Starting a Design Studio: Lessons from Behind the Scenes

My, how much can happen in just a few months! It’s hard to believe such time has passed since my last blog update. But perhaps once you hear the chaos that transpired, you’ll agree it feels like even longer.

When I last wrote, I was over-the-moon at Narrative’s recent move into an amazing studio space in the Glashaus in San Diego’s Barrio Logan Arts District. In this beautiful old warehouse, I found myself surrounded by a community of creative, passionate, and supportive artists who truly inspired renewed purpose and dedication to our mission for meaningful design.

In one of our first weeks in the space, my favorite photographer sister flew in town for a photo shoot using the Glashaus’ soaring white walls and brilliant natural light as our backdrop. (See below for a sample from our shoot...with many more to shots to come upon the much anticipated reveal of our new statement lighting collections!)

Handmade Lampshades and Fine Art Lighting by Narrative Decor

Statement Lighting from Narrative’s California Dreaming Collection


As you might have already guessed, the story of Narrative’s new studio does not end up all sunshine and roses. Just as our workspace was up and running, I received a phone call out of the blue that the building was being shut down and we had 30 days to vacate. What?!

I won’t bore you with the details, suffice it to say the closure stemmed from a dispute between the city and the building owner over long-standing permitting issues. And while I knew Narrative could find a new property from which to operate, I was grieved by the thought of leaving behind such a collaborative community and inspiring space. 

Which brings me to Act 2 in our design studio saga. I was invited to share space with some of new artist friends just down the road from our previous studio. So Narrative has a new home and I have new muscles from moving equipment so many times!

Just as importantly, this experience reinforced an important aspect of the Narrative model...arts advocacy. From the beginning, Narrative has focused on giving back to the community through donations to youth arts education. But I now realized we needed to expand our efforts.

After seeing firsthand both the benefits and challenges emerging artists face in securing workspace, I want to help raise awareness and sollicit support for creative entrepreneurs. So far I’ve teamed up with like-minded activists to explore opportunities for public-private partnerships, cooperative place-making and government support. We just wrapped up a meeting with the Mayor’s office and Arts Commission, and I’ll keep you posted on future activity. And oh yes, now that Narrative is settled in yet another new home, you can expect monthly updates to resume. Until next time...




1 comment

Adria Parker

Wow! That’s a crazy story, Kara. Thanks for sharing and definitely keep us posted!

Leave a comment