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Interiorssneak peeks

Studio Tour: Élan Byrd

by Kelli Kehler

Setting foot into the two-room home studio of freelance artist and textile designer Élan Byrd in Miami, FL, it’s clear that she has a strong sense of style and a deep relationship with color and its impact on mood. Terra cotta hues meld harmoniously with crisp white, earthy black tones, soothing peach tints and a glorious bevy of textures. This is the embodiment of her unwavering signature style and essence of her work and its various forms, and such conviction of her unique tastes and skills is both something deeply engrained and newly discovered within Élan.

“My mother was an art teacher, so I’ve been exposed to art from a very early age,” she shares. “My idea of playing was designing clothes for my dolls and rearranging my room. So, I’ve always had a knack for fashion and interiors. I took the route of studying and majoring in fashion design, from design high school, through college at Parsons School of Design. Throughout my years at Parsons, I discovered my love for textiles. I’ve been pursuing textile design for fashion and interiors ever since. In 2018, I decided to take a break from living and working in New York. That break turned into starting Bleu Byrdie and developing it into a textile and home decor brand. I know that fashion design is something I will get back to in the future, but for now, I’m enjoying creating products for home interiors.”

Élan has owned her ranch-style, 1951 home for one year, and carved out space within the home for her studio. The transition from Brooklyn to Miami has awakened much creativity for her, but the beginning stages of configuring where her studio would be within the house — and how different arms of her business would coexist in the space — took some thinking.

“I decided to use two rooms that weren’t getting much use,” she begins. “One, which was a part of the converted garage and the other, a sun room overlooking the backyard. I’ve chosen to turn these spaces into a multidisciplinary studio, where I can balance between creating commissions, client work, and developing products. I used a lot of furniture that I previously owned or that was passed down from my mother. I thrifted the other pieces to make the space look cohesive. I’ve realized over time that I also need to have a balanced design space. Therefore, I created an area that’s aesthetically pleasing, and comfortable — where I can relax and truly enjoy the process of making. I also found that I need another area that is designed to be more practical, to focus on deadlines, and where I’m less susceptible to distractions or procrastinating. I’ve found that having two separate spaces for designated tasks really helps me to be my most productive with my time.”

Once Élan compartmentalized her studio to best serve her productivity needs, her creativity blossomed exponentially, both a result of moving to a new state completely and shifting her focus on different projects. The change in scenery has sparked a new fascination and artistic journey for her, resulting in an even more robust body of work.

“While I’m still in the beginning stages of developing my brand, my favorite memory [of my new space] thus far, was making the decision to turn these spaces into my home studio,” Élan begins. “Creating this studio has given me the incentive to discover different materials and to work on new concepts, which I may have never stumbled into back when I lived in Brooklyn. The studio allows me the freedom to explore. Ever since I moved back to Miami, I’ve been inspired by terrazzo surfaces. I’ve used my workroom to formulate my own version of terrazzo and have loved the process of experimenting with a variety of materials to create new products.” Here’s to more inspiration and self-discovery! We can’t wait to see what Élan creates next. —Kelli

Photography by Élan Byrd / @bleubyrdie

Image above: Élan shares, “The process of setting up my space didn’t take long, because I chose to work with what already existed. The changes I made were cosmetic. Both rooms were already painted light colors. However, I decided to paint the wall where I work the most, white. This is to ensure I see the true colors when I’m designing prints and painting. I arranged the furniture in a way to have floor space to work on when necessary. Specific areas were created for each discipline to help keep the space organized. I hung up a lot of my old art and fashion design work, because it serves as a source of inspiration to spark ideas of what I could possibly create in the future.”

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“Before decorating the rooms, I felt the need to rush and get them fully done before I could start to develop my brand,” Élan shares. “What this process has taught me is patience, and that my studio doesn’t have to be perfect before starting. However, I learned that I do need the rooms to feel calm and be organized in order to begin. This is because my method of making usually creates a mess and bit of chaos.”

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“This is the area where I set up to work on illustrations, prints, and small paintings. I like to display a few objects and decorative pieces that inspire me for the collection I’m working on. I only keep the materials that I’m using for a long period of time out on the shelves and desk.”

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Élan in her home studio.

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“This view of the studio brings me joy and puts me at ease.”

To have a space that feels warm and inviting makes me excited to wake up and get started working each day.

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Élan elaborates more on her decorating goals for the space, “I didn’t have a specific theme in mind, but I wanted to use colors that have become my signature palette. Since I’m sensitive to colors, and how they can alter my mood within a space, I chose colors that I found calming, comforting, and inspiring. I made an area to display objects I’ve collected and curated over time as another source of inspiration. In the room located off the backyard, I incorporated plants to bring the outside in, and to help blend the space.”

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Personal works, curated pieces, and bits of inspiration representing Élan’s tastes and chosen color palette, both in her work and her space.

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Some of Élan’s beautiful terrazzo work on display in the studio.

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“Here’s a close-up of a few of my favorite items, some of which I’ve made and others that have been passed down. A wall hanging I’ll never part with is the first one I created six years ago. I hung it up because the colors of the yarns bring the whole room together. I’m surprised by the fact that something I made so long ago encompasses the aesthetic of my studio today,” she shares.

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Élan’s strong grasp of composition, close relationship with her signature color palette and affinity for textures at play in this design moment.

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“These are some of my ‘plant babies.’ This corner was looking empty, so I brought all the plants together to create a focal point and soften the corner of the room. I think this blurs the line between where the room ends and the backyard begins. Now, the space feels completed.”

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“I made a designated work space for creating wall hangings. When I make smaller pieces I work at my desk or on the sofa. For larger wall hangings I work at the easel to reduce any back pain.”

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Élan explains, “Here is my collection of ceramics, vases planters and baskets. I’m very much inspired by the shapes and colors of these objects. Since there isn’t much space, I didn’t want them scattered all over the room. I created a simple composition by stacking some of them onto each other, for added height and dimension. This added a bit of color to the most neutral side of the room, creating a sense of balance.”

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The business side of Élan’s two-room, at-home studio. She says, “This desk area is where I do admin work, prep online orders, print color test samples, and spend most late nights before deadlines. I’ve hung a few of my favorite fine art and sculpture pieces that I’ve made in the past. The painting on the wall was started by my mom a decade ago. However, I finished it last year to put in the studio. This painting will always have special place with me and will be hung in whatever studio I have.”

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A closer look at the fine art painting and other sources of inspiration. Even on the more administrative side of her studio, her signature color palette is very present and informing the space’s design.

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A well organized and functional space for Élan to work on her various projects while optimizing efficiency. “I prefer to not have a lot of materials displayed when they’re not in use. So I use plenty of containers, baskets and cabinets for storage. I find that it not only creates a sense of uniformity but hides the mess, so it doesn’t add to my mental chaos when creating. While my studio is still a work in progress, I’ve decided to slowly curate these spaces, as I grow and develop my business over time.”

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“The garments shown here are from my college thesis collection. I like to keep a few pieces out when working on fashion print developments, for either a client or myself to use, as a reference for scale and proportion.”

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In the studio, some of Élan’s stunning terrazzo pieces and prints.

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A collection of books aptly encapsulates the many interests and talents of its multitalented owner.

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Élan shares, “I loved making sculptures in high school and college. This metal piece is probably the sculpture I’m most proud of. Especially since I remember the anticipation before welding it made me extremely nervous. It’s aged beautifully over time. I love the lines, shapes, and how balanced it is. These are the concepts that are still relevant in my work today, but that I show through different media.”

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“Normally, I use this table for cutting fabric,” she begins. “At the moment I have a few prints and old textile samples on it, along with a lap loom of a weaving I’ve just started.”

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“I use this sewing machine for all sorts of projects, from sewing and altering clothing in my wardrobe, to creating fabric manipulations for textile samples,” Élan says. “The peg board has been a small but great addition to this area. I’m able to keep my most used tools in one place, making them easily accessible.”

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Comments

  • Oh my!!! THIS! THIS! THIS! Is so inspiring. I’m loving the textures, colors, and everything terrazzo. Brava! XL

  • I especially love the painting that Elan’s mother started and that she finished. Such a creative family!

    Where does it represent? I live in Denver and it looks just like what I see every day.