Royal Design Studio and Modello Designs is super thrilled and honored to have a spot as a FEATURED STUDIO in the Fall 2012 issue of Studios Magazine. If you haven’t seen it Studios Magazine features inspiring spaces and studios of artists the world over. It is full of great ideas for artists of all kinds to organize and optimize their own creative spaces. I recently was fortunate to have the editor Linda Blinn as a student in one of my Chalk Paint workshops. She was so impressed with the space that she asked me to share it with their readers and I was only too happy to oblige! You can purchase Studios Magazine online and find it at your local Barnes and Noble. I’ve reprinted the article that I wrote below. I hope it gives you some insight into my/our companies history and that you enjoy getting to know us a little better! If you prefer, you can download a pdf here.
A Patterned Playground
I’m a self taught artist and creative entrepreneur who was lucky enough to discover my passion and talent for creating with pattern and paint in my early twenties-back in 1983. After teaching myself how to stencil I immediately began designing and cutting my own stencil patterns and started decorating multiple rooms in my own house. That quickly led to requests to stencil for others and my “stencil career” was born. It wasn’t until the mid-90s however that I began to devote my full time and resources to creating a business that would help me share my stencil designs and ideas for using them with the world.
Royal Design Studio was born in 1994 as a small mail-order business with a 4-page catalog of my original stencil designs. Today, we offer over 500 decorating stencil patterns for walls, floors, furniture, and ceilings. In 2003 we expanded our offerings from reusable mylar stencils to a separate “sister” business, Modello Designs. Modello patterns are similar to mylar stencils in that they allow the user to adorn surfaces with ornamental patterns, but these are one-time-use vinyl masking stencils that expand on the possibilities of traditional mylar stencils. Modello patterns can be cut to very large scale, incorporate more intricate details, and allow for a broader range of techniques and applications to surfaces such as decorative glass, mirror, wood floors, and concrete.
As my business has grown I too have shifted my focus. Now that I no longer have the time to do contract work-for-hire, I devote my time to developing new stencil designs and decorative stencil techniques to inspire and educate others to use in their homes and businesses. Our customer range from DIY homeowners, to professional decorative paint and concrete contractors, to interior designers and architects who specify our patterns for global projects.
I am able to share my enthusiasm and expertise for stenciled surface decoration through hands-on workshops, books, videos, and most recently through web-based Virtual Workshops. It’s the perfect job, and it keeps me connected, creative, and passionate because the patterns and ideas are seemingly endless!
Like many artist/entrepreneurs, I started my business from my dining room table-20 years ago. From there it moved to my garage and from there to a small unit in a local business park. 5 years ago, we had grown into an 8,500 sq. ft. space to accommodate our increased production and storage needs for the Royal Design Studio stencils and Modello Designs Decorative Painting Stencils products that we produce.
This space was my dream; a blank shell of a space to transform into something that not only functions for all the needs of the business but to also be a “living showroom” of endless inspiration for all the many surfaces and ways that our patterns can be realized in an artistic way. I have used (and continue to use) every area in our building as a way to bring my different ideas for surface decoration to life. It’s my pattern playground! Besides production areas, I wanted to create office and working environments that would surround and inspire our employees with the colors, patterns, textures, and different mediums that are the soul of our endeavors. I want them to see and experience the end results of what can be achieved with our patterns.
While the downstairs portion of our building space encompasses our lobby showroom, graphic offices and production space, I reserved the upstairs for “my” space. I consider it my design refuge, and it houses my office, my extensive collection of design and pattern books, my assistant’s office and a large studio space that is used for the hands-on workshops that I teach, design events and is my very own creative “laboratory”.
Because the space functions as both a studio and showroom area, I took pains to design it so that all of my paint, patterns, and supplies were within easy reach for my messy, “mad artist” times, but I also wanted to be able to easily disguise the mess, when necessary. My solution was to have one long wall made into a large closet. The 5, 4’ x 8’ doors, which feature large graphic Modello Stencils, slide back to reveal floor to ceiling metal shelves that hold all sorts of pots of paints, plaster, gilding supplies, and assorted artist’s goodies.
The opposite wall is decorated with large samples of various decorative wall finishes on canvas that I have created for my educational materials. I between, we have many large rolling tables with shelving that are continually being moved around to accommodate project, workshop or event needs. Basically, EVERYthing in the studio that CAN have wheels on it DOES. It makes this artist’s life so easy!
At the end of the studio we have a slop sink and tool storage area. The large, double restaurant sink with the spray attachment was one of the best investments I’ve ever made, as it makes stencil cleanup a breeze. The wall is lined with pegboard that holds various brushes and assorted trowels at arm’s reach. A rolling (of course!) cart hold more tools. My motto is you can’t ever have enough professional tools and enough places to put them.
I feel so fortunate to have a place that I could design from the ground up to not only serve the needs of our businesses and employees, but that also reflects my own sense of artistic adventure. I enjoyed doing stenciling and decorative finishes for others, but in those cases you are restricted visually by your client’s tastes and needs. My studio has granted me endless opportunities to experiment with the looks, patterns and products that I personally find pleasing and allows me to take risks with combinations and colors that are exciting and not “expected”, but somehow they all work together. One of the most common comments I hear from visitors is that they can’t believe how much pattern and color cover our surfaces here, but also how it has so much warmth and energy and how well everything flows.
If you come to my studio you will see pattern on literally every surface. Starting with the floor, we have added design to multiple concrete floors and stained faux marquetry patterns on wood and cork. Walls are decorated with patterned plaster treatments, gilding, paint, and even glass beads. Ceiling are painted with borders, allover patterns and we have even done a variety of coffered ceiling treatments throughout. One of my favorite mediums to work on is mirror, and I teach both hands on and “virtual” antique patterned mirror classes. We’ve used decorated glass and mirrors as wall art, to cover tabletops, and even as countertops. Every surface has been created to inspire!
by Melanie Royals