Step Into Collette Ishiyama’s Super-Airy Chelsea Studio
In a past life, it was home to a fashion photog.
Most BFFs share secrets and clothes, but Collette Ishiyama’s pals are a little more go-big-or-go-home: When Collette mentioned wanting a workspace separate from her East Village home, her friend offered to share hers. It was that easy. Ready for the list of reasons it’s probably better than your office? “It’s a pretty bike ride from my apartment, walkable to the Diamond District—and the owner was a fashion photographer in the seventies,” says Collette of her Chelsea surroundings. “He has since transitioned to travel photography, but there are remnants of his studio’s past life—including photos he took of Grace Jones before she got really big!” Get the full tour below. —alisha prakash
“This is my bench. I update the board above it each time I’m working on a new collection. There’s a strong samurai theme going on here. I don’t take these images into consideration too literally when making new pieces, but I think they sort of seep in on a subconscious level.”
“A wide shot of the studio. There’s still a seamless hanging from the ceiling, which comes in handy—we shot the last lookbook here.”
“This is an oxy-acetylene torch. I use it for soldering jump rings and attaching posts to stud earrings, among other things. Soldering is probably my favorite part of making jewelry. It’s really relaxing when you get a good rhythm going.”
“The view is awesome.”
“Here are some castings in tumbler media. The media works sort of like sandpaper to polish the surface of the metal. They go in the little black barrel with soapy water, and the blue base spins the barrel like a washing machine.”
“The dressing room—this comes in handy when I’m going out straight from work and need to freshen up.”
Photos by Serichai Traipoom.
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A Sick Tour of the Historic Draught Dry Goods Studio in Portland
There’s an elevator that holds 75 people—true story.
Tucked away in the John Deere Plow Building—a 102-year-old warehouse on the National Register of Historic Places—sits 7K Studios, the 2,700-square-foot space where Caesy Oney and his “dream team of designers and artists” create all kinds of leather-y goodness under the label Draught Dry Goods. Check out their very enviable slice of Oregon. —jackie varriano
“We have a really great view of Portland—which is hard to find.”
“We found the space about six months ago, and it’s located in the SE industrial area of Portland, Oregon. We travel up to the seventh floor by way of the historic John Deere tractor elevator, which can hold 75 people at a time, or something like 125,000 pounds. When we throw a party, we can ostensibly kick everybody out at the same time in one elevator.”
“This is my sewing station. It features a sewing machine that has been through a fire, a chair from my mother’s old antique shop, a retired Wallace jersey that I sometimes pull down and wear in the summer, some art I made for an event at the Ace Hotel, a nudie lighter, well-worn leather grips and tassels that used to be on my motorcycle, a Tupac poster that my friends at Blood Of The Young Zine did, a glamour photo of my girlfriend when she was 14 years old, and a couple skateboards that my friends designed.”
“This is Thomas Bradley’s work wall. Thomas is the co-owner of Pizza Friday, a small branding agency that shares the space with us. You can see the original ‘Summer Somewhere’ illustration that he did for my fourth collection.”
“These are the art boards of Tom O’Toole, who’s the other owner of Pizza Friday. For the last three collections I’ve cut, I’ve alternated between Tom and Thomas for a brushy illustration that I can use to help brand the collection. Somewhere in here, you can probably find the one we pulled for the current collection, ‘Five Finger Discount.’”
“This is our conference room. It features another Pizza Friday illustration on the wall and a painting that my mom commissioned of me in Mexico, 20-plus years ago. I didn’t know that it existed until about six months ago, when she found it in storage and gave it to me as a gift. Needless to say, it’s pretty much my favorite thing.”
“Here’s a rack of the things that I am currently working on. It rolls around in the conference room to wherever I can most easily smoke cigarettes and stare at it critically.”
“This is what you see when you exit the space. Having Pizza Friday in-house makes these types of projects really fun and beautiful. ‘Make yourself scarce’ is a good daily reminder that I should spend less time working and more time outside. It also is a pretty effective warning to our enemies—if we decide to make any.”
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Inside Steven Shein’s Super-Industrial L.A. Studio
The tools are something serious.
If you thought that designers worked from sparse, white-box studios, the jewelry designer Steven Shein’s about to disabuse you of that notion. His space: a former auto-glass shop on the east side of the L.A. River that he shares with a few other artists with a penchant for heavy machinery. Here, Steven takes us on a tour through his space, spotlighting the tools that make it all possible. —alisha prakash
“This is the front door to the space. The whole front wall is a shipping-container wall. I love that the space is a little off-the-grid and away from the main part of L.A. where I live. There are some great Mexican places, and down the road, there is a hall where they have quinceañeras, which is cool, too.”
“On the left is a chop saw that works really well. On the right is a belt-sander. It’s a replacement for a previous model that was purchased expressly to sand an early piece of jewelry—a stacked and laminated acrylic bangle, to be exact!”
“This is an Italian-made steel saw. It’s basically a band saw with pipe system that pumps a water-based coolant onto the saw blade. It’s pretty old, so sometimes the pumps have issues.”
“This is a cast-iron welding table, and behind it is a little Shop-Vac that’s more reliable than the postman. There is a TIG Welder between the table and the lathe that is against the wall. I learned to weld on it last year! It’s incredible to see the electrical current hit the metal and liquify it.”
“This is a table saw. It’s cool to use because it requires total concentration. It really keeps you focused and in-the-moment.”
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Check Out Sara Barner’s Multipurpose Workspace in Portland
Ford used to make cars there. Cool, right?
Now that it’s filled with pretty wood, leafy greens, and carefully crafted leather goods, you’d never know Sara Barner’s Portland, Oregon, studio-slash-showroom was once a Ford auto assembly plant. The cozy space was designed and built by her architect boyfriend—we nominate Ryan Gosling for the rom-com adaptation—and furnished by Sara. Take a look at what she’s done with the place. —koun bae
“The space itself was super raw—a concrete box basically—so the wood is meant to feel warmer.”
“I have a front area curtained off—it’s a small space that is the showroom—and the back area is the workshop and studio.”
“My boyfriend builds furniture, so he pretty much built all my work tables for me and my display furniture. He really helped me figure out the layout of my space. It was so convenient!”
“The studio is also pretty minimal and functional, but then I’ve definitely nested in here a lot—I have my little collections of stuff. It’s probably only about 350 or 400 square feet, so even though the furniture is minimal, it filled up pretty quickly.”
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The 6 Coolest Things in Alice Saunders’s Studio
They’re nearly as rad as the designer herself.
Working from home has its obvious perks—emailing in your PJs, blasting Britney, and steering clear of god-awful fluorescent office lighting. But getting to the office is cake when you have a studio space as amazing as the one Alice Saunders, the rock-star designer behind the utilitarian-cool line Forestbound, shares with another bag maker, Julia Okun of Rennes. Check out a half dozen of the sweetest finds in their Allston, Massachusetts, setup. —alisha prakash
“A bag rack, made by my incredibly talented metal- and wood-worker boyfriend.”
“My packaging supplies, which showcase my relatively new branding, which I’m crazy about. These are done by Ryan Rhodes out of Austin, Texas.”
“An incredible, 20-foot firemen’s banner from the 1930s that I found in Pennsylvania.”
“I use two industrial sewing machines. This is my trusty Juki from the 1970s. The other is an Adler, a German sewing machine from the 1960s. I make all of bags in my studio right now.”
“My favorite little wall plaque that I found at a New Hampshire estate sale.”
“My work table, also made by my boyfriend. When we moved into the space a year ago, it had been occupied by a lawyer who had the walls painted an awful shade of purple with thick purple velvet curtains on the large windows. Now the space gets so much light that we rarely have to turn the lights on during the day!”
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Inside Natalie Davis’s Studio…and Butcher Shop
Yes, for reals.
Recently, the Austin-based designer Natalie Davis moved into a new 300-square-foot studio space—HQ for her unfussy leather-good line Canoe—and she and her husband Ben opened a butcher shop, Salt and Time. But wait, there’s more: Jay Colombo, the architect who designed the meat haven, works for the same firm that did the studio complex, and the spaces have common elements (like polished concrete floors and expansive white walls). Not surprisingly, Natalie’s channeling similar vibes for both spaces: clean, natural, and vintage-inspired. —meghana gandhi
The Inspo: Georgia O’Keeffe and Ghost Ranch
Georgia O’Keeffe’s studio at Ghost Ranch.
Sleek, minimalist stools at the butcher shop.
“Georgia O’Keeffe is a total idol of mine. The way she lived her life and set up Ghost Ranch and her studio are so inspiring because they were so pared down; only the things she needed were there. I still joke with Ben that in my head the butcher shop is Georgia O’Keeffe’s butcher shop—I think she really celebrated where she was living. Part of the butcher shop is this nod to Texas—this idea of it as the West, the range, the cattle. I’m on the prowl for skull heads (lamb, goat, and chicken) to fill up some of the shop’s big white walls—an utterly bizarro mission—and I’m going out with a photographer friend to photograph some cattle on a ranch outside of Austin.”
The Inspo: Tools and Techniques
A damn cool tool wall, for inspiration!
Natalie’s collection of tools.
“One of the overall things for the studio is creating a utilitarian space, where the tools are really the décor in a way. My blog is called Tool and Tack, and I’m obsessed with getting the right tool for the job and building this collection of tools. As for the shop, there are three giant windows straight into the cutting room so that customers can watch the butchers work. There’s total transparency to build trust with our customers.”
The Inspo: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose
A super-slick idea for the studio!
Vintage meat case at the butcher shop.
“I’m waiting for the antique event Round Top to look for the kinds of pieces that have a lot of history to them—the older pieces that have been through multiple lives, like vintage leather tools, old barn wood—that I can re-purpose to make a showroom wall and inspiration board. In the butcher shop, we have a lot of older equipment that we’re waiting to install—equipment that has a story to it. When you’re in this business, you’re standing on the shoulders of giants.”
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Tour the Shipley & Halmos Studio
Are you ready to meet the line’s mascot? Oh, good.
When Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos launched Shipley & Halmos, their every-guy line that girls go nuts for too, they started working out of Sam’s apartment in Long Beach, California. “At that time, Sam played music, so he had a whole recording studio set up in his kitchen. There was equipment everywhere, plus clothes,” says Jeff. But a couple of months later, the twosome moved to NYC, taking over a baller studio in Soho. We’ll let them show you around. —alisha prakash
Jeff: “The neon light installation, which drops down from the showroom into our studio, was installed a few years ago. Sitting in the studio and looking up almost 40 feet to the ceiling always reminds us how fortunate we are to work in such a beautiful environment!”
Sam: “This is our company mascot and an international sensation, Ampy the Ampersand. He’s out on the road promoting the S&H brand but occasionally stops by the office to cheer us on in person.”
Jeff: “Meet Sean, our friend and fit model.”
Sam: “This is part of last season’s inspiration board. Typically, it’s more about mood and feeling than it is about fashion. It also heavily influences our color palette. Our boards are just a grouping of random images saved up since the previous collection. It’s incredible how they tend to match up and create a narrative. It’s like a map to the random points of interest of our brand for that time period. There’s never a Great Gatsby theme or anything like that.”
Jeff: “They might look sweet in the picture—but Roscoe loves to dig in the garbage, and Pilot tends to get a little ornery with visitors.”
Sam: “Kate, Sam, and Jeff are gathered around Kylan’s desk to watch the first edit of a film we shot. Yes, Sam is drinking a beer. Nothing wrong with a happy hour!”
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Inside (Some of) Sonya Gallardo’s Most Memorable Studios
One of them was open-air, even.
Sonya Gallardo, a huge fan of making personal spaces public à la the French conceptual artist Sophie Calle, says her studios have evolved with the type of work she creates—they’ve shifted as she’s moved from painting to textile design to accessories (her line: HighLow Jewelry). Here’s a look at where she started out and where she creates now. —lauren caruso
“This is the studio I had during my second year at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, before the jewelry was even a thought. I had started taking textile-design courses, and I really started getting into repeat patterns. I was taking two classes—one was computer rendering (left) and one was hand rendering (right). I made computer-rendered textiles and called them ‘Passion Prints’ because I had taken sexy images and made repeat patterns that translated as pretty and soft, so people didn’t really know what they were looking at. I would tell people to look carefully, and they’d be super surprised.”
“This was where I worked the first semester of my junior year at CCA when textile design really started influencing my paintings and sketches, and I became really interested in referencing my personal life. I had gone through a terrible breakup, and it was affecting all of my schoolwork. I was trying to think of a way to make it easier, so I thought, ‘Maybe if I deal with the breakup by making art about it, maybe it will help me complete all my assignments and also help me get through it emotionally.’ It was indirect, but all of these things had to do with that relationship ending. A friend of mine used to call this studio ‘the apartment’ because it became a home away from home.”
“At my art residency in New York, I really wanted to challenge myself to not paint or make any textile designs for the entire semester, so I hung up my painting clothes and organized my paints in this really obsessive kind of way on the floor. Everything just sat there like some kind of alter. I was so stuck, and I spent two months fooling around with video and had no idea what I was doing. I had artist’s block, and a month before the program ended, I just gave in and started painting. For the first time, I was really working sculpturally, and even though I ended up painting, I went from working completely 2-D to working in 3-D—right before I drifted into jewelry. Forcing myself not to paint sparked my interest in objects. “
“In my transition from college back home, I had to move into my brother’s old bedroom, and all I had was this small table that was my own. I could have painted something tiny, but I needed to figure out what I could do in such a small place—so I had the idea to make jewelry. At first, I was just playing around and trying not to take it seriously at all. I didn’t have the skill then, so this was a really insecure time. I had no idea if it was going to work. You have to think about more than what it looks like. Can it function as a necklace? Is it wearable, or will it break apart? That was a whole other world for me.”
“This was my studio in Los Angeles for one was summer. I tend to be a hermit and have to remind myself to leave my studio, so I thought it would be a healthy and nice thing to move everything outside. This little space was enclosed, except the ceiling was open to the sky. It was private and cozy. That same summer, I painted a lot of the jewelry outside. A bunch of wasps started building a nest right above me, and when I stepped on one with my bare foot, that was the end of that.”
“This is the same room where I started the jewelry, but my parents have been so supportive that it’s no longer my brother’s bedroom but a full-blown studio. On the brown board, those are the pieces of my necklaces in the painting process, and because I have to mix the colors every time and tape the brass pieces down to paint them, I always keep the scratch paper because I love the markings the process leaves behind. On the back wall, there’s a print from Felix González-Torres. There’s always artwork hanging in my studio for inspiration, whether it’s my own or by someone I love.”
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Inside Bare’s Small Wonder of a Studio
Even in L.A., space can be limited.
In a 400-square-foot creative space, the little details count—just ask Jeet Sohal, whose bathroom at her studio in L.A.’s Hancock Park doubles as a packing room for her sleek accessories line Bare. But Jeet and her production manager Jesse Southern have really embraced their intimate surroundings—the garden, the natural light, and the fact that Jeet’s parents live in the main house right next door, making it easy for her kids (Kieran, almost 3, and Simran, 16 months) to get in some quality mom time. Here, a look at some of the cool deets that pepper the space. —dana covit
“I guess you could say I’m Type A-. Before I had kids, nothing was ever out of place, and the bench was neat & tidy—you could eat lunch off it!”
“One of the many perks of our unique location is the gorgeous green we’re surrounded by. On busy days, it may just be what we see on our way in and out of the studio, but on other days, it’s nice to take a walk outside or drink some fizzy water in the cabana while fielding phone calls from vendors or suppliers.”
“Since I believe in being a deliberate consumer, we try and use/reuse everything in our studio, down to cutting-room leather scraps. When you get past the storage nightmare, it’s really a great way to innovate. We create items that utilize these pieces so that we can translate at least 95% of our raw materials into products that we hope are timeless.“
“We hang our current patterns off the side of our worktable so we can reference them whenever we need to. Since we cut our bags to order, they actually come out quite often!”
“We have our Bare Bones acrylic pieces–right now, we’re doing stacking rings, cuffs, and some necklaces that are laser-cut locally. Our current obsession is figuring out what to do with the skeletons. I’m loving the idea of creating a window or screen with the panels.”
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Screen-Printing at Home With Jacqueline Rousseau
A studio within a studio apartment—ah, gotta love New York.
Jacqueline Rousseau gives new meaning to Manhattan’s ubiquitous studio apartment. Not only does a single-room West Village oasis serve as her home, but it’s also HQ for her namesake label. “It’s like a little factory,” she laughs. “I produce everything by hand.” Which means that Rousseau’s teensy apartment currently houses three sewing machines, her line’s complete archives (half-baked sketches and all), endless bolsters of fabric, and the screen-printing table she built herself—the space’s star. Here, she shows us how she gets busy with her printing…without bumping into her bed. —mattie kahn
“Welcome to my humble abode. It’s kind of the ultimate studio. When I first moved to New York, I did all my screen-printing at the Textile Arts Center, first in Brooklyn and then in the West Village. But eventually I realized that I could skip out on paying for studio time if I learned to do it myself. The director of the center’s Brooklyn branch taught me how to construct my very own printing table—in the privacy of my own home—and a friend of mine, who’s a graphic designer, showed me how to actually print on fabric. I had this Ikea desk just lying around, waiting to be transformed anyway. I covered it with a heavy padding and then lighter-weight muslin, stapled the material down, and made sure its surface was as level as possible. After a few tweaks, it actually worked perfectly.”
“I decide which fabrics and colors to use depending on what I’m making. If I’m making a garment, like a dress, I usually use a stretch fabric—say a denim or jersey. For my Of a Kind edition, I found this gorgeous chambray from France that came in a few colors, so I got a bunch of swatches and experimented with different ink colors. The paint I use for all of my stuff is called AquaBright Textile Inks, and I get a ton of my supplies from Standard Screen Supply in Soho on Varick Street. The guy who works there has been doing this for forever, and when I was just starting out, he was pretty nice about telling me that I was doing it all wrong.”
“After I’ve set up my table, I carefully lay out my fabric and center the screen. Then I scoop out a good amount of ink and pool it at the very top of the frame. For the most part, I don’t worry about using too much ink. Especially when I’m working with a new fabric or screen, I tend to err on the side of excess, because the screen will catch whatever ink is leftover. It’s much worse to run out of ink mid-screen, because if you do, you won’t be able to get an even, vibrant print.
“Then the fun part! The process is pretty quick, and you can’t waste too much time or the ink will dry in the screen. Basically, once I have the screen centered over the fabric and I’ve added my ink, I pull a squeegee down the panel with both hands at a slight angle. The goal is to keep a smooth motion. Once I reach the bottom, I quickly change my grip to pull the squeegee in the opposite direction and back up to the top of the screen so that it doesn’t dry out between ink runs.”
“Voila! Blue-on-blue stud screen-print. Once the actual printing is over, I lay the still-wet fabric out on the floor to dry. Then I’ll heat-set the fabric in the dryer or with an iron, and, finally, I’ll put it through another full wash-and-dry cycle to make sure that the ink is really secure and no surprises show up later.”
“I screen print fabric for ties, clothing, and handbags. And of course, the particulars of the process depend on what I’m screen-printing, but the basic idea is the same. As for the blue fabric that you just saw me print? It’ll be made into a dress like the red screen-printed one that you can see at the front of the rail.”