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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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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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The Elements
Sit Down at a Periodic Table That Holds Samples of Every Element
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iStock

The periodic table maps out the atomic numbers, electron configurations, and chemical properties of all the elements found on Earth (both in nature and in the lab). But have you ever wondered what a traditional periodic table would look like as a physical table? That’s the question Wolfram Research co-founder Theo Gray asked himself years ago, and the wooden Periodic Table Table was his answer.

As you can see in the video below from Reactions, the furniture piece he built at his office looks like something you might find in your dining room, albeit a little more educational. Its surface features dozens of wooden squares, each one etched with the information for a different element. Beneath each wooden panel, there's a compartment that contains a sample of that element from the real world.

Gray’s table includes straightforward examples of the elements, like a jar of mercury and a chunk of bismuth, as well as some more creative entries like an aluminum knee implant. The 2400-plus items in his collection have long since spilled beyond the table and onto his shelves. While many of the objects are stored within the table itself, in some cases, he has too many examples of one element to keep them in the same spot. Some, like the knee implant, are just too bulky to fit. Valuable elements like gold and dangerous items—like a radioactive bottle of the early 20th-century quack-medicine Radithor—are also kept in more secure locations.

Even Gray’s vast inventory reflects just a small slice of how we see the chemical elements manifested in everyday life. For more examples of where you can find elements in the world around you, check out this illustrated table.

[h/t Reactions]

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