Space to Create

Space to Create

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Photo: Mark LaFavor

There's a lot to love about visiting creative people's spaces: At its best, a studio tour is a chance to meet artists, preview works in progress, even gather inspiration on décor and organization. In her new book Open Studios, Brooklyn-based designer Lotta Jansdotter grants us admission into some spaces we might never otherwise visit.

A departure from the author's usual how-to volumes, Open Studios explores 24 artist and designer ateliers in Brooklyn, Tokyo, and Jansdotter's native Stockholm. She gives us a curated selection of artists (some of them friends) who work in ceramics, jewelry, textiles, photography, graphic design, and other creative fields.

It's the hundreds of photos arranged on a smart visual grid that make this book what it is - a joyful immersion for the arts-minded reader. I found myself scanning every image, enjoying the graphical mix of works-in-progress, handmade goods, personal knickknacks, and trays and racks of supplies. My one small wish would be for the book to be printed on glossy paper instead of matte, if only to make the photos that much more vibrant and crisp.

Brief profiles, Q&As with the artists, and concise yet thorough captions enrich the overall tableaux. The interviews are especially fruitful: filled with tips and advice on living the creative life, peppered with personal anecdotes. Among the three distinct locations, I also couldn't help but notice some common threads in the design styles for each locale: bright colors and bold shapes in Brooklyn, whimsy and patterns in Stockholm, and order and artistry in Tokyo. It's a reminder of how much culture and community can play into the creative process. Which makes Open Studios - a place to find inspiration in sublime settings, far from our own backyards - all the more appealing.

Natalie Zee Drieu is the former editor in chief of Craftzine.com. She lives in San Francisco and blogs at coquette.blogs.com.