Temporary Spaces, Life on the Move

the-new-nomads We wrote about this trend two years ago; the nomads are back! And if (after the holidays) you feel the itch to try a nomadic lifestyle, this is the perfect read for you. The New Nomads: Temporary Spaces and a Life On The Move, written by Robert Klanten, Sven Ehmann and Michelle Galindo, is a book about mobility, flexible spaces and innovative architecture.

It’s a guideline on how to live a mobile, hi-tech life in which one moment you can work in an office in Berlin, then move with a camper through Russia for a workation during summertime and then show up at a hot-desk in Los Angeles for your next project. “Aside from a functioning wireless connection and good coffee, we developers, designers, musicians, journalists, and other creative entrepreneurs need, above all, inspiration, new ideas, contacts, and international exchange.”

The New Nomads is a useful guide for those that want to literally live and think outside the box. New Nomads do not live in one part of the world; for them, the entire globe feels like home.


Blend Your Own Background Noise


Outside it was bloody hot today but I got most of my work done while listening to a storm. My perfect and very personal noise-blend-recipe of the day; lots of rain, bit of thunder and wind. All thanks to the amazing site Noisli that generates background sounds that keep you creative.

For a lot of people, me included, a little background noise is helpful to calm down and focus. As I wrote in this post about the Coffice-trend, a certain level of sound also boosts your productivity. It’s why a lot of people love to get things done with their laptops in a coffee place.

I loved Coffitivity a coffee-shop-noise simulator but Noisli is way cooler, it allows you to create your own set of background sounds by combining clips of rain, water and wind, but you can also listen to a forrest by night a campfire or sounds of the sea. And naturally the sound of a descent coffee shop is also part of the collection. Highly recommended! (via Hacker News)


Trends For Freelance Writers


Will we all be freelancing soon? It was this question, asked in a radio-show, that got to me. People and companies increasingly opt for project-based relationships instead of more permanent ones. An area changing fast in that direction, is the writing industry. I’m a freelance writer myself and I work with a lot of journalists/writers in my graphic jobs. Below some trends that got people talking and will definitely influence freelance writers in 2014.

1. Data-journalism: Journalists will shift from hunter/gatherer style to a mode of interpreting big data. Before, when information was scarce, most efforts were devoted to finding the actual story. That is changing rapidly since data-sets become available to anyone now. Getting the information is not the problem anymore, but processing it is more important than ever. The role of writers? They are interpreters, who are able to give the, much needed, sense an structure in the never ending flow of data.

2. Visual storytelling: We can help people process data not only by making interpretations, but also by focussing more on presentation. Visual tools are must-haves these days in communicating what’s important and relevant to the consumer. More infographics and data visualizations are shown in traditional media and on the web. Very useful to update your skills in that area or… work closely together with designers.

3. Content is King: Companies are becoming publishers. They are creating news websites and other online content as part of their marketing strategies and… they are hiring freelancers to do the work. Whether you call it brand journalism or content marketing the opportunities this trend poses for freelance writers, have never been better.

4. Niche Magazines: Are magazines dead? According to , they’re more alive than ever. He launched 870 new titles last year only. Many new titles are niche publications. His advice for writers: specialize as much as you can in certain topics.

5. Writers going Indie: Freelance pay rates are getting lower and lower. Given these conditions, it’s not surprising that journalists are becoming entrepreneurs by launching startups or writer communities, that they write crowdfunded articles instead of selling to a publisher, monetize a blog by charging readers, or give self-publishing a shot. Lots of alternative possibilities out there.

Travel trend: Workation


In 2014 more vacationers pack their jobs in their suitcases. Entrepreneurs and freelancers have been taking so-called “workations” for some time, but now even more nine-to-fivers are using the increased flexibility that technology offers, to travel while continuing to work at their full-time jobs from the road.

“A warm breeze flutters the gauzy fabric of my sundress as we open our laptops to start the workday. It’s 1:00 p.m. in Santa Cruz, Chile, 9:00 a.m. on the West Coast in the U.S. — and day 17 of our workation.”

Some people turn workations into a lifestyle like Vanessa Edwards, a writer and an entrepreneur. Vanessa describes herself as an urban nomad. “Urban Nomads are a new generation of worker travelers that transplant themselves to different cities across the globe to both build and find career and adventure opportunities. They want to escape the 9-5, make passive income and work at what they love from any location in the world.”

I also sense that the workation-vibe thrives in a different context. Some people create a particular project around a travel-experience they want to have. I stumbled upon an amazing adventure recently: the Locavaux bus project. Three music-lovers converted a  School Bus to a traveling house/studio.They used the bus in the summer of 2013, to make a film about local music throughout the United States and “explore the unique relationship between local musicians and the communities in which they perform.” They even made a portable stage on the roof of the bus to be able to invite bands to perform in a great spontaneous outdoor setting.

Extend your travels: It’s not always a good thing that work intervenes with our vacations. How healthy it is to switch off work totally sometimes! But the workation as a way of being able to extend your travels (because you make money to cover expenses along the way) is perfect. It enables you to deepen your travel-experience and it helps you, getting to know a city/country much better than when you’re only running from one touristic highlight to another for a short period of time. Apart from that… when you’re picking up a local research project as well, you will gain even more inspiration/insights from your trip.

Trend: The Coffice


Never heard of a coffice? It’s where all the cool kids work these days! Rather than commuting to a an office, they take their laptops to their local coffee shop. According to Nicola Millars (futurologist) this will be one of the big trends in the area of work for the next few years.

And it makes sense, you get more done with coffee, cake and good connectivity according to this Guardian article. Millard’s favorite place to work, is somewhere with a bit of a life but no colleagues to distract her. “My four criteria for working,” she says, “are that I need good coffee, I need good cake, I need great connectivity – the Wi-Fi wings to fly me into the cloud – and I need company.”

Even without the coffee, coffee shops are good places to work. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research explored the effects noise has on creativity. They found that a low level of ambient sound, like the one found in a coffee shop, improves creativity. A tech startup in Virginia even developed a coffee shop noise simulator called Coffitivity, you can use in your (home)office. It sounds great, but why not just follow my example and get all the good vibes and noises for real from your local coffee place:)?

The coffice-trend is also useful to keep track of, for city councils. This quartz article asks the question what a city needs to foster innovation. They conclude that it’s coffee shops, bike lanes and 3D printers.


First Banner Vending Machine


Many people will be familiar with the sight of families and friends lined up in the arrival hall of airports, anxiously waiting to welcome their loved ones, and displaying home-made banners to add an extra dimension to the occasion. In the Netherlands there’s even a complete tv-show dedicated to that. But… no need for DIY-banners anymore.. I spotted this banner-making vending machine at Schiphol Airport last week. I think it’s awesome!

Since we’re traveling back to Europe at least twice a year, there wasn’t anyone waiting for us. But I still cherish the welcome I got 7 years ago when I arrived dirty, skinny and tired at Schiphol after my first long trip in Thailand. “You see a lot of bed sheets with dripping paint lines,” said Oliver Janssen, who came up with the idea. Under the name BannerXpress, he and his friend introduced what they believe to be the only airport banner-making vending machine in the world.

Through just a few simple steps and within minutes your personal designed banner is printed. The banner machine offers several option to personalize the product. You can choose different sizes and themes and you can add your own image and obviously your message. Can someone make me a banner next time;-)? Just love it!

Trend: First One-Person Restaurant


Two more weeks and I’m off to my hometown Amsterdam. Yeahh! Unfortunately too late to enjoy this pop-up restaurant Eenmaal: the worlds first single-seating only restaurant. But the ideas behind this social design project, done in Amsterdam by Marina van Goor, are worth a blogpost.

Eenmaal is a double play on words in Dutch, it can be translated as ‘one-time’ or ‘one meal’. Marina’s aim is to deal with the stigma associated with dining alone, an act many look at as an anti-social: ‘Eenmaal tries to give a breath of peace and quietude to what can, on occasion, be a hectic (and loud) dining culture. The restaurant relates to the impetus for disconnecting and disengaging from the hyper connected world at large.’

I think the last quote is ‘spot on’. We’re going to see a lot more similar dining concepts in the future.

Architecture: Inflatable Pavilion


That creating a space doesn’t have to be a super expensive, long term process, is proven by Berlin based architects Raumlabor. They already have been doing interesting architectural work by temporarily transforming locations (a gallery into a laboratory, a cold corridor into a place with new social qualities) but this space buster project is my favorite.

The pavilion is an inflatable bubble-like dome that emerges from its self-contained compressor housing. The dome expands and organically adjusts to its surroundings. It can be a field, a park with trees, or an urban square. The material is a specially-designed translucent plastic, allowing all kinds of events taking place inside of the shelter (dance parties, lecture series, or dinner buffets).

The event is entirely visible from the outside and likewise the exterior environments become the events’ backdrops. Great for marketing purposes and it raises interesting questions about experience of space. Is the event being held indoors or outdoors;-)? (Photos taken by Alan Tansey).

Trend: Shedworking


They’re cheap, chic, eco-friendly and above all – there is no commute. I wrote earlier about the rise of backyard offices here. But now I found out there’s a whole community that calls themselves shedworkers!

The famous shedworkers who have attracted the most attention are artists and writers such as Philip Pullman, Roald Dahl, Henry Thoreau and Henry Moore. But also non-creatives increasingly run businesses from a shed. Alex Johnson, blog author of Shedworking calls it the miniaturisation of the office workplace. Interesting concept.

It is a lot greener to move words, number and ideas than it is to move people” (Lloyd Alter, architecture expert at treehugger.com). Totally agree with that!