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Switching Gears to Remote Work

Rio Hirai

GINZA SIX EDITORS Vol.103

As someone who works as a freelance editor, I don’t have an office. In the afternoon, I’ll go research an article or attend a photoshoot. In the evening, I’ll check in with any number of editorial departments. Beyond that, I do almost all my work at home. People would often say: “I can’t believe you actually get work done at home.” But, like it or not, I’ve had no choice. On rainy days, on windy days, on days when I’m raring to go, on days when I’m really hung over, it doesn’t matter: if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Such is the life of a freelancer. That’s why, after so many years, I’ve accumulated certain skills and techniques for making remote work a pleasant experience.

Strangely enough, in 2020, a whole lot of people have had to find their own ways to make remote work more enjoyable. No doubt their solutions differed depending on their job, family circumstances, and floor plan. One key for everyone has been figuring out how to switch gears between work and private life in a place where work and private space are intermingled. GINZA SIX is actually the perfect place to go find that switch that will get you going. First off, the building is gorgeous. I forego my typical hoodie-and-sneakers look, change into some nice clothes, do my makeup, take a deep breath, and…“I’m off!” I’m ready to step in. So, here we go!

I leave the Ginza throng and pass through the entrance into the dazzling world of GINZA SIX. Moving up the floors on the escalator, I’m overcome with elation. When you’re at home all the time, there isn’t much opportunity to switch gears like this, so you end up idling about and not doing a lot.

I’m headed to CIBONE CASE on the fourth floor, home to interior and design products from creators from Japan and beyond. Even in abundantly lived-in rooms, adding just a single new object can change the mood.

We’re in the middle of the Christmas season, so the store interior is suitably and strikingly decorated. My eye is drawn to the Mt. Hari tree-shaped bottle cover (15,000 yen; all prices listed before tax), the pride of a Japanese sewing artist who makes fascinating home décor articles like pincushions in a needlework box. Soft and fluffy, no two of the patterns are the same. The effect of putting them on wine bottles, as in the display here, is just adorable. I could put one on a bottle of wine to drink for Christmas, then await the big day—that’d be great…but I digress. My job here is to find things that will help me work.

I look down at my feet and find these Hender Scheme leather slippers (12,000 yen). How perfect would these be for switching gears! The first step toward successful remote work, I think, is getting up in the morning, washing your face and getting dressed (not that this is at all anything unusual I can boast of, I hasten to add!]). But though you’re dressed, with bare feet or just comfy socks, it can still be hard to get into work mode. The leather of the soles is the same as the leather found on normal leather shoes; the tassel is something you might find on a traditional loafer, while the white stitching adds an accent. The slippers strike the right balance between indoor and outdoor shoes, the right level of tension when focusing on work.

I like to have a favorite coffee mug or teacup next to me when I’m at my desk. I like coffee, naturally, and green tea (the catechin in green tea, I hear, helps prevent and relieve hangovers). So drinking green tea from this Kutani teacup (from Kamide Choemon Pottery) (7,000 yen each) would be ideal. The flute player, a traditional design, holds a boombox while riding a skateboard and spinning records in a way that suggests he might be someone you know, someone you’re close to. The sight is immediately reassuring.

CIBONE CASE features a large selection of bowls by Japanese artists. Each hand-made article is unique. The one I’m holding here is by Shohei Ono (9,000 yen), whose father is Teppei Ono, the ceramicist. Shohei Ono makes his own glazes. The blue glaze on this particular bowl is breathtaking.

Even people working remotely look forward to lunch. If you’re busy and considering having a single dish, this bowl would be just the perfect size and depth. For example, if you order out with Uber Eats, you can fill up the bowl and have, no doubt, a pretty nice lunch.

You’ll find many things at CIBONE CASE that can help energize your space and make it a pleasant place to work, including this diffuser (8,900 yen) from LABORATORIO OLFATTIVO, an experimental aroma project started in Italy, and this succulent plant (35,000 yen) from Qusamura, based in Hiroshima.

Certainly not everyone can move to a house with a home office, set aside a desk and chair just for work, or change their work environment in significant ways. But you can mark the transformation just as decisively with a pair of slippers, or a teacup, or a new diffuser. The key lies in knowing yourself and what changes will help you shift in and out of work mode.

For example, sound can be another way to flip the switch. For me, at least, this is pretty important. From the time I wake up to the time I’m done with email, I listen to the radio. If I have to concentrate especially hard or write an article, it’s instrumental music. When I really have to dig in and make progress, I’ll up the tempo and rev myself up by making maximum use of Spotify. This means my next task is to improve my audio environment. MONO & SOUND SIT BACK & RELAX, a premium audiophile destination, is here on the second floor for limited time (until February 28, 2021). And that’s where I go.

Inside, you’ll find Bluetooth-enabled audio devices featuring exceptional sound quality and design. These speakers, from the Swedish audio brand Transparent, are made up of modules that can be removed and exchanged separately, which they say represents its advocation of sustainability. The impressive, black-bodied STEEL SPEAKER (300,000 yen) is especially striking. TRANSPARENT SPEAKER (138,800 yen), a transparent model made of reinforced glass, looks like an art piece.

These are from the Swiss audio maker GENEVA (18,500 yen / 24,800 yen). They’re small, about the size of a compact camera. Their simple rectilinear lines and extendable antenna combine for a classic look. Placed on a desk, they don’t get in the way. They’d work well in a kitchen, too. They’re small, yes, but the sound is powerful. With a full charge, they can play continuously for 20 hours. Having one for emergencies wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

As I’m thinking, Well, they all look great, I have no idea…, the sales attendant carefully explains things to me. “We import and sell, under license, only the overseas audio brands we really like. Plus, we curate and sell products handled by our company and other products we find interesting.” An online store of the same name was launched in 2017. This store at GINZA SIX has been around since September 6 of last year. It’s the company’s first brick-and-mortar venture.

I start to think, yeah, I’d like to listen to great audio on a good device…these headphones look interesting…and I’m into this Marshall portable speaker (59,800 yen)…maybe I’d take this on camping trips…I wonder if I can go to a music festival next year…Oops, I’m getting off track again. I pull myself together and head to Ginza Tsutaya Books on the sixth floor.

And just like that, a kumade decorative rake (representing success, wealth, and good fortune) slides into view. It’s a collaboration between the artist Takeru Amano and Shimizuya’s Art Division. A venerable maker of kumade rakes founded in 1925 in Miyoshi, Saitama Prefecture, Shimizuya launched its Art Division to promote the appeal of kumade that highlight creativity and progressive interpretations. Though I’m just a freelancer, I’ve thought about getting a real kumade someday. I’ve furtively checked them out on Instagram and other places. But seeing a real one in person is amazing—I so want one!

I wonder, perhaps if I hit it big in business I’ll be able to buy a big one someday…Now though, I realize I need to get back home to work. GINZA SIX seems to have flipped my switch back to work mode.

On my way out, I check out GINZA SIX ART CONTAINER. Eight containers set up around the complex feature works based on the theme of new meetup spots. I’m especially fond of the work by the artist WAKU on the second floor. While gazing at the bright neon tubes inside the container painted jet-black inside, for a moment I almost lose track of time, unintentionally. The idea is that you scan the QR code on the concept board to share your current location with others. The next time I’m here on my own time, I’m considering making this my meetup spot. I guess I really do need to head home and get back to remote working.

ART CONTAINER
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Text: Rio Hirai Photos: Megumi Edit: Yuka Okada(81)

editors_hirai

Rio Hirai

Editor and writer. Born in Tokyo in 1989. Worked as an editorial assistant during college and began freelancing in 2015. Writes and edits for magazines like POPEYE, Hanako (Magazine House), SPUR (Shueisha), and others; also involved in online, advertising, and other media, including her role as editor-in-chief of ASBS.

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2020.12.14 Up