Shelter in grace: How designers stay productive while working from home.

Stephanie Beamer, Hillary Petrie and Crystal Ellis founded Egg Collective in 2011 when the trio all lived in separate cities. So using digital tools to collaborate virtually is nothing new to them. Today they’re all based in Brooklyn, where their time in quarantine has emphasized the important role our environments play in every aspect of our lives. 

What tools do you use to stay connected with one another when you can’t share the same studio space?
Staying connected these days over Zoom actually harkens back to the early days of our design partnership. Before Egg Collective was a company, all three of us lived in different places. We would meet weekly using a screen sharing program that allowed us to design together remotely.

Designer Crystal Ellis’s home office has a vintage table made of glass, concrete and steel by Giovanni Offredi. On top are several special objects: a stone coaster that belonged to her father, a mug made by a family friend, and her husband’s book on club design.

Have you found any benefits in this sudden return to your former way of working—designing together remotely?
For our team, the focus of this time has been on some longer term projects that we haven’t previously had time to tackle. Working separately has given us time to really focus in without the typical day-to-day distractions of being at a workplace with a team.

Have you learned developed any practices for staying productive while working from home?
Keeping normal working hours and having regular check-ins has helped us stay productive during this time. When the days can feel very much the same, it’s helpful to have each other to stay motivated to keep furthering our current projects.

Designer Hillary Petrie’s daughter observes the neighborhood outside mom’s home office, which is furnished with a vintage Paul McCobb dining table and Olavi Hanninen chairs.

What do you find yourself appreciating about your spaces now that you’re spending every hour of every day there?
We are profoundly grateful to be surrounded with objects of meaning. In all of our households, one will find art and design trades and family heirlooms nestled amongst vintage furniture and Egg Collective prototypes. Living and working from home only solidifies our belief in the value and importance of the built environment.

Designer Stephanie Beamer’s dining table turned office, with vintage table by Enzo Mari, and record “mouse pads” from her Grandfather’s record collection.

It’s a precarious time to be a creator right now. As individuals, what can we do to support the design community?
So many people are affected by this pandemic in so many different ways.

We, like many, have family and friends working in healthcare who are on the front lines. In an effort to help them—as well as support the design community— we donated the proceeds from sales on our “In Stock” page, where we represent the work of a handful of other designers and artisans, to Direct Relief, a humanitarian organization delivering protective equipment directly to front-line healthcare workers.

We have seen similar efforts from other design colleagues who are organizing donations or holding auctions. We believe these efforts are positive channels through which to do good while also investing in design. We’d also encourage anyone, if you are able, to consider buying something from a small design business. You may not get the item right away, but you will be helping that designer stay in business—and you’ll keep the world a more interesting and vibrant place in which to live.