Karen Davis and Pepa Martin met while they were both studying textile design in 2004. In a time of screen prints and clean white walls, they found a mutual interest and love for hand-dyeing and traditional Japanese textile design.
Since those days roaming the hallways at school together, Karen and Pepa have been developing their textile brand, Shibori Studio, located in the heart of Sydney’s inner-west neighborhood of Stanmore. With an emphasis on experimentation, Karen and Pepa blend heavy fabrics — such as linen, hessian, leather and suede — with the fine art of shibori, which has led them to collaborations with artisans spanning the globe. Their inquisitive minds also have them working with wood, glass and a range of wallpaper and leathers.
Located just 10 minutes from the big city, Shibori Studio is walking distance to both Karen and Pepa’s homes, which was a definite selling feature when they were studio-hunting two years ago. When they first toured the space, it was very rundown, but they both saw potential in its street frontage, ample space for teaching and creating, and its neighboring location to a popular café was a plus. Since then, their studio has evolved and benefited greatly from decorating and the help of a few friends, “the highlight being a beautiful knitted rope hanging to divide the shop from the workspace,” Pepa says. “[It was] made by Jacqui Fink of Little Dandelion [and it] draws people in every day!” That is, of course, if they aren’t overcome by the special smell of their indigo dyes!
Though Karen and Pepa dream of one day exposing the wooden beams in the ceiling, their priority is continuing to foster a space that’s practical, adaptable to suit all parts of their business, and reflective of their collective styles and tastes. “We are so fortunate to have a studio space in Sydney,” Pepa says, “rent [is very] high, and if it weren’t for the local support [we get] and the love [of] the craft, we wouldn’t have a place in this great community.” Today, we’re getting a peek behind the curtain — or should I say, knitted rope wall-hanging — into Karen and Pepa’s gorgeous textile studio. –Sabrina
Photography by Amanda McLauchlan