“When you work with a giant photograph of llamas with pink balloons next to you, there’s already a whimsy factor in it,” says photographer Gray Malin of how his wanderlust-inspiring art sets the tone for his West Hollywood office. Faced with a growing team and inefficient office layout, Malin tapped interior design firm Laurel & Wolf to transform his studio into something more functional and with a unified feel.
One look at the space and it becomes abundantly clear that the whimsical artwork is the focal point. Malin’s signature dreamy beach shots line the walls and bring in color to the otherwise whitewashed building. The space itself is vaguely reminiscent of a New York loft, thanks to brick walls and wooden floors, but the vibrant decor balances it out and adds an eclectic feel.
“Laurel & Wolf were so great—their online program for selecting furniture and moodboards was very interesting for anyone going through a similar process in need of help. They did it all within budget and it was a seamless process, even down to picking the planters,” says Malin. “The logistics of having someone involved, not only from a design perspective but also from a orderly one, was so helpful.”
The one thing highest on Malin’s wishlist? A space that felt somewhere between an office and a home. The finished studio includes all the basic necessities of an office—even though the punchy red chairs are much chicer than your average office seating option—but pieces like a pink velvet sofa, rattan sitting chairs, and carefully-selected lighting make the space feel cozy.
“I just wanted it to feel half like a home environment and half like a work environment so that when you’re here you feel at-ease and comfortable,” explains Malin. “I had kind of teetered on the idea of getting new light fixtures and, man, it makes all the difference, especially with the light dropping to pitch black at 5:45pm. Lighting is so important in an office space. And it’s all warm-toned lighting, which makes it feel home-y.”
The home-y feel is most evident in the the sitting area designed as a living room. A favorite of Malin’s, it’s where the whole office squeezes in for team meetings. From the turquoise lamp to the polka-dotted pillows with hot pink tassels, it’s a vibrantly hued nook that brings a level of informality and comfort to the studio.
While Malin says his personal style is much more subdued (“I usually try to keep it neutral and let the art do all the color-popping”), having easy access to a steady flow of stunning artwork makes incorporating colors easy. And Malin, who just launched his second book Escape and prints all photography in-office, definitely has no shortage of access to artwork.
“We’re always shifting art around—I swear every single day a new piece is coming and going—so Laurel & Wolf put in these shelves that are really smart, especially for someone who might want to do a big gallery wall but doesn’t want to commit to it permanently,” says Malin. “You can do tiers of thin white shelves and layer the artwork. It opened my eyes to new ways of styling art.”
Which is important, because as might be expected of a photographer’s office, the art really does play a starring role in the decor.
“Actually it’s interesting because I just moved into a new house, and we haven’t had time to work on the art yet. We just threw a piece up on top of our mantel, and I forgot how powerful art can be,” says Malin. “It can really make a room feel like a home.”
Photography by Dustin Walker for Laurel & Wolf.
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