One of Backdrop’s Cofounders Dreams Up New Paint Colors From This IKEA Office Chair
Plus everything else that keeps their team on task.
Published Sep 23, 2022 1:05 PM
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Visiting a person’s workspace is like taking a peek inside their brain. Whether it’s at home or in an art studio, Nice Work explores where creative people do all of their, well, creating—so that you can steal their on-the-clock style.
Names: Natalie and Caleb Ebel
Occupation: Cofounders of Backdrop.
What time we start:
Natalie: After school drop-off.
Caleb: Our 1-year-old daughter gets up at 5:30 a.m., but you can probably find us in the studio around 9:30.
What time we clock out:
Natalie: Never. I really love what I do and find it hard to log off.
Caleb: There’s always more to do. But we try to prioritize family time in the evenings with our two young kids and then often do the standard working-parent session with a bit more work later in the evening.
How we get to work:
Natalie: We drive. When we lived in New York City, we would take the train and purposefully get on different train cars. Our rule now is we can’t talk about work until we get to the office, to try to create some boundaries.
Caleb: By car. Los Angeles traffic is no joke.
Three words that describe our space:
Natalie: Colorful, creative, and fun.
Caleb: Eclectic, light, and open.
The most important thing in our office/studio:
Natalie: The light! When we chose this space, we did so because of the incredible proportions and large windows. When we are doing color work, this is so important. We have an open-plan office but designated a specific area where we do all of our design work on Backdrop’s wallpaper. This is another incredibly important part of the space, as every design is made from original, handcrafted artwork in our downtown L.A. studio. It’s filled with mood boards and samples and is always a center of creative energy.
Caleb: We are a distributed team, so we’re always on video calls together across locations.
What’s on the walls:
Natalie: We used Backdrop’s Cool Moon. We also have a full color wall of samples and layers of paint everywhere. Something that’s really important to us when designing wallpaper is living with it for a while. We always try to print out the wallpaper at scale, so we can see it in repeat and imagine how it would work in a variety of interior spaces.
Our current creative fuel:
Natalie: Each other. I really love our team and we all feed off everyone’s points of view. There is a lot of dialogue and collaboration. I find asking “What if?” and “Then let’s try…” lead to the best ideas.
Caleb: Music, travel, Ghia’s Lime and Salt Spritz, and Stumptown coffee beans.
What we turn to when we’re stuck:
Natalie: Time away from screens and long walks around Silver Lake.
Caleb: I’m a big fan of long walks to clear your head.
How we stay organized:
Natalie: Write it down and be a label maker.
Caleb: We use Asana, Slack, and Google tools to keep the team collaborating and organized.
Natalie: I’m very passionate about my writing utensils. The best pen in the entire world is Pilot’s Hi-Tec-C Gel Pen.
Caleb: Pilot G2 in black.
Natalie: Unlined and XXL Moleskine.
Caleb: I’m still very attached to pen and paper and go through dozens of Blueline Hardbound Notebooks.
Technology we can’t live without:
Natalie: Our fancy scanner and massive printer for testing wallpaper samples.
Caleb: I don’t know how teams worked together before Slack.
Desk chair that we could (and do) spend hours in:
Natalie: I’m always moving around and never really sit at my desk. I love sitting in this All Modern chair in our lounge area.
Caleb: I just upgraded to an IKEA office chair.
How we fight the 3 p.m. slump:
Natalie: Crack open a Ghia Lime and Salt Spritz.
Caleb: Afternoon coffee is a secret weapon.
Ideal office snack:
Caleb: Rod, our head of operations, is known for always bringing in Filipino sweets.
Natalie: There is always a lot of jazz playing in the studio. We have also created custom playlists for some of our paint colors on Spotify. Our current go-to is Backdrop’s Disco Nap playlist.
Caleb: Backdrop’s Silver Lake Dad playlist on Spotify.