DaW: Blakely Interior Design & McKenzie Gibson Studio
BLAKELY INTERIOR DESIGN
Blakely Interior Design is a full-service high-end residential interior design firm led by Janelle Blakely Photopoulos. Blakely Interior Design services “busy professionals, people who value good design,” Janelle says. The studio is known for a wonderful penchant for color - “our signature aesthetic infuses a lot of color” - and their focus on client experience throughout the entire design process.
WHY RHODE ISLAND? “Rhode Island is a big neighborhood - people are supportive and there is a level of confidence I have here that I never had anywhere else. It’s a big neighborhood, plus we have access to RISD!”
Founder/Owner/Designer Janelle first got a degree in marketing and business, and she only later became a designer after moving from New Jersey to Rhode Island. According to Janelle, “New Jersey was a very competitive environment, similar to New York. Design never crossed my mind there, I never wanted to be involved there.” Once in Rhode Island, Janelle “very intentionally chose design” - she went to RISD to get her design degree, started her business, and hasn’t looked back since!
DESIGNING INTERIORS IN RHODE ISLAND: Besides having community support, how is designing in Rhode Island different? Janelle said that interior design can be interesting in RI because “so many people love ‘coastal design’ here,” Janelle told us. Classic Rhode Island coastal design is often overdone, and interior designers can easily get stuck. So Blakely Interior Design aims to freshen up classic coastal design and make it their own: “We are inspired to give the coastal aesthetic a fresh approach… we make each project unique.”
“When approached by a client wanting coastal design, we dig deeper - ask for what they want specifically. That way, we can make each project unique in its own way while staying true to our brand, the client’s desires, and traditional Rhode Island design. Usually we say our projects are something [say for example - cozy, elegant, industrial, modern, eclectic, etc] with a nod to coastal.”
*Check out the Design Is Rhode Island Instagram TOMORROW (Wednesday 9/12) to see the team at Blakely Interior Design take over our InstaStories!*
MCKENZIE GIBSON STUDIO
Visiting McKenzie’s new shop/studio in Warren, RI was such an adventure! The studio is at Parker Mills, a former state-of-the-art center of cotton spinning and textile production. Now, the old mill buildings house warehouses, small businesses, and design studios - including McKenzie Gibson Studio.
McKenzie set up her studio less than a year ago, in October 2017. The space (which is all at once McKenzie’s woodshop, metalshop, office and design studio) has everything from McKenzie’s dogs and finished work to scrap metal pieces and material experimentations to powerhammers, coldsaws, and more. She set up every machine herself, and she even made her many of her own work spaces, including her welding table.
McKenzie became a furniture designer in a somewhat roundabout way; she pursued Architecture, then went to London to study Art, then finally graduated from RISD’s Furniture Design program in 2017. In 2016, McKenzie was a featured furniture designer on Season 2 of Ellen’s Design Challenge on HGTV, and this year, she debuted work at ICFF in New York City.
McKenzie’s work includes amazingly innovative designs with mixed materials (like rope and welded metal) and unique textures and shapes. Her practice and final objects rely on experimental processes, informed by her meticulous data collection. “I love designing and fabricating, but my real love is fiddling with things, experimenting, and figuring out what works,” McKenzie said. “I love the scientific part of the process” - testing and re-testing materials, experimenting with ropes and alloys, collecting data, and perfecting the process.
McKenzie is opening up her shop space and machinery as a collaborative studio space starting this Fall! The collaborative space, called Silverthorne Hawk Studios, will offer a full woodshop and metal shop. Stay tuned to McKenzie’s website for more info, and learn more about Silverthorne Hawk Studios and McKenzie’s work at McKenzie’s event during DESIGN WEEK RI, entitled “Art in a Design World; Female in a Masculine Domain.”
Thank you to Blakely Interior Design and McKenzie Gibson Studio for inviting us to your studios! The videos we took at these amazing RI design studios are posted in “Stories” then kept in the “At Work” Archives on our Instagram page (along with videos from the 12 other studios we’ve visited so far!) Check out them out now on Instagram (@designisrhodeisland) and stay tuned for more studio visits in the next few weeks.
Want to join in? Post yourself working on something cool using the hashtags #DesignIsRhodeIsland and #DesignersAtWork on Instagram, or reach out to email@example.com if you know a Rhode Island designer who should be featured in this series!