We sat down with Liz Sunshine to learn more about the design of her new studio and the rituals she creates to make the most of working from home. We hope you enjoy our interview and find inspiration to keep pushing forward in your creative pursuits.
You are the director of Street Smith Agency and a Photographer, what does a typical day look like to you?
Right now, having a routine is everything, so unlike pre working from home my days follow a very particular structure. I have two types of days.
Agency days, where I put on my agency hat and the speak with clients and creatives, locking in project details, writing briefs, making a lot of calls, and locking in every single detail that a job requires to make sure everyone is on the same page pre that job commencing. These days I start work from home at 6 am and am on emails until 9 am when I swap with my husband, he leaves for work and then I take care of our two kids (1 + 5yrs old), have breakfast, shower and get out of the house for our daily walk. At 12 midday after an early lunch with kids I’m back on emails, have scheduled calls with clients, and check-in with creatives for a few hours until my 5yr old has finished his home shooting and my 1yr old finishes her nap. In the afternoons we play, I’m a mum until 7 pm and then I’m back on the clock catching up on the afternoon I have missed and checking in with our team.
Liz Checking emails in the Orbit Lounge Chair shot for David Jones
On photography days, my husband stays home and I have a much more normal day. I pre-pack my camera bag and equipment the night before, so in the morning I have everything ready to go. I arrive on location or am ready to shoot at our home office from no later than 9 am, though sometimes earlier and a shoot generally lasts for 4 or 8hrs. These days it’s a combination of everything photography, from interrupting a brief, setting up lighting and equipment, taking test shots, and eventually arriving at the final shot. These images are then organised as proofs for a client to select from or sometimes they are finalised within the shoot itself and delivered immediately. Right now we’re working with a smaller team – where once it might have been 7 people who attended a shoot, now it’s mostly 3 – and I’m enjoying working at a slower pace.
How did you get started in the industry?
I first began assisting, finding photographers I admired to approach and work with. When I started shooting I first started in e-commerce and decided working in a studio full time was not for me, so I spent most of my time pursuing any type of photography that was outdoors and connected to fashion. Insert Scott Schuman – The Sartorialist for inspiration and I knew street style was something I could sink my teeth into. When I decided that was what I wanted to do, I was determined to be the best, so I spent at least a few days every week on walking the streets of Melbourne stopping people and having wonderful conversations pre taking their pictures. I met so many amazing people, people so cool I would have to talk myself into approaching them. People I now know, or who know me because I photographed them 5 years ago on a street in Brunswick on their way to get coffee.
Now my subjects are broader, and I have very regular clients who come to me for my unique approach to lifestyle.
Street Style Images Captured by Liz Sunshine in Paris
Your new studio looks fabulous, how did you go about bringing your vision to life? What was the starting point?
Thank you, your kind words mean so much, because this is the first space within my home that I have had complete control over. We’ve lived in our house for 9 yrs and my husband loves interiors, so for years he chose most of the things we own. Now the tide is turning, which is exciting for me and this first space has given me confidence.
Our house is very industrial, I’ve heard it referred to as a treehouse on several occasions – think floor to ceiling windows, corrugated iron exterior, and exposed iron beams. We look into a huge tree and can see the green from every room in the house.
For the studio I wanted to create somewhere that was a pleasure for me to work in. Somewhere that was not only functional, but felt, soft, warm and inviting while still fitting within the industrial space. I knew we would polish the concrete floors, so given this, every other aspect had to be soft and feminine.
It started with a tonal colour palette that was somewhat informed by the warm tones of the revealed concrete and a feeling of warmth – a complementary contrast to the otherwise industrial house. From beige walls and warm tones of the concrete, a white ceiling and blinds the shell was set and allowed me to selected furniture in textures of wood, linen, and cloth – prioritises curved edges over straight.
Daytime in the Studio captured by Simon Shiff
When choosing to furnish the space what drew you to Trit?
When I started looking at furniture I knew I needed a few key pieces, but I was still working out exactly what shape and fabrication I wanted for these.
I have a few favourite pieces that I have bought from Trit in previous years, so I just started looking for inspiration on the website. I soon realised that Trit had plenty of pieces that fit the aesthetic I was wanting to achieve, so in the end, it was more about taking the 5 occasional chairs that I loved and looking back into the space and how I intended to use the furniture in my everyday work life.
Because this is a working space, the function was the most important consideration, and then from there I also just picked pieces I loved.
Do you have a favourite piece?
Yes and no. I love every single piece for the role they play in the room, but if I had to choose I’d say the Ethnicraft table.
It’s the key element for productivity, so it was a really important decision – with a little bit of back and forth to arrive at the perfect solution. Beautifully crafted from solid timber, the extendable aspect of the piece is flawless in its design, I can’t wait to have a bigger team allowed to work together in future days just so we can make the most of it.
Have you created any studio rituals while working from home?
In the morning, I water my plants and play jazz to help me focus. And in the afternoon 2 hrs before my day is done, I burn a candle to remind me the day is almost done and I need to be the most productive in these hours. I also like to leave the space as I found it, with nothing out of place – a new habit promoted by a slower pace and a love for uncluttered surroundings.
A Bird of Paradise creates a nice contrast pictured next to the Inlay Chair
What do you think are important factors for a creative/productive workspace?
A workspace is such a personal space, so I think it’s more about identifying what you need to function productively and then within that also choosing individual pieces you love and want to be surrounded by.
What motivates you to keep going?
A self-confessed work-a-holic for many years, I believe it’s motivated by a genuine love for people, as well as working with great brands and designs.
The Bok Dining Table is oh so versatile with enough space to let the creativity flow.
Is your home similar to the studio or have you gone for a completely different look?
My office is a different feeling from the rest of our home. We have lived in our home for 9 years and had most of the key furniture before we moved – so a very long time. Dean is a collector of lots of things and a street art documenter, so our home is full of art from local artists, vintage furniture, collections of glass, spray cans, books, bottles and interesting pieces of ’sculpture’ for lack of a better word – think a 1950’s Sputnik coffee machine that was produced for Golden Fleece petrol stations.
Having a young family also means the spaces need to be a little more utilitarian but in a different way. I think as this time passes, our children grow up a little and we have more time, we’ll slowly make changes to the rest of our home as well.
A sneak peak into the rest of Liz’s home, captured by Simon Shiff featuring the Ethnicraft Straight Bench
How would you describe your interior style?
Classic. Feminine. Warm. And respectful – I like to respect the space first and foremost trying to compliment the already existing building.
Are there any other pieces from Trit you are currently coveting?
Yes, adjacent to my office we have a second flexible space that will be used for both work and home life. It’s currently empty but the plan is to create a second living space that’s minimal, but very user friendly. For this space I’m firstly looking for a couch. I like the island 3.5 seater sofa in white, but I also haven’t 100% decided.
The Island 3.5 Seater Sofa in Ivory
What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?
I’m not a huge fan of the cold, so I’m looking forward to spring, having a little more freedom, wearing fewer layers, and having sunnier longer days, as well as a few bigger projects that come with the launch of next season. For now we’ll just let winter tick along, and make bigger plans for the months ahead.
If you need assistance in creating your perfect studio or study space book in for one of our Styling Services. Keep up with Liz on Instagram @lizsunshine or her agency @streetsmithagency
Here to help you create beautiful spaces. The spaces we inhabit influence our mood and productivity, by changing your space I believe you can enhance your life.