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Styling A Small Pop Up Studio With A DIY Approach (PHOTOS)

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Spring is in the air and it always puts Studio Alta into a DIY fever. Winter brought on many ideas and now that warmer weather is here, I'm ready to break out my tools and supplies and start creating again. This season's case of DIY fever made me nostalgic for a pop-up studio I designed and installed a while back.

About two years ago, a friend and very talented designer/artist Shayla Cox was launching her jewelry line. She had temporarily rented a small space for a pop-up studio in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The space was typical of the area: very raw and industrial with lots of natural light and a great view of the Manhattan bridge. At first sight it seemed quite the challenge to convert into a clean and elegant space.

With a tight budget and limited time, our design concept and approach was similar to Shayla's jewelry aesthetic: modern and minimalistic. She supplied me with eclectic image references ranging from the modern, classic, rustic and nature-inspired. Our final design was based on a clean aesthetic replicating classic design and architectural details applied by the most primitive means: drawing on the wall.

We selected a high contrast color palette of dark grey and white and got to work. On top of a fresh coat of white paint we sketched out classic wall molding patterns comprised of base boards, chair rails and a balanced arrangements of rectangular frames. The lines were initially lightly laid out using a pencil, level, 4' straight edge and chalk snap line. After the moldings were drawn I went over the pencil and chalk lines with a grey Molotow acrylic paint marker. A wide and fine tip marker was used to accentuate the heavy and delicate line details found in typical molding applications. The process took patience and a steady hand but the results were bold and elegant.

The two opposing walls at the end of the L shaped layout were painted grey. One wall anchored a storage and showcase function made up of white, monolithic floating shelves and a storage cabinet. The other showcased a large hand painted brand logo.

Making the logo template was its own small project that took me back to my old school art class methods. I broke down a photocopy of the logo into a grid system that I could replicate on a larger scale. On a large piece of brown butcher paper, I laid out the same grid and hand drew the logo. Finally, when the logo was cut out, I traced it onto the wall and painted. There's something very appealing and warm about hand made signs and graphics.

With the addition of a few work tables and chairs, Shayla's studio was ready to go. Like her jewelry, we created a space with our own hands that was modern, organic and clean. I look forward to working with Shayla again -- especially as she expands her brand to housewares and lighting.

If you have some paint and marker, who's to say you can't have the architectural details you've dreamed of in your space? I look forward to someday applying this bold and graphic design concept on a larger scale.

Thomas Altamirano
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