On desks

Stumbled across a video from imaginary forces on artists, their desks, and the idea of —

Some notable bits:
There’s something about coming to sit at a desk that stops you from becoming completely nomadic and drifting entirely. / If you want to understand the inner workings of an artist’s mind, then of course the desk is the most telling space for that. The way the desk is arranged, the way the desk is cluttered, the mess that you find at the end of the day. / If a messy desk is a sign of a messy mind, what is an empty desk a sign of?

Massimo Vignelli on his desk: My desk is very square, very strong. It’s very important to have a place where you work that is in sync with yourself. / David Miller: You’re surrounded by your stuff… to be around books and stuff taped up on the wall, that’s when stuff starts to happen, you start to create a world, there’s a sense of warmth, a familiarity…

The desk as an aspirational space: The way you arrange things on a desk is the kind of how you’d like to be. The reality of life today is means that you can’t always be there and you have to take that idea of that working space with you.

I leave you with my humble desk, which might I add, is like posting a photo of yourself in your skivvies:
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Finding the designer

I mentioned Penguin’s Great Ideas (3) & Great Love series in an earlier entry, but thought of them again because they’re so typographically beautiful and well-designed. Anyway, I woke up this morning but stayed in bed, read through some blogs & RSS feeds on my iPhone until I had this urge to look up workspaces. Somewhere in between searching for YSL’s desk, which I had the opportunity to see IRL at the Petit Palais (!!), and reading an old NYTimes article about ampersands (Well, kind of: “The cases [of B & H and H & H] are unrelated; their announcement on the same day a coincidence. But they provided bagel lovers and techies — worse yet, techies who love bagels — with a shared reason for concern.”), I happily stumbled upon the designer of the Penguin series and his portfolio: David Pearson. I do love that horizontal scroll.

While on the subject of publishing, one of my favorite publishers, Phaidon, just launched its new site.
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Merci, Galignani

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Galignani, or “the first English bookstore established on the continent,” is my bookstore of choice in Paris. I know everyone swears by Shakespeare & Co. and I can’t really comment since I haven’t been though I’m sure it’s a lovely place. Regardless, Galignani is my favorite more so for the editions of the titles they choose, than simply the selection. Think beautiful typography, matte, embossing… not to mention the almost complete Great Ideas & Great Love series by Penguin, both of which I’m determined to acquire sooner than later. They carry both English and French titles and in addition to having a nice literature section (pictured above), they also have a pretty solid current events/politics section and an impressive arts wall with large, gorgeous hardbacks.

Anyway, there was a string of days where I’d go to Galignani everyday and pick up a new book, even if books are probably one of the worse traveling items. Galignani is on Rue Rivoli, right across from the Tuileries, so I’d usually grab my book and head over to the gardens and read by the fountain. There’s a lot of clamor around the area because of the little carnival and the fountain could be be crowded sometimes, but it’s easy to shut everything out and get lost in your book, especially if you manage to snag one of the reclined chairs. As with any anticipating ending, we are prone to reflections and such. I’ve really enjoyed my time in Paris this month* because I was able to do things I’d normally enjoy, but in a different setting. I’ve told a few people this already but instead of reading at Peet’s on Wilshire or Urth in Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, I could read in a café overlooking the Seine or with La Tour Eiffel peeking overhead. Instead of running the loop around Westwood, I could run to Parc Montsouris near my apartment or take a longer run to Jardin du Luxembourg.

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Those are the books I couldn’t resist buying. To be fair, I bought Monocle at WH Smith, another bookstore down the street. WH Smith only carries English titles and is a lot bigger, which is good if you’re looking for something more obscure, but I prefer Galignani. So, I have this habit of snapping iPhone photos of books I really want but know I shouldn’t buy. I was going to ramble about the underlying psychological or philosophical reasons for this, but realize it may be completely nonsensical, so I’ll refrain. Just know that this is a persistent habit. Also, I’ve read about half the books and am now on Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking and cannot bring myself to read it in public spaces because I may or may not burst into tears spontaneously. Anyway, this last photo is of some things I bought from the concept store, Merci. Much has been said about it and it’s mostly all true.

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*Not be to presumptuous about anyone reading older posts, but just know that I had my opportunity to dance to California Girls at Le Montana last night, though that’s another story. Merci for making it this far.

“I will take you home, to Marrakech.”

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I’ve started practicing my pseudo-french haggling skills at the marché aux puces at Saint-Ouen this last Sunday. My first attempt was unfortunately unsuccessful: I tried to get Danica this framed photo of some cats and the Eiffel Tower for 5€ instead of 6€. “Combien coûte?” “Six euros.” “Cinq.” “Non.” I was too frazzled to continue and she ended up purchasing it for 6€.

However, after a few hours of practicing, I was able to get this gorgeous bag down from 80€ to 50€ by incessant ogling and touching then walking away, longingly. When I came back about three minutes later, he looked at my key necklace and asked me if it was silver. After refusing to barter my necklace, he offered it me for 50€, as well as a trip to his home, in Morocco. I graciously thanked him and hurried away.

On a separate day on my way to the Mosquée, I stumbled upon la Maison-Franco-Orientale (19 Rue Daubenton), I managed to get these two rings down from 43€ to 25€. Later that day, I also made up for my failed first attempt and scored Danica a snail/Eiffel Tower sketch for 10€ down from 15€.

Upon re-reading this entry, this entry is just an exposé of Danica’s weird (and lovable, I suppose) purchases with a lot of unnecessary euro signs. So, here are my tips for haggling, which may or may not be obvious: aim for at least 50% of the proposed price — the first price you say should be something ridiculous. In the case of my bag, I should’ve said something outrageous like 30€. If you’re planning to buy multiple items, it’s easier to bargain; in this case, try for a buy-one-get-one-free price. Belinda was able to get two wooden rings down from 24€ to 12€ by being equal parts sad and cute. If you’ve got a longing stare, use it. Try it on, keep it on, touch it a lot. Then walk away very melodramatically. Also, feel free to throw in a backward glance as you walk away and use that longing stare again. If the shopkeeper’s heart isn’t made of stone, it will melt and s/he will most likely try to offer it to you for a few euros above your original offer, but will eventually fold to your original offer. Also, don’t let anyone take you to his home in Morocco.