This winter, I was approached by Spotify to style a new concept writing studio in Nashville, called Secret Genius. I was honored and admittedly, a bit nervous, at the same time. How does one design an inspiring space for Nashville's biggest songwriters?! I channeled my 10 years of experience working in the music industry and discussed my vision with my singer/songwriter friends, including my husband, to make sure the space felt, above all else, comfortable and creative.
The studio space that was chosen already included some rustic elements, so I knew I wanted to take its traditional bones and bring it into more of a modern place. Living in Nashville for 8 years, I’ve experienced first-hand the tremendous amount of growth that has taken place, and I wanted this space to both reflect Nashville’s deep roots while also nodding to the future of what Nashville has to offer as a modern city.
The Spotify space is rented, so I wasn't allowed to change any of the walls. I had to get creative in how to make all the rustic textures work for my new vision. I achieved this by adding as much white and black as possible. The room has amazing ceiling height but still felt dark so adding as much white as I could was definitely a “must”. I separated the large open-concept space it into three zones, including this lounge where the artists can take a creative "break" when they find themselves stuck. The low to the ground bean bag sectional was the perfect choice: it is playful, evoking feelings of being a kid - a time where you were allowed to be creative and forget about adult worries and responsibilities.
My favorite part of this project was enlisting some of my favorite local artists to provide black and white graphic art for the space. Instead of giving painter, Alic Daniel, a traditional canvas, I asked him to do his signature bold scribble technique on a piano. I was nervous how it would turn out (not because I doubted Alic but because I was second guessing my vision), but thankfully I didn't have time to overthink it so I pulled the trigger. Alic absolutely KILLED it. It is my favorite moment of the entire space and I secretly hope when Spotify decides to retire this space, I can somehow inherit the instrument. No one will notice, right?
The main living area was a challenge because unlike most living rooms, this space needed to accommodate a lot of recording gear, including a dozen guitars, microphones, speakers, a production desk, keyboard, etc. I knew the bold black and white artwork by my good friend, Angela Allen, would be the PERFECT centerpiece for the space. Her art pops against the rustic wood wall and add some much needed modern appeal.
Lastly, the "dining room" - a place to send some quick emails or gather together and share a meal. Here I asked Nashville-based rockstar photographer, David McClister, to showcase some of his black and white portraits of some of music's best talent including: Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Jerry Lee Lewis. I used a combination of sculptural white dining chairs to brighten up the darker space. I'm obsessed with the Pantone S chair knock-offs and their weirdly fabulous and unpredictable shape.
A Stylist’s Guide to a Creative Space
ART: Nothing inspires art like art itself. A print won’t have the same impact as the real deal where you can see the brushstrokes, textures, and lines, and can almost feel the artist’s energy.
LIGHTING: There’s nothing more depressing than bad overhead lighting. Creating a nice glow will invite you to linger and stay awhile. A rule of thumb is to have at least three lighting sources in a room - and always have lights on a dimmer. For example: a sculptural overhead chandelier on a dimmer mixed with some low wattage floor lamps to brighten up the corners and a funky table lamp to add some style.
A COMFORTABLE SEAT: Whether you are working in an office or writing a song, if you don’t have a comfortable place to sit, you won’t be there for long. When you can, think like a kid - an adult-sized bean bag sectional creates an environment to play in.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: Inspire “out of the box” thinking with non-traditional furniture. Find an oddly shaped chair and put it in the corner. Instead of a standard lamp - choose something more sculptural. Be bold. I tend to be drawn towards designer classics from the 50s and 60s. Visit your local antique shop to find something unique!
This has been one of my favorite projects to date. I love checking the @SecretGenius tagged posts on instagram to see how the artists are using and enjoying the space. I feel like a fly on the wall. It is so rewarding to be a part of a project that will spark creative energy and great music - two things I am so passionate about! - XO Carly