Here’s to a creative and productive 2017!

After regular writing and then a couple of sporadic, painful posts a few months ago, it’s time for a more positive catch up for 2017.

The dark water creature of grief has gone back to its cold depths, where it lives almost all the time. I’m happy when it’s undisturbed and in its natural habitat.

Returning to the theme of this blog, keeping a healthy work-life balance in a life fuelled by design, I have a couple of new creative endeavours which are exciting and energetically recharging.

Though I haven’t taken on board all of the book’s advice to the letter, reading Deep Work in the autumn has changed some of my habits for the better, allowing me to spend my time more effectively and focus on things that matter to me.

Unless I’m out of the office during the work week, I now check my emails exclusively on my laptop, which means no after-hours emailing for business or pleasure. And I’m pretty much off Facebook except for work. In my free time, I still use messaging in its various forms (texts, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger) to keep up with friends and family.

I don’t know how much time this has freed up; it certainly has allowed me more mental and emotional space. I feel calmer and less affected by random currents of positive or negative or simply trivial and distracting emails and Facebook posts.

There’s more time for tennis, working out at home with muscle-bound Zuzka Light and outdoor ParkFit classes.

Some of the Deep Work focus is on productivity, and by following some of the practices recommended, I have allowed myself the freedom to set one big objective for 2017 and one area of open-ended exploration which came up by chance over the Christmas break.

The one big objective is to write a book this year. The category is historic fiction, based on my family’s genealogy. The rest will stay a mystery for you until it’s published!

The open-ended exploration came about when the zipper on my Desigual bag broke in December, and while it was at a local shop for repair, I started looking for another bag. This resulted in discovering “There’s a niche in the market!” — which for creative and business-minded people like Christoph and me is like putting a kid in the middle of a candy shop.

It didn’t help that the bag I ended up buying comes from a designer and architect husband and wife duo based in Valencia, making the bag-designing and -making scenario all the more appealing and imaginable for us.

The next step was a course on bag making, which we did in January with Katherine Pogson. I can’t remember the last time I had so many hours of fully-immersed creativity and making something with my hands. The course ran from 10am to 5pm on a Saturday and Sunday in lovely Hampstead, and its focus was on hand-stitched leather bags.

Only two other people were on the course with us, and since then, I’ve been incessantly comparing notes on leathercraft with them through a Facebook Messenger group. Steph makes gorgeous bespoke hand-painted leather bags and accessories, and I think Jen is keeping leatherwork as a hobby. Steph’s vintage Singer (named Maude) inspired me to buy the same model from the same eBay vendor. My Singer is baptised Myrtle Wright — I was texting our group that I was buying “Myrtle right now” and it came out “Myrtle Wright now.”

Coming up in March is a one-day course with UAL which is the more general “Basics of Bag Making.”

To maintain the open-ended creativity, I am allowing myself to explore designs and make bags and accessories without worrying about the commercial aspect, keeping it firmly in the hobby camp. Of course I couldn’t resist whipping up a name, logo and Etsy shop, but that’s incidental for now.

Though I spend quite a lot of time being creative for work, it is a true delight to immerse myself in non-commercial, non-commissioned, creative design and making.

Book writing and bag making are the prize for not checking my emails and Facebook in the evening — an exchange I am more than happy to make!

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