March 26, 2020

Ayse Birsel Joins Cindy Allen for an Instagram Live Chat

Today’s edition of Interior Design’s Instagram Live chats, hosted by Editor in Chief Cindy Allen, featured industrial and project designer, artist, and all around creative Ayse Birsel,  author of Design the Life You Love. Bibi Seck—Birsel’s partner both personal and professional (the two founded Birsel + Seck)—had only returned from Senegal a few days ago, so she shared that the room arrangements in her home, including those of their two teenage daughters, have been reshuffled to keep everyone safe. From their respective homes, the two New Yorkers, sequestered yet healthy, talked about life, their favorite pieces of advice, and how to think like a designer. 

Birsel’s team, charged with spreading her ‘Design Your Life’ ethos, already worked from what she called a “deconstructed” office, making for a rather seamless transition to working from home. During her conversation with Allen, Birsel gave a shoutout to her team and mentioned that the Design Your Life community hosted a virtual tea over Zoom recently, inviting Instagram viewers to be a part of the one happening next week. During the last virtual event, she encouraged those who joined to turn constraints into opportunities and workshopped ways to do so in a home office, such as playing with materials for creating an ergonomic chair or simply standing up

This historical moment is “perhaps the best time to design our lives and to take charge” Birsel said. She also shared from her book ways to think like a designer, noting “ordinary people (non designers) are extra ordinarily creative, but need a design process and tools. Deconstruct to reconstruct.” Birsel noted that she considers optimism, empathy, seeing the big picture, asking positive “what if” questions, and collaboration key for successful design work and creative thinking.  With a smile, Birsel added: “My best ideas come from my worst ideas.”

Birsel has found many silver linings within our shared moments of self isolation. “We could use some wrong thinking” she said, referencing people’s hesitation to work in their pajamas from bed, a style she encouraged lightheartedly.  In a moment where work and life balance seemingly has been thrown out the window, Birsel has managed to turn her usual commuting time into her own personal time. As she shared drawings she’s created over the past week, she reminded us all to “fight fear and create with hope.” 

Read next: Interior Design’s Cindy Allen Speaks with Peter Ippolito on Instagram Live

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