Kirsten Dirksen and Nicolás Boullosa, *faircompanies


Cool Tools Show 181: Kirsten Dirksen and Nicolás Boullosa

Our guests this week are Kirsten Dirksen and Nicolás Boullosa. Since 200, Kristen and Nicolas have been producing *faircompanies, a web series that’s evolved to become one of the most comprehensive archives of compact homes and simple living (including lean urbanism, self-sufficiency, smart gardens, craftsmanship, and philosophies of life.

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Show notes:

Non-linear editing (iMovie)
Kirsten: This now comes loaded (as iMovie) on any Apple device, but you can get nonlinear editing program for an android or for any other device, really simple and usually free. When I wanted to edit video as a kid I had to wire two VCRs together and record from one VHS tape onto another in linear fashion. I had a very rudimentary editing software called “Thumbs Up”. In 1993 when I started working in television I had to plan out my entire script before entering the edit room. To make a more spontaneous edit or change your mind during an edit session meant losing a generation. When non-linear editing systems appeared at the TV station in the late nineties all the rules changed. …You could start playing a little bit and “Oh, let’s try this.” Or maybe try it with music or try it without music or we could maybe move the beginning to the end. … I see it more as sculpting the material.

Adaptive Furniture

Ping Pong Table ($135)
Nicolas: We needed a big table and that was very cheap, but that was multifaceted. We ended up doing a huge research. We were willing to pay a lot of money. We ended up with actually ping pong table. The cheapest one was the one that didn’t have wheels. It became our working, eating, homework, family table.
Kirsten: It actually says on the bottom, “Do not use as furniture.” Because it’s so cheap. It’s the cheapest sort of modernist-looking furniture you can buy.

Mobile Stand Up Desk ($93)
Nicolas: There is a small standing desk I use all the time. It’s similar to a pulpit. I’ve seen pictures of different people across different ages working on a similar environment. It does help me when I need to change the context. And I get help from a change in physical perspective.

A personal metaphysics of quality
Nicolas: A stack of tools that is not a “too,”, but a point of view and attitude towards oneself and the world. This stack of tools comes in the conceptual shape of knowledge applied to our place within reality. Metaphorically, it’s not about buying a “chair” when I want to sit down, but thinking about the “service” defined by the identified need, in this case, “sitting.” Then the need is not the physical chair and not the space the chair occupies, but the service “sitting”. An energy field that would do the service “sitting” would be eventually more appealing as a long term goal. This conceptual stack of tools is intended as a long term effort to try to develop a consistent philosophy of life. I identified the need of cultivating point of view that is personal while keeping some common ground with others. In philosophical terms, in order to work, “intersubjectivity” (conceptual common ground we more on less share with others, like basic human rights) needs to be based on experience, ingenuity, intuition, values, manual and intellectual trades over the years. In practice, it influences my aspiration to cultivate spiritual and physical skills: exercise, reading, writing, learning from others’ experiences via pictures and Kirsten’s documentaries, controlling my own scheduled-endeavours, etc. If Pirsig developed the concept of “metaphysics of quality,” I’d like to apply a similar approach to “quality of life” — a commonsensical philosophy of life that works and is not reduced to a formula, but to an “emergent” view of one’s place within the world.


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