DaW: Studio Meja & Brick + Beam Studio
Founded in 2011 by Eric Army, AIA, Studio MEJA is a Providence-based boutique architecture firm that specializes in revitalizing urban spaces and serving mission oriented clients, seeking to create well-crafted design, meaningful places, and great relationships.
Studio MEJA is located in Olneyville at Atlantic Design Works, a co-working space developed by Eric Army himself (founder/principal of Studio Meja) inside the historic gasometer of the old Atlantic Mills building. Eric hosted an event at Atlantic Design Works for DESIGN WEEK RI this year, talking about why Studio MEJA (and so many other designers and artists) choose to design in Olneyville, Providence’s historic mill district.
Eric Army, AIA is initially from New Hampshire, went to school in Boston, and later CHOSE to live, work, and start Studio MEJA in Providence, RI ~ for the burgeoning design community, the culture, the resources. “When deciding where to go, Providence was at the top of the list. Here, you can take a risk, make mistakes, and recover.”
Studio MEJA's newest project opened in East Providence this year! The new construction branch-office for AAA Northeast has a sleek, striking modern design. It's also Studio MEJA's first finished ground-up project! For the landscape design, Studio MEJA collaborated with John O'Keefe of the Providence-based landscape architecture firm Sealand Landscape Design.
Other projects include: The ProvidenceG Lobby, the G-Pub, Rooftop at the G, a renovation of the “Commons” space at The Gordon School in East Providence.
BRICK + BEAM STUDIO
Kimberley Valente is the founder and principal designer at Brick + Beam Studio. Known for her ability to create spaces that tell stories & design homes and offices that are unique to each individual client and their lifestyle, Kim provides both residential and commercial interior design services for clients throughout southern New England.
It was such a pleasure visiting her studio in Westerly, Rhode Island! We talked about her journey to becoming an interior designer and why she chooses to live and work in Westerly:
How did you become a designer? “It’s always been something I was interested in, even before I knew interior design was a career path.
As a kid, I would always be rearranging my room; and when I’d eat at restaurants, I’d think about how I’d change the environment; or in the back seat of my parents’ car, we’d go by an old dilapidated house and I’d think about how would I fix it up. I just assumed everyone was thinking these things, but it turns out they weren’t!
Then when I got to high school, I learned that this is an actual career path, and immediately I was sold. I went to Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts for Interior Design, and after school, I worked for some different architecture and design firms here in Rhode Island and in other areas of the country. Then four years ago, my husband and I moved back to Rhode Island, and I started my studio here.”
WHY RHODE ISLAND? “One of the things that I love about designing in Rhode Island is that we’ve got such a unique charm - there are historic buildings, and lots of old buildings with fun quirks and character - that I really love incorporating into my designs. I missed that when I was designing in other places in the country.
One of the things that’s great about being in Westerly - I do a lot of beach house designs and a lot of those clients come to me from other states. This is often their first introduction to Rhode Island, and I get to sort of be that gate keeper - tell them about all the places in Westerly that they should go, and I also get to specify a lot of product from not just Westerly, but from Rhode Island.
I have a unique perspective in that as an interior designer: I get to work with a lot of other designers in the state, which is really fun. I get to specify their products in my designs, and clients always love hearing that story - hearing that something was made locally, hearing where it was made and how it was made, getting to maybe even meet the person that made it or designed it. I work with a lot of local vendors for fabric design, tile, custom furniture, built-ins, millwork, window treatments, artwork, accessories, all of that… and clients always love knowing that it was made in their backyard.”
Thank you to Studio MEJA and Brick + Beam Studio for inviting us to your studios! Check out videos from Studio MEJA NOW on Instagram (@designisrhodeisland) and stay tuned for videos from Brick + Beam Studio coming this Thursday (9/27).
Want to join in? Post yourself working on something cool using the hashtags #DesignIsRhodeIsland and #DesignersAtWork on Instagram, or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you know a Rhode Island designer who should be featured in this series!