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The Guardian's Writers' Rooms

For some time now, The Guardian has been collecting brief illustrated articles about the rooms where writers work. The collection now stands at fifty writers' rooms, and they make for delightful reading. Three core elements that appear in virtually all of the rooms are books, clutter, and computers. (A fourth would have to be "comfy chairs," though I guess that's common to most rooms in general.) In a surprisingly large subset, the color red is prominent in the room. I'm not sure why the red seems so pronounced, but check out the rooms of AL Kennedy, Kate Mosse, Nicola Barker, John Richardson, Carmen Callil...okay, you get the idea.

Here's a sample from the piece on Geoff Dyer's room (pictured above, right):

This is version 4.0 of the Dyer study, the Studium Scholasticum. I had the same deal - same desk, same paint, same shelves - in three previous places. It's at the top of the house, as all studies have to be: you know, the brains of the operation. Last year the roof started leaking and it was like having water on the brain, but that's fixed now.

There's an Arthur Koestler essay in which he says there are two kinds of writers: those whose desks offer a view from the window and those who like to face the wall. I'm of the latter persuasion, though I can't remember what kind of writer this makes me in the Koestlerian scheme of things. One who likes to have a shelf above his desk, I suppose.

I love efficiency. I would like to have a completely clean desk, but stuff mounts up. I always have a photo of Don Cherry taped above my desk (to the left), but it's not always the same picture. Whenever I come across a new picture of the Don, I replace the old one. There's also a photo of my dad in front of the council house where he grew up, looking like a member of the leisure class with his tennis racket and whites.

Check out the whole collection of writers' rooms for a nice afternoon of voyeurism.

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Live Smarter
Your Dresser Is a Serious Tipping Hazard. Here's How to Fix It
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iStock

When it comes to household safety, we’re used to potentially hazardous items being clearly labeled. Hair dryers come with warnings not to use them in the shower; volatile cleaning products implore us not to drink them. But some of the most significant items carrying actual mortality rates are largely ignored: common living room or bedroom furniture.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 30,000 people were treated in emergency rooms from 2014 to 2016 as a result of furniture tipping over on them. Children are at particular risk of being injured or worse when they attempt to climb a dresser or TV stand. As Consumer Reports points out, these items do not have to conform to any universal manufacturing standard and can easily become unstable regardless of their weight, cost, the child’s weight, or other variables. Injuries are also seen when children tug on the furniture or attempt to climb inside the drawers. Since dressers are often in a child's bedroom where they can play unsupervised, the potential for an accident is high.

In testing performed by Consumer Reports, no one brand or style stood out as being inherently safer than the others. So what can consumers do?

An illustration of a child climbing a dresser
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One easy solution is to avoid putting televisions on top of these dressers, since they pose a high risk of falling on top of a child when the dresser is moved. More importantly, child safety advocacy groups advise that adults use anchoring systems for furniture in danger of tipping over. These kits are available via mail order or in retail stores and come with straps that are connected between the furniture and two wall brackets. If weight is applied to the front of the dresser, the straps will keep it from falling over.

Some furniture comes with these kits, or with L-shaped angle brackets. Both are effective, but included straps can often be plastic that degrades over time—they should be nylon or steel. If not, you should opt for a third-party kit.

Advocacy groups have found that a lot of consumers are either unaware these kits exist or find them difficult to install. But it's a relatively easy procedure so long as you secure the anchor into a wall stud and not into drywall, where it will be too loose to stand up to a weight-bearing load. For brick or masonry walls, it’s best to hire a professional. If you’re renting and have been told not to drill into the wall, consult your landlord—it’s likely they’ll agree to waive any restrictions to make for a safer living space.

[h/t NPR]

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Courtesy of Studio Segers
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Design
These Unique Benches Are Made From Yogurt Cups and Plastic Bags
Courtesy of Studio Segers
Courtesy of Studio Segers

When sent to a landfill, some plastic waste will sit there for centuries before breaking down. The Belgian design firm Studio Segers has found an alternative use for the plastic containers some people throw away by re-purposing them into innovative outdoor seating. This modular bench spotted by design milk is made from used yogurt cups, butter tubs, and plastic bags and is 100 percent recyclable.

Commissioned by the recycling company ECO-oh!, the H-bench consists of slender, plastic components. They come with or without backrests and are available in dark gray, medium gray, light gray, pastel green, pastel blue, and beige. Snap three of them together and you have a chair. Keep adding pieces to build a snug love-seat or a bench long enough to fit a crowd.

Recycled bench.
Courtesy of Studio Segers

The seat is designed to be customized to suit the user’s taste. Chair backs can face one way or alternating directions; the bench can feature multi-colored stripes or a uniform shade; one side can have seat backs while the opposite end is built for laying down.

The makers didn’t skimp on quality to make their product sustainable: The H-bench is made from plastics called polyolefins, which means it's durable enough to stay strong and vibrant even in harsh outdoor conditions. Get a closer look at the smart design in the video below.

[h/t design milk]

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