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Kitchen rituals - Justin Kerr

Justin Kerr is a self-described “efficiency monster,” and it is a well-earned title. Justin was one of the youngest senior execs at multiple billion-dollar apparel brands, all while he wrote 14 books, toured the country with his rock band, and tended to a population of 100,000 bees on his roof. His latest book, How to cry at work, was just published in July.

FORM Design Team

July 16, 2020

kitchen design

Justin Kerr is a self-described “efficiency monster”, and it is a well-earned title. Justin was one of the youngest senior execs at multiple billion-dollar apparel brands, all while he wrote 14 books, toured the country with his rock band, and tended to a population of 100,000 bees on his roof. His latest book, How to cry at work, was just published in July.

Now he spends his days writing and podcasting to teach the next generation of efficiency monsters. And his productivity hub? His kitchen island. We caught up with Justin from his historic Tudor home in Palm Springs, where he spends 90% of his day in his kitchen - when he’s not outside wrangling succulents...

His big piece of advice to soon-to-be homeowners or those renovating their homes, “Figure out the hierarchy of needs in your home. For me, that kitchen was number one, and there wasn’t a number two”.

This interview is the first of many interviews we’ll do with people who have interesting and inspiring kitchen routines. Enjoy!


The Ritual of Coffee

Routine is incredibly important for this prolific writer, and nothing demonstrates that like his mornings.

“At 6:45 a.m., I go downstairs to make the coffee for me and my wife. We’ve got a dedicated coffee-supply drawer in the kitchen to keep everything  neatly organized in one place. It’s like this magic zone where only coffee things can exist. It’s easy for things to get lost in the kitchen so this is our sacred coffee-only drawer… It’s also just useful, you know how easily things can get lost in a kitchen.”

“I brew pour-over for the both of us, and I use the exact same mugs every day. It’s all part of it. And as much as I love the coffee, I love the process. Even the sound of the water boiling in the kettle is so satisfactory - that click of the water being hot is pavlovian for me. It’s a crescendo, signaling that yes, the water is ready, but also that the day is about to get going.”

“Whatever happens the rest of the day, well that will be how it unfolds. But I know this little coffee-making stretch will be a constant in my mornings. And it helps me go into writing mode.”

More Than a Kitchen Island, “It’s Where I Spend 90% of My Day”

“From 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., that’s my time, my writing time. I protect it with a 10-foot fence, nothing can penetrate this time, except if I need another coffee. I turn off e-mail and social media, and sit at the island and write on my laptop.”

“Some days I make it to 9:30, other days 11:30. Depends if hunger sets in. But having this blocked off time is important. It’s also important to make it a reasonable 3 hours. Otherwise, you can get discouraged, if you feel like you have to write for eleven hours. That’s an impossible expectation.”

“After my writing session, I am conveniently in the kitchen, and can make myself some food to fuel myself for my garden work in the 100-degree weather.”

Island Time Continues, Puzzles, Packing, and Pinot

Shifting out of writing mode, Justin uses his island for a bunch of other use-cases.

“I also find myself hand-packaging some of my books and mailing them to buyers. It’s a nice way to stay connected, and I love looking at the addresses and thinking of these places I’ve never been to. It’s like a little tour of the US each day. It’s fun to turn my island into a little distribution center, actually, it’s almost cathartic.”

It’s not all work at this epicenter of activity in Justin’s home. It’s also a place to unwind.

“My wife and I love watching TV in the kitchen. Whoever has the free laptop will crack it open and start streaming. I’ve also set up a little puzzle and wine section at the end of my island. From the hours of 5 to 7 in the evening, I love drinking wine and puzzling. It’s incredibly relaxing.”

A Final Note: “Your Kitchen is the Crossroads of Your Home”

“No matter how hard we try to use all the other rooms in the house, we always end up in the kitchen. And when we have guests over, it's the same thing. We spend all this money and energy trying to set up the living room, but inevitably, everyone just wants to lean on the kitchen counter. Luckily we have a 12 foot island, so there's enough room for everyone.”

To learn more about Justin and his books and lifestyle, follow him on Instagram @mrcorpo or visit his website at mrcorpo.com.

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Danny Soos & Tom Sherman

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