Our next in the Stay at Home Series travels to Dubai, where we find the Founder of award-winning architecture and design practice ANARCHITECT decompressing with an espresso in hand, enjoying the panoramic views from his balcony. Jonathan Ashmore reveals the value of dynamism in your home to adapt to your changing needs throughout the day, how to highlight your home's architectural moments and his new work from home habits and routines.
What changes have you made to your home environment to improve it and better suit you living in your home space 24/7?
We are lucky as we live on the 29th floor in a corner unit with a Marina view balcony and the entire apartment has abundant natural light facing North and East. Our espresso-break rituals now happen on our panoramic balcony and act as a get-away/step-out space. The living room remains reserved for evening entertainment. We also maintain a strict ‘declutter’ discipline so that the homeworking does not overrule the home comfort and serenity once each working day is over.
How are you staying inspired whilst at home?
I like to maintain a healthy work routine, so early rise, morning exercise and then get dressed (smart-comfortable) before sitting at my desk and connecting virtually with the ANARCHITECT teams in Dubai and London and our clients. I love using this no-disturbance time to think creatively, sketch a lot, go deep into exploring new material uses and conjure innovative detailing, which I then draw on trace paper dozens and dozens of times. It’s often hard to finish at 6pm, particularly running your own company, but you need to be quite strict with yourself when working from home so I also schedule to take a walk, jog or cycle at dusk to reset and separate the working day from the evening.
How have you designed your home workspace to boost creativity and productivity?
When we purchased our Dubai pied-a-terre in 2015, we immediately reconfigured the over-sized living-dining room to add a more functional home-office and acting guest room. This overall space still reads as one, but there is flexibility built in with hidden pivot and sliding walls that allows the area to be closed off when in use to maximise productivity and allow for creative focus. This flexible study additionally serves as our sofa reading and research area.
Please can you share your top tips of how our readers can transform and refresh their homes during this period?
Spending more time at home you need to keep a sense of dynamism and movement, so think of your spatial circulation and designate functions or times of day to use various parts of your home to keep inspired and motivated. When I was an undergraduate, I lived in a large bay-windowed first-floor room in a Victorian terrace I shared with friends. I setup a home studio for working late nights and weekends, which consisted of a large 1980’s A0 drawing board and desktop computer. At the end of each semester I would fold up the drawing board and re organise the entire room, which included my vinyl record decks, sofa and bed, to change the whole dynamic of the room and shifting away from the ‘work’ priority during term time to a more relaxed, enjoyable and creative studio set up. It became a ritual for 2 years, and it was so simple yet so liberating!
Change is good, so rather than just adding a temporary desk, step back and look at the overall balance of the room or space where you intend to work and reconfigure it to suit best. Feel confident to alter the arrangement entirely as you begin to reconnect differently with the space. Similarly to how ANARCHITECT would approach a project, look holistically at your entire residence and try to identify and then emphasise the architectural moments within your space. This often manifests at the conscious intersection of natural light and material junctions and changes in direction. Daylight is important, so where possible, place your working area close to a window, where not, try to brighten up the space with white finish walls that can bounce reflected light around a room. Declutter and edit your belongings, there is nothing more rewarding that completing an overdue clear-out, it is positively reviving! Minimal spaces give us more room to create and highlight the important, timeless pieces to enjoy and value.
What is your lockdown indulgence?
Music! Our team has a ritual of listening to BBC Radio 6 Music in the Dubai studio, but at home I can add far more volume and explore different playlists and podcasts without having to worry that it’s distracting the team. My wife Militza prefers silence and often runs away from me into her creative tank room, but I really enjoy music and radio to accompany me during my working day.
Read all about ANARCHITECT’s award-winning Dubai Hills project, featured in our DN 28 Magazine here.