Picture this: An umbrella-studded beach on the Italian Riviera. An aerial image of boldly hued life preservers floating placidly in a pool. A pair of llamas donning pink balloons on the surreal salt flats of Bolivia. This is the work of fine-art photographer, Gray Malin.
Even if you don’t know him by name, you’ve probably seen his wanderlust-inducing photography. His shots evoke a feeling of beautiful sunny days and unforgettable vacations. They’re an aesthetically pleasing distraction from the chaos of everyday life. To put it plainly, it’s the kind of art people want in their homes and offices. So it’s no surprise that his West Hollywood, Calif. studio feels like an escape in itself.
When Gray moved into the space in 2014, he worked to make it feel like both a home and office by incorporating his signature coastal style and interspersing lounge areas and communal workspaces throughout. But as the team grew, maintaining a balance between functionality and comfort became trickier. So he called upon Laurel & Wolf to help bring some of that balance back.
Designer Gwendolyn Gibbish was up for the challenge and immediately started improving the studio’s layout. “It’s important to me that our studio has a welcoming atmosphere where one can work within a comfortable setting, yet escape to a cozy couch when it’s time for a break,” Gray says. “But I needed an expert’s eye to figure out the best way to create a smart flow of furniture without sacrificing the team’s functionality.”
Gwendolyn and Gray collaborated to find the best use of space for each room. Taking a cue from Gray’s visually stimulating images, Gwendolyn incorporated new pieces in vivid hues, like coral desk chairs paired with navy and white toss pillows from Ballard Designs. “I was so in love with these items, Gwen and I ended up doing a deep dive into Ballard’s, which resulted in quite a few other items from the European influenced brand,” Gray says.
I love to create a joyful moment with pops of color and unexpected compositions.
With a body of work that belongs on the walls of people’s homes, it’s no wonder that Gray has a taste for interior design. “I love to create a joyful moment with pops of color and unexpected compositions,” he mentions. “It’s safe to say that this approach translates into my personal style, especially when it comes to interior design.”
Gray’s work blends seamlessly with the studio’s décor, awash in aquamarine, pops of pink, and coastal-inspired textures. The combination is evocative of Californian waters, East Coast traditions, and the lavish Italian hotels he’s stayed at while shooting. “I love playing with the mixture of patterns, textures and décor styles within one room. It’s key to creating a space that you really enjoy being in.”
Gwendolyn picked up on this, layering color in the conference room and adding floating shelves to a lounge area in the main office – an inventive way to incorporate art. “I love to switch out the artwork relatively often at the studio. I feel that it keeps everything fresh, which is really helpful in a creative workspace,” Gray says.
Framed prints from his series, Bon Voyage, line the walls of the Photo Editing Room among aerial shots from Hawaii, Australia, the Hamptons, and Lake Como. Near his desk hangs a large new piece from his latest series Far Far Away – that striking print of two llamas with pink balloons.
The studio mirrors Gray’s artistic mission to “make every day a getaway.” With Gwendolyn’s expert job in streamlining and maximizing each area, it feels like both a productive office and an immersive experience into one of Gray’s photographs. “I really love the overall flow of the new layout as it achieves what I’ve always wanted – a homelike feel with the functionality of a work space.”
1. Vineyard Chandelier / 2. Gray Malin, Wooden Boat, Lake Como, Vertical Framed Print / 3. Cross Base Standing Planter / 4. Harcourt Chesterfield Sofa / 5. Riveria 61″ LED Arched Floor Lamp / 6. Sheila Diamond Jute Rug / 7. Simone Blush Chair / 8. Gray Malin, Party at the Parker, Framed Print