Creating the perfect work from home environment is always an interesting brief. Especially when it's for a household whose work and interests span from design and photography to music and electrical engineering.

Where it got dicey, but even more so intriguing, is when the conversation reached the minor detail of "oh, and by the way, it needs to fit into 60 sqft (5.5m²)."

Client Private
Location Brooklyn, New York
Timeframe 2020
Status Completed
Work from home study.

Agreeing on the overall aesthetics was swift, with the simple warm and transparent functionality of contemporary Korean and Japanese hospitality and retail spaces being the guiding principle, and a good fit for the house.

Given the spatial constraint, it became immediately clear that we'd need to increase the available horizontal space by layering shelves vertically, which yielded more area than the entire room floor space while only taking up a third of it. Choosing a standing desk height with a drafting chair also helped.

Going for standard tan-coated industrial shelving fit the overall design, and freed up budget and lead time in comparison to custom fabrication, while providing the necessary structural support and accommodation for the pronounced unevenness the house accumulated over nearly a century.

Brooklyn Study - Room Sized Video Conferencing on Zoom (Credit: SDO)
Brooklyn Study - Intuitive Video Monitoring and Switching (Credit: SDO).
Brooklyn Study - Overhead Camera Mode (Credit: SDO).
Video Conferencing
Multiple cameras including overhead views (pictured), always perfectly lit and framed, intuitive switching and monitoring, including live production and professional remote broadcasts.

The next constraint came with the hard requirements around professional video conferencing and live productions: the only way to achieve a somewhat flattering look with a proper focal length, depth of field, and clean background meant that it would have to be shot diagonally across the room.

Once that volume of space was set aside, and additional cameras for a collaborative overhead view, note taking, and microscopic shots positioned, the next challenge was to find the right equipment that was compact yet professional enough. To conserve energy, the entire broadcast setup including the A/V equipment, including the ring, key and hair lights on opposite sides of the room, needed to be turned off with a single central switch, while coming back online when needed, perfectly configured, without a single additional button to be pressed or setting to be restored.

We ultimatively went with Blackmagic Micro Studio cameras, monitors, switches and converters, talking over SDI for more flexible cabling, supplemented by Sennheiser shotgun and various other microphones routed through the central RME audio interface of the music studio layer to achieve those goals.

Brooklyn Study - Normal Work Mode (Credit: SDO).
The study can transform from supporting normal day-to-day work into special functions, within seconds.
Brooklyn Study - Music Studio (Credit: SDO)
Music Studio
Entire room optimized with various acoustic foams and panels, plenty of data, optical and analog audio outlets throughout, and all instruments within easy reach.
Brooklyn Study - Flight Simulator (Credit: SDO).
Flight Simulator
Custom milled dashboard on a sliding tray under the desk and a swivel mount yoke take less than 5 seconds to set up and be put back again.
Brooklyn Study - Electrical Engineering Lab (Credit: SDO).
Electrical Engineering
Entire system ESD protected, microscope and fume extraction as well as instrumentation and a tools pegboard stashed safely behind the main screens.

Once the basics were done, the real game of Tetris began:

First up, just like the conferencing capabilities, we segmented the work modes into 4 distinct groups. It was clear that the space was simply not large enough to support dedicated areas, so we took the equipment and requirements list, and started playing with shelf numbers and their height and made sure that each item is in its best possible ergonomic position.

The by far largest amount of devices by volume and space were the musical instruments and equipment, so we created another instrument station against the back wall holding the main piano, various drum pads, pedals, and microphones, which allows distraction free productions with up to 3 people in the studio. A slightly tweaked Line Phono stand holds the most often used records as well as the sampling turntable, and, like all audio components, is fully insulated from vibrations caused by the busy nearby street. Conversely, significant effort was spent to make sure that no element in the study would start vibrating or cause other interference during low bass or high volume playback.

As always in some cases we got lucky as things progressed: the initial frustration of not being able to mount the main displays on the back wall quickly turned into appreciation for a couple of additional hidden cubic feet of space and greater flexibility in screen positions thanks to the independent and almost invisible white powder coated Ergotron monitor arms.

Some items, like the flight simulator dashboard, needed custom fabrication which, in combination with a soft close cabinetry mechanism, keeps it wired and safely in place while being used or stowed on the underside of the main work surface.

Once all components found their homes, functionality of their position in daily use was validated and last adjustment were made, and the tedious work of measuring, laying, connecting and tidying up almost 700 feet of cables commenced - including all the power for the most common functions running through a single central board of five switches, to power additional functionality on and off as needed and with a single reach.

Brooklyn Study - Piano and Drumpad Closeup (Credit: SDO).
Brooklyn Study - Mixer Closeup Closeup (Credit: SDO).
Brooklyn Study - Details (Credit: SDO).
General mood and small decorations.

Work from home is here to stay, and it was a pleasure to validate early that even the smallest spaces can support incredible setups.

We're now working to translate the learnings around technology, vendor selection, configuration etc, into a standardized approach for larger projects.

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Team SDO New York
Services Planning, Design, Engineering, Project Management, Vendor Selection
Photography In-house