May 15, 2014

Blogger’s Quest(ionnaire): Rachel Stewart of Domesticated Desk

Rachel Stewart is a designer who believes in carving out personal spaces to stimulate openness toward creative moments and shaping them. Her goal, as she put it, is to “celebrate the art of reading, writing and reflection.” Here, Stewart shares her thoughts about blogging at Domesticated Desk. She can be found on Twitter: @domesticatedesk.

Why did you create a Website of regular entries?
I enjoy writing, and I enjoy sharing—so it was the perfect combination. I have always written in journals, and this became a new way for me to gather my thoughts on design. It is my personal digital card catalog. I was working for a design firm during the day, but I wanted to start honing my “secret” passion for owning a shop. This blog became my way of enjoying the “one-day dream”, while I worked on making the other more tangible part happen.

What Web-based solution did you select and why?
I use Blogger, simply because it was available at the time back in 2007. I just jumped on and never looked back. I am currently working on a custom blog template, probably in WordPress, for, can’t wait to have more control over the design.

What is your definition of a good blog 
and what are three good blogs that you frequently visit?
I tend to read design blogs that do quick and informative write-ups on products, designers, etc. I like being informed, but I like succinct content, my eyes get tired quickly. Fashion is another interest, so the photographic talent of Garance DorĂ© and Jamie Beck inspire me daily. I also like to read blogs that have a strong voice. I laugh while reading Erin Gates of Elements of Style. She has a great sense of humor. I also like relatable voices, like BP of Even If Nobody Reads This. She touches on topics that I think about but don’t necessarily share digitally. “Good” is just personal taste, there is so much out there to absorb!

How do you create content for your blog? 
My content has shifted over the years as I learn, grow, and change. The main focus has always been designing desk-set vignettes inspired from a daily spark, like watching “Out of Africa” or shopping for a special gift. My “one-day dream” is to own a shop that features personal accessories and home goods focused on the home study. Creative spaces, and the creative and contemplative life, interest me. I think we need more of it and I would love to be a part of encouraging that lifestyle. As I find inspiration, I create a post. This keeps me honing my taste and style, sharing products that I like, dabbling in interior decorating—all my passion. I post 2–3 times a week when it is fluid. Last summer, I made an effort to create a daily/weekly post schedule. I did a combination of journal entries, product content, and collaborations with other bloggers. At the time, I was really sifting through my next steps in life, mainly working to make this “one-day dream” real! I realized I needed to pull back in order to go full force. I see my most recent posts as stronger and more focused, and that is a reflection of that decision. I guess I learned not to force it.

Desk drawer

How do you stay organized 
and motivated to contribute to your blog? 
After last summer’s experiment, I decided to go back to my previous way of posting, a when-I-get-the-spark method. Forcing post content made me want to put my head under a pillow and stay in bed! I find that this spark process makes me happy, and I think my posts are more intentional. When it is natural, it comes across as real. Motivation is also based on your blogging goals. A blog can be a business—selling ad space and getting contributors—if that is what you want, then approach it accordingly. For me, it is still just about collecting my thoughts on design, openly sharing this digital journal entry.

Shelburne Museum, Vermont

For those aspiring to make a Website composed of 
regular thoughts and/or images, what is your advice? 
Follow your gut and focus on a passion. If you start to feel like a polar bear (above) in the summer, you might have to reassess where you landed! This has to be enjoyable for you to keep it going, and you are in total control of how you design the experience. Blaze your own path and know your goals. It might take some time to find your voice, but just keep doing it. As a trend forecaster, I am constantly curious about change, and the blogging world is growing and changing so fast! So be open to the new and stay flexible.

View from office

What is your quest in blogging?
My double quest is to continue to create interesting content out of what naturally inspires me daily. I also want to take what I have explored on the Domesticated Desk blog and express those ideas through a lifestyle brand and shop. I want to continue to encourage creating space for a more creative and contemplative life, starting at home with the personal workspace and extending into what you take with you everyday—a fluidity of home, work, life and expression. I hope to launch this summer, so stay tuned…

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Photographs courtesy of Rachel Stewart.

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Read more of the Design Feast series Blogger’s Quest(ionnaire).

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