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Where Creativity Lives: Take A Look Inside The Homes Of Top Creatives From Around The World

Global creatives from top agencies, Airbnb, and Spotify give us a look at their homes and talk about the inspiration that they draw from their personal spaces.

From the home of Nick Law, Global Chief Creative Officer, R/GA

[Photo: courtesy of Nick Law]

With features like half-pipes and superdesks, the offices of companies in the "creative industries" are designed to spur invention (or at least keep workers at work longer). But creative thinking isn't confined to the address on your business card. Work, inevitably, follows us all home.

Whether you're a work-at-home freelancer or, like most of us, your work and home lives just sort of blend into one tech-enabled continuum, your home is your office. And even if you observe a strict me-time ethic once you arrive at home, your casa is both creative canvas and source of inspiration. In the pages of Co.Create we explore all aspects of the creative process, including how and where people work and get inspired. And so we've asked some accomplished creative players from NYC, San Francisco, Paris, London, and beyond to open their homes to us and talk about their personal space, and how it reflects their style and informs their work.

Tobias van Schneider, Art Director, Spotify

Tobias van Schneider, Art Director, Spotify

How would you describe your home—either its design esthetic or just how you see it and what you love about it?

I would say it's more practical and casual. I love that we (my girlfriend and I) have very different pieces of furniture; there is something casual and authentic about it that makes it feel like home. Most of the pieces just came into the apartment over the years so there was never a specific vision or planning involved from the beginning. What I love most about the apartment is that we have windows on both sides. In the morning, sun is flooding into the kitchen and eating room, and in the afternoon we have the sun coming into our living- and bedroom.

What are a few of your favorite things (art, furniture, etc.) or spaces, and why?

My favorite space in the apartment is definitely in the living room in my Eames Chair, especially sitting in the sun in the afternoon when the sun is coming in, relaxing and reading a book.

Where do you work at home (assuming you work at home)?

I do work a lot at home and mostly at my desk where I'm surrounded with lots of inspiration of things I like, or projects I worked on myself. That's where I get most of my work done. Otherwise I like to sit in the kitchen with my iPad and a cup of tea—that's where I get most of my emails done.

Chuck McBride, CCO, Founder, San Francisco-based agency Cutwater

Chuck McBride, CCO of Cutwater, and his Family

How would you describe your home and what you love about it?

I have to say, California architecture during the '50s hit an all time low. So it wasn't the architecture. It's a flat roof ranch. Not a planned neighbor house. But close. A box really. A box that happens to capture the southern exposure with reflective light from a lagoon in the back. It was the light that captured our imagination—the bounce off the water fills the house during the winter. It's like the northern lights on your ceiling. My son, then maybe 12, said to me as we walked into the living room filled with this light for the first time, "Dad, you have to get this house." And so we did. The rest has been a work in progress. Decks, windows, paint, and floors and counter tops. Surfaces, colors, and textures. A water theme my wife, who designed the interior (she has her own design company, Vanessa McBride Design) dubbed Modern Beach Bohemian.

What are a few of your favorite things or spaces and why?

We found a giant antique Buddha head from Thailand that floats on a Lucite box in the corner by the windows at a salvage yard. It was one of those things where you see it and go wow, lets get that. And once you put it in the room, everything stems from it. So we found a long teak coffee table and teak day bed to match. A little Bali in Larkspur.

I had been collecting cool paintings, more graphic art, from surf shops and local artists on along the coast. So the water theme jumps from the walls.

Where do you work at home?

The back deck is probably the most lived-in part of the house. With the weather we enjoy in Marin, as opposed to San Francisco, it's like living in Southern California. That is where you will find me. I have a few writing spots on either end. In case nothing comes to pen in one place, I change out to the other. A weird habit but location changes things.

I also sit and write at the kitchen island, believe it or not. Nothing like pounding out scripts late at night sitting in the kitchen. Feels like home to me.

Joanna Monteira, VP, Creative Director, FCB Brazil

Joanna Monteira, VP, Creative Director, FCB Brazil

How would you describe your home?

I like living in a duplex because it has space. My bookshelf is a picture for me. She tells a little of my story: my books , photos, things that I brought from different parts of the world. I do not like a house full of things. Space is good to create, to imagine, and good for my daughter to dance.

What are a few of your favorite things or spaces and why?

I really like some pieces of art that I have at home besides the ones made by my seven-year-old daughter. I (chose) two works that I love: A "Rita Lee" photograph, the biggest Brazilian rocker, who revolutionized music in the '60s with the group "Os Mutantes" during the Tropicalia movement. The picture is made by João Bittar, great Brazilian photographer (1951-2011).

The "Rita Lee" photograph

And the work of a contemporary artist named Herbert Sobral, who is getting famous in the world with a series of works made with Playmobil and then photographed. The work I have at home is The Favela that is part of the series "Violence is no joke."

Where do you work at home?

I love my table. I work, eat, watch TV, read, make homework with my daughter, everything around the table.

Kate Stanners, Creative Partner, Saatchi & Saatchi London

If I'm working at home I will be in one of two modes. Catching up on emails, which I like to do at the kitchen table, so I can sit there with my son while he does his homework. It makes me feel quietly connected, and allows us to chat at the end of the day.

If I want to be quiet, and I am needing to think, I will work at this desk. It's at the front of the house, and has a large painting of my husband and son above it, by David le Fleming.

This picture presides over the kitchen table. It is by a Bahamian artist called Amos Ferguson, and while I am not of a particular religion, I love the three stories captured in one painting. It reminds me of wonderful family holidays on Harbour Island and brings some sunshine to grey London mornings."

Fred Raillard and Farid Mokart, founders and chief creative officers of Paris- and Shanghai-based Fred & Farid Group

Farid's Home

How would you describe your home and what you love about it?

My home is filled with energies that emanate from where we come from. Paris more than France, Algeria, and Colombia which is my wife's country, and all the countries where we built our life together such as England, the U.S., and China. Its center is in Paris, in a Haussmannian esthetic that unifies all the different cultures. I have moved house several times, but much like a tortoise who carries its shell everywhere, my soul/spirit follows wherever I go. Its universe stays cohesive whilst growing with new elements that arise from new experiences. It's a refuge of tranquility, where the vibrations are positive.

What are a few of your favorite things or spaces and why?

The value of an object for me is based on my feelings towards it, (things) that are anchored in a story. The Buddha, a gift from Fred when he returned to France for the first time following his move to China is a spiritual long-distance bluetooth that alleviates my mood. The bar piece was designed by my wife for my birthday, and shines her watchful and kind light on our couple and on myself. I am lucky to be very well surrounded, including with objects.

Where do you work at home?

The desk I use to come up with concepts is a very old Thai table. The table carries in her a massive esthetic. I love the paradox of being in a universe of agility and proactivity, where ideas form 140 characters, are spread to the world at the speed of a single tweet, and seeing them born on a massive piece of wood, lying dormant for over a century, and weighing more than 100kg. Ideas are always born from a happy mind, wherever the place, at home or at the agency, or riding my bicycle.


Fred's Home

How would you describe your home—either its design esthetic or just how you see it and what you love about it?

I live in a house in Paris, nearby a house where French writer Emile Zola used to live. Paris is full of old stories. I love history…it makes normal un-normal. A house in Paris is a very different feeling than a Haussmann apartment. You’re directly on Paris ground. It feels different…a stronger connection with the street, the city.

Our house has a very positive energy, as it used to be a secret place of the French resistance during World War II. In the basement and the garner, we found some old French military flags, portraits of French resistors killed by the Germans, FNCR emblems ("Front National des Combattants Républicains") with the typical red roundel of the 1789 French revolution, old propaganda posters, and anti-German tracts.

What are a few of your favorite things or spaces and why?

My favorite room for inspiration is the annex of the house, in the back, behind the courtyard…a simple cubical 50-square-meter room with a high ceiling of eight meters and a zénithal light. It used to be a secret printing house of an old French newspaper called "Le Combattant Républicain," tagline "La liberté ou la mort"…"Freedom or Death."

I framed on the walls 50 drawings I did when I was younger. I used to draw all day long before my advertising career. In this room I have also my British Lonsdale punchbag to practice my Karate. I have some art books, pictures, photographs, and a few paintings of some friends. Good energy, good Qi.

The furniture is designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Charles Eames, Jean Prouvé, and some unknown Scandinavian designers. My favorite piece is a black Jean Prouvé lounge seat with orange leather armrest belts. Just love it. Timeless cool.

Where do you work at home?

This place is surprisingly quiet. You can’t hear any noise from the city. Nothing. It’s peaceful. I named this place my "Ty Kamoa." "Ty" means "little house" in Brittany—the region of my origin—and "Kamoa" is just a funny phonetic way of saying "Qu’à moi"—only for me—yes!

My three sons know it is daddy’s place. It’s precisely the reason why they invade it all the time. They love daddy’s place. And I love them for loving this.

Alex Schleifer, Head of Design, Airbnb

Alex Schleifer, Head of Design, Airbnb

How would you describe your home—either its design esthetic or just how you see it and what you love about it?

The apartment is a San Francisco Victorian and comes with a lot character. We made sure not to overwhelm it. Much of the furniture is mid-century and minimal with splashes of color. My wife and I are always working on projects so it was important for all the space to be useable. The space allows us to really turn any corner into a project area.

What are a few of your favorite things or spaces and why?

One of my favorite things about our home is how much light we get throughout the day. The kitchen and living room get a lot of that light and they’re great places to sit down and read or work on something.

I don’t get overly attached to objects but I love the print we have framed over the fireplace by a wonderful artist called Tim Doyle. It’s a stunning interpretation of a scene from Blade Runner which both my wife and I love.

I also really appreciate practical spaces. My workspace is built into a narrow area off the kitchen. It’s small but it means I can work without feeling secluded. It’s also surrounded by windows, which makes the space feel much larger than it actually is.

Where do you work at home?

The dining room or kitchen is where I’ll work with a group. I like having people over to collaborate on a variety of projects. It’s set up so we can sit and work together. When I’m making music, coding, or need to design something I tend to sit at the workspace which has a Mac, a Windows PC, and different pieces of hardware I store on a modular shelf system. I tinker with technology a lot so it’s nice to have the right equipment easily accessible. I try to keep only what I need but it’s debatable how successful I am at it.

Nick Law, Global Chief Creative Officer, R/GA

How would you describe your home and what you love about it?

We live in a Brownstone in the Cobble Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn. We don’t own a car because everything we need is a short walk away. The house layout is a classic brownstone. It has four floors, a stoop up to the parlor level, and a small backyard. The interiors are simple and white, with a few original features (staircase, fire places) and curious well-worn furniture and fixtures.

What are a few of your favorite things or spaces and why?

I love books and have a lot of them. Many are antique books that I’ve either inherited or found in old bookstores around the world. My wife and I are Australian, so we spent our childhoods outside in bare feet. Naturally we made sure the parlor level was designed completely open, without walls, with a glass back that opens onto the yard as soon as the weather permits.

Where do you work at home?

My wife and I share an office on the third floor, facing the street. It is a well-used space since my wife works from home and I always have stuff to do. We look out onto Court Street, a classic Brooklyn view with cabs and delivery trucks, people walking with their kids, and an old-school Italian bakery facing us.

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