Workspace | The Sleep Shirt’s Alexandra Suhner Isenberg – Part 1

The Anthology’s Workspace column takes us inside the very creative spaces of some very creative people.

I distinctly remember when Alexandra Suhner Isenberg started her massively popular sleepwear line The Sleep Shirt (which you might have seen on Oprah’s Favorite Things, goop, or in Barney’s). We were in an editorial meeting at Vitamin Daily (now Vita Daily), where she was fashion editor and I was lifestyle editor at the time, and she’d just come back from London. There, at Spitalfield’s, she’d found an 19th century dressing gown not unlike one Karl Lagerfeld reportedly wore.

Her concept? To create a modern version of the classic piece in high-end materials with impeccable made-in-Canada finishes. Now, she’s done all that and more. She’s expanded the line, moved to the South of Sweden and commutes back and forth to Canada, where The Sleep Shirt is still made.

Here, the designer takes us inside her Swedish studio in her own words.

My work day typically starts at 7:15, once my husband has left with the kids (he does the school drops, I do the dog walking) and then I start working right away, in my nightshirt, of course. After getting through emails I go for a run or walk with my husky mutt Wanda, and then shower and get dressed. The rest of the day is work, emails, and meetings, until everyone gets home around 4:30. I usually end up doing another hour or so of work after dinner or when the kids go to bed. That’s the trouble of working in a different time zone… While it is sometimes hard to draw a line between work life and home life when you have an office at home, the fact that I have a dedicated room on the other side of the house means it does feel separate.

It’s taken me two years to figure out what I wanted to do with this space. It’s a fairly big office but the closets on one side and doors and windows on the other make it impractical for uses other than a bedroom. It’s on the ground floor of our house and the door leads out to the backyard which is perfect so I can let Wanda in and out during the day. I decided that the majority of the furniture would lie along the long wall and the rest of the space would be fairly bare.

I know it sounds cliché to say I wanted the office to be good looking and functional, but isn’t that the case for most home design now? It isn’t that hard to make a room look good, but to make it truly functional as well is much more difficult. It’s important, during a busy week, that I have places I can just throw paperwork or fabric swatches that haven’t yet been stored, without making the place look like a mess. I’ve stored things according to how often I use them, and the long countertop area over the cupboards serves as a space to put things when they come in, before they are put away. The desk is adjustable; I usually work standing in the morning and sitting later on.

The furniture is mostly Ikea or vintage auction. Not exactly the most inspiring stuff but when you need functional storage to fit exact measurements, Ikea is usually the best place to go. I’ve also got plans to get some window coverings as the light can be bright during the day. The door leads outside to the yard and also to our garage and storage room, so I keep a pair of clogs handy in case I need to go outside. Everyone in Sweden has clogs, and to be honest, there isn’t a better shoe to slip on if you need to run out to the garage, grab something from the garden, or put the garbage out.

One wall is all closets which stores packaging materials and a few personal things (my coats). The sewing machine is a hand me down from my mother in law. I’ve never had a house where the sewing machine is always out and ready to use, now that I’ve got it, it’s much easier to do quick projects. And if there is someone else working with me in the office, the machine can be moved that the desk can be used for a laptop. The magnetic white board is for storing current collection information and the boxes and cupboards hold stationary, fabric swatches, and other office or packaging supplies.

The board and letter cups are from design letters, it’s a series designed with Arne Jacobsen’s letters and they are so cute. The art wall is the inspiring part of the office, and it’s a work in progress. There’s room for more items and it will grow. There are also a few kids crafts in the room, around the sewing machine and on the magnetic board.

You’ll find the latest collections of The Sleep Shirt here and their just-in-time-for-the-holidays gift boutique here. Up next in The Anthology’s Workspace column: Alexandra’s Vancouver studio.

[Photos by Alexandra Suhner Isenberg, portrait of Alexandra by Nicole Gurney]

P.S. Know someone (like, say…you!) who needs an excuse to tidy up their super stylish desk? Send a note to KDundon@TheAnthology.ca — we’d love to see your workspace!

Thing of Beauty | The Saje Diffuser

William Morris said “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” In The Anthology’s new Thing of Beauty column, we highlight the objects that check both boxes.

I’m a creature of habit. And ritual. Before I start writing, I like things to be just so.

My desk needs to be tidy(ish). My Spotify Psybient playlist needs to be pulsing through my Urbanears headphones. And as of my most recent birthday (when I got this as a gift), my Saje ultrasonic diffuser needs to be diffusing the sweet scents of the mountains throughout my office.

It’s become almost as critical to my workday as my laptop. Almost.

#TBT | Vintage Shopping Cheat Sheet

I have a bone to pick with Marie Kondo. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is great and all. Clearing out clutter really can be freeing. Living a more minimalist lifestyle can be liberating. Blah blah blah.

But I’ve learned the hard way that there is an exception to that rule: Do not donate your vintage pieces.

When I look back at posts like this one from several years ago, I am reminded of the vintage wedding dresses and leather skirts and sequin blazers I wore and loved and subsequently donated in a fit of KonMari-ing.

And you know what? I wish I’d shoved them to the back of my closet instead.

My kids’ baskets and baskets of toys, on the other hand? I couldn’t possibly KonMari those fast enough.

Pinstagram | P.S. I love you

The Anthology’s Pinstagram column marries the dream (Pinterest) and the reality (Kelsey Dundon’s Instagram feed).

If you look at it through the eyes of a preschooler, spilled nail polish counts as abstract art.

Until I go back there I’m going to keep singing the praises of the unsung hero of the Hawaiian islands: Honolulu, which I’m guessing would be a great spot for biking. (By the way, I wrote a PSA in an attempt to convince you to visit the city.)

P.S. I love you might my favourite tourism slogan, and I can’t wait to fly back to Palm Springs in a few months.

Two years ago some friends and I started a book club and it’s been going strong ever since. Right now we’re reading the Handmaid’s Tale (thank you, Chapters, for sending it my way!) and I just realized we’ve never actually read any poetry. Maybe that’ll be next?

Making waves and surfing the waves: two of the very best ways to spend a summer afternoon.

P.S. There are more photos where these came from so follow @KelseyDundon on Instagram.

Workspace | Writer and Editor Erin McGann’s Mobile German Office

The Anthology’s Workspace column takes us inside the very creative spaces of some very creative people.

I am dying to go traveling overseas, but I’m too chicken to do it with a toddler and a preschooler. Erin McGann, however, is not afraid of traveling — or moving — overseas with a family. Here, the freelance writer and editor, who chronicles expat family life on her blog, shares her rotating workspace in her own words…

Since we moved to Heidelberg, Germany, I’ve not had a dedicated office space. There’s a desk in our living room I share with my husband when he’s working at home, and I sometimes work in the kitchen. Or on the bed!

I often work for a couple hours in a coffee shop after I drop off my son at his bilingual German school, though I’m not as spoiled for choice as I would be in Vancouver — free wifi is not as common here. My favourite spot is Coffee Nerd, though I can only drink one of their coffees or I will be vibrating until 10pm. My Swiss friend can drink two in a row with no ill effects and it blows my mind.

When I work in the living room…

-We have a plain Ikea wood worktop with simple legs, because three overseas moves makes Ikea your best friend.

-Our drone, a DJI Mavic Pro, that we are learning to make some interesting little travel films with, like this one.

-Some travel and history books about Heidelberg, as I’m just finishing recording an audio tour for the lovely little German city we call home now.

-My “I love London” muc, which came from Anthropologie. We spent seven years living in London, and it was where my son was born, so it will always hold a large piece of my heart.

-A signed print by Tony Cliff we picked up at the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival. He writes and draws the excellent Delilah Dirk graphic novels, and lives in Vancouver.

When I work in the kitchen…

-I often work in here when I’m editing long policy papers (one of my other freelance hats, we all have ten of those, right?), and I need my laptop up at eye level so my shoulders don’t seize up. This stand has a couple different configurations. It’s made by a Danish startup called Flio.

-The table is made from old wood rescued from a 19th-century Steveston warehouse. We had it made for us by Vancouver Reclaimed when we first moved back from London.

-The wall art is actually fabric from Ikea’s Svartan line, a collaboration between textile designer Martin Bergstrom and fashion students from India.

-I have an irrational love for this head planter, which I picked up from Etsy.

-The mini bell jar came from this terrific store called Flying Tiger Cophenhagan — I am totally obsessed with their bonkers products.

Want to know what Erin writes from all these workspaces? You’ll find plenty of tips and tricks for travelling in Europe (with or without kids) on her blog Erin at Large.

[First photo by the French Californian, 2nd – 6th photos by Erin McGann, last photo by Saffron Consultants]

P.S. Know someone (like, say…you!) who needs an excuse to tidy up their super stylish desk? Send a note to KDundon@TheAnthology.ca — we’d love to see your workspace!

Parallelograms | Make it a pARTy!

 As soon as I launched Parallelograms, I got a ton of questions asking about art parties — or pARTies — for a group of friends. Which might just be the most fun idea ever.

So with the help of my PR-y sister Larissa I’m going to be throwing our first Parallelograms pARTy. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Expect some Parallelograms pARTies in your future, is what I’m saying.

Thing of Beauty | The Oskar Humidifier

William Morris said “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” In The Anthology’s new Thing of Beauty column, we highlight the objects that check both boxes.

Ever since I read this post on Cup of Jo, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of getting a humidifier in a desperate attempt to improve our kids’ sleep. (Then again, I’m obsessed with any toddler/preschooler-related sleep hack.) But my kids’ rooms are in such a constant state of toys everywhere chaos, I didn’t want to add anything that felt like visual clutter.

Which is where the Oskar humidifier comes in.

This handsome piece doesn’t actually look like a humidifier at all — it could very well be a super sleek speaker or some sort of Apple product.

And it’s one of those pieces that’ll grow with a family. It’ll fit in with any light, bright kids’ room decor, just as easily as it could fit in with any calm, monochromatic bedroom. So you can rest easy knowing it’ll be with you for the long haul.

Thank you, Eco Brands Now, for sending it my way!

The Anthology | Now more beach-friendly!

If The Anthology looks a little bit different, it’s because it is. I finally got around to giving the cobbler’s kids some shoes and have made it more mobile-friendly.

And by “I” I mean my web guy. Thank you, Dana, as always, for all your web dev help!

 

Workspace | Publicist Carine Redmond’s Office Version 2.0

The Anthology’s Workspace column takes us inside the creative spaces of some very creative people.

Carine Redmond deserves full credit for bringing back The Anthology’s Workspace column. The Vancouver-based publicist’s gummy worm-covered desk was one of my favourite features back in the day. And when that Facebook memory popped up in my feed, I remembered how much I love creeping on people’s creative spaces.

So here we are! In Carine’s stunning new light-filled office. Shot by Vancouver-based photographer Whitney Krutzfeldt, the candy’s much fancier, the Kardashians are much more prominent, plus now there’s a puppy!

The Anthology: Wait. I recognize that globe.

Carine Redmond: It’s the same one! Jillian Harris used it for a shoot (I can’t remember what for) I was working on years ago and afterwards I went to Country Furniture and immediately purchased it like a little copycat. It’s my favourite item on my desk and has made it through many moves.

Working with Etsy, I spend a lot of days perusing product online. The ‘relationship status Avocado’ mug is so funny to me and all of my notebooks, cards, and most of my office accessories are from Etsy.

I still get my photos printed and like to keep recent ones on my desk – I switch them out periodically. I LOVE my white desk chair. An ex boyfriend bought it for me but I can’t part with it so I just tell myself it was a gift from my puppy.

TA: Do you seriously have that candy on your desk all day?

CR: I usually do, mostly because the Sugarfina stuff is so cute. I try to force it on visitors so that I don’t eat it. Often the girls who work for me.

TA: You read good ol’ fashioned printed magazines!

CR: I read books and magazines online like everybody else but still like to have hard copies – so if I really want to read something I buy a non digital version. I peruse magazines for pitch ideas and inspiration and tear sheets out for my vision boards (seriously).

TA: When are you most productive?

CR: I’m most productive work wise in the AM (7am-12pm). I try to do any real writing, editing and creative work before logging onto email. If I do that then I am able to spend the rest of the day in meetings and on calls and answering the flood of emails.

TA: How do you stay organized when you’re juggling a million clients and projects?

CR: By keeping a clean email inbox. I live and die by this rule. Keep what you need to tackle in your inbox and file everything else away. Clutter makes me crazy and that includes digital clutter.

TA: KKW! (I guess that’s more of a statement than a question!)

CR: Kim Kardashian has always done the best nude lip and I spent years trying to copy it and recreate it. Naturally, I had to get her KKW x Kylie Cosmetics nude lip kit. I love the Kardashians and still watch the show, not in an ironic way. Sorry guys!

TA: What’s the hardest thing about working for yourself?

CR: Managing other people, and all the accounting – my least favourite part of running a business.

TA: What are you most excited about right now work-wise?

CR: So much! Summer is fun for us because we have a lot of events. We’re helping Grey Goose with their Sunset Soiree events in Western Canada this August and as you can imagine, those are big and extravagant and include vodka so fun is had by all.

TA: Tell us about Tim Riggins: the man, the myth, the beagle!

CR: Tim Riggins spends his days trying to climb up on my desk and look out the window. Truth be told, it’s hard to get much work done with him around so I keep his social calendar packed during the week!

Carine Redmond handles the Western Canada PR for national and global lifestyle brands like Etsy, Parallel 49 Brewing Company, The Dailey Method, the Bentall Kennedy Group, India Rose Cosmeticary and the Chatters Style Happy tour. When she’s not at work, Carine’s usually watching reruns of Friday Night Lights, catching up on all things Kardashian or photographing her beagle pup Tim Riggins.

[Photos by Whitney Krutzfeldt]

P.S. Know someone (like, say…you!) who needs an excuse to tidy up their super stylish desk? Send a note to KDundon@TheAnthology.ca — we’d love to see your workspace!