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The secret world of creative workspaces

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Photographer Paul Barbera harboured a desire to poke around the studios of his favourite creative people. Armed with his camera, he tried a direct approach and requested permission to photograph their work spaces. Surprisingly, most of them agreed. The end result is a blog and a book about the studios and offices of creative people all across the world. It’s called, simply, Where They Create.

“I used it as a way to go and meet the people I most admire,” Paul said, "and it’s a way to explore a city – you get to go to places you would never normally go. The book doesn’t talk about their work, how successful they are, or who they are. It talks about the shared common ground we all have as creatives, and the struggles we go through.”

To date, Barbera has photographed 65 creative offices all over the world. Is there one common theme linking them all?: “Crap everywhere,” said the Australian-born photographer bluntly, but in a metaphorical way: “We’re so used to seeing places that are styled. But there is a discrepancy between the spaces we see in magazines, and those that we actually work in. I shoot all the crap as well. It’s romanticized, but it’s all shot."

“Messiness is crucial. You go through waves of mess and ordering, and maybe never the ordering. The more ordered someone is in their mind, the more crazy the space is, and the reverse.”

The only workspace he considered unshootable was one that had been sanitized before his arrival. “I walked in and it was cleaned up. I couldn’t shoot it,” he said.

Does he have any suggestions for setting up a creative workspace?: “Try having a non-Ikea filing system. I’m sick of seeing Ikea shelves. It has become the most generic item I’ve seen, along with Apple computers.”

Where They Create began as a blog, and was picked up as a book concept by Frame, a magazine and book publisher in Amsterdam that focuses on interesting interiors.

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More pictures of creative workspaces you find on Paul's blog: www.wheretheycreate.com

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