Nick Wood's Desk

May 13, 2021

We often focus on ‘how’ or ‘why’ the creative process takes place, trying to understand the thought process of creativity at a conceptual level, but rarely do we look at ‘where’ these magical activities take place and the objects that surround us when we make music or art or any creative output. The legend is that Voltaire did most of his writing in his bed, whilst Thom Yorke from Radiohead has been known to record some of his vocals lying on the floor. In this interview with Shots Magazine, Syn co-founder and CEO, Nick Wood, shares a behind the scenes look at his creative surroundings; from the view from his window to the personal treasures that inhabit his desk. In Nick’s own words, “One of the things to consider when we compose music is that we’re often staring into space. Our brain is active, but we might not look like we’re doing anything. I’ve always found it quite inspiring to have beautiful objects that I can hold or look at and it transforms me into a creative space. The same with a view - having a view is a significant inspiration for me.”

In this piece, we can take the opportunity to ask ourselves how the objects that surround us influence our own work - whether we always notice them or not. In a time where we are spending increasing amounts of time at home, perhaps we can see how the objects we choose to live alongside have become ever more relevant to our lives. From Marc Newson designed pens to astrological paperweights - and always with the backdrop of Tokyo’s breathtaking skyline (of Lake Towada’s serene beauty) - we invite you to take a look at Nick Wood’s creative workspace in his own words.

The View:

“The view from my home office in Tokyo overlooks the Imperial Palace as seen from the 15th floor. Looking at the horizon, rather than down below, you can see the Tokyo Sky Tower - the observation and radio tower that stands in the center of the city. I was born in Liverpool, but have spent the last 31 years in Japan, which is a country of endless fascination on so many levels. This view reminds me of its wonder every day. Can I claim it as my own? Not exactly, but it is one of my favorite things.”

The Phone (And Phone Bean Bag):

“On my phone is a watercolor painted by artist Jean-Philippe Delhomme of my dogs Ringo and Gion sitting in front of my Neve console. I love looking at the whimsical image - it was originally created for a Syn holiday card and embodies a whole bunch of my favorite things: my dogs, art, music. The phone itself sits on a bean bag promo from my friends at Minted Content. It’s one of the most-used gifts I have ever received.”

The Pens:

“I love writing with pens, have really been obsessed with them since childhood, and am especially fond of those my friend Marc Newson has designed. There’s something physically satisfying and especially emotional about writing lyrics with a pen. Sure, you’ll inevitably have to scribble over some of the words as you edit, but even seeing the strike marks and revisions is interesting to me.”

The Mic:

“Vintage microphones always serve you well. The legendary Telefunken ELA M 251 is thoughtfully designed and manufactured, this is an exceptional microphone that is a bit of history in your hand.”

The Paperweight:

“This cherished item, quite new to me, is a glass paperweight by John Derian that was given to me as a Christmas present. He’s an artist known for collecting art and antiques and designing with decoupage. This delicate and wondrous object contains Ursa Major, and I find it mesmerizing. I can look at it and dream away, which is actually part of how I compose and write music.

The Rhyming Dictionary:

“Being British, this feels so very proper. But really it is a very practical and well-used volume that I highly recommend to any writer. Not all of my lyrics rhyme, but it’s an invaluable tool when I need just the right word. Sure, you can look things up online...but this much better. Trust me.”

The Portable Recorder:

Although the iPhone has a great recorder, I am known for taking my Sony PCM D10 everywhere. I have this nostalgic appreciation for all of the music tech innovations that Sony pioneered, for one, but also this is a compact but mighty recorder that is very useful for sampling sounds, recording rough song ideas, and generally capturing the moment.

The Lake House:

“When I am not working in Tokyo, we have a boat house in Lake Towada, a large crater lake on Honshū island. There, we have a rustic portable studio with a garage door that flips up to reveal an incredible lake view. We’ve been coming here for years as an escape from the city.
This photo shows a recording I was making with my wife Norico standing on the planks leading to the water. Another image that has multiple favorite things in one - the love of my life, an artist in her own right, collaborating with me in a magical and cherished place.”