053 - Mikael Cho

Welcome to another edition of Workspaces! We bring you inside the workspaces of creative individuals. Workspaces hopes to inspire you by showing you the toolkit that many creatives use to do their daily work. ☕️

Mikael Cho is the co-founder and CEO of Unsplash (recently acquired by Getty Images). Unsplash is the internet’s source of freely-usable images. To date, over 200,000 photographers have provided over 2,000,000 photographs that have been downloaded over 2 billion times.

Have you ever downloaded a photo from Unsplash for use on a personal project?

Inside Mikael’s Workspace


  • MacBook Pro

  • iPhone (for writing)

  • Airpods

  • Pillow or book to prop up my MacBook. I had one of those floating desk things once but it never stuck. I found it more flexible to switch books if I wanted different heights.

  • Decaf coffee: the taste of hot coffee helps signal to me it's time to focus.


  • Roam Research (switched a month ago)

  • mymind for storing visual inspiration

  • iPhone Notes (for documenting on-the-go thoughts)

  • Superhuman

  • Slack: we use it an Unsplash though I'm not a huge fan of the real-time nature of chat-based communication tools. It's a net positive but I see downsides.

  • Spotify

  • Foam roller + lacrosse ball for mobility and stretching when I break

  • Audible (i prefer to read by text but I find more time to read while walking)

  • Kindle (my preferred reading method)

Overall Philosophy

The work I do these days is much more about thought and communication than anything else. so I don't focus too much on the tools.

The fewer tools the better so I can focus on doing the work instead of the overhead of learning a new tool or the switching cost of figuring out a new tool.

Work Setup

Our home is an open concept so no blocked off room. I work from the couch most of the time.

I prefer to put my feet up while working. One, it feels more comfortable. Two, the angle is better for you, ergonomically speaking, than sitting at a 90 degree angle or hunched over. I tested a standing desk (link) but killed it. instead I try not to sit too long.

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-Ryan (@rjgilbert)