As creative types, when our ideas and dreams run wild and outgrow the space of our imagination, it’s not unusual to find ourselves craving an inspirational playground of sorts where they can flourish. So it was a natural step when stylist/author Anne Sage and husband-and-wife photography duo Caroline and Jayden Lee sought to create such a think tank of their own.
The once rundown warehouse space in Los Angeles’ Atwater Village — combined with a choppy layout — took roughly six months for Caroline, Jayden and Anne to overhaul on their own. The trio of friends turned to interior design powerhouse Sarah Sherman Samuel to blend their individual styles and bring to life their vision for their newly realized creative studio, Light Lab.
“It started as a space for the three of us to simply come together and create stuff as writers, photographers and intentional voices in our community,” they share. “However, we soon realized the potential of a space that offered a positive and liberating environment for other creatives, too!”
Whether it be playful photo shoots, exciting events or inspiring workshop happenings, at Light Lab, it truly feels like no daringly innovative idea is off the table. “Our ultimate joy is facilitating likeminded creatives to come together and have an unforgettable experience, producing wild and new ideas in the process.”
I spoke with Caroline, Jayden and Anne to get the full scoop on all they hope to accomplish with this new venture. See my Q&A with them after the jump, and click through to tour this jaw-droppingly gorgeous space — two words: pink bathroom. —Kelli
D*S: Tell us the ethos behind Light Lab — where did the inspiration come from to create it? What is the space intended for?
Caroline/Jayden/Anne: Light Lab is Anne Sage (blogger/stylist/author) and Caroline + Jayden Lee (photographers/carpet importers/etc). The three of us met on set about five years ago, and a close friendship and collaborative bond was born. When we first met, none of us lived in Los Angeles, and yet, a series of events led us into the same neighborhood, and suddenly, anything was possible. We began chatting about how brilliant it would be to have a shared space. Somewhere we could create a balance between home/work life, somewhere we could collaborate, and somewhere we could invite a sense of community in our area. We started casually looking at a variety of creative spaces in Los Angeles, and it was fate that led us to a forgotten machine shed — the magical 1,800-square-foot warehouse that is now known as Light Lab.
Light Lab is all about creative freedom. It started as a space for the three of us to simply come together and create stuff as writers, photographers and intentional voices in our community. However, we soon realized the potential of a space that offered a positive and liberating environment for other creatives, too! Light Lab aims to bring people together to create beautiful and inspiring things, whilst also uplifting modern creatives who desire community and a space that conducts ideas and satisfying outcomes. Our ultimate joy is facilitating likeminded creatives to come together and have an unforgettable experience, producing wild and new ideas in the process.
How did you plan to tackle transforming the space? What was the process like?
It was totally new territory for the three of us, so the learning curve was great, without a doubt. We started with a factory space that had subdivided rooms and a shell of a kitchen — our first task was to remove all dividers and eyesores and start with a fresh envelope. After that, it was really a matter of incrementally installing each new element according to the designs Sarah produced. We certainly learned a tonne of new skills — tiling, drywalling, aesthetic paneling, high ceiling painting, floating-shelf-leveling, amongst many others, including all kinds of non-common-sense processes like coordinating electrical and plumbing when ease of function and high-priority aesthetics must marry. Many coffees, late nights, triple shifts, blood, sweat and tears later, and we have a fully transformed creative lab on our hands.
For more visual details and elaboration about the process, check out the “before” photos + time lapse video here. Sarah also blogged all about her design process with some gorgeous layouts which you can see here.
Where did you gather inspiration for bringing the space to life?
Since Anne’s aesthetic is quite different than Caroline and Jayden’s, the inspiration began as one Pinterest board with a wide variety of ideas and color palettes. Fairly early on, we had the realization that we might struggle to find a middle ground, so we enlisted the genius of our dear friend, Sarah Sherman Samuel. Since all three of us already knew/adored/respected Sarah’s creative direction, we all agreed to align to whatever her vision for the aesthetic was — and while it was a challenging brief for her to create something that spoke to our various leanings, we couldn’t be more thrilled. Once we received her drawings, we were all smitten. No need to change a thing!
What’s your dream project that you’d take on in Light Lab?
The three of us have completely different skillsets (Anne: styling/writing, Caroline: producing/photography, Jayden: photography, writing, illustration + music composition), so we have a huge list of dreams we’d love to bring to life together. From curated events in partnership with a brand we adore, product lines, or creating inventive content for a client we believe in, we are loving the early stages of our trio’ness and all that we can dream and do together!
What was the biggest challenge or setback you all experienced in bringing this idea/project to life?
Honestly, it was work/life balance. It would have been a breeze if all of our regular lives and responsibilities were being handled by others (some sort of overly-generous-life-elves, perhaps), but the truth is, we all did this amidst an already hectic and crazy schedule of other projects. None of those things wait for you because you’ve got an extra-curricular project happening in the background, no matter how audacious and valuable it may be! It has been an incredible journey learning how to find the win-win in all of our endeavours, and we’ve grown into greater friends and a powerful trio because of it!
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your process?
Seeing how dramatic the shift has been from what the space was to what it has become is remarkable. Actually, I think we are still letting it sink in! To have this previously unseen, unacknowledged and kind of forgotten shell of possibilities transformed into a meeting place of creativity, just simply rocks! To sit back and see people enter the space, make new friends, meet old ones, and collide in ways that encourage joining together has been amazing, and it has only just opened! Big “wow” moments, which have certainly made the hard work and long hours worth it!
Who’d be your “pinch me!” collaborator to work alongside here?
Caroline: Gorman (Australia). Jayden: David Bowie. Anne: Brené Brown
What can we expect to see from Light Lab in the future?
Photo shoots, videos, workshops, events, collaborations, products.
-fridge, dishwasher, oven, beverage cooler from Kitchenaid
-backsplash and countertops: Formica Corporation (product names: Calacatta Marble from the 180fx by Formica Group line; Arctic from the Formica Solid Surfacing line Countertops)
-cabinets + floating shelves: Semihandmade Cabinets
-pendants: Cedar & Moss 8” lights from Rejuvenation
-white wall paint: Nova White by Glidden Paint
-island tiles: Fireclay Tile
-island counter stools: High Fashion Home Stools
-sink: Duravit from Wayfair
-faucet: Kohler from Wayfair
-toilet: Duravit Starck 2 from Wayfair
-tiles: Fireclay Tile
-framed photo: Max Wanger Print Shop
-wallpaper: custom design by Sarah Sherman Samuel, printed by Limitless Walls
-wall-mounted cabinets: IKEA
-acrylic towel bar + toilet paper holder: CB2
-towels: Yuka from Wayfair
-lights: Cedar & Moss sconces from Rejuvenation
-plant design by Folia Collective
-rugs: Coco Carpets
-framed art: photos by Caroline, designs by Sarah, framed by Simply Framed
-wall mirror: West Elm x Commune
-storage bench: West Elm x Commune
-wood chairs: ATG
-marble-topped coffee table: West Elm x Commune
-shearling chair: West Elm x Commune
– conference table: ATG
– white molded chairs: ATG
– pink molded chairs: ATG
– green molded armchairs: ATG
– bent wire chairs: ATG
-channel-back couch: custom design by Caroline + Anne, created at Alpha Upholstery
-white swivel chairs: Bernhardt Camino Swivel Chairs covered in Crypton ‘Snow’
-gold leaf coffee table: DIY
-lamp: West Elm x Commune
-leather sling chair: West Elm x Commune
– reclaimed wood stump table: Pottery Barn
– brass sculptural vase: Pottery Barn
-oversize painting: Adam Lee