A gallery-inspired space, the Kiev-based studio taps into the essence and artfulness of tattoo, using a black-and-white palette for a sophisticated, contemporary feel.
By Rachel Gallaher
Images by Yevhenii Avramenko and Nata Kurylenko
Balbek Bureau designed the interiors for this minimal tattoo studio in Kiev, Ukraine.
A tattoo studio with no color might seem like an oxymoron, but at Kiev, Ukraine’s 6:19 Studio, the minimal palette, and black-and-white décor translate to an elegant atmosphere that gives space for the work of each artist to shine. Designed by local architecture and interiors firm Balbek Bureau, 6:19 Studio is the brainchild of Ukrainian artist Ulyana Nesheva, who gave the designers the directive to create a space that resembles a contemporary art workshop.
“The concept of the studio is also that all our artists, despite the diversity of their styles and colors, are united by an exploration of minimalism,” Nesheva says. “Simplicity is the ultimate goal and the highest form of complexity.”
The entrance include a custom coatrack and table, the latter of which snakes through the space to unite all of the rooms.
With this in mind, the Balbek Bureau team, led by interior designer Nata Kurylenko, started with a connected, minimalist layout, white walls, and concrete floors.
“Using the format of the art galleries, we increased our space with an open floor plan,” Kurylenko says. “Leaving all the walls, we decided to merge the rooms by removing all the doors and adding new apertures, highlighting them with the exposed brick layers of the walls. We rendered the large circular opening as one of the art objects. The only new element of the space is a black cube that hides the wardrobe and bathroom.”
Upon entering, clients encounter a waiting area to the right, and on the left-hand side is an 800-pound graphite concrete table that snakes its way into the next room. Its edge has been beaten down by hand, giving it an industrial edge. Serving a double purpose—as both a reception desk and a work surface for artists to design their future work—the table unites the entire space and serves as a subtle wayfinder from the reception area to the working studio. A sculpture by Christine Ridzel titled Boy stands on a rectangular concrete block near the waiting area sofa, the gold-tinted legs providing the only “color” in the décor elements.
Christine Ridzel's 'Boy' sculpture just outside the artists' lounge.
At the entrance, the team designed a custom coat rack using metal cables and cloth hangers from Propro Furniture. Suspended from the ceiling with nearly 330 feet of cable, the rack is both minimal and functional—a unique design solution for a necessary component of the space.
The artists’ lounge clusters a set of vintage leather-and-chrome armchairs by Dutch architect Mart Stam around a circular graphite table. Additional seating is from Propro Furniture and lockers give employees a place to stash their stuff.
Vintage Mart Stam chairs in the artists' lounge.
Black and gray furniture and accessories continue into the main studio, unifying the look and allowing the work of the tattoo artists (both in development phases and once on clients) to be the focus.
“We aimed to eliminate the color palette using white as the base color and black and gray as complementary colors,” Kurylenko explains. “We have enhanced the contrast of rough, heavy concrete to brushed metal, emphasizing the concept of ink patterns of human skin.”
A custom mirror designed by H&Co. Sculpture studio.
The light-filled work area is lined with minimalist black tattoo beds on each side. A mirror in the shape of Kiev’s Podil neighborhood (where Ulyana's first studio was founded and where she lives) is a nod to her life as an artist and the inspiration she finds around her home. Designed by H&Co. Sculpture studio and mounted on castors, the piece can be easily moved depending on needs around the workshop.
“The space is minimal and uniform due to the client's wishes and her artistic profile,” Kurylenko says. “Art galleries and museums, where people focus on the installation or art objects, were chosen as a reference point. We wanted to create a new space for this form of art—clean, spacious, minimalistic where the parlor's clients become part of the design space.”