July 10, 2020
Kristen Bell who was the voice of Molly in ‘Central Park’

As a nation, we have heard the call for racial justice over the past few months and many individuals and businesses have pledged to be better. If we are going to find a way to improve ourselves, we need to take a close look at harmful representations, language, and stereotypes that have been ingrained in popular culture.  Being better on a national scale begins with an in-depth evaluation of societal institutions in place. Entertainment and the media are one realm that has a huge impact on the perceptions of Americans, and therefore, it is a good place to begin.

A Longstanding History of Racism in Entertainment

Entertainment has had a deep-rooted history with racism, in particular with the norm of white actors voicing black characters. Instances of white actors impersonating black characters have origins dating back to blackface minstrelsy in the early 19th century. Minstrel shows perpetuated terrible stereotypes, depicting African Americans as lazy, buffoonish, and dim-witted.

Although times have certainly changed, and we all now realize the incredible harm that such performances had, many of the ideas originating in these shows have been subtly perpetuated down through generations and continue to infiltrate our popular culture today. Whether this is through the widespread use of stock characters often given to people of color or particular diction used that derogates non-whites, it is harmful and needs to change.

White Voice Actors Playing Non-White Characters in Animation

In animation, today and in the past, there have been many instances where white actors voice black characters. Even though it is clearly good to have greater representations of African American characters included in films and TV shows, if the actors who voice these characters are white, this becomes problematic, because these actors may rely on implicit stereotypes when crafting their tone and idea of who their character is.  After all, they are not basing their portrayal on their personal experiences of what it is like to be African American, Asian American, Latino/a, etc. Certainly, a black actor can relate better to the experience of being an ethnic minority in America and is a better candidate for the role.

Mike Henry who was the voice of Cleveland Brown in ‘Family Guy’
Recasting Efforts So That White Actors No Longer Play People of Color

Recently, many animated shows have been questioned for having white voice actors playing non-white characters. This includes some wildly popular and successful shows such as The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show, Family Guy, Rick and Morty, Bob’s Burgers, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Central Park, and Big Mouth.

Several of these shows have recently announced that they will be recasting their white actors who have given voice to characters of color.  The Simpsons will likely replace the white actors who currently voice Dr. Hibbert, Carl Carlson, and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. White actress Jenny Slate announced that she will no longer voice Missy in Big Mouth. In addition, Kristen Bell, who currently voices Molly from Central Park, will be stepping down from her role. Lastly, Mike Henry, voicing Cleveland Brown in Family Guy, will be replaced as well.

Jenny Slate who was the voice of Missy in ‘Big Mouth’
A Time to Reflect and Reevaluate

This is a time to reflect and recognize that there are in fact deeply rooted behaviors within our society that hurt individuals on a daily basis. Although they may be subtle, media practices allow racist ideologies to be perpetuated and magnified through the media’s powerful and wide reach. We should challenge what we see and push our popular culture and entertainment industry to change for the better. 

Additional Resources:

This is a Good Time for All of Us to Take an Implicit Bias Test

 

July 3, 2020

The Fourth of July weekend is coming up! Even though it is a strange time due to the pandemic, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate in New York City. In an effort to balance safety and fun, we have compiled a list of activities to fill your weekend. Whether you’ll be staying at home or enjoying some fresh air, keep these activities in mind to make your fourth weekend special and find some normalcy by celebrating in a traditional way.

1. Watch the Fireworks!

This is a Fourth of July classic, whether it is in person or on TV. While the Macy’s fireworks show has been a bit different this year, you have hopefully been able to spot one of the five minor firework displays that have been set off across the five boroughs throughout this week. If not, don’t worry! NBC will be broadcasting the short displays as well as the finale, which will likely be set off from the Empire State Building, on July 4th. Macy’s Firework Spectacular will be broadcast on NBC from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. on the fourth.  It will include performances by John Legend, Tim McGraw, Amanda Gorman, The Black Eyed Peas, and the Young People’s Chorus of NYC. The broadcast will also include a special salute to frontline workers. Learn more about the broadcast .

2. Grill or Picnic in the Park

The forecast is for  beautiful weather on Saturday and Sunday! This is the perfect time to get outside and have a socially distanced barbeque with friends and family. Whether it is being together with your quarantine buddies or sitting six feet apart from additional friends and family members, you can still enjoy a meal in good company, surrounded by NYC’s beautiful park scenery.

  • Here you can find a list of some of New York’s best parks to grill out!
  • Find grilling recipe inspiration here or ideas on how to pack the perfect picnic here.

3. Watch Broadway Play Hamilton

In the case of rain, the live performance of the famous Broadway play, Hamilton, will be released on the Disney Plus streaming service on Friday, July 3rd. If you are looking for ways to learn more about the beginning of our nation, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant musical is the most entertaining way to do it. From the incredibly talented, primarily black cast to the catchy songs and witty raps, this play is sure to leave you captivated and humming the songs for weeks!

4. Fourth-Inspired Activities for Kids

 Here are some fun group activities to keep your children engaged.

  • Make your own popsicles, see here for a recipe!
  • Painting flower pots. You can find a list of supplies you might need here.
  • Fourth inspired cupcake decorating! Check out this page for inspiration.

5. What American Cooking Means to You

America is an amalgamation of cultures, and nowhere is that more true than in New York. As we celebrate our nation’s origins, we should also recognize each person’s own version of what American is to them. One way to do this is through food! Because there is no single “Classic American Dish,” create your own personal “Classic.”  Challenge your friends and family to do the same! Compare your efforts afterwards and explain to each other what meaning the dishes have had for you and your family.  A great idea for a pot-luck, socially distanced get together, or a progressive outdoor picnic.

6. Outdoor Games and Tournaments

There are plenty of outdoor yard games that could be a leisure activity to accompany your barbeque, or as my family likes to make it, an intense competition with brackets, scoreboards, winners, and prizes. Cornhole is a family favorite backyard game, played just with two boards and some bean bags! If you’re not familiar with the game, check out the rules here.

Up for an arts and crafts mission as well? You could sew your own bean bags and paint your cornhole boards. If you’re bored and feeling extra ambitious, you could even try making your own cornhole boards from scratch.

7. S’mores!

Whether you have a fire pit you can use, want to roast your marshmallows over the stove burner, or feel like trying a s’mores dip recipe, this classic Fourth of July treat never disappoints!

We Should Also Celebrate by Remembering and Learning

As we celebrate this year, we should be especially aware that July 4, 1776 did not mean independence for all.  On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence. Since then, the day has been annually observed as “Independence Day.” However, for the millions of slaves imported to America before and after this decision, the secession from Britain meant very little in terms of freedom.

Enslaved African Americans were not technically free and independent of an overarching ruler until almost a century later when, on January 1,1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Even then, however, freed slaves continued to be caught in schemes that returned them to similar situations of oppression.  Wider rights didn’t arrive until 100 years later when President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Bill on July 2, 1964, which was the most sweeping civil rights legislation passed by Congress since the post-Civil War Reconstruction era.  The Civil Rights Act prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education and outlawed racial segregation in public places such as schools, buses, parks and swimming pools.

Change has come slowly, and racism continues to be a huge problem. As we enjoy the holiday, let’s take time to commit to the social changes the past few months have made us aware are so necessary.

Reference

Books that Illuminate the Black Experience

This is a Good Time for All of Us to Take an Implicit Bias Test

June 26, 2020

No one can fully understand an individual’s or community’s experience unless they’ve lived it themselves. However, reading can help promote better understanding and provide perspective. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research division of the New York Public Library, offers a reading list of 95 titles that foster a better understanding of the Black experience.

The Schomburg Center is located in Harlem. It is a leading cultural institution committed to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. The Schomburg Center provides programming and collections that help shed light on and share the richness of Black history, arts, and culture in the United States and globally.

The Schomburg Center explains more about its list: “The 95 titles on the list represent books we and the public turn to regularly as activists, students, archivists, and curators, with a particular focus on books by Black authors and those whose papers we steward.” Find the full reading list here.

There are many places one could begin. Below is where we’re starting:

The Autobiography of Malcolm X
by Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley

The Bluest Eye: A Novel
by Toni Morrison

Fences
by August Wilson

The Fire Next Time
by James Baldwin

Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement
by Angela Y. Davis

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou

My Song: A Memoir
by Harry Belafonte

Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination
by Toni Morrison

A Raisin in the Sun
by Lorraine Hansberry

Sister Outsider
by Audre Lorde

The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
by Isabel Wilkerson

The Ways of White Folks
by Langston Hughes

You can easily find your own way to approach this important list of work. Writings can be searched by category:

  • Biography and Memoir
  • Essays
  • Fiction
  • Graphic Novels
  • History (Nonfiction)
  • Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Science Fiction
  • Short Stories

Most of the books are available digitally for free via the New York Public Library’s SimpleE (available on the App Store or Google Play). Or you can find them at the Schomburg Shop.

If you’d like to support The Schomburg Center and its invaluable contributions, you can donate here.

The Schomburg Center describes this collection of works best: “These books speak to our time and are destined to be classics, addressing liberty across history, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.”

June 24, 2020

America has struggled with race for much of its history, and much of the struggle has been the result of biases, overt and subliminal.  For too long all of us have admitted to some degree that we have inbred prejudices, but were unwilling to delve into those biases and know just how deep and broad they are. If you don’t know the problem, you can’t begin to solve it.

These biases are often subconscious and long-standing. People are influenced by their upbringings and those around them, which leads our brains to make certain associations. These factors, along with large scale societal structures, influence a person’s ideas of what is normal, desirable, right vs. wrong, etc.

The experiences we have over a lifetime contribute to these implicit biases. An article by NPR explains it this way: Oftentimes white children grow up in households where they are taught that everyone is equal, but there is never a discussion of racism.  This “white silence” may lead to a decreased capacity for those children to recognize the deep inequalities that exist within our society.

Scenarios like this may result in associations that we are not aware of. Hence, these implicit associations are difficult to understand and often uncomfortable to confront. Consequently, we don’t always have control over these biases.

Ohio State University Implicit Bias Research

Ohio State University completed a study of implicit bias and defines it as “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.”

The OSU study explains that people are likely to hold implicit biases favoring their own ingroup, however, it is possible to hold biases against our ingroups as well. In addition, our implicit associations may not align with our declared beliefs or reflect perspectives that we think we agree with and endorse. That is why implicit biases are so challenging to recognize and critical to understand.

Harvard Implicit Association Tests

Recognizing our implicit biases is the first step towards understanding the systemic racism that prevails in America and how we might fit into that equation. Taking the Harvard Implicit Association Tests can reveal implicit biases and help us realize how systemic racism is subtly perpetuated throughout generations.

While these tests generate results that can be uncomfortable, they demonstrate the importance of such assessments and underscore the lack of widespread recognition of these biases. The test on race indicates if Americans have an automatic preference for white people over black people by measuring their response rates when black people are associated with “bad” things and white people with “good” things.

Take the Harvard “Project Implicit” tests here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/index.jsp

Understanding and Changing Our Biases

It does not mean that we are bad people if our implicit biases do not match our explicit beliefs. But this does give us the chance to recognize how our subconscious mind differs from our conscious one. Once we realize this, we can pay attention to these subconscious beliefs and be aware of them going forward.

The past few weeks have once again highlighted America’s need to address racial biases, deeply and comprehensively — perhaps more forcefully than ever before, and we can only hope with more long-term effect.

This isn’t only the work of “society,” but requires that each individual look at his or her implicit prejudices.  The good news is that the OSU report explains that implicit biases are not rigid, but in fact quite malleable. Just like certain associations can be learned, they can also be unlearned. Understanding our minds and working towards subconscious disassociations is the first step towards racial awareness and tolerance that will have a generational reach.

Take an implicit bias test; you’ll be surprised as we all were, but it is the first step in understanding where we all are and just how much we have to do to rebuild the social contract in our country.

Reference Sources:

npr.org – Read Article
kirwaninstitute.osu.edu – Read Article
implicit.harvard.edu – Read Article

June 15, 2020

In a year like no other, celebrate the person in your life who’s like no other: Dad. We’ve put together ideas from some of NoMad’s finest resources so you’re sure to find something unique that lets him know he’s special.

Todd Snyder: Madras Weekend Short

Don’t let the name mislead you – this short is actually perfect for any day of the week.  Made of premium Italian cotton linen, it’s designed for ease of movement. Go ahead, make Dad’s day.


Johnston & Murphy: Driver: Cort Perf Venetian

Hand-sewn details, genuine moccasin construction, and a Nappa leather lining provide the highest quality inside and out.


Heyday: Image Skincare – Prevention+Daily Ultimate Protection Moisturizer SPF 50

How many times has Dad saved your skin? If so, return the favor with this daily SPF that moisturizes while it protects. It’s a daily reminder that says thanks for everything he’s done to look after you.


Rizzoli Bookstore

Rizzoli offers a broad selection to satisfy the interests of all different types of dads.  You are bound to find a gift that fits Dad perfectly.

Ballparks Then and Now by Eric Enders

Ballparks Then and Now explores ballparks across America. It captures the development of America’s national pastime with archival and modern photography of the fields of dreams where legends were made.

100 Letters that Changed the World by Colin Slater

Portraying the world as witnessed through some of the most inspiring, heartfelt, and momentous letters written throughout history, this collection includes Henry VIII’s love letters to Anne Boleyn, Beatrix Potter’s correspondence with a friend’s son that inspired Peter Rabbit, the scrawled note that brought about Oscar Wilde’s downfall, SOS telegrams from the Titanic, the telegram informing the president about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s open letter from a Birmingham jail, and Nelson Mandela’s letters from prison.

World of Whiskey by Neil Ridley, Gavin D. Smith, and David Wishart

This authoritative book gives advice on how to enjoy the diversity of whiskies, how to become more adventurous with choice of flavors and styles, and how to organize a whisky tasting. It includes a selection of classic whisky cocktails and advice on food pairing comes that Dad will find handy, too.


TUSK: Amsterdam Men’s Compact Billfold Wallet

This wallet made of natural Buffalo keeps Dad organized with style – with eight card slots, a double billfold, and two extra slot for whatever else wants to keep inside (get 10% off your first purchase).


Fellow Barber: Summer Wash

If Dad is a head above, Fellow Barber has just what Dad’s hair needs for the season ahead. Summer Wash is specifically designed with summer in mind – no harsh detergents, alcohol-free, paraben-free, and sulfate-free. Bonus: The Strategist says it’s also the “best beard wash for sensitive skin.”


Bonobos: Retro Knit Polo Shirt

Keep Dad fashion-forward with this 70s/80s throwback Retro Knit Polo.  Its breathable lightweight cotton linen makes sure he’s as cool as he looks.


Whatever you give for Father’s Day, the best gift is one from the heart. So give it some thought, and let him know there’s no one else like him in your life.

June 12, 2020

Paraphrasing Kahlil Gibran, “Do not seek hours to kill, but hours to live.”  It is easy to see the COVID lockdown as restrictive, but in the right light it presents an opportunity to improve yourself and spend quality time with family. Fitness, music, and general entertainment are all available with the convenience of online social media platforms like those below, see what you can do to make the most out of your quarantine at NO COST.

Fitness

YogaWorks

YogaWorks is offering classes from 60 to 90 minutes on the YouTube accounts of several studios.

Have a little more time? You can find the full schedule here. You can also find them on social media presenting live workouts throughout the week. The social media handle is @yogaworks.

Rumble Boxing

The trainers at rumble Boxing are offering virtual full-body HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts through Instagram live videos each week.  For this week’s schedule, there is a workout on Thursday at 3 p.m. EDT with @aliyahsims and another on Sunday at 12 p.m. EDT with @noahfloods. Check out their social media handle @doyourumble on Instagram to see the schedule for each week.

Women’s Health Magazine

Women’s Health is hosting two live workouts every day on its Instagram page. Each week, they feature several different popular fitness trainers, like Megan Roup and Charlee Atkins. The workouts typically range in length from 20 to 40 minutes and are generally full body and require no equipment. Check out their social media handle @womenshealthmag on Instagram to see the schedule for each week.

Energi

The instructors at Energi are hosting daily live workouts at 11 a.m. EDT on Instagram. They post the lineup every week, with classes ranging from HIIT to dance. Try classes from some of the most talented NYC instructors for free – this is your chance. Check out their social media handle @energilife_ for more!

You can also check out other trainers for various workouts/live videos to incorporate into your day or overall workouts for the future: @hannaheden_fitness, @getfitwithgiddy, @olimccann, @coacheugeneteo, @athkeanx

Music

Songland

Tune in very Monday night at 10 on NBC to experience the creative process behind the newest songs. In the show, songwriters present their songs to a featured artist and several music legends and receive  feedback on how to improve it. The featured artist choses one person’s song to produce, and the song is uploaded to Spotify immediately after the show ends. Featured artists in the past have included Macklemore, Boyz II Men, and Julia Michaels.

NPR Music

NPR Music is continuing to compile a list of live audio and video streams from around the world with links out to streaming platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Some will require registration or a subscription, but most will be free. They are categorized by date and genre, so pick out something you like here!

Coldplay

Chris Martin has not had a live video in a while, but there’s no reason why you cannot catch up with his virtual concerts on YouTube like this one. Get insight into the real talent behind the talent with his #TogetherAtHome videos.

James Corden Carpool Karaoke

Do you like singing and driving at the same time? So does James Corden. Catch up with all of the famous pop stars and celebrities he has sung with in his car from Adele and Bruno Mars to LeBron James and Michelle Obama. Check it out on his YouTube channel here.

Spotify

Having trouble keeping up with the latest singles and albums? The “New Music Friday” feature on your Spotify account can solve that by helping you discover new top hits and superstars.

June 9, 2020

We’ve heard and memorized the importance and efficacy of simple everyday practices to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like coronavirus (see NYS Department of Health Sidebar below). Something that is equally important, but doesn’t receive the same amount of attention, is that we need to address and take care of our mental health.

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis affects everyone in different ways. Be sure to also address what’s going to keep you mentally healthy now and in the future. Here are resources you may find helpful.

New York State Department of Health Mental Health Services

The Office of Mental Health (OMH) at the New York State Department of Health provides resources to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. New Yorkers can learn about managing anxiety in these difficult times, as well as other things. You can find out more here.

Below are two of the important mental health services that The New York State Department of Health offers:

  • Mental Health Counseling and Emotional Support: You can call the COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314 for mental health counseling. 
  • Emotional Support for Front Line Health Care Workers: If you know someone providing front line healthcare, let them know that the state is partnering with the Kate Spade New York Foundation and Crisis Text Line to provide a 24/7 emotional support service for frontline health care workers: workers can text NYFRONTLINE to 741-741 to access these emotional support services.

Governor Cuomo Teams Up with Headspace

New Yorker State of Mind

Headspace, an online resource for meditation and mindfulness has teamed up with Governor Cuomo’s Office to offer New Yorkers free meditation content as a mental health resource.

This scientifically backed content can help in coping with the crisis. Its meditation and mindfulness techniques may help you to reduce stress, boost compassion and resilience, and reduce negative emotions.

Special content for New Yorkers can be accessed here

Free For Healthcare Providers and Educators

If you know a healthcare provider,  let them know that Headspace has made Headspace Plus free through 2020 for all U.S. healthcare providers working in a public health setting who have an NPI (National Provider Identifier). Learn more here.

If you are an educator or know someone who is, Headspace is offering free access to all K-12 teachers, administrators, and supporting staff. Learn more here.

CDC Tips for Coping with Stress

The CDC points out that everyone reacts to stressful situations differently, depending on a person’s background, personality, and the community in which a person lives. The CDC suggest these ways to help cope with stress:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

There are many other helpful suggestions, techniques, and resources on the CDC website.

World Health Organization Guidelines for Coping

The World Health Organization (WHO) also provides guidelines for coping with COVID-19

Included in its recommendations is that individuals “find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories.”

Actively seek out positive stories, people, and influences. An example is actor John Krasinki’s Some Good News YouTube channel. Check out his first episode and you will be hooked.

Most people we know have expressed, “I’m doing OK with it all until I’m not.” Be sure to take care of yourself mentally and physically as we move forward through these challenging times. Access and use whatever resources or techniques help to maintain mental health.

June 3, 2020

Even though the economic downturn in this global pandemic has left many feeling helpless, Inday, our Indian-inspired eatery, has risen to acts of altruism by feeding surrounding communities.

Faced with a rapidly growing number of coronavirus cases, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo ordered all bars and restaurants to close at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 16th.

“We were shocked,” said Inday founder and owner Basu Ratnam (referring to himself and his staff) when they were notified of Cuomo’s order. Ratnam has three Inday locations: the one in Kew’s building at 1133 Broadway, 708 Third Avenue, and 570 Lexington Avenue. He is preparing to open another in Bryant Park. Although Ratnam had to shut down all of these locations, Ratnam kept his employees on the payroll for a time after closing to make sure that they had some sort of steady income.

However, Inday’s generosity and kindness for others did not stop there. On April 13, Ratnam opened his 708 Third Avenue location, not for pick-up or delivery for the general public, but solely for first responders. With only eight employees working in this location, Inday has been routinely serving from 300 to 500 meals per day to those on the front lines of the COVID-19 response at Weill Cornell and NYU Langone medical centers. Ratnam has also made it a part of his initiative to partner with Rethink Food, a nonprofit organization that works to recover excess food to provide low or no-cost meals to families during times of crisis.

With the continued shutdown due to COVID-19, thousands of restaurants have been dealing with numerous setbacks: staying open for only limited days and hours, furloughing 75 percent or more staff members, and even permanently closing. According to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, four percent of New York’s restaurants had permanently closed after the start of the pandemic, with more expected to close in the near future.

Having steered Inday through the difficult NYC restaurant market for four years, Ratnam understands what it is like to put one’s heart and soul into a restaurant. He also understands the struggle that restaurant and small business owners are going through now to survive, and he had this advice: “Top down is less important” at this time. Ratman recommends listening to your team, preparing for the long haul, and working out deals that help others in business during these unique times.

By putting these strategies into practice, Ratnam re-opened Inday’s Midtown East location at 708 Third Avenue for takeout and delivery for the public as of June 1st. To keep the restaurant safe and in the best condition during this pandemic, Inday has rented a car and hired a driver to pick up and drop off employees so that they avoid public transportation. There are also several different shifts a day, a safe zone, and a policy for employees to take their temperature each day. All of these steps encompass what Inday has shown itself to be: a restaurant that is there for its employees, customers and community.

“There is a lot of opportunity for innovation, for change. We are going to come back from this. We all have to do our part,” says Ratnam.

Looking forward, Ratnam hopes to reopen the other Inday locations, including the 1133 Broadway location, at some point in late July to early August. As we return to greater normalcy, let’s remember to support the heroes who helped our medical community, innovated their way through this time and made sure their staff and customers were and continue to stay safe.


Click here to order online from Inday’s Midtown East location at 708 Third Avenue.
Open for pick-up and delivery, with pick-up hours 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

You can also download their mobile app, “Inday App,” through the app store.

Visit their website here or call 646-928-0027 for more information.

May 26, 2020

Times are difficult, there is no question about that. Local communities are feeling especially hurt as small businesses struggle to adapt to the dramatic changes that have taken place over the past few months. In order to strengthen these small businesses as they transition, adopt new strategies, and fight to survive, FedEx is giving away grants to help in this process.

In an effort to promote resilience in local communities, FedEx is giving away a total of $1 million to small businesses. Each grant recipient will receive $5,000 as well as a $500 credit to FedEx Office. You can apply for a grant here. As small businesses try to find creative ways to transition their work to meet the current challenges, the monetary grants will hopefully aid in the development process. The FedEx credit can be used for printing banners, posters, floor graphics, custom branded boxes, and more. So, prepare your “We’re Open” graphics and begin applying!

Small businesses that are eligible must fulfill these requirements:

  • The grants will be given to for-profit businesses based in the U.S. with less than 50 employees.
  • The business must have been in operation and selling for more than one year and have less than $5 million in annual sales revenue in 2019.
  • FedEx understands that its success is tied to the success of these companies. Therefore, the businesses must have shipped in the last 12 months or plan to ship in the coming 12 months.

Those who are not eligible include non-profits, franchised businesses, direct seller/reseller businesses, independent consultants, and previous Small Business Grant Contest winners.

Applications are open from May 25th, 2020 through June 12th, 2020 at fedex.com/supportsmallgrants. A total of 200 grants will be awarded and distributed to the recipients through June and July of 2020.

This is a small step in a long battle of resilience, but hopefully these grants can help small businesses get a boost when they need it most.  We encourage all tenants who believe they are eligible to apply now!

May 19, 2020

Everyone’s approach to staying healthy and staying sane is evolving as recommendations and protocols are updated. Unfortunately, after some advice is dispensed, there can be more questions raised than solutions offered. It’s best to consult trustworthy, objective sources and then synthesize what’s best for you in your particular living situation.

Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times has an ongoing series, which is very informative. She speaks with and questions infectious disease experts, aerosol scientists, microbiologists, and other professionals, then reports clear, useful answers. The topics she covers are definitely top of mind for New Yorkers.

In one article, Parker-Pope answered questions about where the coronavirus might be and where it most likely isn’t. Below are a few excerpts:

Precautions after essential trips outside

  • For most people practicing social distancing and making only occasional trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, experts agree that it’s not necessary to change clothes or take a shower when you return home.

Concerns about the mail, packages, and newspaper

  • The risk of getting sick from handling mail or packages is extremely low. As precaution, after handling mail, packages, or reading the newspaper, dispose of the packaging and wash your hands. If you still feel anxious, take guidance from the New England Journal study and let mail and packages sit for 24 hours before handling them.

Viral contamination of hair or beard

  • You should not be worried about viral contamination of your hair or beard, if you are practicing social distancing. Experts agreed that even if someone sneezed on the back of your head, any droplets that landed on your hair would be an unlikely source of infection.

Read the full article here.

Other informative articles from Tara Parker-Pope are:

  • Can I Get Coronavirus From Riding an Elevator? Read full article here
  • A User’s Guide to Face Masks: Read full article here
  • How to Clean Your Home for Coronavirus: Read full article here
  • Have I Been Cleaning All Wrong? Read full article here

As New Yorkers continue to move forward, it is important to stay healthy individually and as a community. Now more than ever, the actions we take and efforts we make today directly impact our shared tomorrow.

May 14, 2020

What is the future of eating out in New York? There are as many opinions and projections about what restaurants will look like as there are restaurants. Erica Adams and Tanay Warekar report on surfacing themes in an article on Eater. Below are highlights:

Delivery: Bringing the restaurant experience home may be the most achievable way in the near future for restaurants to keep volumes at healthier business levels.

Prix-fixe Menus: In order to move patrons through their meal more efficiently, prix-fix dinners may become more the norm. Plus, a more curated, concise menu can lessen the variety of ingredients and prep time required.

COVID Etiquette: Exemplary impeccable service will now include COVID etiquette at the top of the list – things like safety, guest flow coordination, and hygienic attention.

Temperature Checks: Temperature checks of all employees, as well as guests at the door may become more the norm.

Lower-rent Locations: Rent is often a restaurant’s largest fixed cost. Therefore, lower-rent locations may become the more realistically viable real estate for eat-in restaurants that don’t charge a month’s salary for a meal.

Outdoor Dining: Added outdoor dining wherever possible will help with both space for social distancing and better ventilation. Perhaps local zoning laws will be updated to accommodate more of this.

Ghost Kitchens: Establishments are considering ghost kitchens, where prep work is done offsite in order to better achieve social distancing among employees in back-of-house areas.

Virtual Menus: Menus may need to be accessed via smartphones to limit publicly handled materials.

Bar Reservations: The impact on bars, many known for their shoulder-to-shoulder and sidle-up scenarios, may be even harder to imagine. Rubbing elbows with strangers at a bar may need to be reconceived. Barstools every six feet will give watering holes a very different vibe. Drop-in neighborhood bars may start to require reservations and/or memberships to insure a more controlled number within the space.

Read the full Eater article here.

To get a further perspective on the challenges restaurants will face in the coming months, you can review the Reopening Guidance provided by the National Restaurant Association.

Restaurants and eating out have always been a significant part of our culture and social fabric. Though the future of food service is unknown, one thing is for sure: no matter how restaurants evolve, they will continue to be a part of our shared experience.

May 12, 2020

As the world spends more time doing a wider variety of things at home, investments in home offices and strategies for interior design are becoming more invaluable.

Sarah Mendel, principal of Cochineal Design is expert at making any size space work well and look even better. Having wide-ranging experience in residential, hospitality, and commercial design, Cochineal offers a uniquely informed point of view.  Few are better equipped to offer tips on how to achieve a work-from-home space that maximizes space use and looks terrific.

1. Make every square inch count

In its Half Townhouse project, every inch of space was prime real estate. Cochineal saw a hallway as an opportunity to create workspace and storage solutions. Putting amenities in the walk-though area transformed it from a room connecter to something with more purpose and personality. Paneled walls help to define the space and create a cozy, working moment. Pro tip: A table lamp instantly accessorizes a workspace with personality.

Millwork-paneled walls: HenryBuilt; Table lamp: RH Modern
2. Get creative with storage

When we think of design-worthy libraries, we usually imagine halls of mahogany shelves and rows of tables neatly arranged with brass banker’s lamps. In Cochineal’s hotel project, she reinterpreted this imagery to meet the brand’s young and vibrant culture. Custom shelves were laid out in varying lengths and heights and backed with a 3D-textured wallcovering. The traditional study setup is modernized with recycled plastic chairs. Pro tip: Get creative with decorative looking storage and you’ll find yourself better organized with improved aesthetics.

Recycled plastic chairs: Emeco; Wallcovering: Phillip Jeffries
3. Give office chairs a whole new look

Traditional office chairs have arms, swivel, and are on casters. Mendel asks, “Why? We aren’t sure either. How often does anyone roll around the office (without hitting a wall)?” and encourages considering other comfortable chair options for a more stylish and sophisticated look. She often uses comfortable, vintage dining chairs. Pro tip: Always sit-test a work chair for comfort before purchasing – it may look good, but you’ll want to be able to sit in it for long periods of time, too.

Chairs: found upstate New York (left); Atelier 2+ (center); Vintage Moller (right)
4. Give yourself a break (space)

Make somewhere your break room or area – your no-work zone when you’re working from home. It can be a drag to sit at your dining room table all day. At the office, you might take a coffee break to stretch your legs. Mendel points out, “at home, it’s important to remember to allow yourself some intentional pauses during the day.” Pro tip: No matter how much space you have, dedicate a comfy chair for long calls or 15-minute breathers.

Chair: Vintage Gigi Radice

Resources like Cochineal Design transform basic living environments into dynamic, purposeful, gorgeous places where you’ll be happy to spend more time. Of course, using tips from the experts and your own ingenuity you can add home office makeover-ist to your ever-growing list of multitasking monikers.


Read other home office tips from:

 

April 30, 2020

This is our second installment of staged performances and semi-staged performance available online. There is nothing like live theatre but some of these performances are so great, you may forget you are at home.

Sweeney Todd

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jp59V1RW3qk

Those who love Sweeney Todd and can’t imagine performances better than those of Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury or Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris, watch out!  This may change your mind. Emma Thompson serves up a wacky Mrs. Lovett — and who knew she could sing like this? Bryn Terfel, the leading bass in today’s opera world, makes the cross over with menacing power. And there is Audra McDonald, too as the Beggar Woman. The New York Philharmonic plays the phenomenal Sondheim score as you may never have heard it. The musical won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Olivier Award for Best New Musical. It has since had numerous revivals, as well as a film adaptation. It’s funny, it’s terrifying, and it is supremely beautiful; it remains one of the greatest musical achievements of the American Stage, advancing the art to an entirely new level.

Into the Woods

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP8fw_LhOOg&list=PLEHuU-_R7wf6oSovpstrjXmqEAOq8KuRJ&index=73

Tony Award winners Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason, and the rest of the original Broadway cast weave their spell over you in Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece, directed by James Lapine.  It’s a seamless fusion of fairy tale characters and what happens after happily ever after. In this most magical of musicals, a baker and his wife journey into the woods in search of a cow, a red cape, a pair of golden slippers and some magic beans to lift a curse that has kept them childless. It won several Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason), in a year dominated by The Phantom of the Opera (1988).

In the Heights

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSKOL4x30GU&list=PLEHuU_R7wf6oSovpstrjXmqEAOq8KuRJ&index=40

In the Heights has music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame). The story is set over the course of three days, involving characters in the largely Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City. This is a splendid quality version of the show that took Broadway by storm. Charles Isherwood’s review in The New York Times said that “when this musical erupts in one of its expressions of collective joy, the energy it gives off could light up the George Washington Bridge for a year or two.”  It was nominated for thirteen Tony Awards and won four, including the 2008 Best MusicalBest Original Score, and Best Choreography awards. It has been staged around the world, from Japan to Germany and Peru. A film adaptation of the musical was originally set for release on June 26, 2020. However, it has been delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Little Shop of Horrors

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUMNY2lsOKU

A horror comedy rock musical, Little Shop follows the hilarious and gruesome story of a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. The music, composed by Alan Menken in the style of early 1960s rock and rolldoo-wop and early Motown, includes several well-known tunes, including the title song, “Skid Row (Downtown),” “Somewhere That’s Green,” and “Suddenly, Seymour.”  It won several awards including the 1982–1983 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical and the Outer Critics Circle Award. This film of the American Musical Theatre of San Jose’s 2008 production has some wonderful performances and will definitely make you forget your penned up at home.

Music Man

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rroZXCYbqmc&list=PLEHuU-_R7wf6oSovpstrjXmqEAOq8KuRJ&index=102

Featuring book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, the musical’s plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys’ band organizer and leader. He sells band instruments and uniforms to naïve Midwestern townsfolk, promising to train the young members of the new band. Harold is no musician, however, and plans to skip town without giving any music lessons. Prim librarian and piano teacher Marian sees through him, but when Harold helps her younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, Marian begins to fall in love. Harold risks being caught to win her. In 1957, the show became a hit on Broadway, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances. It has been revived numerous times and was made into a movie in 1962. This version is the Disney made-for-television version starring Matthew Broderick as Professor Harold Hill and Kristin Chenoweth as Marian.

Still haven’t had enough?  We’ve saved the best for last…

My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies – Full Concert

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlBM1ZUBGBg

On a fall evening in 1998, the greatest women stars of Broadway appeared together in a Carnegie Hall review of some of The Great White Way’s finest hits. The songs are vintage classics, and the performances are all superb. Here are just some of the treats you are in store for:

  • Nowadays – Karen Ziemba & Bebe Neuwirth
  • Adelaide’s Lament – Faith Prince
  • Life Upon The Wicked Stage – Anna Kendrick & The Kit Kat Girls
  • Nothing – Priscilla Lopez
  • Could I Leave You – Dee Hoty
  • Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered – Marin Mazzie
  • Falling In Love With Love – Rebecca Luker
  • Love Changes Everything – Audra McDonald
  • Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Nell Carter & Luther Henderson (piano)
  • Fifty Percent – Dorothy Loudon
  • The Ladies Who Lunch – Elaine Stritch . . . and that’s not the half of it.

(For more performances online, see Catch a Broadway Show Tonight — Part 1)

April 28, 2020

Some prognosticators predict that once the country has re-opened for business, more of the workforce will be permanently operating from their homes.  Whether or not a majority of people will continue to work virtually, it seems inevitable that a work-from-home space will become a staple for most every household.

Barry Goralnick, renowned architect and interior designer, has been helping clients to create home offices and work areas since before the pandemic hit.  In recent years, clients had already been asking questions like, “How can I make my dining room more multi-purpose so I can work there during the day?,” “Where can we make an area with a small desk that I can pay bills?,” and “Can we create a place for the kids to do their homework that’s not in their room?”

Increasingly, Goralnick is asked to find more permanent solutions for working from home – functional and aesthetic – including storage, an attractive background for telecommunicating, and places to work that don’t have to be completely cleared away after each workday has ended.

Goralnick offers the following advice, with some tips and resources to help make your work from home situation more of permanent solution.

Keep it Simple

Don’t complicate your needs.  Set up a simple workstation.

These desks are made of simple elements that are attractive and functional – the most basic Parsons desk and a Mid-century or modified office chair. [Left: Desk: West Elm / Hopper Desk Lamp: Currey & Co. / Chair: Chairsh; Right: Desk: CB2]

For those who have not yet gone paperless, now is a terrific time to start filing all documents digitally.  If you’re a paper addict, consider not putting a wastebasket close at hand. See for yourself if you truly need a printout to file in a hanging folder, or if it can all be efficiently digitally filed without the mess and waste of paper. Many larger organizations going paperless have limited the number of available trashcans for paper waste in order go green.

Create Room

Goralnick suggests you might be able to put up a temporary wall from places like Wall – the Partition NY. Post-college students have been doing this for years to increase the number of bedrooms in shared apartments.  Best of all it can be removed when you move out. This solution also cuts through New York’s Department of Buildings’ crazy quilt of regulations and co-op or condo board rules.

In this home office space, Goralnick created a long narrow space by colonizing a sliver of a bedroom. [Davy Pendant Fixtures: Currey & Co. / Storage Boxes: The Container Store.]

Don’t Hit a Wall

Goralnick points out that one of the most common missteps people make when creating a workspace is facing the desk chair into a wall. He advises, if possible, face your desk into a window or into the room.

In this instance, the client’s primary office request was an open, airy feeling. Goralnick’s solution was to give the office an interior window facing into the living room, which fronts a set of glass doors with a garden beyond.  By doing so, it provides the desired openness and makes a small space feel much larger. This interior window from the home office looks out into the main room, allowing for views of the outside.

Make Your Space Multi-task

In home design, nothing is sacred anymore.  So, make rooms for multitasking.  Whether space is limited or not, make the best use of every room. Previous generations had specific rules for particular parts of the home, meaning rooms were often underutilized – especially the dining room (often a large space), which was only used on special occasions two or three times a year.

This space is the multi-functioning hub of the home for a young family.  The set-up offers all family members a place to work at any time. Built-ins provide a commodious workstation for parents and kids. [Contemporary kitchen with a vintage Italian Mid-century table and chairs / Art above cabinetry is an important piece, and art on the shelves is from the kids’ art classes]

Rethink the Space You Have

See potential in what you already have.  Pull up a chair and get to work.

Originally, this living room/library (above left) was designed to house several collections, including antique books and walking sticks. The comfortable sofa faces a large TV, and the room was mostly used for reading or binge watching. The desk behind the sofa had, up until now, been simply decorative.

In current times, the desk has become a home office workspace for half of the couple. The shelves have been rearranged to accommodate files and supplies, and the computer is connected to the TV monitor so Zoom meetings can be viewed in a large format. This repurposing functions beautifully.

If you are in a smaller apartment, rethink the functions of each part of every room. In a one-bedroom apartment, you might consider flipping the bedroom and living room depending on the layout and what you need to accommodate. This owner moved the seating out of the bedroom corner and moved in a drafting table (above right). It provides just enough space to work. Plus, it’s next to the window for natural light and a view. [Table crafted from a base found in a flea market coupled with a mahogany top]

Do You Really Need a Desk?

Not everyone needs an actual desk.  Think about what you need to do your best work.

Here, a writer who does not need a traditional desk uses a small dining table coupled with a traditional style office chair for the perfect workspace (and it doesn’t look like an office at all).  This intimate office/library also multi-functions as a guest area with sleep sofa.

Knock It Off

This actual home office was created for a couple with twins. The space has a variety of storage options to hide office mess, a magnetic “backsplash” for notes and schedules, under-cabinet lighting, and filing cabinets – all well organized.

Goralnick advises that this type of solution can be easily replicated in cost-effective ways, “One of the best storage resources is IKEA. They have excellent storage solutions that include countertops, files, cabinets with doors, chairs, shelving, and even the under-cabinet LED lighting.”

If you want to up the aesthetic appeal, there is now a cottage industry of companies that make customized and semi-customized doors for IKEA bodies, like Semi-handmade, so you can make it your own.

The future has always held the unknown. As we look forward and inward, solutions to easier living in the days to come may actually be found right at home.

April 17, 2020

Today it’s clearer than ever that we must evolve and re-conceive of how we navigate the world as it continues to change around us. New skills, new tools, and new approaches can help keep us be more dynamic and even better equipped to face the future.

After all of your new daily responsibilities are attended to, if you find you have some downtime, there is no better moment to learn something new. Below are a few thought-starters and resources for online learning.

Build Digital Skills

 More and more of life is now online – personal, social, business, and medical care, to name few. Just think: only weeks ago most people had never heard of, yet alone used Zoom. In a brief time, innumerable people have learned how to use it. Whether it’s learning about a new program or app or mastering an existing program – digital resourcefulness, tools, and skills are key.

Grow with Google

General digital skills are especially useful. Grow with Google is offering free online workshops to learn and develop skills for staying connected and productive while working remotely. Sign up for any or all of the Grow with Google virtual workshops.

G-Suite, Google Drive and Google Docs

Shared documents are becoming more the norm. Explore how to access and use Google Drive and Google Docs. Google can help with the basics of how to work from home with G-Suite or help you learn by industry what might be the best application of this resource for you.

Expand Knowledge of Computer Programs

For most, computer programs like Microsoft Office have untapped capabilities which are only limited by us as users. Up your game, get more out of the programs you have, and become more valuable to your business or organization.

Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and more)

Microsoft offers a wide range of online training and certifications for a variety of levels. This training overview might help you find what’s most relevant to your situation.

Excel

More specifically, Learn Excel Now offers live e-training and self-paced online training for Excel. Courses are aimed to help increase productivity and gain new insights from data. If paid learning is not in your budget, they have a library of free content and resources with commonly requested templates.

Upgrade Your Social Media

Social media has become even more influential in how we communicate with customers, clients, and the world at large.

One online course for Social Media Marketing is offered by Learn@Forbes, an alternative to traditional online schools. Forbes Media and a global network of educators and executives are behind the courses offered. Courses can be taken at any time on any schedule. It offers a 14-day trial to access many courses for free.

Develop Website Skills

There’s no better way to learn than by doing. Try building your own site for an idea, service, or product you want to share with the world. In no time, you’ll be far more expert.

You don’t have to be a computer programmer to up your website savvy. Programs like Squarespace, Shopify, and Weebly are among some of the most-used and most popular. Format may be better for online portfolios, like photographers. They are very user friendly.

There are more sophisticated offerings like WordPress – its basics are not difficult to learn. If your site or your company’s site uses it, WordPress offers free learning on How to Get the Most from WordPress.

Improve SEO

 No one has THE answer on how to best approach SEO (Search Engine Optimization). But resources and tools like SEMrush can help improve your site and product search. An upcoming free course offered by SEMrush on improving your site’s E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness) can be accessed here.

Industry Specific Educational Opportunities

There are more industry-specific learning resources available, too. Below are just a few:

RESTAURANTS & FOOD SERVICE

The Restaurant and Food Group is offering a webinar series: Resetting the Table During the COVID-19 Crisis, in which they webcast discussions on changing leadership strategies and operational solutions for food service.

The National Restaurant Association offers free webinars and free podcasts on a variety of topics, including Practical Health for the Food Service Industry, covering tips and tricks for managing your own mental health as the industry moves through this time.

INTERIOR DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE

IDS is running a Virtual Educational Series of webinars. Access recorded webinars when the time is right for you. Sample webinars include:

  • eDesign 101
  • Website Essentials to Survive an Economic Recession as an Interior Designer
  • 7 Digital Changes to Help Your Business Survive and Be Better Than Before
  • What You Can Do Now to Stay Focused and Keep Your Business Active
  • Managing Your Players From a Distance

AEC offers many live webinar courses or free self-paced online CEU courses so design professionals can earn credits as time is available. A full list of CEU courses can be found here. Courses can be easily searched by the following categories:

  • Architecture
  • Engineering
  • Construction
  • Interior Design
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Maintenance

GRAPHIC DESIGN

Brushing up or expanding your skills with key programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat can only make you more useful and better able to express your vision.

Below are a few places to explore learning:

Of course, you know what interests you most and what might best help feed your soul, your career, and your vision of the future you. So Google away and find what’s right for you. When so much of the world seems closed around us, keep your mind open and active to a world of new ideas.

April 14, 2020

Adapt, personalize, and optimize. Today, more than ever, we are taking the tools that we have and are redefining ourselves, our work lives, and our homes to find productive ways of moving forward. Award-winning interior designer, Glenn Gissler offers tips and insights with examples from his own design projects to help make your work from home situation the best it can be.

Gissler acknowledges that many of us never foresaw or wanted to work from home. Now a majority of the population is thinking about what working from home looks like, how it feels, and how it manifests itself in daily life. Some are finding out that certain tasks, like drafting, may actually be more proficiently performed from home. While others face the challenge of distractions such as routine chores, pets, other family members or inefficiencies imposed from not having central office access.

Looking forward, even bigger questions come to mind for Gissler. What would it look like if we didn’t go into an office five days a week? How do we psychologically delineate between work life and home life when they both occupy the same environment? Is it a change in lighting, scent, music that helps set boundaries or create differences so that home can be a sanctuary at one time and a place of business at another? Looking to the future, it’s inevitable that boundaries will be continually evolving.

For now, these larger questions will remain unanswered. For some practical solutions right now, Gissler looks at projects he has done for clients over recent years, before the pandemic, and extrapolates tips that may be useful as we all approach working from home.

Make Your Space Multitask

You’ve been multitasking for years, so why shouldn’t your rooms? Gissler encourages everyone to think differently about their existing surroundings and how they might function.

In this project, a room that has already been acting as dining room and library now multitasks as a home office. One end of the dining table serves as home office, while the other end still makes a great setting for family meals.

Make Room In Any Room

When creating a work-from-home space, a separate room is not a must-have to establish a successful workspace. Sometimes a “corner office” does the trick.

Gissler designed a Brooklyn Heights brownstone with a home office set up in a living room corner.  He notes, “A large window gives plenty of light throughout the workday and into the evening. The Mid-Century desk by Jules Leleu and a pair of leather-wrapped Jacques Adnet chairs offer style and function.”  A well-designed table and chairs help this “corner office” blend into the overall living room design with panache.  Simply putting away small work accessories and closing or stowing a computer can close the office – mentally and aesthetically.  That way, when the room is used for entertaining, Zoom cocktails, reading, or binge watching, the work-like function of the home office does not intrude.

Accommodate New Office Mates’ Needs

Home offices are not just for parents. By sharing an office with children studying from home, parents can set an example of good work habits while keeping an eye on youngsters (possibly easier said than done, but a parent can dream).

This mother/daughter office includes a room-long workspace surface in galvanized steel, with a purple pin-up space and display ledge. Gissler painted the child’s original blond wood furniture with durable glossy oil paint for a more playful appearance. The striped flooring from Marmoleum makes cleanup after messy school projects (or spilled coffee) easier.

Though this particular room is a discrete office space, the idea of setting up a work-school space in any home might be useful to consider. It gives each family member a personal workspace that’s all their own.

Double-up with a Partners Desk

Households with two people now working from home can get double the bang from the home office setup with a partners desk.

An Upper East Side project of Gissler’s (left) includes an antique French 1940’s cerused oak dining table, which acts as a multipurpose partners desk. A home office in a Greenwich Village townhouse (right) incorporates a custom partners worktable. Storage provided by wooden file drawers and open bookshelves is supplemented with an antique stepped Japanese Tansu cabinet.

Of historical note, when Prince Albert’s desk was moved into Queen Victoria’s office, it was considered a significant development.  Within months of their marriage and during Queen Victoria’s first pregnancy, Prince Albert’s writing desk was placed side-by-side with hers so that the two could work together, which by most reports brought them closer as partners in government and their personal life.  If it’s a constructive solution for the royals, it may be worth considering.

Make Display Pieces Function

Furnishings that may have previously been used for decorative display can help make every bit of space more useful.

This Greenwich Village home houses a Donald Judd desk with chairs that are not only for show. Gissler smiles when pointing out that while the chairs may not be ergonomic or ultra-comfy, they keep people alert as they get the job done (plus they’re good for the posture).

Appreciate What You Have

For those who already have a home office in place, appreciate what you have. The same goes for those with a spare room, empty corner, or free end of a table.

This Gissler-designed home office features a Kofrard Larsen desk (circa 1960) combined with a ‘Clayton Chair’ upholstered in leather. It makes a commanding control center for working from home.

There are many more things to think about when redefining a home as a primary place of work. If you want, you can tap into a design professional like Glenn Gissler. Most of all, in times like these, make the best of what you have and try to keep a positive outlook. Change is something we can’t control – how we adapt definitely is.