Welcome to the Steller Blog! Here you'll find features, updates, tips and more.

Five Questions with Michelle Kaufmann

Nichole Robertson

Michelle Kaufmann is an architect, designer, author, and advocate for sustainable and accessible design. Her work has been widely featured on television and in major publications, and her homes have been showcased in a number of museums, including a full-size model home in the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. She is the author of Prefab Green, a book that outlines her green design principles and the benefits of constructing buildings off-site in a factory. Most recently Michelle co-founded FLUX, a Google-backed software start-up working on the future of architecture. She and her husband, Kevin, live in Marin County, CA in a home they designed and built themselves.

Check out this Steller by Michelle:

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1.   Why did you decide to start working with prefabrication?

After working for years with Frank Gehry (which I loved), I started my own firm with a mission to make thoughtful, sustainable design affordable, timely, and, therefore, accessible. I chose modular construction as a means to that end and spent years stalking factories to learn how they build, where their efficiencies and possibilities are, and the potentials of mixing existing systems with new materials and approaches.

Over the last half century in the U.S., we have been using innovation in every industry other than home construction to streamline the delivery process. When you also consider that buildings account for more than 50 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. and produce about that share of our CO2-equivalent emissions, you can draw two conclusions: this is insane AND it is an amazing opportunity for architects. We can help make things better.

2.  What is the mission of FLUX?

Many architects strive for simplicity in their designs, and yet forget to think about creating simplicity in their lives and how they work. Our profession is not an easy one. It requires a lot of knowledge on many things, much communication, and effective coordination. This often translates to long hours with little pay and not as much time with our families and friends as we would like. Many of us also no longer have as much time to design as we want. We can change this, though. We can rethink how we work to maximize efficiencies for the parts that can be repeated so we can have more time to innovate on other parts. Simplicity in our lives should be designed as much as simplicity in our work.

This is part of the reason that we started Flux. Flux’s mission is to spread design knowledge and improve the accessibility of design tools in order to help meet the world’s demand for durable, sustainable buildings.

3.  What was it like to work under two giant figures in your field:  Frank Gehry and Michael Graves?

I drew much inspiration from the work of my mentors Michael Graves and Frank Gehry, two of contemporary architecture’s most remarkable practitioners. Although best known for their iconic building designs, both Graves and Gehry are also product designers. Michael Graves was one of the first contemporary architects to venture beyond the realm of building design into product design. This really helped me to think about sustainable buildings like product industrial designers.

4.  What inspires your creativity?

The landscape. Whether it be the canyon walls of the Missouri River in Montana, watching the sunset melt into the ocean’s horizon, or the form of sand dunes at Point Reyes, I find that I am most inspired after being outside with my husband, Kevin.

5.  What are some of your favorite Steller stories?

I love Nick Frank (@vuuus) - both his “Subways” and his “Concrete Living” stories. There is poetry in modest settings with an architectural eye. We can find beauty in almost everything if we look closely enough.

To see more from Michelle on Steller:

Search user @mkaufmann in the app or on our website at steller.co

Download Steller for free:  www.appstore.com/

 

This Week’s Featured Authors

You don’t want to miss this week’s featured authors on Steller.

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Click/tap the story above to see the four top authors of the week.

For more news and updates, follow us on TwitterFacebook + Instagram. 

Five Questions with Brian McAniff and Karen Poole

Karen Poole Brian McAniff

Karen Poole and Brian McAniff are brother and sister co-founders of Steller. Since their childhood in Seattle, they’ve been drawn to design and technology.  When their life paths landed them both in the Bay Area, they decided it was time to merge their talents and start up something new.  Soon they set up shop in a garage and Steller was born.  Karen’s experience in visual design and Brian’s background as a user experience designer made for the perfect pairing to build a new storytelling app on mobile.

Here are a couple of favorite Stellers from Karen and Brian:

1. How did the idea for Steller come about?

B -  In some ways the idea was pretty simple.  Telling stories is one of the most basic things that we do as humans… it’s the way we hold on to our traditions and pass on our memories.

K - During the summer of 2012, we spent many (MANY) late nights brainstorming how to transform this simple idea into a product that could take advantage of videos, photos, and text, all from a mobile phone.  

2. What roles do you each play at Steller?

B -  Karen and I work really closely together on all aspects of product design.  When we aren’t designing new features for Steller we spend a lot of time brainstorming new ideas.

K -  Sometimes debating new ideas!  It has been great to work with someone I know so well.  In the past I’ve worked more independently as a designer, so it’s been really fun to have the opportunity to collaborate on Steller with my brother.

3.  If you could time travel to one year from now, where do you see yourselves?

B -  I used to think one year was a long period of time, but I have to say it’s beginning to seem much shorter. The future is uncertain, but I hope I am still learning and experiencing new things. If I can stay true to that, I will be happy wherever I am next year.

K -  One of the really cool things that has happened this year is that I have met so many amazing new people through Steller.  I’m so inspired by this community and hope that in the next year we can continue to build on it as a place where people can be creative and feel inspired to share their stories.   (And maybe we’ll finally move out of the garage!)

4.  What do you like to do when you aren’t working on Steller?

B -  I spend a lot of free time working. On the side I love to exercise and spend time with family and friends. And if you see me around a ping pong table I take all challengers as well!.

K -  Outside of Steller I am a mom of three busy kids.  I love spending time with my family and going on spontaneous adventures together.  My family would probably say I need to put my phone down more often, but in my defense I am documenting memories!  In addition to photography I love painting, nature, the open road, and watching my kids grow and learn.

5.  What are some of your favorite Steller stories?

B -  Too many to include here, but a few that come to mind are @yelldesign’s “Rip It Up,” @devin’s “NEPENTHE” and @londonbusred’s “Iceland.”

K -  I’m constantly blown away by all of the creative, insightful and heartwarming stories that people are sharing.  I adore @mstetsondesign’s “Dear Stetson” series that she creates to document each month of her baby’s life.  I also love @paperfashion’s “Red Dress” - it’s so beautiful and peaceful to watch her paint.  And @local_milk’s “Coffee - The Ritual” is beautiful and reminds me to slow down and enjoy life’s little moments.

To see more from Karen and Brian on Steller:

Search users @brian and @karen in the app or on our website at steller.co

Download Steller for free:  www.appstore.com/steller

 

Introducing The New Steller

We’re excited to announce that a major Steller update is available now on the App Store. 

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Click/tap the story above to learn more about Steller’s new social and discovery features.  

This update is available now:  www.appstore.com/steller

Happy Storytelling!

For more news and updates, follow us on TwitterFacebook + Instagram. 

Five Questions with Jon Glassberg

Jon Glassberg

Jon Glassberg is a videographer and professional rock climber who just returned from a year-long trek around the world on the Lead Now Tour, a Marmot-sponsored expedition meant to “inspire people through rock climbing.” Jon was the producer and director of photography for the Tour, and his striking images capture not only the world’s great climbing routes, but also the natural beauty and amazing people of the places he traveled. When Jon is not bouldering or taking pictures, he home bases in Boulder, CO where he co-owns the production company, Louder than Eleven.

Here is his Steller from the India leg of the Lead Now Tour:

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1.  What is your most memorable moment of the Tour?

There are a few times that really stand out. Working with Heifer International in Ecuador and experiencing a traditional meal of Cuy (Guinea Pig) that we helped cook were unforgettable. Living in a remote cabin in northern Russia for a month with no electricity or plumbing surrounded by a family that spoke less than three words of English was very special and character building. Near-death food poisoning in India and almost hitting a wild leopard with our car in South Africa also come to mind.

2.  What was it like to spend an entire year trekking around the world?

Once over the fear of not going home for a year and of not having modern amenities (and you always assume the worst), I was often pleasantly surprised by how comfortable traveling for that long can be. Producing, shooting, and editing on the road was a challenging task that consumed a lot of my energy and left me very little time to process my experiences. Learning new cultures, how to communicate, what is dangerous and what is not, or even just where to find groceries became an everyday challenge. Taking it all in with eyes wide open and trying to experience every opportunity can get pretty exhausting.

3.  You are an accomplished boulderer. Could you tell us more about the sport of bouldering and how it differs from traditional rock climbing?

Bouldering is a form of climbing that is performed without ropes but only at a safe height above large mats made of foam, so that when you do fall, you land safely. The idea behind bouldering is to refine climbing down to the hardest moves you can do on rock, uninhibited by ropes and logistics. For boulderers, its all about achieving the most difficult moves possible on rock.

4.  What does the future hold for Jon Glassberg?

I want to learn as much as I can about how to run a business while continuing to travel and learn from new cultures and people around the world. I want to travel, be inspired, and make beautiful video.

5.  What are some of your favorite Steller stories?

Emily Harrington is one of my favorite authors on Steller. Emily goes on crazy adventures around the world and has a really genuine view on life and it’s refreshing to see her take on living the dream. Her story on Ama Dablam is a stunning collection of iPhone shots from a place very few people get to enjoy.  

To see more from Jon:

Go to Discover and search for Jon Glassberg or find him on this week’s Featured Authors.

Download Steller for free:  www.appstore.com/

 

This Week’s Steller Featured Authors, Part 2 of 2

Happy Wednesday! We’re thrilled to share another great collection of amazing stories by Steller Featured Authors. This week: stop to appreciate the start of the day with local_milk, take your pancakes to the next level of amazing with tworedbowls, explore an ancient tradition with UnaGotLost and see how fun a 237 mile bike trek though the mountains of Colorado can be with adeibold.

To see more stories from these authors, visit the Featured Authors page under Discover in the app this week!

Download Steller for free: www.appstore.com/steller

This Week’s Steller Featured Authors, Part 1 of 2

Happy Monday! We’re excited to share a new collection of great stories by Steller Featured Authors. This week: see a massive monster of the deep come to life in Monkwood's workshop, learn how to slam dunk with Red6, go alpine bouldering with JonGlassberg and learn the anatomy of a skate trip with CairoFoster.

To see more stories from these authors, visit the Featured Authors page under Discover in the app this week.

Download Steller for free: www.appstore.com/steller

Mentions: monkwood, cairofoster

Five Questions with Nichole Robertson

Nichole Robertson

Nichole Robertson is an author, photographer, and founder of Obvious State, a multi-disciplinary creative studio based in New York and Paris. Her best-selling books, Paris in Color and The Paris Journal, are captivating, offering unique details and fresh perspectives on the City of Light. She is currently working on two follow-up books to be released later this year. When she isn’t writing or taking pictures, Nichole enjoys spending time with her husband, Evan, and their two sons (and also eating a lot of French butter).

Here is one of her many beautiful Stellers on Paris:

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1. How were you able to come up with new concepts for your books on Paris, a city that has probably been photographed and written about more than any other?

My husband, two young sons and I moved to Paris in January 2009. The weather was cold and the skies were gray, but neither kept me from exploring our new neighborhood. One of the first things I noticed was how color - any color - popped against the neutral gray palette created by the wintry sky and white Haussmann buildings. I believe red was the first color that inspired me to pull out my camera. I noticed an awning, a chair and a bike in a similar shade of red within a block of each other and retraced my steps to take photos. It didn’t take long for me to become obsessed, and the Paris Color Project was born. I spent three years photographing Paris this way and learned that focusing on a color or object allows you to discover things you may have otherwise overlooked. It’s easy to zone out when you’re walking from point A to point B or to put your camera away as you walk between monuments and tourist destinations. But I think the good stuff is what catches your eye and makes you happy on the side streets and narrow alleys, whether that’s peeling paint, an old door or a stack of fruit crates.

2. Why does butter taste better in Paris?

I’m not sure, but when I run out of my stash, I book my next flight back to Paris. Perhaps it’s the quality of the dairy, the percentage of fat or a closely guarded secret process, but French butter with big crunchy salt crystals brings me to my knees. I savor it, I hoard it and I’ve stashed more than I care to admit in my suitcases over the years. A hot baguette with a scandalous amount of Bordier butter on it would be my last meal.

3. Could you tell us about any upcoming books or projects?

My studio just released book one of a new series, The Paris Journal. It combines a fictional narrative in the form of seventeen journal entries with photography. The aim of the project was to create an intimate, first-hand experience of Paris through the eyes of an anonymous traveler. Each book focuses on one neighborhood over the course of one day. The Paris Journal, Book Two releases on November 18. Additionally, my second book with Chronicle Books, Paris in Love, releases on December 2. It’s a companion to my first book, Paris in Color, and is an exploration of how color can be used to tell the story of falling in love with a place.

4. What are your favorite things to do in Paris?

I am a big fan of walking around with no destination in mind. I don’t like to shop, so most of what I do takes place outdoors. I may start the day with a cup of coffee and a good view, wander around a neighborhood for a bit and then end up in a park (usually Luxembourg or Place des Vosges). The best days are unplanned days, and I usually end them with a late night walk along the Seine.

5.  What are some of your favorite Steller stories?

Somewhere Inside My Mind, by Katie Rodgers
Beautiful Children in Uganda, Bruno Feder
Yawns With Leroy, Leroy Milo Brown
The Knock Knock Chronicles, Brandon Monk Munoz
Fresh Fruit Tarts, Jenna Park

To see more from Nichole:

Go to Discover and search for Nichole Robertson or find him on this week’s Featured Authors.

Download Steller for free:  www.appstore.com/

 

This Week’s Steller Featured Authors, Part 2 of 2

Happy Wednesday! We’re excited to share another great collection of stories by Steller Featured Authors. Explore the mysteries of rain through the feline perspective with @obviousstate, see where to go and what to do in Melbourne with @stuheppell, meet a real life writer and hear what his favorite words are with @jenntales4, and check out an awesome DIY with @thingswefancy. Check out these stories and here and explore more from these great creators on the Steller App!

To see more stories from these authors, visit the Featured Authors page under Discover in the app this week.

Download Steller for free: www.appstore.com/steller

This Week’s Steller Featured Authors, Part 1 of 2

Happy Monday! We’re excited to share this week’s next group of Featured Authors. Take a leap off the high dive with Steve Pearson, hit the road with Harry Fricker, explore Death Valley with Diana Chavarria and go on a creative adventure with Craig Hackney - All this week with these Featured Authors:

To see more stories from these authors, visit the Featured Authors page under Discover in the app this week.

Download Steller for free: www.appstore.com/steller