While we will never be able to step into the minds or imaginations of artists, designers and artisans, we can enter their studios: little (though, sometimes not so little) windows into how they draw inspiration, execute ideas and ultimately make something unique. Throughout 2015, we ventured from Bangkok to Colorado, and much in between, to look inside the workspaces of sculptors and painters, designers and more. An airy loft has its impact, as does a basement space shared with a partner, but both convey much more than just decor. The following eight excerpts hail from studio visits that really convey how artists work.
On the fifth floor of a joint residential/workspace building in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, photographer Jill Greenberg set up shop back in 1997. While she would leave in 2000 for the West Coast, 12 years later she returned and the studio itself has had a resounding impact on her work. We’ve been following Greenberg for years now, but her latest crop of calculated and chaotic works delivers a new dimension to her already stunning array of accomplishments.
On a trip to Thailand and Tokyo, we had the opportunity to survey the rich local art scene in Bangkok. There, we met with local Thai artist Nino Sarabutra. Working largely with porcelain as her preferred medium, Sarabutra has exhibited all around the world in both solo and group shows. We met with the artist at her home—which doubles as her art studio—in the suburbs of Bangkok, where we explored the space and her process.
Since setting up his eponymous label in 1991, French designer Christian Louboutin’s shoes have become synonymous with power, prestige and class thanks to their sexy, edgy design and creativity. Lesser known is the fact that Louboutin produces men’s footwear as well—something that should be on the radar of all shoe enthusiasts. On a very hot day in July, we had the chance to visit the brand’s factory in Naples, Italy, where skilled artisans create these rare, esteemed objects.
Here at CH, indigo is our muse—but sometimes the final product can’t tell the entire story on its own. Natural indigo blue is not an easy color to achieve, is the primary takeaway from our conversation with BUAISOU, a unique collective that not only grows and harvests indigo leaves in Tokushima, Japan but also does the actual dyeing. It’s the merging of two distinct crafts. From farm to fabric, it’s a long-term, attentive process likened to making wine—and requires hands in every step of the way—at the end of which emerges a vivid spectrum of shades. We visited BUAISOU’s small but airy first-floor studio where co-founder Kenta Watanabe shared how their vat of fermenting sukumo dye comes to life in Brooklyn.
While visiting ceramicist Adam Silverman’s studio, we spied the artist surveying the vastness of his new space in Glendale, California. A large ceramic egg-shaped piece—glazed with a white crackled surface akin to barnacles—sits next to a smaller one the color of volcanic ash. Both pieces appear like excavated artifacts or treasures brought home from another planet. Silverman’s space—a light-filled oasis of more than 4,000 square feet—is much bigger than his 1,000 square foot Atwater Pottery studio or his in-house space at Heath Ceramics Los Angeles, where, until recently, he worked in residence as creative director.
Digital artist and designer Margot Bowman, one of the founders of the ever-fascinating GIF art project 15 Folds, shares a studio in an airy warehouse building in the Dalston neighborhood of east London. CH visited Bowman at her studio and found that while it seems neat and minimal at first glance, it’s bursting with exciting works in progress, tchotchkes and inspiration in all forms.
If you’ve ever grabbed one of the colorful trail maps stocked in ski lodges, or affixed to the chairlift bar, there’s a good chance you’ve seen—and used—the work of landscape artist James Niehues. Niehues (who goes by Jim) is one of just a handful of people who have mastered the art of capturing the workings of mountains for those traversing them, having succeeded industry greats like Bill Brown and Hal Sheldon, and paving the way for promising young artists making the reverse-evolution from computer-generated imaging to hand-painting. We made the trip out to Niehues’ home in Loveland, CO, where he works in his basement studio (alongside his wife, who is an accomplished quilter), to learn more. He walked us through the process, from Cessna trips to sketching to working with clients on the most beautiful and useful interpretation of nature’s ski peaks.
A set of five primary-colored shipping containers rests in a unified pile along a corner of a bus parking lot, in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Inside, Vedat Ulgen and his team envision the possibilities of industrial design and execute in a meticulous, imaginative fashion. He founded his design studio, Thislexik, back in 2014. Since, they’ve developed a furniture series, housewares and several stand-alone pieces—all of which are out of the ordinary. We visited Ulgen in his eco-friendly studio and found that the space itself offers plenty of insight into the brand he is trying to develop.
Images by Cool Hunting