Inside the Queens Offices of Design Studio Karlssonwilker

After years in Manhattan, a new day in an outer borough

Last year, after 16 years in the heart of Manhattan, we moved out to Ridgewood, Queens. Our studio is now in a former knitting factory, with a backyard garden and large windows. We replaced the storefront with an angular wooden structure with floor-to-ceiling glass panels. 

Most of our team already lived in the area, one or two neighborhoods over. We are all embracing and enjoying the different pace here in our new space. Our days seem more relaxed and more focused at the same time. 

On the ground floor, it's all tables, chairs and computers, as we have all the archive, library, material, work bench, vinyl cutting machine and photo equipment downstairs in the basement. We also have a generous meeting area dowstairs, with a large sofa and couple of lounge chairs. All this leaves the ground floor open and airy. There are two main desk areas, all within earshot. I walk around a lot in the studio, to sit with someone about a project, or to the garden, or to sit on the bench in front. 

We are in the progress of putting a little store in the front of the studio. It will be by appointment only for the first few months, then we will see. A little coffee window might come early next year. As we would like to become a part of this neighborhood, this would be just one more way to get people to drop by. Neither Hjalti [Karlsson] nor myself drink coffee.

In these photos you can see posters on the walls that we just got back recently from an exhibition in Mexico. Before that, the walls have been empty. We keep the desks and surfaces clutter-free from little shit things, and we do not use mood boards. This supposedly inspirational professional tool actually stands for a lazy and destitute creative process. We try to be professional designers who create. 

Upstairs, on the second floor, is where I live. It's a fairly simple environment, with different areas allowing us to read, discuss, watch, share, eat, entertain or just sit there. My wife and I like to cook. We also bring clients up here to cook for and eat with them. (There's also a barbecue grill in the garden that we all use frequently.) The TV is mostly used for our video game fights. 

As I live right above the studio, the setup is reminiscent of the olden days, when the tailor used to live above his shop. The difference being that we do not serve our immediate neighborhood with our design services (yet). So far, after one year, I very much enjoy walking down in the morning to open the blinds, unlock the door, turn on the fans and get ready for the day.

Profile picture for user Jan Wilker
Jan Wilker
Jan Wilker is partner and creative director at karlssonwilker.