Sydney-based artists Laura Wasserman and David Van Cotthem share how they set up a functional yet stylish workstation in their lounge room to suit both of their artistic needs. Laura is a trend consultant and artist (Lauraborbi), and David is an accessories designer and leather craftsman (Dvan.Co Leather).
My workspace is shared with my partner David. We set up this workspace to serve as a functional yet stylish workstation that we could incorporate into our living room without it being too intrusive of our homey space. We wanted it to fit in with what I like to call our ‘minimalistic retro/relaxed beachside’ decor. We can have clients over in the day and still have friends over on evenings and weekends without either of them feeling like they’re in the ‘wrong’ space. And, the desk can magically transform into a bar when we have dinner parties!
David got the bench custom-made through someone he found on Gumtree that specialised in workshop benches. We both feel more productive working from an elevated desk position and sitting on high stools. We also got my dad to link some powerpoints to the workbench so we could each connect our electronics without the inconvenience of cables and chargers running across the room.
To maintain a minimal and a shared cross-functional space, we try and avoid pinning up too many visuals and putting up too much permanent inspiration around the space at once. It’s hard to do since we are both very visual when it comes to work and conceptualising ideas. Instead we pin everything to foam-backed boards, which we move around or take away completely depending on what we’re working on, or which clients we have dropping in. You can pick them up from art shops and Officeworks. They are not always that cheap, but so worth it if you use them as much as we do!
The wooden cups and ceramic bowls were mostly made by us. David takes woodturning classes on weekends and so he always brings home beautiful handmade storage decor. The wooden stacked compartment tower is his best creation ever, I love it. It’s so practical for little knick-knacks. I made the small ceramic bowls at a workshop I did last year, and the other ceramics were gifts. I also sourced the big storage baskets from charity shops. My next project is to embroider on some decorative detail to make them more personal. We’d also like to frame some more prints from exhibitions we’ve visited and of photographs we’ve taken to hang around the workbench.
Woven baskets make really great storage compartments under the bench (and double as stylish decor). They are perfect for all the random materials that tend to float around with projects, such as adhesives, inks, stationery, etc. They all go straight into the baskets at the end of the day and voilà, our space is tidy at almost the click of a finger! The basket I love most (on the right) came from Vinnies and was only $6! Baskets with handles are the best option since we can easily pull them out to find what we need without having to crawl or dig under the table. Another tip is to hide anything with labels or bold graphic branding that disrupts the clean and neutral essence of the space. The big plastic tubs with lids aren’t as stylish but they do a good job of keeping things compact and stashed away, yet still accessible.
Routine! Establish a routine in your day-to-day life and you’ll end up finding the time to devote to your artistic practice. For a long time I felt crazily inspired and ready to create, but I could never start or finish anything. I was feeling overwhelmed by all the inspiration! I’d end up creating an art-MESS rather than an art-WORK! It wasn’t until I developed a routine and created structure around my creative process that I finally started creating finished pieces and subsequently arrived at finding my unique style and aesthetic.