Monday, August 10, 2009


It's back-to-school time for some and for the rest of us, a time to get organized nonetheless. Tradition? Perhaps. Force of habit? Not sure. But reorganizing our lives at the end of summer feels as natural as spring cleaning.

I'm focused on my desktop. With new projects at hand, those unsightly piles have to make way for sketch pads and model building as well as some video equipment. Yet, as appealing as a clean slate may be, any decorating in the office has to embrace the creative process.

My piles can actually be efficient. Professional organizers suggest leaving papers visible until they're no longer needed. The difficulty lies in limiting the depth of these piles. What I need is a system that keeps their height down to a few essential papers. Or better yet, I'd like to find a way for those papers to stand up straight and stare me down. I imagine them next to a certain photo of my great grandmother—her expression stern, her arms bent on her hips— ensuring that I pay every scribble and tear sheet its due respect.

I need a message board. Badly.Or something that will function as one. But I can't work in a space that feels like a cubicle. Mouse just wouldn't find that homey. I thought of hiding a bulletin board behind closet doors but I know I'd never open it. Distance only makes tasks grow more yonder. What I'm really after is the design equivalent of my great-grandmother's gaze in that photo— a subtlety so persuasive there's no need to shout.

Visiting the Russell + Hazel flagship store in Minneapolis I saw that anything with a frame is a potential message board. A picture frame leaned against the wall, or even an upholstered giltwood headboard above.Take away any evidence of cork or upholstery and my little post-it center grows even further discreet.

I'm thinking of a lady's dressing room, where photos and other souvenirs are quickly tucked into a mirror's frame. I found a few wall mirrors atLayla Grace that also happen to be magnetic boards, including the faux-aged mirror above, top whose golden botanical decoration includes coordinating brass magnets. Taking a truly luxurious route, I also located a message board by Christofle below in the sharp, modern style of their Fidelio frames sold with sassy silver magnets. (Notice how Mouse has already begun decorating this). Or maybe that frame could be architectural, like a wall panel? Or the panel on a piece of furniture?

Delving into the depths of my piles, can any of these beautiful boards be my solution? Or am I only adding another surface to clutter? Maybe organization is, like decorating, best conceived in layers. The "to-do" notes sited nearest, "tomorrows" just behind, and "somedays" on the horizon. A desk with tiers? or shelves above? All encased as furniture? And a bulletin board to one side, as if those post-its were eyes staring over my shoulder? Food for thought...stay tuned to see what our renovations yield.

(photo of black and white office with Graham Secretary Desk above via Pottery Barn; Christofle magnet board also available at Vivre).

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