality, illicit and generally dubious business. Destroying this stereotype is one of the Institute’s main aims. In fact the backyard and its associated institutions - the shed and the barbecue to name a couple - can make a strong claim to being the very generators of our prosperity, well-being and sanity.

We are becoming an indoor, inward looking nation, gazing out on patio courtyards paved from edge to edge and ordered to within an inch of their lives. The woodpile down the back or the pile of useful scrap has vanished. Rather than fix anything we ring up the man to come and install a new part or we buy a new plastic version made by slaves in some unseen part of the world."
Well worth a browse and you can buy his books from the site.

Sustainable sheds competition

It's shed competition season. Jacinta Cleary, editor at ReNew magazine (the magazine of the Alternative Technology Association), has been in touch to mention their new Sustainable Shed competition which is offering 20 watt solar panels as the main prizes in their search for sheds that excel in sustainability (each winner will also receive a copy of Makers, Breakers & Fixers: Inside Australia’s Most Resourceful Sheds by shed researcher Mark Thomson). Click on the link above for details of how to enter (the competition is only open to Australian and New Zealand entries) but the judges are looking for:
1. Sustainable shed construction e.g. the use of recycled materials
2. Renewable energy to power the shed, including solar and wind power or other renewable methods.
3. Commitment to DIY projects in the shed, with an emphasis on these projects being sustainable.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Shedworking distractions

A nice piece at ivillage looks at five common shedworking distractions and how to avoid them. Ellen Parlapiano and Pat Cobe say the top five are:
* The Kitchen
* The children
* Personal calls and visits
* Housework
* The skiving urge

Here's an exercept:
"Distraction: The kitchen
As you struggle with a tough work project, you manage to distract yourself by popping into the kitchen and eat six cheese sticks, five biscuits, one leftover piece of birthday cake, crisps, etc. And you never knew you were capable of drinking so much coffee!
Prevention:
Bring healthy treats into your work space to discourage frequent and fattening trips to the fridge. Crunchy cut-up veggies, whole-grain crackers and dried fruits help satisfy cravings when you're in the mood to munch. Try to drink water. But if you can't work without several cups of coffee or tea, stick to decaf or herbal teas, and bring a thermos into your office so you don't have to venture near the kitchen."
Via the Telework Association's e-newsletter

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My Grrreen Shed - Grand Designs Live

How would you customise a 5x6x4ft shed? That's the question being posed at the My Grrreen Shed section - the three rrrs stand for reduce, reuse, recycle - at Grand Designs Live at Birmingham's NEC, October 10-12. It has been organised by Birmingham City University and Claystation and aims to promote sustainable thinking as well as demonstrate creative ways of making sustainability in daily life a reality. Visitors will be given the chance to design an eco-shed using a press-out template which can be put together to make a model shed. Among celebrities having a go will be Kevin McCloud, Diarmuid Gavin and Chris Beardshaw. And the best will be turned into full sized models. Eight full size customized Grrreen sheds, supplied by Forest Garden, will form a backdrop to the spectacle, five of which will be designed by celebrities. The other three will showcase sustainable projects in which the University is involved.

According to the university, more than 500,000 garden sheds were built in Britain last year. That seems like a high figure to me.

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Jonas Wagell's awardwinning friggebod

This rather splendid Swedish friggebod from Jonas Wagell (entitled Mini House) is being instrumental in introducing the shedworking concept to a wider audience since it won the Hidden Art 100% Futures Competition at 100% Design in London. As regular readers will know, in Sweden you can build garden offices and other shedlike atmospheres up to 15 square metres in size without needing to notify planners. As well as the main structure - built from plywood and styrofoam - there is an attractive terrace and pergola (all still planning-friendly). There are potential add-on options to the main prefab construction including a bath module and solar power unit.Via Dezeen

Also, with floating sheds seeming to be in the air at the moment, here below is his floating house concept.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Future of shedworking

Another one for the future of garden offices folder, House N, Oyta, Japan by Sou Fujimoto Architects , smashing photos by Iwan Baan (and currently doing the rounds on all the swankiest design sites on the blogosphere). It's obviously a house rather than a garden office, but the way that garden and home are brought together is an imaginative leap which could be followed by designers of small back garden/yard shedlike atmospheres.

Why you should buy your wife a garden office

A rather strange piece in the Sunday Times by Alex Proud talks about sharing domestic space with your wife. Here's what he suggests:
"So, I bought my wife a shed. Not just any shed, but the double-glazed, heated, supersized Rolls-Royce of sheds. Making it expensive was key — the cost meant I was not denigrating her knick-knacks. By going posh, I’m not merely offering a storage solution, but a place where my beautiful wife can express her creativity."

Garden office deductions to get easier in US?

That's what it looks like according to Kelly Spoos in the Wall Street Journal. She writes:
"Some lawmakers in recent months have proposed creating a “standard deduction” on home offices that would allow anyone with rooms exclusively used for business to claim it. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Kent Conrad (D – N.D.) introduced a bill in late July to create such a standard deduction. They also recommended changing the definition for client meetings in the home to include meetings held by phone or Internet – not just in-person meetings."
It's obviously a complicated issue so do read the rest of her post and click on her links for more information.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Getaway Space

Getaway Space is a new site from friend of Shedworking Neal Zimmerman which looks at garden offices, shedlike atmospheres and what Neal calls 'getaway spaces' which he describes as "small, free-standing structures, designed and built for occasional occupancy". Well worth keeping an eye on.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Around the shedworld

Enterprise Nation knows a good mug when it sees one... materialicious enjoys beach cabins in Gotland (above)... The Guardian talks to novelist Patrick Barkham about his garden office in rural Rutland... Shedblog reports on another great pub shed... Workshop Shed has been to Ascot... Home Business Eye features some nice home offices... Unplgged take a behind the scenes look at the workplace of workalicious... Chief Home Officer is concerned about keeping brain and body fit... the newly refurbished Kits & Mortar is spreading the word about Be2Camp, an unconference where built environment meets virtual environment...

Bathing sheds

We've touched on bathing shed machines before but here's a particularly lovely example of them at Scarborough (where I first swam in the sea) from the National Maritime Museum via the intriguing Pruned blog ("On landscape architecture and related field") which in my ignorance is new to me but is really nicely done: think BLDG BLOG but a bit more horticultural.
Hat tip to James Alexander-Sinclair

Floating shed

We've been talking about building a floating garden office recently so here's a great example of a shed float...
Photo by SevEddie.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Last chance to enter fantasy shed/garden office competition


Time is running out for you to enter John's Fantasy Shed Competition over at Secrets of shed building. So far entries have included an eco-shed, a train shed, a recording studio, wood shed and storage shed/workshop. There’s room for lots more entries though! And when you submit your entry, don't forget to add your blog or web site URL so other visitors can browse your other work. My favourite so far is Rachel Green's Green Green Green Shed (pictured above) though I like the pure simplicity of D Derbyshire's Pure Sound Studio (below) inspired by Le Corbusier. Here's what (s)he says about it:
"This is my vision for my dream home recording studio. It is inspired by the work of the modernist architect Le Corbusier and its purity of design will hopefully inspire my recordings. Outside, the walls are white, completely flat and only broken by the horizontal band of flush-fitting, tinted windows. The effect is very simple, pure and striking and even the door is concealed - only revealed by a thin, vertical line in the end wall. The handle needs to be colour coded with the windows to hide it."

Shed Talk Forum

We mentioned the new Tiny House Forum yesterday but of course there is already a Shed Forum up and running run by Uncle Wilco of readersheds.co.uk and Shedblog fame. There's a section on Shed Working (though very thinly populated at the moment, it would be a good place to come together to share stuff) as well as plenty of other shed-related threads. Nip along and get chitchatting.

Ellis Nadler - The Sardine Factory

Ellis Nadler (pictured above inside his garden office) is a freelance illustrator with a simple graphic style who produces art in his shed which he calls The Sardine Factory. His intriguing art is viewable at his Daily Sketchbook pages, his art site and his illustrations site - have a look at them all because he has a wide range of styles and interests. Here's one of my recent favourites below.Ellis also installs art outside his shed too (pictured below).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rachel Sharp - shedworker

We don't feature enough of the creative output of shedworkers on Shedworking, something we're working on addressing over coming months. To set the ball rolling there is a nice feature on artist Rachel Sharp at the lovely Juliet Doyle's site Musings from a muddy island (indeed, Britain's most easterly inhabited island). Rachel talks about her work, her interest in colour and most importantly, her garden office studio:
"My husband and father-in-law renovated an old coal shed and turned it into a studio. It has special lighting and an exhaust fan for painting. It’s a pretty luxurious coal shed!"
Her latest show - Hilltops and Teapots - is now running at Peebles Art Centre to October 17 and you can see lots more of her paintings at her own site here.

Shed Style on tour

We reviewed Debra Prinzing's marvellous Stylish Sheds book last week here on Shedworking and now she's on tour with photographer William Wright and starting to post videos and audio clips on her Shed Style site. Here's a taster above.

Village Underground - carriageworking

The marvellous shedlike offices of Shoreditch-based Village Underground, which were on show over the weekend as part of Open House London, are highlighted by Bonnie Alter at Treehugger (where there are lots more photos). Covered with graffiti on the outside, slickly smart on the inside, these four ex-Tube carriages have been lobbed onto Victorian arches and turned into offices. Good Treehugger that she is, Bonnie points out that all the cars have carbon-neutral heat and power and are ecologically outfitted. The carriages/creative studios are part of what Village Underground describe as a new cultural space in the area. Shedworking at its finest. And at this rate we'll have to start up a new carriageworking site.

Tiny House Forum

Kent over at Tiny House Blog is organically building up his empire with the addition of a new Tiny House Forum. Here's what he says:
"Michael Janzen (tinyhousedesign.com) and I were talking a while back and it occurred to us the tiny house world probably could use a real Tiny House Forum. A forum is different than a blog. A blog is a bit more of a one way communication tool. Forums are for true discussions where everyone is on even footing."
I know he'd be delighted if you popped across and waded in - and I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you started chatting about shedlike atmospheres (after all, one (wo)man's garden office is another (wo)man's tiny house).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2009 shed calendar

It's not too early to be thinking about next year's calendar. Before you rush out and buy anything, consider one of Transglobal Emporium's marvellous Luxury Shed Calendars which contains key dates such as National Shed Week as well as useful reminders about looking after your shed through the year. Maybe we should ask them to do a Garden Office Calendar for 2010?

The Caravan Gallery


The Caravan Gallery is a mobile exhibition venue and visual arts project run by artists Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale who record ordinary and extraordinary details of life in 21st century Britain. As they say: "Eager to examine clichés and cultural trends, they are particularly drawn to absurd anomalies and curious juxtapositions, typical of places in transition and in the process of reinventing themselves." This is how they describe the Caravan Gallery itself:
"The Caravan Gallery, a diminutive mustard model (circa 1969), with white walls and beech floor on the inside (like a ‘real’ gallery), provides the perfect setting for an evolving exhibition of photographs made in response to places visited; at any one venue, location-specific work arising from a previous research visit is exhibited alongside other material from the Caravan Gallery archive."
The Caravan Gallery exhibits at an eclectic range of locations, rural, urban and suburban, from small-scale community events to major festivals and venues. The site - which explains their other work, including some unusual surveys - is well worth having a good nose around.

Jeff Shelton's huts

Californian architect Jeff Shelton has some lovely huts (and a charming site in general).
Via materialicious

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sverre Fehn - Outhouse of the Month


A welcome return to cracking outhouses with this beauty by Sverre Fehn highlighted by Aaron Britt at Dwell Blog. As Aaron says:
"Norwegian modernist Sverre Fehn was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1997, and what was that eminent architect’s first post-Pritzker commission? An outhouse... This rustic little country commode evokes both the local building traditions and the surrounding mountains with a tongue-in-cheek nod to the grander, if uneven, museum nearby."
Thanks to Lloyd 'A-frame' Alter for the alert

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Me and my garden office

Regular readers will probably know a little already about me and my garden office, but newer ones may want to nip along to Shedblog where I am interviewed by Uncle Wilco about my shed and shedworking.

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Bill Amberg - shedworker

Leather crafter and designer Bill Amberg talks about his garden office in the Observer's My Space slot. Interestingly he actively encourages his family to share it ("It's my space, but it's not private. The kids use it as a playground where they can create things - they're always down here making belts and funny bags on the workbench, and my wife Susie and I use it to throw parties"). No picture of his shed as yet, but he does make nice bags (above). I particularly like this comment too:
"Some people don't get it, of course - they think it's just a dark hole at the bottom of the garden. 'Getting the shed' isn't a test of friendship, but it's certainly encouraging if people do."
Well worth a browse.
Thanks to The Garden Monkey for the alert

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Five rules for homeworkers

Kate Spicer in the Sunday Times has a very nice piece about working from home. Nothing earthshattering, but nicely done. Her top five rules (in brief) are:
1 - Procrastination is the thief of time, and your only companion. Get used to the bugger
2 - Your working wardrobe can fit into a shoe box.
3 - Working from home is lonely, so it’s essential to have somewhere to go after work
4 - No woman is an island, no matter how many friends she has on Facebook
5 - Working from home is freedom and it is brilliant
Well worth a browse

Friday, September 19, 2008

Neil Gaiman - shedworker

Dashing writer Neil Gaiman (Stardust, The Sandman) is a shedworker (technically a gazeboworker) and has put up a photo of his rather nice shedlike atmosphere on his site here. There are several references to the gazebo elsewhere on his site, a spot he says is "the easiest place to write with a large white dog". The cages in the shot below are for blueberry bushes to keep the rabbits and the groundhogs out.Thanks to Kits and Mortar for the Twitterlert

The Shedworker's Bookshelf - Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways

It's an indication of just how good this book is that even without reading it, various friends of Shedworking have been in touch to ask whether I've heard about it. Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways is a cracking collaboration between writer Debra Prinzing (who also blogs at Shed Style) and photographer William Wright. Debra and Bill have whizzed all around the USA talking to owners of shedlike atmospheres and then taking really rather splendid pictures of them. It starts very promisingly by looking at various garden offices (including novelist Amy Bloom's great writing shack) and then goes on to look at more traditional potting sheds, summerhouses, follies and even mini banqueting rooms.

Two things make this book a standout. Firstly, the owners get to talk at length about the whys and wherefores of their sheds in some detail which is what we want to hear. With its comprehensive listings of materials used, creative build solutions and details of how the sheds were fitted out, this means it's actually a shed design bible. If you're looking for inspiration, there's a mass of it on almost every page.

Secondly, the photos are very clever. Obviously there are plenty of smashing general exterior shots - which are very welcome - but it's the small, detailed ones of the interiors which really bring these shedlike atmospheres to life. They complement the text so well that it's obvious that scribe and snapper have worked closely together: this is much more than a coffee table book but I guarantee all visitors to your home will pick it up and start saying 'Ooh' within five seconds of opening it. Indeed, it's hard to imagine somebody writing a better book about the joys of living and working small.

Pirates Haunt

To celebrate National Talk Like A Pirate Day, here's something swashbuckling from Barbara Butler. Shiver me timbers.

Around the shedworld

Tuvie likes the look of the uber shelter... The Independent examines shedlike atmospheres built of earth...Judit Bellostes casts an eye over the Berlin Box Cabin...Moulin de Clout has some lovely sheds from the Auvergne in its right hand column...Shedblog is turning into a bona fide shedworker...and also expanding the Just Sheds group on Flickr... This Old House talks to Tiny Texas Houses... Enterprise Nation has the lowdown on the numbers of freelancers in the UK... Home Office Warrior reveals whether people admit to being shedworkers... Chief Home Officer interviews Chuck Wilsker...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Treehugger gives sheds the thumbs up

Shed of the Year judge, friend of Shedworking and owner of a truly fine outhouse, Lloyd Alter has a great rundown of the delights of garden offices and other shedlike atmospheres at Treehugger. As a general introduction to the wonderful world of life at the end of the garden/yard, it's the best I've seen (and he also says some very kind things about Shedworking). Well worth a browse.

A traditional launderette in the creative economy

According to The Ultimate Office Visionator from Orgatec that's the kind of office space I really want to work in. It's a great little test thingy which "uses today's preferences concerning living and working conditions to generate individual and collective visions of the office work of tomorrow". So if you "wish to find out which office visions of the future will meet your personal lifestyle and working habits" and are "someone who would find ideal working conditions in a high-tech hot-air balloon" or "you wish deep down to work in the unconventional atmosphere of a submersible" then this is ideal for some coffeetime fun (although I'm a bit jealous of Justin at materialicious who gets to work on a houseboat).