Monday, April 1, 2013

Lovely Workspaces

I am intrigued by the rooms where creative people work. Writers, artists, interior designers, fashion designers, gallery owners, museum directors, entrepreneurs -- their choice of a workspace is fascinating to me. Do they keep it austere and serene or do they load it with inspiration? Do they work best with images on a bulletin board, favorite books on bookshelves, precious writing implements on their desk, windows with a view, great lighting or privacy? What element is most important to them? What are the ingredients that go into making their workspace a retreat, a haven where they can be creative? As Virginia Woof wrote, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." I am not sure that money is essential (think of J.K. Rowling), but a room of one's own seems to be ideal. Here are the workspaces of some very creative people. 

 Vita Sackville-West's writing tower at Sissinghurst Castle
Photo by National Trust John Hammond via here

What kind of a room does a writer need to produce great art? Vita Sackville-West, descended from British nobility, had her own tower at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, England. It had views of the famous gardens she created. It was there that she wrote her novels, poems, essays and gardening articles. She was surrounded by her treasured books, Persian rugs, antique tapestries and portraits of her literary idols -- Virginia Woolf and the Bronte sisters.  

 Virginia Woolf's writing lodge
Photo by National Trust Eric Crichton via here

Virginia Woolf writing lodge at Monk's House, her home in East Sussex, England, was a much simpler affair. A former tool shed turned into a writing room, it was situated in the garden and had a view of the downs. This is where she wrote parts of all of her major novels. 

Virginia Woolf's desk
Photo by Eamonn McCabe via here

Edith Wharton's bedroom
Photo by Annie Leibovitz via here

Edith Wharton famously wrote her novels in bed, dropping the pages on the floor for her secretary Anna Bahlmann to gather up and type. Here is a recreation of Wharton writing in bed at her home The Mount in western Massachusetts, photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue Magazine. Wharton wrote "The House of Mirth" in this room.

Jane Austen's desk
Photo by Eamonn McCabe via here

Jane Austen wrote at this desk near the front door of Chawton Cottage, her home in Hamsphire

 Haworth Parsonage in Yorkshire, England, the home of Charlotte Bronte
Photo by Eamonn McCabe via here

Charlotte Bronte wrote her books on this table in the dining room, a room that doubled as her study


What about the artists, writers, designers, and creative spirits working today? Where do they like to work?

Artist and mapmaker Connie Brown of Redstone Studios at her studio in Durham, Connecticut
Photo by Caryn Davis via Connie Brown

Home decor and fashion designer Aerin Lauder's office
Photo by Pieter Estersohn via here

Nigella Lawson in her library
(photo source unknown)

Fashion designer Phoebe Philo at her atelier in London
Photo by Annie Leibovitz via here

 Bobbi Brown, founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, in her New York office
Photo by Elizabeth Lippman via here

Jenna Lyons, creative director at J. Crew
Photo by Heather Clawson from her book Habitually Chic: Creativity at Work via here

Thelma Golden, director of The Studio Museum of Harlem
Photo by Heather Clawson via here

I am so inspired by these beautiful workspaces. Where do you like to work? What kind of space nourishes your creativity?


  1. Your blogs are always wonderful. I love this one, Nigella Lawson's makes me think of my library, with books piled everywhere. I just can't get enough books. I'm now into 'spin-off' people from having read about the Bloomsbury Group. I have read the biography of Dora Carrington, now I am reading her letters. Thank you for all these wonderful blogs and photos.

    1. Thank you, Doris! You have made my day. I will now have to find a biography of Dora Carrington, what a fascinating story that must be.
      All the best, Sunday

    2. Sunday, with your love of books, and the Bloomsbury Group, I think you will enjoy this book. Also the biography of Frances Partridge who married Dora Carrington's husband Ralph, after she (Dora) committed suicide. It's amazing how so many of these people one reads about are interconnected in some way.

      All best wishes,

  2. I'll be at Sissinghurst and Monk's House in May!
    This post has me so excited I can barely breathe.

    1. Oh, lucky you! Are you also going to Charleston? It is so wonderful. I have never been to Monk's House or Berwick Church (which Duncan and Vanessa decorated inside), I will definitely visit them on my next trip.
      xx Sunday

  3. I love seeing artists studios. To see the space where creative ideas come to life and to appreciate works in progress is always a pleasure. Fun to get a glimpse into Connie's studio. One of my favorite spots to visit whenever we are there.
    Have a great week Sunday.

  4. I, too, love nigella Lawson's space - all those books! I have always wanted to create a sort of visual board over my desk that represents things/places/ideas that are inspirational to me- of few of your photos show examples.

  5. Oh how I wish my studio were so well kept. This time of year it is covered in school folders and projects. It is all about wrapping up the end of the school year. I do best in controlled chaos. Lovely work spaces. Bonnie

  6. funny you should ask.........we are writing in bed right now - wearing a blue blue (chaps') dressing gown - with a view of the palm trees in los angeles #divine.

  7. Very cool rooms, people and posting.

  8. Such beautiful spaces. In the process of creating a space in my home to work, and giving up some outside studio space.
    I'm kind of like Edith Wharton - love to work in bed and considering a small bed rather than a sofa or chairs in my new space. Ever since I read her biography, I've felt vindicated about the bed!

  9. It IS really interesting to see the environments in which people create great works. Jane Austen's space really intrigues because of the small size of the table. I suppose the comfort of the space varies as much as the creators of the works. Interesting post!

  10. Sunday, you consistently evoke a sort of pure and even unintentional excitement in addition to the inspiration. In reading others comments I feel this sense resonates. What a special, archive-worthy piece!