Creating space: Designers share where they’re spending time

Photo: John Robinson Photo: John Robinson

For an at-home twist to our annual design issue, we asked a handful of local artists, architects, and designers where they’re spending the most time these days, and what spaces or objects are bringing them joy. Here’s what they had to share.

This space has become increasingly multipurpose. It used to be a guest room and now is my home studio where I record and practice cello, write music, and devote hours to my newfound interest in sewing garments. I also teach Latin on Skype at the desk, to students who mostly live on the West Coast. The room is a corner nook in the apartment that I share with my partner. I love the morning light, the coziness, and the walls covered with artwork (some of the pieces and light fixtures are by local artist Bolanle Adeboye). In the evening, the light is dim and inviting, and from the windows I can hear passing trains and the hush of nighttime spring life.—Wes Swing, cellist, composer, and teacher

I call this my Zoom room. The laptop is positioned on my parents’ 1950s kitchen table in front of the window. This area provides soft front lighting, a door to close, and a simple background. It also acts as an exercise room and art studio.  The stickers remain from a childhood past.—Stacey Evans, artist

We’ve been spending a lot of time on our back porch and just redid the entry at our driveway with a new fence that the kids helped us paint (homeschool at its finest!). Other than that, we’ve been laying low, working remotely, and trying our darnedest to stay sane through this.—Anna Boeschenstein, owner, Grounded Landscape Architecture & Design

This chair, which I purchased from a friendly German couple just before the dawn of my career as a freelance designer, is exceedingly comfortable. But more than comfortable, which is a trait most recliners share, this chair is comforting. It makes working from home better than bearable, with a seat that feels weightless and a view that is green. On nicer days, I can open the sliding glass door and feel the breeze while I select typefaces and listen to the birds and leaves while I build websites.—Lucas Czarnecki, typographic designer

My workspace has, without a doubt, become the most important and most used spot in my apartment. I spend a big chunk of the day editing shots from my street and Porchraits projects here, [and] it also serves as my virtual happy hour spot since all my social events happen online these days. …Welcome to my new normal.—Eze Amos, photographer

This is a table that my husband, who’s a woodworker, made for me a couple years ago, [and] we designed [it] together. It’s the table we eat our dinner on. It’s also the place I set up for my Zoom meetings, because it has the best light. It looks out onto our backyard, and the woods. It’s been really beautiful to see the transition from winter to spring. As the leaves start to fill in, it becomes a lot more private. This is a family space, but it’s also become a workspace. It’s just that thing that encapsulates trying to homeschool and work and all the things that are happening at this moment, quality not assured.—Lou Haney, artist and PVCC teacher 

I used to work out of this room when I freelanced. The built-in desks were actually going to be removed to use in our Stony Point office, but alas, we hadn’t gotten around to it, so this was practically move-in ready. Our entire network is in the cloud, and we keep in touch with clients and each other through all the usual media.

In terms of function, the office works quite well for me. T&N printing is nearby, and they deliver. I mostly get half-size sets of drawings because they fit into my little flat files. Our office is as busy as ever—perhaps even more so. We do custom residential design for the most part, and so many people are getting to know their homes in new ways now. That’s exactly what we help them do, so I’m happy to report that we’re hard at work, and so are the builders who make these houses happen.—Jessie Chapman, architect, Goodhouse Design

My husband, artist Russ Warren, moved into his new studio the second weekend in April. He had grown out of his smaller studio over Les Yeux du Monde Gallery and was working in the garage for several years, so this is a welcome evolution. It was designed by architect Josh Stastny and built by Peter Johnson Builders. Now there’s lots of room for his larger-than-life-sized paintings.—Lyn Bolen Warren

When UVA transitioned to a work-from-home order, it was imperative that I clean up a space to work while I edit photos. Since I moved into this house I’ve had an office/spare room in an upstairs bedroom. As with most people, it began with the best intentions, but the room inevitably became the junk drawer of the house.

We cleaned up the room and made it a pleasant place to work. Now, it has become one of my favorite places in the house, especially with the nice morning light. Behind my desk I have a very old flat file that was part of UVA’s Brooks Hall when it was a natural history museum in the late 1800s. It holds my camera gear and prints I’ve made of my work. My cat particularly enjoys spending most of the day lounging on the futon while I work. It’s a calming place that allows me to focus when I am home and editing.—Sanjay Suchak, photographer

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