by Zohra KhanSep 21, 2023
In a sea of beige and white examples of interior design, Camille Walala’s new studio in London is a breath of fresh air. The collaboration between Walala, a French designer, and Our Department, a carpentry workshop in the United Kingdom, has resulted in a truly unique studio space. Camille's artistic vision, combined with Julia Jomaa's creative expertise and the technical prowess of Simon Sawyer and Gustave Andre from Our Department, brought this project to life.
Despite being a retrofit project on the seventh floor of the Regent Studios building off Broadway Market in East London, the first noticeable thing about the space is not the sweeping views. It is the immediate burst of colour.
When it comes to choosing colour palettes, it is always easy to take the safer route. Most interior designers choose neutral colours for the base and add pops of colour to bring life to a space. At her new studio, however, Walala decided to go the opposite way. Her studio is bright, bold, and colourful and embraces her signature tribal pop style. The space very evidently reflects her aesthetic vision. The newly transformed studio has come alive with rich colours, geometric designs, and large proportions. From the electric blue floors to the graphically patterned cabinetry, every element showcases Walala's distinctive aesthetic. It also provides an extremely functional workspace where every detail has been carefully thought through.
The studio is formed of two rooms and a kitchenette, with each room serving a different purpose. One room is dedicated to clean computer-based work, while the other is for messy activities like painting and model making. Despite their distinct functions, the two spaces maintain a shared feeling, aesthetic, and texture. The kitchenette also follows suit. It features dark grout and bold handles that make it look almost animated. It infuses an added layer of fun in an already vibrant space. The layout and functionality of each room and their connections to create the entire studio are carefully considered. The furnishings are laid out to ensure optimal functionality for Walala.
In addition to the balance of functionality and aesthetics, the space also balances durability with functionality. The designers' choice of high-quality melamine faced MDF with robust edging for the internal cabinetry and high-density MDF for stability in doors and panels, is thoughtful considering the possible wear and tear over the years. Similarly polyurethane paint, known for its resistance to humidity and light has been used throughout the studio. The paint doesn’t fade or damage easily, making it a perfect choice. Like the rest of the studio, detail elements like door handles and desk legs are also custom crafted. Created out of tulipwood, these classic elements give the space some much needed balance.
The technical intricacy of the studio is concealed behind its bespoke design. The edges of the doors are made from separate pieces of wood to ensure a seamless appearance. Our Department’s expertise in modular design is evident in the units composed of smaller components that were assembled on-site. This also means that all the furniture in the studio is dismantlable without compromising on sturdiness, making it a particularly sustainable design. The precision engineering is exemplified by the sliding door, which operates within a tight 10 mm space. This door, made of a transparent fluted screen set within a black frame is the most subtle part of the space. The colourful components, spray-painted separately, stand out against a black background, creating a three-dimensional effect.
No retrofit challenge is easy. However, when features like existing thresholds, gas meters, and pipes come into play, it becomes exceptionally difficult. The designers cleverly and meticulously worked around these existing elements without compromising on the vision of the studio. When working with colours and patterns this bold, it is easy to come up with a design where each element is competing for attention. The Camille Walala Studio avoids this competition and has each element supporting and contributing to the larger vision of her studio.
In a world of conformity, Walala's vibrant studio stands as a testament to the power of daring to be different. With her collaboration with Our Department, she has infused life into a retrofitted space that defies expectations and challenges conventional design norms. From the striking colours and geometric patterns to the meticulous craftsmanship and thoughtful functionality, every element of this studio resonates with Walala's artistic vision. It is a celebration of individuality, a space where creativity knows no bounds. In a sea of beige and white, Camille Walala's studio shines as a beacon of vibrant harmony, reminding us that true innovation lies in breaking free from the ordinary.
Name: Camille Walala Studio
Location: London, United Kingdom
Year of completion: 2023
Design Firm: Walala Studio and Our Department