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Martha's Desk Set
To celebrate the connection between the personal and the professional, Martha asked renowned photographer Robert Polidori to document the spaces that spark creativity in her workplace.
Martha sits in her glass-enclosed office at the Starrett-Lehigh Building, overlooking the Hudson River. She also has offices at the TV studio and at Living's Midtown headquarters. "It may seem peculiar to an outsider that my office is devoid of decoration or flowers or pictures or tchotchkes," she says. "But in fact it's deliberate. The less chaos, the better. The impersonal and pared-down modernist look is actually quite conducive to writing and meetings."
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Martha's spare, glass-enclosed office at the Starrett-Lehigh Building is exceptionally orderly, providing a blank canvas for creativity. A framed 1932 photograph of the building's exterior is a notable reminder of its origins as an industrial warehouse; the interior retains the original open loft-style floor plan and oversize windows, allowing for the airy quality and natural light that Martha sought.
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Ayesha Patel's Office
After styling hundreds of photo shoots for Martha Stewart Living, deputy creative director Ayesha Patel has accumulated -- and can't bear to part with -- a small-scale prop house of her own, including assorted glass and ceramic vessels and an array of boxes both vintage and modern. Because many decorating lessons and photos are driven by palette, linens are organized by color, so that the appropriate bins can easily be pulled and carted to the photo studio.
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More of Ayesha Patel's Office
All manner of objects pique Patel's curiosity and imagination. Letterpress invitations, bundled twigs, and even packets of salt and pepper contribute different textures and colors to create a desired feeling.
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Fritz Karch's Office
Never one for a stark work environment, editorial director for collecting Fritz Karch intersperses stacks of books and paperwork with beautiful treasures amassed over a lifetime. On the wall, a petite gold-framed painting of fruits and vegetables hangs alongside a relic from a 2001 Living article on antique barometers. Glass bottles, used to transport wine, cologne, and honey in the 19th century, are now prized for their distinctive labels.
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More of Fritz Karch's Office
The contents of the office of editorial director for collecting Fritz Karch are nearly as encyclopedic as his knowledge.
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"Some people need absolute quiet and order to think," Karch says. "I'm not one of them. Absolute quiet terrifies me." The antique cooking molds, which echo the forms of the skyscrapers out the window, began accumulating after he proposed a story on them. "I became a victim of our own success. I kept going and going."
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Gael Towey's Office
From her office at Starrett-Lehigh, chief creative officer Gael Towey enjoys a stunning view of the Hudson River. The neat stacks on the table represent a multitude of ongoing projects; because she is a very visually oriented person, she likes to keep everything within sight. Her laptop, meanwhile, is hidden away when not in use in a cleverly designed desk by Eero Saarinen. The other fixture in the room -- a curvaceous white lamp -- was developed as a prototype for a magazine article that was never published; its base was made from a plaster mold of a Japanese bottle gourd.
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An office in the textiles department is draped with swatches of 19th-century European textiles, many of which are adapted to create motifs for Martha Stewart bedding and table linens. "Inspiration comes from constant research," says Gael Towey, chief creative officer. "Our textile designers are always going to flea markets and industry shows and scouring magazines and books."
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Hannah Milman's Office
The sea is never far from the mind or office of Hannah Milman, executive editorial director for crafts. An arresting painting of a porbeagle shark, by artist Peter C. Thompson, leans against the wall. Beside it is a photograph of Georgia O'Keeffe collecting driftwood on Fire Island, New York. (Raymond Strout, a framer and collector of ephemera in Bar Harbor, Maine, mounted both works.) There's even a wreath made with quahog shells -- the state shell of Milman's native Rhode Island. On the shelves, spools of vintage ribbon, old candy tins, and jewelry and bakery boxes spark ideas for future product packaging.
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More of Hannah Milman's Office
Executive editorial director for crafts Hannah Milman covers the surfaces of her office with worn linen sheets and then attaches bits of nature, buttons, ribbons, and other items that she acquires at flea markets, garage sales, and trimming shops.
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"I don't spend more than 50 cents for most of them," she says. "I love the colors of old maps and stamps. Things are constantly being taken down and used as sources for tools, papers, paints, and pens."
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On any given day, the long, narrow test kitchen of Everyday Food at the company's Midtown Manhattan office is filled with tantalizing aromas and a complete lineup of kitchen essentials, each stowed in a designated location. The wide stainless steel tables serve as staging grounds for prep work and tasting; underneath, there is open storage space for oils and vinegars, large pots, and bins filled with potatoes and other foodstuffs. Shelves along the wall hold hundreds of cookbooks, kept on hand for reference as food editors conceptualize, develop, and perfect their recipes.
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Dishes in nearly every style and hue -- blue transferware, green Leedsware, and hand-painted creamware, to name a few -- are cataloged and stocked on metal racks in the prop house at Starrett-Lehigh. Stylists draw upon this in-house collection to create just the right look and feel for various articles. On the bottom of each piece is a bar code, so that items can be scanned in and out easily, just like books in a library.
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When prepping for photo shoots, stylists take advantage of this expansive reserve of linens, including napkins and kitchen towels, which are organized by color in the prop house.
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Framed illustrations and photographs make up just a fraction of the prop house's vast inventory. Some flat file drawers hold unframed drawings and mirrors. Others contain flatware and utensils, including silver teaspoons, ladles, Bakelite cutlery, and vintage corkscrews.
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One of Living's two crafts rooms -- lined with bins containing fabrics, papers, tools, glues, and other supplies.
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A counter with an assortment of candlesticks in the prop room at Starrett-Lehigh; each of the thousands of items in the collection, which are used for photo shoots and as inspiration for merchandising, is cataloged and labeled.
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The pages of Martha Stewart Weddings are never short on color, given its well-stocked fabric closet. Swatches include rich pinks, tangerines, and greens. For photography, linen and silk taffeta are used most often. Commercial steamers are stored nearby, for eliminating creases at the last minute.
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In another Weddings closet, patterned dress forms stand in single file; they are occasionally recovered in new fabric for photo shoots -- for example, to complement the palette of bridesmaids' dresses. On the shelves above, clear plastic bins hold pieces of ribbon, silk flowers, and crafts supplies, which are grouped by hue and labeled accordingly.
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Darcy Miller's Office
Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings, has an office that's a canvas of experience.
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"I create this kind of environment around me, at home or at work," she says. "It's a reflection of what's going on around me, what inspires me. It's layered, documenting where we are in the magazine, things I'm seeing, places I'm going, and, of course, what's going on in my life. My children are very much a part of it. I spend so many hours at work. It's nice to have them incorporated."
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Weddings Inspiration Board
A mix of textiles is kept in plain view throughout the offices of Weddings, inspiring palettes and styles for future articles.
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This gallery of color chips, which showcases a line of Martha Stewart paint, is one of many product-sample displays housed in the sun-drenched clerestory at Starrett-Lehigh.
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Kevin Sharkey's Office
The shelves in the Starrett-Lehigh office of Kevin Sharkey, executive editorial director for decorating, make a style statement of their own.
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"Any real book person would scoff at this kind of arrangement," he acknowledges. "For some, it's almost sacrilegious. But I've always remembered books by their colors. It actually makes it easier for me to pull books for shoots and propping. But it's gotten out of control. I keep buying books and books and more books."
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A wall outside Living's art department displays layouts in progress to be evaluated and critiqued.
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Jodi Levine's Office
Candy, vintage party hats, crepe paper in every hue, paper bowls from Bali, and old crafts magazines are all fodder for the imagination of Kids editorial director Jodi Levine, who also designs for the company's crafts line.
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"I look in funny places to find ideas," she says. "Everyday detritus inspires me. It might be the beautiful stripe on a sugar packet or the lovely rose printed on a plastic bag. I tend to hoard stuff like that. Once, the swirl on a kids' lollipop inspired a whole story."
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