Inside the Studio: Aysha Bilgrami
Which city and particular neighborhood is your studio located in?
My studio is located in Bogotá. Our studio neighborhood is in the Retiro neighborhood, a neighborhood filled with decor, antiques, multi-brand shops, and countless restaurants.
What made you choose this particular space and location?
Our studio is on the second floor but has views of street that allowed us to put up signs. The neighborhood is full of antique shops, up and coming fashion designer boutiques, multi-brand boutiques, home decor shops, designs studios and quaint little restaurants. It is also walking distance from two of the biggest shopping centers, Andino and Retiro.
Most favourite and least favourite aspects of the neighborhood?
Favourite: It is a very green neighborhood, and everything is walking distance and we have so many options—from printing shops to gourmet supermarkets to a crystals and zen shop. My favourite places in the neighborhood are: Siuka for brownies and coffee, Poke and Lorenzo Gryros for lunch, Serrano for tailored blazers, Hechizoo for unique woven treasures, StDom and Casa Precis for the best local fashion and interior design, Tienda de los Cristales for mystical gifts and Dessvan for antiques.
My least favourite aspect of the neighborhood is the lack of parking!
What made you decide to create a fixed base with a physical studio space?
We wanted a space where our customers could not only see our jewellery and learn more behind the brand and the inspiration of the designs, but also have a place where we were able to both work and grow our team. We are also strengthening our direct-to-consumer strategy and this was one of our first steps to achieve this.
How do you think working in a studio plays a role in the design process?
It is fantastic because we get a lot of feedback from our clients, which enables us to hone in on the creation of our products.
Tell us a bit about your space. What are you favorite components?
Our space is divided in two parts that are separated by a big mirror screen. The first section is the showroom, it has our jewellery display, our inspiration wall with objects that reflect the inspiration of the current collection mixed with jewellery pieces, photos of the current collection and a lot of flower vases filled with exotic Colombian flowers. All of this is reflected in the geometric mirror screen. On the other side of the screen is the second section, the office, with libraries filled with inspiration books, inspiration boards of present and past collections, coffee, a packaging station, and our desks. What I love the most about my space is all the light that we get in the studio, the view of the neighborhood, and the mirror screen, which is fun for displaying photos. I also love my hue mood board that sits on the opposite side—it's a place where we stick all our ideas and have our calendars and reminders. I am a very visual person.
Where do you feel the most inspired in your space?
At my desk.
Bring us through a day in the life while working in the studio.
Hector, our sales manager, is at our studio all day. I come and go since our workshop is in another area of Bogotá. When I am at the studio I am normally at my desk doing computer work or taking pictures and creating content for social media. We have all kinds of papers, objects, and books that I use for that.
Most unexpected part of the studio?
I have two little altars in each corner, one is to bring good energy and prosperity to the space, with a Chinese cat, crystals and flowers. The other is full of pictures and knick-knacks of my family and friends, my support system, my love altar.
What’s your creative process like? Has it changed since working in your space?
The brand celebrates the diversity of the world trough cultural fusions that rescue roots, share knowledge, and mix the ethnic with the modern and the contemporary to give a new value to the crafts of the world. So for each collection, I pick a theme and start an investigation of it across different cultures. This investigation is normally done at the studio and at different libraries. Once I have the investigation and imagery clear, I start drawing, though this is normally done at my house or at a place where an email, a client, or a call won't distract me. Having the studio has helped me to have a space where I can lay out all of my ideas and have a clear vision of how the collection will develop.
Are there other designers working in this neighborhood?
Yes! Plenty! On my block there is a multi-brand shop and the second floor is full of design studios. Casa Santamaria is also a multi-brand boutique mixed with studio space. Margarita Serrano also has a studio/shop concept for her brand Serrano, and there are also a couple of design and advertisement agencies around.
How did you find the space?
For an entire month I kept passing by the space and would stare up into the empty window with the "for rent" sign. I actually thought I couldn't afford a space in this area, but after a month I decided to call and take a look at it. My grandmother went with me and saw the space's great potential and my husband took a look at my finances and told me I could do it. So I went for it. We've now been here for 2 years.
What personal touches did you add to the studio?
I changed the floor from an old, dark, scratched wood, to a light one and painted the entire space mostly white with exception of one wall, which is black. The rest is all furniture. This semester we will be touching it up again.