Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year to all our readers

A quick thank you to all readers of Shedworking and The Shed magazine and particular thank yous to: Uncle Wilco at readersheds/shedblog for all his help, both shedrelated and technical plus his superlative efforts in organising the first National Shed Week; to Lloyd and Justin for their many suggestions and kind words; to Scott and Clare for championing the Shedworking book; to Emma and San for their homeworking expertise; and to everybody who's emailed, written, phoned, skyped, lost to me at Scrabulous and indeed visited during 2007. It's been a pleasure meeting you all and I hope we get to do it all again in 2008.
Image of The Shepheardes Calendar by Hilda Quick (The Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume I edited by Professer W. L. Renwick, 1930) courtesy of the rather nice FromOldBooks

It's a desk, it's a sofa, it's a bed

Shedworking is a sucker for multitasking furniture so we were struck by the Warhol Sofa from designer Simone Brewster, a desk/bed/sofa.
Via Treehugger

Expected curtain

Make your shed look busy with this marvellous Expected Curtain by Mino Kodama: the screen printed silhouettes of people on a white curtain disappear during dalight and become visible at night when you turn on the lights inside.
Via CubeMe

Friday, December 28, 2007

Alpine shed from Lighthouse Sheds

We've covered Kevin Pezzi's intriguing lighthouse sheds before, but he has now come up with a rather nice Alpine shed with an office on the second storey and four nice large windows. He is currently putting in a custom hardwood floor using local maple trees and in the centre of the floor will be a custom inlay of a rooster, using a variety of colorful wood species from around the world.And for those of you who missed the earlier post, this is his lighthouse shed.

Michael Jantzen's backyard office/studio

Following up yesterday's post on Michael Jantzen's M-velope Two, here is his take on the backyard office/studio which again can change shape according to your exact needs over two storeys.

Around the shedworld

Enterprise Nation makes its predictions for home businesses in 2008... Mary comes up with eight good reasons for building your own shed... CubeMe reports on a rather nice portable petrol station (pictured above) by Jean Prouve... CNN Money looks at the rise and rise of coworking... Materialicious points the way to interesting Icelandic turf houses... Trendhunter looks at the delight of homebuilt 'bat caves'...

Friggebod Friday - Skåne Christmas market

I’ve been busy out and about like most others doing my Christmas shopping and preparing for the annual mid winter festival, writes Shedworking' Northern Europe correspondent Sy Willmer. Never one to miss a shed retail opportunity I visited this Scandinavian shed market in Skåne, Sweden, where I found that traditional Lapland reindeer herder’s hat my Gran asked for and the book detailing herring pickling through the ages for my cousins in Australia.After a good dose of retail therapy I refuelled on German style schnitzel and mould wine, all on site, then I was home in time for the Abba documentary (I kid you not). Lovely examples of what can be done with the format of a temporary city market, much more cosy for the men and women running them than an open sided market stall. So the 10 points once again go to la Suède.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Michael Jantzen's M-velope Two

While Michael Jantzen's M-velope (see below) is quite rightly attracting plenty of attention, it's his M-velope Two (pictured above) that's of more interest to Shedworking since it looks far more at home in a garden atmosphere. Made of wood, the shape can be altered according to your need, block the wind, add shade, etc.Jantzen calls the M-velope a "functional art design" and a "transformable structure" created to provide a special place in which to meditate. He explains how it works:
"The shape and interior light quality of the M-velope can be changed by folding the surface of the structure into many different combinations. Each plane of the surface of the structure is covered with panels that are subdivided in different ways. These panels are hinged to each other, and to the main support frame. Each panel can be moved and easily attached to the main support frame with pins at two locations."
Its floor area is eight feet square, and the height is about 12 feet, the whole thing built on a steel support frame with slatted panels made of our old friend sustainably grown western red cedar. Its prefab and no foundations are necessary. Via Yanko Design

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas to all our readers

“Yo ho, my boys,” said Fezziwig. “No more work to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer. Let’s have the shutters up,” cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of his hands, “before a man can say Jack Robinson.”
Shutters open again on December 27.

Top 10 shedworking films - part 1

Shedworking reader Starskier suggested that we put together a list of the top 10 films featuring shedworking atmospheres. So here are our first five:
1. Notes From A Scandal (2006)
Pottery teacher Sheba Hart not only has an impressively-kitted out studio at her school, she also has a very nice shed at the bottom of her garden at home which is pleasantly bohemian without being too much.2. Mahler (1974)
Ken Russell's look at the great composer's life includes a dramatic scene when one of his composing huts (he had three) whooshes up in flames.
3. The Green Man (1956)
Alastair Sim's clockmaking terrorist has a shed workshop in his back garden from where he and his Scottish accomplice McKechnie plot the end of pompous MP Sir Gregory Upshott.4. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Alec Guiness's young Henry D'Ascoyne is keen on photography (and sherry) and enjoys them both in a shed in the grounds of his country estate - until Dennis Price's Louis turns the shed into a bomb...5. Grow Your Own
A year in the life of the Blacktree Road alloments and its allotmenteers - including newcomers - features many fine sheds and a draconian rule that all sheds must be painted the same colour

We'll bring you the next five in the New Year, but if you have any suggestions, please do leave them as comments or email direct. The image at the top of this post is courtesy of The Shed at Hovingham, near York, a first class bijou venue for poetry and music which also puts on films and hands out free popcorn.

Bosch & Fjord - 'plug and play'

Shedworking likes Bosch & Fjord’s vision for Innovation Lab’s workspace at Copenhagen’s IT University, what they call a ‘plug and play’ answer to furniture design: large shipping crates contain a variety of office modules including a kitchen and three different types of workstation. Crates can be combined to form bigger spaces and each one is delivered by truck, unloaded, installed and can be packed away again easily if and when necessary. Packing and unpacking takes only two hours. “The furniture system considers the diversity and individuality of the employees,” say Bosch & Fjord. “It is a consequence of the modern corporate need for flexibility and innovation.” Bosch & Fjord have done lots of other interesting workspace designs including some for Lego in Billund - pictured below is their 'picnic room' which is rather nice.Office Snapshots is a marvellous site for interesting workspace designs (not many are shedworking ones specifically, but plenty are rather ingenious).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Around the shedworld

Alchemy Architects have unleashed a lovely redesigned web site for their weehouse... Mary's Greened House Building Adventure is really getting going despite rotten weather... Pyjama Room has lots of loungewear ideas for some slinky shedworking... Chief Home Officer feels the new Microsoft ad is mocking stay-at-home dads... The Wallbed Workshop has some great wallbed/desk conversions... Working From Home With Kids is a blog all about... the winners of the Bat House Project to design a home for bats in London (pictured above) were Jorgen Tandberg and Yo Murata, 4th year undergraduate students at the Architectural Association... The Times reports in the growing interest in studio living... Shedblog reports on a great take on the Hawaiian bar... Home Office Warrior wants a USB cup warmer, pictured below (don't we all)...

Light-emitting wallpaper

When it comes to accessories, Shedworking has three particular favourites - sheds which rotate, interesting chairs, and wallpaper. Here's some marvellous light-emitting wallpaper by Jonas Samson: turn it on and you don't need any lamps in your garden office (maybe), turn it off and it looks just like normal wallpaper. Smashing.
Via the style files

Enterprise Nation - first video podcast

Readers of Shedworking will know that we think Enterprise Nation is the bees' knees for all homeworkers. Their podcasts over the last six months have been increasingly impressive and they're not letting the grass grow under their feet either - they've just launched the first in their new video podcast series featuring Emma Jones, San Sharma and journalist Bruce McMichael. Click above to join in the festive frolics.

How to set up a home office in 29 seconds

21st century Bach

Every country has its own national shed lingo and in New Zealand they call small structures like beach huts or small holiday homes a 'bach' (pronounced 'batch'). And there are some great designs on the market for prospective bach buyers. Above is the Aqua Bach, a fully trailable house boat with blue perspex on all sides by Dan Rivers and Andy Kemp. It has four sliding doors open to all areas of the deck and is powered by a 60Hp 4Stroke engine with a high thrust propeller. Inside is a kitchen, two double beds, shower and a self-sufficient electrical system which uses solar panel and house storage batteries separate from the motor battery. And they market it very much as a shedworking space saying:
"AquaBach will be the venue that your staff or client will be talking about for years. Picture the perfect day on a nearby lake and hold staff meetings or client functions upon which all invited will love you forever."
The Port-a-Bach comes from Atelier Workshop and is secure and portable with room to sleep two adults and two children. It claims to be power, water and sewer independent, and like other container/push button models, unfolds to create a shedworking space and refolds to create a secure unit for storage or relocation.The shell is steel and inside is a kitchen, beds, cupboards, bathroom and a fabric screen system to make 'rooms'.Finally, there's the ipad from New Zealand architect Andre Hodgskin. who specifically says it could be used as an office/studio space.It's a light kit (manufactured off-site and then transported or shipped as a kit and then erected in situ) which can also be grouped to make larger accommodation (each ipad is 50m sq with decks of 55m sq). There are various external cladding and colour options are available to suit individual taste and context.Many thanks to John Chapman from New Zealand for these suggestions.

Harry Ramsden's fish and chip shed

The giant of the fish and chip world, Harry Ramsden's, started off in a hut. As Shedblog reports, today in 1928, Harry Ramsden started up the business in a hut (pictured above) in Guiseley, near Leeds. He continued there for three years before upgrading to something rather larger with chandeliers. The original hut stands on the original site, next to the main restaurant.
Picture via Nick's Lifeblog

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nils Holger Moormann: Lese+Lebe plus bookinist

Two marvellous shedworking pieces of furniture from the man who also produced the faboulous Walden. First, Lese+Lebe, which Nils describes as "‘Hieronymus im Gehäuse’, a beach chair on the sea, a Lokomotive dining compartment... An escape in the room, which invites you to just sit down and relax while having a cup of tea and browsing in your favourite book." It's a two-seater with fold-down table, shelf, drawers and extendable footrests. Very nice.And then the Bookinist a chair on wheels with room for 80 paperbacks in the arms and backrest plus reading lamp and hidden compartments for bookmarks, pencils, pencil sharpeners and pocketbock. Also very nice.

Warwick Collins - shedworker

Although better known in Europe than the UK (at the moment) the very personable novelist Warwick Collins is the author of, among others, the widely-acclaimed Gents. He is also a shedworker and was kind enough to answer a few questions for Shedworking.

What kind of shed/garden office do you have?

About 8 years ago I had recently sold film rights for my novel The Rationalist and, unusually flush, I engaged a local architect to build a brick studio at the end of the garden, in amongst the trees there. It was built like a house, with insulation between walls, on a raft of reinforced concrete so the tree roots wouldn’t undermine it. The photograph is taken in midwinter, so you can’t see how surrounded by foliage it is in summer and autumn.Why did you get it and why do you like working in it?
I like walking out of the house to a separate place of work which, even though it’s only a few yards from the house, seems like an entirely different sphere. I don’t have a mobile telephone and in the shed I have no communications, so it’s a little oasis of peace and concentration.
What, if anything, don't you like about it?

I’m afraid I like virtually every aspect of it. It would be even better if I were remotely tidy or well-organised, but that’s my failing, not the shed’s!

At the severe risk of sounding like Alan Partridge, do you have any funny or unusual shed-related stories?
The tree overhanging the shed is a walnut tree. This is much prized by the local squirrels in the mid-summer when the walnuts ripen. I have no objection to the squirrels taking all the nuts, except that they insist on eating them on the branches above, scattering the green husks all over the terrace. Walnut is a famous stain, too, and the mess looks disgusting, even to a person of my tolerance of disorder. To encourage the squirrels to eat their spoils elsewhere, I have a very strong water-pistol (little things please little minds) and since squirrels are truculent by nature, I have a running battle through the summer which I claim gives all parties innocent exercise. Once I was chasing a squirrel running along the garden wall and I slipped on some moss and nearly cracked my head. I’m glad it wasn’t worse, not least for the embarrassment of explaining the details to the medical world. I could envisage headlines in the local newspaper. WRITER HOSPITALISED AFTER PERSECUTING SQUIRREL WITH WATER PISTOL.

Been Seen - Vero's cabin

Been Seen is an intriguing site which often features shedlike atmospheres such as the Arkiboat by Drew Heath pictured right at the end of this post (also responsible for the rather nice Zig Zag cabin). And I'm delighted to learn that the nerve centre of Been Seen is Veronique's garden office, pictured above and below.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tiny Buildings

Tiny Buildings is a marvellous site which is microarchitecture at a very micro level run by Sharon Mount, models made from business cards, packaging and other nice papers. Above is a replica of log cabin, in the woods near Falls Church, Virginia (the business card is from Blue Hill@Stone Barn restaurant and organic farm in the Hudson Valley, north of Manhattan), below is a Toblerone chalet. Not only worth a long browse, there's a lovely Christmas theme to the construction - and the story behind them is told simply and movingly. This is how it starts:
"In the 1970s, when our children were young, my husband, James Mount, started a collection of tiny buildings - made from odds-and-ends cardboard packaging. The original idea was for them to be Christmas decorations - to be placed over tiny white lights on our tree, or to gather on a side table as a little village. Each holiday, James would add to our collection. A few were given to friends, but most rested in an attic-stored box through most of the year...escaping for Christmas, to our delight."

Via materialicious


If you're really stuck for room in your garden office, how about doubling up bookcase and workpod space with Sakura Adachi's Cave. According to Sakura: "A bookcase CAVE provides a private reading space within its form. As a seat height is just above the floor, CAVE gives a feeling of hiding from others standing around it. Books can be stored on both sides."
Via Trendhunter

Shepherd's Hut Tuesday - Shepherd's Hut Restoration Company

Wiltshire-based The Shepherd's Hut Restoration Company has been producing huts since 2002. They make customised, authentically restored huts on wheels using original materials such as cast iron wheels and corrugated iron, sourced and salvaged locally in Wiltshire. There are plenty of inspiring images on the site to browse around.
Pictures: Matthew Davison