The Home Office and Playlist of Architect Amélie-Phaine Keller

The Home Office and Playlist of Architect Amélie-Phaine Keller

Gregory Han
Mar 1, 2013

The work of Amélie-Phaine Keller is wide ranging, literally. In addition to chairing the Bay Area Young Architects, and sitting on the board of the AIA in San Francisco, she also works with a nonprofit organization called Effect International. EI helps communities in rural India build their own schools, requiring Amélie to create interesting, yet simple-enough designs so locals can follow and construct their new school structures. Now Amélie shares another way to keep work interesting with her dynamic Playlist. Look and listen below.

What do you listen to while you work? I listen to a wide variety of music because as I go throughout the day I need different sorts of sounds to organize my mind around. Usually it will be more ethereal or classically inspired types of music — DovesAndrew Bird. But if I need something energizing, I mix that in as well — RöyksoppDelta Spirit.


How do you listen? I usually listen on my Bose headphones because that keeps all of the outside noise from coming in to disturb my thinking. Sometimes, depending on what problem I’m solving though, I need to move around while I’m thinking. In that case I have Harman Kardon SoundSticks speakers which fill up my small San Francisco space very well. I have tendencies in my listening habits but I try not to stick to anything rigidly in any of my creative life.

Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? For discovering music Hype Machine is definitely my go-to site. It’s easy to find music that I like and discover new musicians. There’s also usually a plethora of free, linked music to get through there.

If I don’t want to do any active DJ-ing I will likely wind up on Pandora because it’s really good at following my instructions when I tell it about the type of songs that I do or don’t want on a station.

Does music influence your work? Music absolutely influences my work. It’s not necessarily visible but it helps me to hold together a continuum of my thoughts as I try to digest design problems or develop ideas. If there is a design that I’m working on with a certain visual quality to it, though, I might try to match the musical style to that so that my mind can more easily get into the groove of thinking about that aesthetic and feeling. It also enables me to work better by putting a backdrop to the day so that I don’t become distracted by irrelevant problems or tasks.

Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? I mentioned Hype Machine earlier, so that’s one major place that I find recommendations. There are lots of different venues for following rabbit trails of new tunes. Just start reading music blogs and you’ll find tons of new stuff. I also do a periodic survey of my friends to see who’s found new music that they think is particularly wonderful.

What song or artist best represents the work you create? My style and way of working varies, but whatever the project, Rufus Wainwright is always a fantastic match. His work is very grand, based in classical composition, but is modern in its execution and has a lot of variety. He shies away from getting trapped into one style of expression, allowing experiences and new knowledge to influence his pieces over time. I subscribe to the belief that a designer should not cultivate their own sense of aesthetics exclusively. Rather, they should respond to the client or design challenges at hand in a way that is tailored to that specific situation, much as a set designer creates space that responds to and enhances the interactions of characters. In this way I think that my personal methods as well as my outcome are represented well by Mr. Wainwright’s own.

Ideal place to sit and listen to your playlist: The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman and the Mirra Chair.

I really think this pair of seats would be best, because I don’t like to stick to one thing long enough to get stuck in a groove or to know what to expect next. My playlist goes back and forth between dreamy, free-thinking music and more beat-driven, work-motivating tunes. So between these two seats, both the conceptual idea phase and the design execution phases are accommodated.

Amelie’s Playlist:
1. The Man Who Told Everything, Doves
2. Le Long De La Rivière Tendre, Sébastien Tellier
3. Caravan, Husky Rescue
4. 1969, Boards of Canada
5. Fingers, The Seatbelts
6. Mer du Japon, Air
7. You Hear Colours, Cfcf
8. Special, Mew
9. Vision One, Röyksopp
10. 14th Street, Rufus Wainwright*
11. The Old Days, Dr. Dog*

*Two artists Amélie “could listen to endlessly.”

(Images: Amélie-Phaine Keller; Harman Kardon)

lifework2012-02-22 at 2.10.00 PM.jpgRepublished in partnership with Herman Miller Lifework. Originally posted by Jamie Latendresse.
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