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The Guardian's Writers' Rooms

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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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AI Tool From West Elm Suggests Furniture to Match Your Pinterest Tastes
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Curating a Pinterest board is often more fun—and always less expensive—than filling a space with actual furniture. Now, there’s a new tool from West Elm designed to put your time spent pinning decor ideas to practical use. As Fast Company reports, the home retail brand’s Pinterest Style Finder uses an AI algorithm to recommend furnishings that best suit your tastes.

Users start by pasting the URL of a Pinterest board they love, whether it’s their own or someone else’s, into the web tool. Then, they select a category of furnishings to browse through, such as bedroom, kitchen, or office.

That’s when the AI gets to work: A neural network powered by the startup Clarifai analyzes the images and finds products in West Elm’s catalogue that match the style. If you input a board of boho-chic furniture, for example, the tool brings up reclaimed wood nightstands and funky quilts. Search for products related to your vintage kitchen board and you’ll get retro stools and mid-century bar carts.

Of course, the results are limited to what’s in the retailer’s inventory, so if you would never shop at West Elm to begin with this may not be the tool for you. If you'd rather pick out furniture the old-fashioned way, here are some neural network-free design tips to follow.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Rental Furniture Company Offers Hip Design With Low Commitment
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When you're just starting out in a new apartment in a new place, compromising on furniture quality can be tempting. But shopping for flea-bitten sofas on Craigslist isn't the only way to find stuff you won't mind parting with once your lease is up. As The Verge reports, Feather is a startup that rents out chic furniture at reasonable prices.

The service, only available in New York and San Francisco for now, is geared toward Millennials, a generation that tends to choose renting over homeownership. Whether they're working gig-to-gig or jumping between sublets or cities, the lives of many twentysomethings are in a state of flux. Feather offers furniture choices that are as flexible as their customers' living situations.

"Maybe you want to furnish an entire apartment with your new roommates," the company's website reads. "Maybe you're testing out a new city and aren't ready to commit to staying … With Feather, you can have furniture there when you need and gone when you don't."

Unlike some rental services, Feather makes their products affordable without sacrificing style. Farmhouse dressers, tufted love-seats, and upholstered bed frames can all be rented for less than $50 a month. All Feather furnishings must be rented for a minimum period of three months and include a $99 delivery fee, a $99 pickup fee, and a $99 deposit (so if West Elm is having a sale, it may be a better bet after all for smaller items). And if you do decide to leave your apartment to move to a new city or travel the world, canceling your furniture lease is always an option.

[h/t The Verge]

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