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Studio

My New Studio: A Personal Tour

©Kara Rosenlund

I’ve been SO looking forward to sharing this with you and inviting you in to see what my studio looks like and where all the work happens.

A whole year of my life – spent working countless weekends and evenings with my father and husband Timothy O, transforming an empty concrete shell into a space that is so much more.

I picked up the keys in March last year and slowly started to get to work on the interior. I really wanted to create a space which nurtured creativity and had space for growth.

Above: ‘Behind the scenes’ shots of the work in progress on the building.

Before moving into the studio I was working out of  a small room in a co-working space, which was above a French cafe and rambling antique store called Vieille Branche, in Brisbane. It was a bit mad, but lots of fun.

My small team and I, along with all our stock for the online shop, were crammed into a room the size of a bedroom. A small bedroom. We were completely working on top of each other, in amongst the frocks, smocks, baskets and more.

Looking back I miss the chaos of that small room and how social a co-working space can be when so many lovely people are drifting about, but hindsight makes certain things more sentimental. We were all looking forward to moving onto something new and spacious, and this was the answer.

Bringing the studio to life wasn’t always fun if I’m honest, sometimes it was difficult and stressful to run a business within an ever-changing worksite, and also travelling so extensively on photography jobs really stretched out the progress.

But, I would not have had it any other way. I thrive on and love creating spaces and spending time with my family working, when we are all on board to get it done.  It was really lovely to be able to be working on a project like this, to be focused and feeling so very grateful and open hearted about the future, to be creating some permanence.

 

Above left: Arriving at the studio with The Market Basket / Above right: The entrance decorated with some of my favourite books and flowers, along  with The Pass Byron Bay photographic print and Byron Bay Salt Haze photographic print.

The aim from the very beginning was to create a beautiful space, which felt like a home. A space which nurtured and allowed for the creation of more beautiful work.

I love coming here each day. I usually arrive at about 7.30am, turn the music up loud and have some time to get ready for the day.

As I walk in, I always take the time to appreciate the floor tiles my father laid in the entrance. He is a tiler, so to have his trade which supported our family and provided everything we needed growing up in my own place of work means so much to me.

Above left: Travertine coffee table found on Gumtree, alongside a Douglas & Bec sofa / Above right: Rearranging bits in the morning.

I really enjoyed bringing the pieces together, furniture found from all over. Especially the secondhand travertine coffee table found on Gumtree and the collection of antique woven baskets from Papua New Guinea and the indigenous pieces from the Northern Territory, all secondhand and from Gumtree.

Sometimes I’ll get up at sunrise and head to the flower market across town to buy flowers for the studio. I always keep an eye out for white garden Gladys, bunches of native flora, or anything else unusual and in season. When things are in season and local they are cheaper, so you can have big bunches.

Nature really softens the hardest of materials and finishes, so I always try to maintain an abundance of natural elements in and around the space… whether it’s in vases or any vessel that can hold water. If it holds water, it’s a vase :)

Above: the entrance way with Byron Bay Salt Haze photographic print and a refurbished vintage chair / Above right: A stack of my favourite photographic books.

I had this chair frame underneath the house for years as a ‘project’, you know ‘those’ projects – I found the chair frame at an opshop but never got around to doing anything with it.

So I decided instead of buying a new chair, I would have the back of this one woven in cane and the base upholstered. I love this chair so much now, especially the woven cane element. Love texture.

Above left: Latest magazines collected from around the globe, Light Bangle Stacks and KRxWootten Collab Bag/ Above right: Entrance details.

From a young age, I have always collected magazines from around the globe. Some of my favourites are Cabana, The World of Interiors and French Vogue.

When I was studying photography in Toowoomba, I would airmail order in Vogue Italia from the newsagent in town – for about the same amount of money my weekly rent was, so… sometimes the rent wouldn’t get paid on time. eeek.

I can’t read Italian, but for me it was the photographs, the photographic briefs commissioned were like nothing else.

Above left: Kitchen with The Market Basket / Above right: Entrance with Light Bangle StacksKRxWootten Collab Bag and favourite white garden Gladys.

A morning ritual before heading upstairs is to head to the kitchen and make some herbal tea.

I brought in lots of favourite pieces from home for the kitchen to help it feel familiar. Ceramic plates and mugs from Australian potters such as Pan Pottery, dear friends Bridget Bodenham and Paper Boat Press. Thick old glass jam jars filled with vintage cutlery and stacks of bowls.

Objects which feel comforting and are made from traditional materials.

I really wanted to have a kitchen with a skirt! I love how charming, yet practical they are – hiding all the ugly pipes and bits under that linen skirt.

And my market baskets work perfectly for extra storage in the kitchen too.

Above left: Details of the kitchen / Above right: Heading upstairs.

I found the old antique sink at the Fryerstown Market in country Victoria a couple of years back. Sounds weird, but I collect old sinks, yep.

 The shelves are super simple, wooden shelving from the hardware store, with cast-iron brackets from Sibella Court. Plus my KR wooden boards from a few years ago come in handy and looks so beautiful.

Above left: Arriving with The Market Basket / Above right: Heading upstairs.

Then it’s upstairs to get things happening for the day ahead.

Above left: The hallway upstairs, which connects my editing room to the design room / Above right: Production shelves and ceramics.

Upstairs there are two workrooms which are connected by a hallway; one being my editing room, the other, the design room.

The hallway is where I have shelves of clipboards with the current jobs on the go, so at a glance I can see what’s happening. And again, more favourite ceramics to make it feel like home.

I’m still very much a paper and pen person when it comes to office life. Old school.

Above left: Looking in to my editing room / Above right: Desk details featuring The Market Basket and Byron Bay Salt Haze photographic print.

This is where I sit, down the furthest end, near the natural light of the window. Again, more secondhand finds. The mid century chair was found at an opshop in Childers in Queensland whilst I was photographing my book Shelter.

I had the linen curtains made for the space by local fabric merchants Calico House. They make the best curtains if you ever need custom made curtains and their linen is beautiful. Ask for Betty and tell her I sent you!

The curtains are lovely and heavy – perfect for framing the window when open, and blocking out light when I am editing a job.

Above: Desk details featuring The Market Basket and Byron Bay Salt Haze photographic print.

Some desk details. A vase of gum, an old 70’s brass lamp, my antique necklace from Papua New Guinea, some lovely old coral.

Above left: Contact sheets of an upcoming body of work / Above right: The first release from my new body of work, Seashell Still Life photographic print.

I wanted to have something special on the wall near where I sit. Something rather sentimental, yet very simple and feminine. A piece that makes me feel happy and calm when I glance at it throughout the day whilst working.

I have been working on a new body of work lately, a still life study and this photographic print is the first release of this series. A seashell still life.

Above: Curiosities and natural beauty in the studio, along with Seashell Still Life photographic print.

Above left: Desk details, including rip-outs of work by Olive Cotton and Max Dupain from 1937, along with Byron Bay Salt Haze photographic print / Above right: My watch, which I always remove when at the computer, with my leather bound travel notebook.

Above: Shooting some favourite details of mine, possibly for an Instagram post.

Sometimes I love to shoot a little detail for Instagram. Being able to so freely connect and share with like-minded people all over the world is pretty powerful and I love the visual nature of it.

Above left: Looking down the hallway to the design room / Above right: A roll of 120mm film with a hairband to hold it unexposed, with one the most precious thing I have… a handwritten message from anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall, who is a great inspiration to me.

Then, down the other end is the design room. This is where I work on the print collections,  lifestyle objects and anything which requires spreading out and using space.

I worked with local furniture maker and craftsman Stuart Bywater to design and make the large workbench. You can sit at one side of the bench and the other side has 12 drawers which keep all the fabric and leather samples safe and organised.

I keep a quote written by anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall out at all times, so it catches my eye as I’m walking up and down the hallway. It’s nice to be reminded to keep it real…

Above left: At the design table / Above right: Sourcing inspiration from nature for an upcoming project.

Above: The ever-changing cork board, more is more.

There is a floor to ceiling corkboard filled with all sorts of magazine rip outs, printed quotes and even pieces of falling apart cardboard in the perfect tan colour.

It’s not really an ‘inspirational moodboard’, rather a wall filled with favourite imagery which has meaning and memories.

Above left: Updating the cork board  / Above right: Work in progress, a new collection and leather samples.

Above: Proofing my work.

The storyboard rails hold what’s happening right now. Lots of contact sheets of rolls of black and white 120mm film.

The rails are currently holding a personal weekend project that I’m really excited by. I find the rails help to edit material and find the layout flow.

Come next week they will be filled with different work. Told you, I’m old school. Paper forever.

I’m also working away on some new leather luggage pieces, so samples and swatches are up there too.

Above: Proofing work, inspecting test strips to ensure quality.

Sometimes a customer or an interior designer will email with a request for a bespoke print, or perhaps a different size or an image of mine that isn’t already in my shop. I am always open to these requests, in fact I really enjoy arranging them.

I always do a few test strips to ensure the quality. The Highland Cow is one of the test strips hanging here – testing for a customer who wants this print in a larger size.

Above: Design room details.

Above: Contact sheets and test strips.

Above: Work in progress, leather samples, contact sheets and test strips.

Above: In the design room. A close-up of the cork board.

Above left: Lotus flower pods and lush leaves / Above right: My leather bound travel notebook.

Not everything works out, but I suppose that is the creative process. My travel notebook is filled with lots of concepts and ideas, successes and failures. It’s all part of the journey.

Above: In the studio with a framed print housed in its own travel box.

In my online print shop we have just launched a framing service for the photographic prints, which is very new and something I haven’t actually spoken about yet.

I still offer prints unframed, I always will, though now the work can be framed for collectors who would like a ready to hang piece in my signature framing style.

The framed work is delivered in a special handmade wooden travel box to keep it safe whilst travelling to its new home.

I love how the travel boxes feel like old-world tea chests, we even stamp them. The frames and travel boxes are handmade by my trusted local fine art framer, who does a beautiful job.

Above: Signing and numbering my photographic prints in the studio.

Print signing on the production tables is something I always look forward to. Signing, numbering and dating each work and also writing personal postcards to each customer, thanking them.

I always try to imagine where the pieces are going to end up, in which room, in which country.

The work goes all over the world, something I am always amazed by and so very grateful for, that someone wants to collect my work, how I see the world. It’s very emotional to think about.

Above: Signing the first edition of my new photographic print, entitled Seashell Still Life.

Signing my latest work – Seashell Still Life, the first release from my visual study on Stradbroke Island.

I have been working away on a project over the past few weekends, studying and photographing natural forms and I have become obsessed with Australian seashells.

All the colours, shapes and patterns. So simple, yet so complex in their beauty.

And then, the day comes to a close. I draw the curtains, turn off the lights and the music and head home, looking forward to coming back the next day.

 I have made a special playlist for you below of the music that’s currently on high rotation in the studio right now.

I hope you enjoyed having a look inside, let me know what you think and if you have any questions please ask me.

K x

 

Studio Playlist

I always turn the music on as soon as I arrive. Here’s what I’m listening to at the moment.

KARA’ S FAVOURITES

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46 Comments to “My New Studio: A Personal Tour”

  1. Oh my goodness !!! I am lying in bed and i really think yours is one of the only blogs i still click on as soon as i see a new post. Kara, wow !!! this is so, so beautiful i really don’t even have words to describe how inspiring this is. It has been a bit of a tough year but seeing this makes my heart full and it makes me realise once again how lucky i am. Your talent is immense sweet one. Thank you so much for sharing it with is all xxx

    • Cathy! You should visit when you are in Brisbane next. I hope you are ok. We are all so very lucky, so lucky. I can only do these things because the people around me believe I can. Sending you love Cathy x

  2. Kara ! Absolutely beautiful. I’ve been completely transported looking at your incredible imagery. Just divine. Thankyou for sharing xx

  3. I’m wordless, speechless, struck dumb, can’t speak, tongue tied.
    All I’d like to know darling …. “Is it ALWAYS so inspiringly organised?”
    STUNNERAMA-ROCK-ROLLA

  4. Kara you are truly inspirational to me. I love reading your blog written straight from your heart, and congratulations your new space is simply beautiful.
    I look forward to seeing more of your creative peaceful images that you bring to the world. xx

    • Thank you so much Lisa – it’s so lovely to be able to open the doors and share the journey of the past year. So pleased you enjoyed it x

  5. I’m so grateful for the creative souls like yourself who share freely so I can nourish my soul in an important way that doesn’t come as naturally to me. Looking at your studio/work/passion makes my heart feel just a little more complete. We are all so different with so many different things to offer the world and it’s a privilege to peek inside of yours.

    • Hi Tiffany – thank you for your kind words. You are right – we all have different strengths and see so many aspects of the world differently. I’m so pleased you enjoyed having a look inside my world x

  6. Kara,
    your energy, creativity and zest for life is so captivating, I continue to be inspired by your creations and discoveries to which there is seemingly no end! I also love your down to earth honesty, it’s so refreshing!

    I noticed a book on your entrance table with an African? warrior? holding a pole? I am assuming it’s a photographic book, could you let me know the name of it please. xo

  7. Oh Kara, what a beautiful space. So tranquil, so warm. so relaxing. Now I understand how you can create so much. We all need something similar in our lives. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Hi ,

    Loved reading about your journey into the new work space. I am looking for some large shells and loved yours can you help me find some or send me in a direction …

    • H Rita – I only ever purchase second hand shells. I don’t support the new trade of them. So I always look out for them at garage sales, antique stores etc. Good luck.

  9. Hi Kara, Thank you for sharing your studio. I love it, it’s all so beautiful. My wootten bag (packed) goes with me every Saturday night after we have closed our pub for our one day off escape and still my most favorite purchase to date. xx

    p.s. I hope my Virgo daughter learns the art of clean organisation instead chaos organisation :)

    • Hi Minna – that makes me so happy knowing you love your bag. I love mine too – such a great shape. Virgos – oh no, we are the worst! Ha xx

  10. Your studio space is beautiful! Are your walls white or slightly gray? Hard to tell on my computer. I am loving your storyboard rails. I have not seen anyone do that before. What are they?

    • Hi Dawn – Great to hear from you! The walls upstairs are a soft grey. The storyboard rails are similar to docket rails at restaurants – you can find them online if you search for restaurant fit out supplies etc x

  11. Hi Kara, your new studio is so ‘you’, inspiring, beautiful and a creative workspace that must be a joy to work in everyday. Such a special welcome each day to be reminded of your Dads addition to your beautiful new space.

  12. Kara! I just had to check out your new studio! How absolutely stunning. What a gorgeous space. Listening to your Spotify playlist, so fab! That Yann Tiersen piece! I just love how they make your photographs come to life. Love it!!! Thankyou x

    • Hi Anna – glad you enjoyed – the pendant lights are from Beacon Lighting. Check them out online. Hopefully they are still available.

  13. What a beautiful space
    Read every word !
    And I’m not a blog reader ha !
    Inspiring as always
    and loved seeing the second hand finds x

  14. You are such a talented woman and inspire me in so many ways! This is such a dream spot to work in, big congrats to you and your family!

    I was wondering if you can do some sort of post on how to UPHOLSTER furniture, like where to go, what fabrics work best… really loved what you did with that ‘project’ chair, but I would have no idea where to go to get something cool done to a furniture piece..

    Anyway, thanks so much!
    V

  15. Kara. It is so so fabulous! Congratulations!!!
    All the hard work and excitement resonates with me finding my studio space. I’m in the process of finishing of the plans I had in the beginning at BLOCK D after all the unavoidable hold ups over the last 2 1/2 years. Feeling excited but a bit overwhelmed at the same time.
    You have really inspired me !!
    Thank you for sharing the story and beautiful images. Xx

  16. You are such a talented woman and inspire me in so many ways! This is such a dream spot to work in, big congrats to you and your family!

    I was wondering if you can do some sort of post on how to UPHOLSTER furniture, like where to go, what fabrics work best… really loved what you did with that ‘project’ chair, but I would have no idea where to go to get something cool done to a furniture piece..

    Anyway, thanks so much!
    V

  17. Wowza, such an inspirational space! I’m swooning over every detail and appreciate you sharing your sacred studio space. All the love and energy poured into it… you can feel it. Question—I have been obsessively searching for a similar grey hexagon floor tile (the variation in tones is just gorgeous), would you be able to share the tile company/brand? I’m in the US… so perhaps it wouldn’t even be available here… but I just had to ask. :)

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