Pro Audio Files

Interior Design in the Recording Studio

I want to talk a little bit about studio fashion this week.

Fashion Killa

When new studios are launched, the look and feel of the room is usually not a main consideration. Studio owners mostly have their eyes on tube compressors, preamps, microphones etc.

That’s great and all, but your studio needs some serious vibe.

I have been to far too many studios that feel like college dorm rooms. You might expect this from a place that offers bargains, but not from a high class room.

You should look like you want your sound represented. Your space should have character.

Reserved Seating

Most often when artists come in for a session there’s going to be a lot of sitting. Waiting for the drum sound to be dialed, waiting for edits, etc.

It’s important to have comfortable chairs. If you buy office chairs, don’t cheap out. Don’t have one really great chair for you and scraps for the rest. Give everyone the same seat. They’ll appreciate that.

Don’t keep broken chairs around. First off, because you don’t want someone getting injured. Secondly, because they’re not comfortable!

You can usually find high quality chairs for a good price on craigslist, including Herman Miller Aeron Chairs.

Couch Potato

If you’re lucky enough to have space for a lounge or can fit a couch into the control room, get as big of one as you can fit.

Make sure you sit on it first. Does it feel like you can sleep well on it? If so, buy it. Clients will appreciate this.

There may be a time when you have to pull all-nighters editing a project. Or maybe you got kicked out of the house for that Tube Tech purchase.

Lighting Lanterns

In order to choose the right vibe for your studio, you must decide what kind of vibe you want. Is it modern? Is it vintage? Will you have ceiling lighting or cool lamps?

Lighting makes a huge difference. You have to have options for when people need to see well and when they need a mood. You should find a way to make it so when it’s bright it still has some mood to it.

Shageriffic

Don’t just be a dude and buy some clearance or remnant rugs. Nobody wants to see things that don’t match. Make it cohesive. Make it a cool pad that artists would want to hang out in.

A lot of things are cool when they’re vintage: records, instruments, furniture, cars, etc. … carpet does not fall into that category.

If you’ve had a studio for a long time, it’s likely time to change the carpets and update. You can only clean a rug so many times.

Turn the Tables

Musicians are going to arrive with drinks. Either water or coffee, and sometimes beer. Over the course of the day they’re going to snack too. If you don’t have table space, it’s likely drinks and snacks are going to end up where you don’t want them to end up.

Consider this in the design of your space. Place them near where people will be seated. Have a few mobile tables to place near musicians in the live room. Keep things off the floor where they can get kicked over.

Nobody wants water rushing toward their tube mic power supply.

Fashion Rebellion

Not everybody has an eye for interior design. It’s a talent. Don’t feel bad if you don’t, because there are people who specialize in interior design. It’s an investment that will end up making you money.

Here’s how you can tell if you’re not good at matching. Does your partner always suggest different matched clothing when you’re about to go out and you don’t know why?

Solution: Google “Interior Decorator [your city].”

Gallery

Along with lighting and carpet, art is important too. Again, let’s get out of the college mindset. A rock poster with no frame is not our goal here.

In fact, I’d suggest against famous musician posters of any kind. I’d even go as far as saying you should avoid paintings and pictures with instruments in them altogether.

Let’s be creative and choose art that stimulates the mind. I’m a fan of Rothko. You can choose prints of whoever inspires you.

Avoid art shopping at Walmart or IKEA. Get a nice print in a nice frame. We don’t want a hotel vibe.

A lot of studio owners think it’s price and gear that sells a studio. In reality, vibe mostly sells a studio.

A lot of artists don’t understand (or care about) the importance of an old Fairchild. They do understand how they’re going to feel creating in that space.

Bathroom Design

The bathroom should not only be clean, but decorated. Place some artwork in there as well.

Hoarders

Keep your studio organized. Avoid piles. Always put everything away. That leaning tower of CDs on your desk? It’s sloppy.

Make all instruments and amps look like they’re on display, because they are. Think candy store here.

Scentless Apprentice

Be aware of the smell of your space. Smell is a powerful sense. A place that smells bad is a deal breaker for me. There are a lot of options for fragrances.

It’s good to point out that some people are allergic to incense. I burn it, but I always ask clients before a session if they’re allergic.

Avoid air fresheners that plug into the wall. They can be intense and off-putting. Think natural subtle scents.

Also, air out the studio from time to time.  You don’t want your studio to smell like the F train.

What does your studio look like? Share a photo here.

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Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC. More at guitaristmarkmarshall.com

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  • Joseph Sannicandro

    Interior Decorators and Interior Designers are not the same thing, though often the latter is misused. There’s some overlap, for instance choosing tables and chairs, but in fact true Interior Design is analagous to interior architecture, and includes an advanced knowledge of engineering and construction, including where electrical, lighting, and ventillation systems are placed. Unfortunately the term “Interior Designer” is not protected in the US and so it is often abused.

  • Petri Hoskonen

    If you look at every professional level studio you can see always very retarted decisions made. For example who wants floor level racks? Do you want to operate that compressor at high of your shoes!

  • Mood and vibe is very important! If the musicians don’t feel it when they’re tracking, you won’t get the best out of them.
    Even in my own drum studio where rarely any clients come visit because I work mostly remotely. Still I try to have a nice vibe in there, because I’ve found out that I perform better. I also try to keep things organized so IF a client would want to visit I looks professional.

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