22 February 2019
Everyone who knows me knows that I stretch while I read and drink tea each morning, for about 15 minutes. I’ve done every day since I was 16. I can’t stand just waking up and rushing out of the house. And I would never think of leaving the house without making the bed! This week I write to you about my interest and fascination in people’s morning routines.
From 1976 to 1987, Andy Warhol woke up and had a phone call with his friend Pat Hackett at 9am to dictate the previous day’s events. This was because Inland Revenue audited his business each year, so this helped him keep track of his expenses. He would then have breakfast downstairs with his two dashunds and his housekeepers. I always suspected Andy had a relatively uneventful morning routine.
After a cup of tea, Louise Bourgeois was picked up at her home by her assistant at exactly 10am, and the pair would drive to her Brooklyn studio. Hmm, another uneventful, yet rather strict routine.
Joan Miro was another artist, set in his morning routine. Every morning, he would wake up and get ready and would be at work by exactly 7am. He would then have a break at noon for one hour when he would exercise. He felt that routine and exercise would keep depression at bay (he had a bout of severe depression in his teens), so makes sense.
Georgia O’Keeffe rose with the sun and a cup of tea each day, followed by a half hour walk in the desert. She loved this time of day, when no one was around. At 7am, her cook served breakfast.
I just got this audiobook, which lists the routines of 161 artists, philosophers, scientists, etc. Listening to something while I get dressed and make the bed in the morning is another one of my routines…
Daily Rituals, How Artists work.
15 November 2017
Hi MLE,A trove of leaked documents published last week by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have confirmed how the world’s ultra-rich become richer by exploiting tax shelters.Nike’s European headquarters is based in the Netherlands. In 2006 the Dutch government granted the brand a new tax deal that allowed it to open a subsidiary in Bermuda (which is of course a shell company). This subsidiary owns Nike’s intangible design assets – like its logo and trademarks – for all markets outside of the United States. Since it is based in Bermuda, which is a tax-free country, Nike is not taxed at all on the billions in revenue these licensing fees generate.But this was not enough. In 2014, Nike found a way to successfully exploit a Dutch tax law from 1830 called a “commanditaire vennootschap” (CV), or limited partnership, which lets multinational corporations skirt taxes in the Netherlands and abroad, too.Thanks to its corporate restructuring, Nike’s tax global rate dropped from 34.9% in 2007 to 13.2% this year.Other leaked documents show how other multinationals like Uber are doing the same thing. The UK is losing out on much-needed tax dollars from Uber. Yet another reason why I don’t want them in this country.
Speak next week!
10 November 2017
Hey the MLE,
Was walking through one of the world's top graffiti spots, Shoreditch, and thought I'd take some photos for you. There's always something different, the walls seems to be changing by the second. Of course the medium goes beyond spray paint to silk screens, sculptures, stencils on wallpaper, framed photographs, etc etc etc.
Have a nice weekend!
29 January 2016
Hi the MLE,
Remember that summer in New York when we discovered that someone had upholstered a random tree trunk at the side of the road?
It makes me inexplicably happy when someone takes something bland, boring or just commonplace and makes it into something special, for some reason. At the Calgary Airport, those random places where you park your luggage trolley all have photographs of the luggage trolley itself. Which is unexpected and interesting and makes people notice these ordinary objects that are otherwise overlooked.
Now, the airport could have easily made a bit of money putting ads here, or they could have slapped in its logo with some instructions or something more predictable. But no, we have these photos instead. And it makes me very happy.
And it gives me an idea… I’m looking for something to hang over the sofa in the living room. Perhaps it could be a photo of the sofa, with a photo of the sofa itself on the wall?
1 April 2015
Today, we are very lucky to have a guest post from our Senior Intern, Daniel Pearson! Here he recounts his observations of the recent massive explosion of serviced office spaces aimed specifically at those working in the creative industries:
(Where do) We Work?
Over the past 30 years here in the UK the world of work has changed beyond recognition. It is far less secure. The old certainties of a ‘job for life’ followed by a decent pension have been replaced by a world where extreme job insecurity is the norm. We do not expect to work for the same company for ever, and many of us even expect to change careers.
Out of this uncertainty, alternative models of employment have flourished. Many hundreds of thousands of people now choose to work as freelancers / as self-employed / or entrepreneurs in industries where permanent employment was once the norm. In return for the greater insecurity, workers take enhanced flexibility, and enjoy a greater sense of control over their lives and careers. Many chose to work from home, away from what they perceive as dull or stuffy corporate environments.
In recent weeks, I have become aware of a new breed of business, offering high-touch rented office space to budding freelancers and entrepreneurs. These places are very curious to me, because inside they seem designed to create the very strong feeling of being employed by a large corporation, but for people who have chosen not to work in corporations. As such, they and those who work in them, are a complete mystery to me.
Consider, for example “We Work” (wework.com). Inside these serviced offices, everything from mugs to complimentary mouthwash is branded with the creepy mantra that ‘We’ – those who work and hence belong there – ‘love our work’. This is ‘alpha plus’ corporate. The reception desk feels similar to a financial institution. One of the work rooms is even named ‘Better Together’, hinting at a ‘togetherness’ that – in an office full of largely self employed people – isn’t really there. Being in this office is clearly supposed to make me feel that I am employed by a corporation based there – even though in fact it employes no one. Consider www.deskcamping.com. This site, heavily targetted at ‘Creatives’ (many of whom would not readily admit to wanting aspects of the corporate world), advertises office / studio space, which it helpfully assesses with frothy icons that denote the ‘office vibe’. Several offices advertise they have ‘Planters’, who turn out to be no more than people who sit at the same desk every day. Many also have ‘regular work drinks’, as well as ‘Brewers’, which turns out to be people who drink tea and coffee together. Some have even witnessed the odd office romance. In short, just like any old corporate office.
So, why do some – and judging from the explosion of these services, so many - people who are self employed want to spend their time in a corporate environment – and pay for the pleasure?
These serviced offices with their heavy corporate feel targeted at the self employed are really rather sinister. With all their branded mouthwash, standardised mugs and empty insinuations of togetherness, I think they are trying to lull their occupants into thinking that they work in a more stable working world, where there is greater certainty than there is. And they charge a hefty premium for the illusion. (Wouldn't it be odd if students, having handed over their £9k annual tuition fee, wanted to attend a university that did its best to pretend it was free?).
I work in a large corporation, and inside my offices the posters, the TV screens and even the mugs reinforce that I in some way belong there. While many of my colleagues and I tolerate this (albeit in return for a salary), and strive to have greater choice and control over where and when we work, all over the city, it seems thousands of freelancers, self employed workers and creative entrepreneurs are seeking a greater corporate experience, and are even willing to pay for it.
Do increasing numbers of creatives, entrepreneurs and the self employed somehow - just a little bit - crave the unfashionable certainties of office life? Perhaps they do - just as more office bound workers such as myself are left cold by the thought of ‘planters’, ‘brewers’, branded mouthwash and inspirationally named meeting rooms, and want nothing more than to work from where and when we want.
Wherever you work tomorrow, I wish you well.