Inside Artist George Venson’s Pattern-Obsessed, Chinatown Studio Renovation

The bedroom in Venson’s 275-square-foot studio. Photo: Floto+Warner

“The apartment looked like a prison,” artist George Venson recalls, “but I took it on the spot.” And though the 275-square-foot studio in Chinatown was strewn with “exercise equipment and a mattress on the floor,” Venson says, “I knew I could just transform it into a little tree house.” His first order of business was to not only paint but wallpaper every surface with his own hand-painted designs (Venson launched Voutsa, a wallpaper-and-fabric line, two years ago). Next, he says, “there were three major questions I had to answer: Where do I put the bed? What about the lighting? And then what would I be looking at once I got the bed-slash-couch in place?” To tackle it all, he tried to “listen to the space. It’s kind of like painting; a lot of times paintings will tell you what they want, and your job is to respond to their needs.” To that end, the furniture—which he picked out with the help of his friend the designer Matthew Remy—had to be just the right size and, in some cases, flexible, like the Murphy bed he found online and the dining table by the door that acts like a console most of the time. The table comes in handy for his regular (albeit small) dinner parties: “I can have two people over, max.” He often leaves the Murphy bed in “bed mode.” “People love to lounge on it while having cocktails, and then they’ll end up staying for six hours; they don’t want to leave.”

*This article appears in the February 23, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.

Tour a Tiny, Pattern-Filled Chinatown Studio