Interiorssneak peeks

Ariele Alasko’s Brooklyn Studio

by Amy Azzarito

Ariele Alasko’s sneak peek back in March was a huge hit. And rightly so — this girl didn’t let living in a tiny Brooklyn apartment impinge on her dreams of being a woodworker. She set up a spot right in the living room and just began making things. After eight months working in 100 square feet, Ariele was more than ready to move to a proper studio. It was a three-month-long hunt with Amelie Mancini to find this place in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood. Together with Amelie (whose equally awesome studio next door we’ll check out next week), the two girls transformed the totally raw space with no walls or electricity into two rooms for each to work. Ariele spent three weeks framing, insulating and sheetrocking the walls so that she could have her own space and soundproof the room for power tools. Now she can close her doors, make all the noise she wants and at the end of the day, go home to a saw dust-free apartment. Thanks, Ariele! And a big thank you to Max Tielman for the lovely photographs on a very hot day! — Amy Azzarito

Image above: The entrance to my studio is inside the larger space we rented, so it’s like a little room inside a big room. The walls I framed and built myself, and I hung these two ancient doors I got for twenty bucks each, mismatched and totally crooked, also a bit warped and missing panes of glass that I filled with chalkboard.

Image above: My desk is an eight-foot-long old worktop that I also got for twenty bucks. On the side of it, written in sloppy handwriting, I discovered that it says “John,” probably from the guy who owned it before. It’s propped up on a rusty sewing machine base that I found on the sidewalk. (I’m waiting for another one for the other side!) Sitting in front of it is my favorite thing in my studio — that chair. Oh, that chair! I saw it at a junk store and convinced myself I didn’t need more furniture, but that night I could hardly sleep as it plagued me! I went back first thing, praying it was still there, but to my horror, it had been sold. *Gasp!* It was sitting there waiting to be picked up by someone else, so I did the evil, slimy, but natural thing to do and offered the guy more money for it. Sorry lady! If you’re reading this, I was horrible, and you can despise me, but you can’t have it back! And if you come over, I promise I’ll let you sit in it.

See more of Ariele’s Brooklyn studio after the jump!

Image above: Here’s an old post-office stool I found with a top I made myself, my favorite old hand saw, and a bouquet of Queen Anne’s Lace that I picked on the roadside. I love the idea of having flowers in a wood shop.

Image above: The blue lamp I bought for a dollar seven years ago at a flea market in Manhattan and rewired myself.

Image above: That odd-shaped black and white chevron piece you see is one of my Patterned Headboards, ready to be boxed up and shipped out to CA. The metal cabinet to the right is another one of those saw-it, didn’t-buy-it-and-was-plagued-by-it items. I had to go back the next day with my fingers crossed and scored it for $175, more than I’d usually spend on something, but it holds all my tools oh so nicely! I love that it was once in some other shop or garage and has paint splatters and scratches and stains and smells like old paint when you open it.

Image above: I built that simple desk lamp out of an enamel shade I got for ten bucks in CA and a bent piece of metal. And don’t ask about the Triangle Cheeseboard on my desk — they are all sold!

Image above: This is definitely my favorite little corner of my studio. You know how sometimes things just fall into the right places unintentionally? It’s a great feeling. The old rulers came to me all at once from a few different places, and the three old prints were found at an antique store right around the corner from me, for just a couple dollars each. The wooden drawers were given to me from a past downstairs neighbor and conveniently hold a mixture of odd screws and nails.

Image above: The drawing is of a table pattern, and was the first dining room table commission I ever got. It holds a special meaning for me, and I intend to frame that sketch when the right old frame comes along. That sketch was the beginning of the beginning!

Image above: This female deer skull was found by my dad many years ago while he was hiking in CA, and I don’t think he ever thought it would be so oddly loved over here in BK.

Image above: The big tabletop on the wall is the biggest I’ve built to date, measuring ten feet long and six feet wide. You can get an idea of how I put it together by watching a stop-motion video of the process here:

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  • Lovely studio, but the parent in me looked at the door in first photo and thought, “Lead paint chips!” Although few kids under 6 are likely to be in that studio, lead paint dust isn’t good for anyone.

  • What an awesome space, and that tabletop is just incredible! If I were that person you stole that chair out from under (ha), I would be insanely furious. It’s a really cool chair.

  • Incredible woodwork! The studio is nice too, but I love that a powerful young woman doing amazing woodwork.

  • This is one of my favorite spaces Design Sponge has ever featured. I love all of the wood elements, the handmade corner shelf, that amazing hanging lamp with the red cord, the big spaces ready for something to be made… all of it!

  • Wow! :) I love that you’re following your dream and making it work. Your work reminds me on a lot of levels of quilting (which I adore) The symmetry and planning is just incredible! :) LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

  • It’s a lovely space and she creates such beautiful pieces, I’m just really surprised anyone thought that incredibly unprofessional anecdote about the chair stolen out from under another customer was a good idea to include in a story/feature about your business. It’s a shame, and it leaves me with really mixed feelings about an artist whose work I really respected.

  • I love your space! I have to say though, I think what you did to get the chair is a bit unfortunate. The person who got there after you had already opted not to buy it, made a deal the shopkeeper was happy to accept. Do you feel you are more deserving just because you could pay more? It’s kind of a crappy, bad karma thing to do. Just saying!

  • I’ve been having a serious girl crush on Ariele for a while. Saw her work on Simply breakfast and I was smitten! Love her home, love her work, love her new studio!! Congratulations!! It looks GREAT! That giant table is just so incredibly beautiful!!!! It’s just perfect hanging there on that black wall. Nice to see a follow up.

    As for the comment of lead paint chips above, it’s been mentioned SO many times, I think the whole world knows by now. One can appreciate the health concerns but people have to lighten up a bit and understand that this is not a housewife’s or mother’s hobby space or a child friendly space! It’s an artist’s workspace and it comes with the territory!! You love the art and Ooh! and Aah! on some safe pretty pictures but don’t understand that serious Artists’ spaces and practices do come with varied risks! Sometimes you smell it just walking in! Their passion for their art and need to create outweighs by far the rules of safety. Yes, it’s nice to have a safe and healthy environment to work in. Most artists are aware and will do their best to have one but I can guarantee you that they won’t let that get in the way once the creative juices are flowing!! I can’t elaborate with the toxic details here but a potter, a glass blower, a sculptor, a welder, a painter (and even an Illustrator) will have to deal with this on one level or an other. They know because it’s their job. If they don’t they eventually find out but whether they care about it or not is their business. It’s just how it is. Lets just enjoy creative spaces for what they are (from the safety of our computers) ;) a concerned opinion is not going to change their practice. Sorry, just couldn’t take it anymore.

    Love this sneak peek! From a fan all the way from Gatineau, Québec! Please keep it up! I’m also secretly wishing for more cheeseboards! ;)

  • I would seriously live there, the smell of all that wood would be amazing. It’s beautifully laidout as well.
    @courtney, we’re only human

  • Have to comment again!! :\ Courtney, people are not perfect! The dealer was the shameful one for doing this to an other client. It happened to me over a cabinet and once more over a retro turntable and you know what? I got over it because it’s part of the business. Ariel paid for it, didn’t steal it, was honest and confessed about her slimy move, the end! It has nothing to do with her art that you respect so much. Why do people always need to feel like they have to like and respect an artist? If we would practice that philosophy we would stop listening to a lot of music, we would stop admiring many art pieces and we would rarely watch movies! It’s the art you like not to be confused with the complex human being that created it!! End of rant.

    • kathleen

      ariele sells her headboards on her site- or you can contact her directly. i bought one before we first wrote about her and i LOVE IT.

      grace :)

  • Ariele – You rock. I love your boldness, your “cards on the table” honesty and cool confidence in all that you do. Don’t change a thing. Plus I’ve been drooling over your cutting boards and when the world replenishes you supply of old wood, I’m first in line. In the meantime, thank you for giving us the Alasko family-cultivated “Il Vechio” which is merely 50 minutes south of us. Lucky us! A big Cali Cheers to YOU. (I look forward to more features of you on D*S.)

  • Ariele is my hero! an absolute inspiration, so funny and talented. I wish you even more success in the new studio and will continue to read ur awesome blog. Fanks to DS for this sneak peek. I also would of done a slimy one about that awesome chair! I guess u have to live in NY to find gems like that in junk shops.

  • Your pieces are incredible, Ariele! It is so inspiring to see how you didn’t let a tiny space stop you from your passion and voila; you have an amazing studio and body of work to show for it. As for the comments about the chair, maybe this speaks to my own character, but my first thought was “you can DO that?!” I cannot tell you how many chairs/benches/antique milkshake makers/etc. I’ve let go, agonized over, and let go again when I returned to the shop and saw a “reserved” or “sold” sign sitting atop them or taped to their sides, and I’m kind of impressed that someone didn’t accept that as the final word (though I’m sure that I’d be disappointed if I were the other party since that’s a seriously awesome chair!). It is clear that you are a lady who knows what she wants and works hard to achieve her goals, and that’s something to admire.

  • love the little blue lamp!!!!!….and arielle’s style….cool kicks, headband, & jewelry!

  • Ditto with Rachel on the ‘you can do that!’ comment and my ‘bad karma’ money is on the dealer for not having the courtesy to say ‘no sorry that item is sold’ c’est la vie

    in other news – Ariele’s work is freaking AMAZING!! I have loved her stuff and her blog for a LONG time and so glad to see she is making her dream come alive and so YOUNG! she is smashing down all those stereotypes about young, female, beautiful women oh so very INSPIRING!!

  • I think the chair story may be a bit much…It says a lot. I think the guy who sold it should be mentioned here too!

    I love the work…A lot of designers have mean streaks…Selfish streaks…I still admire their work.

    Gorgeous space too. I admire the work that went into making it a functioning and good looking studio.

  • Ariele is perhaps my favorite artist of all time! What an treat it is to see her grow. I literally read her entire blog in one day when I first heard of her…such inspiration; the new studio is no exception. And this is the first time I believe I’ve seen her; a woman as gorgeous as the things she makes!

  • Love seeing artists and where they reside or work. I’ve had my eye on these headboards for a while and it’s fascinating to put a face to a name.

  • I read your post on VA. Enjoyed. You should check out Richmond…lots of old buildings restored. Nice headboards that you created.

  • What an absolutely amazing workspace! By far my favorite feature on Design Sponge so far. And Ariele’s work is gorgeous. It was worth going over and having a look at her process video. I just don’t see why people have to nitpick about the paint and the chair.

  • one of the prettiests rustic spaces I’ve seen so far. Mostly rustic are too rustic. This one is just perfect, in moderation and with such a taste.

  • Great space, admire that you are doing what you love!

    about the chair comment……in my small online vintage shop, there have been occasions where some one asks me to put a “please reserve” note on an item, probably like a “sold” in a b&m shop, then I never hear from them again–that’s okay, people change their minds. I would imagine that the chair seller has had similar situations and had to make a choice.

    I don’t think I would get too knotted up over the chair thing and evaluate someone’s entire persona over it…..

  • What a beautiful studio-workroom.I love the desk just the way it is. did you build the sawhorse support? It is exactly what I am looking for for my outdoor plank picnic table. It is so nice to see a young woman working with wood and making beautiful pieces of furniture! My expertise is sewing and when I do some wood building my biggest challenge is allowing for the thickness of the material.Thank you for sharing,and I will watch your video.

  • Thanks to all for your comments and lovely support! I am indeed sorry for my casual phrasing of the chair story and the offense I caused a few people. I believe in honesty which is why I included the story, though I should not have left out crucial details – most importantly that the chair had been verbally put on hold without a deposit, and three days had gone by with no contact from that person. As a business man, the shop owner weighed his odds of selling the chair on the spot to someone who ADORES it, or waiting for a person who may never show up. I sincerely wish that perhaps this will clarify my actions a bit. I hope those of you who I upset can find it in their hearts to understand, and can still enjoy the woodwork here either way!
    Sincerely, Ariele

  • I’m absolutely in love with this space and it’s so similar in taste to mine that I just feel like I have to be friends with Ariele;) (seriously though, I live in brooklyn…). Gorgeous job, gorgeous work, and congrats on having a space of your own!

  • Love the studio! So jealous, but in a great way!
    Her work is just stunning, I can only hope to one day own some!

  • Wait, how does a heavy table like that get mounted on a wall??? Also, where did you learn to wield power tools and carve/woodwork? It is not the easiest to convince folks a girl is worth teaching power tools 101- and a lot of us suffer from not knowing!

  • Ariele, I’ve been spying on you on the internet for a while, so this was extra fun. Question: where did you get (/how did you make) that cool red cord for your lamp?

  • I love room designs featuring black chalk boards. They are so inspiring and very easy to make it yourself. Ariele you have a great studio flat!

  • Awesome creativity. I abosolutely adore the creative spirit and resourcefulness. This studio is a work of art. Love It

  • That is such an amazing space. I just saw the stop motion video of the big table and I’m speechless. Your work is so motivational and your space full of creativity, can totally feel it!!

  • Looks like a great studio with awesome flow. Having an open area like your big room is similar to what I use for my projects.