Today we had the pleasure to interview Irina, aka @by.arkt- a women of many talents whose work we've been following for many years.
A stylist, photographer, blogger and a light-catcher, read all about her work below.
Hi Irina, can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became interested in interior design?
I have a financial higher education and marketing background, I worked in marketing in huge international IT- and CE corporations. So nothing relevant to interior design or photography or whatever where I am involved now… But I was interested in spaces and photography (again mostly architecture, spaces, and landscapes or their details) since I was in school. Even in 9th grade when we were lucky enough to have an optional design course on top of the regular studies - I chose an interior design course and my final project was the best in class by the way, according to our teacher…
My story in styling started in 2018 when we relocated to Germany and moved into an empty apartment (in Munich) which I had to turn into our Home. By that time I already had some experience in styling and shooting things (thanks to the experience of running my tiny but quite popular shop with minimalist decorative objects of my own design), and thanks to the continuous learning curve, step-by-step it all evolved into what it is now - “Styling and photography for editorial, marketing, and advertising purposes” and cooperations with so many great brands!
How would you describe your personal style and how does it influence your work as a stylist?
I love elegant lines, simple silhouettes, natural materials, plain colors, or barely visible patterns both for my wardrobe and my home. And as a stylist, I would describe my style as an asymmetrically balanced, somewhat imperfect, somewhat rough, simple, yet warm and elegant mix of Nordic and Japanese layered minimalism. Also not so long ago I wrote this post where I introduced the term “habitable minimalism”, which reflects my way of living even better.
Can you walk us through a typical day in your life as an interior and product stylist?
Well, I still consider myself an “experienced beginner” in this industry, because I do all the shooting from my home studio in an old villa in the Alps and do not have to drive/fly to other locations for shootings, but anyway:
- First thing in the morning (but after a morning run in the forest) I check all the “numbers”. Even the most creative jobs still contain a lot of non-creative tasks. But as for me - I love to work with numbers. Statistics, analytics, finance. And I have an Excel table literally for every aspect of my life…
- Then during breakfast (I’m one of those who can wake up at 6:30 and have a breakfast at 9 or 10 - easily! It’s time to read emails and DM’s, and answer collaboration or shooting requests.
- Sharing something on Social Media - Instagram and Pinterest - it’s an important part of my job too, because it helps to stay visible and let more and more people know about you…
- Then it depends on what kind of day it is - a “shooting day” or a “writing day”.
- On shooting days I start to prepare everything for shootings and then shoot-shoot-shoot for several hours. Then I rearrange things and shoot again. Sometimes shooting evenings happen - mostly when the skies are clear and the day is sunny and I have the most beautiful evening light in my space. A couple of days during the week I dedicate time to Photoshop and Lightroom - to do all the retouching or color correction for the high-res images that I do for social media or for brands.
- On writing days (I recently started my A Well-Designed Egg Blog about all things Design, Interior, Lifestyle and Creative Entrepreneurship) I do all the necessary research and write texts and create edits for my blog. Usually it takes from several hours to several days to write one blog post.
- Time flies when I’m deeply immersed in the task. So the next thing I remember about working days is that I have to pick up my son from school!
- In the evenings after my son falls asleep, I try to use a couple of hours to finish the unfinished tasks or to do a bit more in those areas where I feel like I can do more.
- Then reading industry-relevant online magazines, blogs, newsletters, etc. Relaxing in other words…
My favorite days are when I also have time in the morning to look through some beautiful printed magazines or books - I love printed media, I love to touch paper grain, I love how photos look on paper, how an old or freshly out of a print magazine or book smell, and I love the fact that the content in a good printed media is extremely well curated and thoughtfully selected, much better than in most online media.
Also, I’m always on a hunt for new online courses that could help me grow further, so if I find one I haven’t attended yet, I reserve 30-40 min each day for it.
What projects are you currently working on and what inspired you about those projects?
To be honest the most inspiring project for me now is my new website and blog. It’s a new endeavour for me, I never thought of myself from this perspective (as a writer of some kind) and I’m still trying to find my “voice” and unique way to write about things. I'm curious, where will this endeavour take me?
What are some common misconceptions people have about your job?
I think all the same misconceptions as about any other job that almost no one knew (at least widely) about let’s say 10-20 years ago and that doesn’t include 9-to-5 office hours… That it’s not a “normal” job…
Also, it’s often confused with the interior designer and interior decorator's job.
What do you think about trends in general?
Well, I have to be aware of them due to my job.. I like to spot new trends and have a deeper look into particular examples to see if something new was invented or if it's the 2nd (3rd, 4th, etc) life or wave or reincarnation of… But I never pick up a thing for myself just because it’s trendy. I always choose things for myself or my home with a long perspective in mind - to wear them for a long time, to use and not to get tired of them after a month or a year.
Can you tell us about your own home and how you have styled it?
We live in a beautiful apartment with a garden and mountain view in an old villa in a tiny alpine town in Bavaria. I usually refer to my current style as “Lost somewhere between Nordic & Japanese layered minimalism”. Natural materials, neutral or very muted colors, low furniture. I love to mix different colors of wood (oak, teak, birch) and new items with vintage items. Simple shapes, almost no patterns (except for the kid’s room). Rice paper lampshades are in every room.
Our son has his own room, it’s his “kingdom”. I’m not crazy about “styling” in there or keeping it neutral - the room is very simple, and the walls are “gallery walls” full of his paintings and drawings and whatever, and most of the furniture is from Ikea - all in natural light wood color, except Ivars which I painted in very light blue-grey several years ago to create some contrast with the warm color of the wood.
Do you see your own home as an extension of your work or vice versa? Or are they completely separate for you, if so- in what way?
I would say they are completely interlinked, but since I love what I do now - it is not a problem for me. The only thing I always remind myself of - is that this fact (that my home is my “office”) shouldn’t affect my husband and my son. By the way, my husband works from home too 90% of the time, so our home is his office too.
How do you create a cohesive design throughout a home while still allowing individual rooms to have their own unique touch?
To be honest I never thought about it - I try to make colors and shapes and materials speak to each other. And rooms - to fulfill their primary functions. but yes, our son’s room definitely has his own unique touch.
Mountains bed sheet and pillowcase in glacier green & desert sand.
Light seems to be a main feature in your work. How important is lighting to the overall design of a space?
I would say it’s super-important. No matter what it is exactly we are talking about - interior design, styling, or photography - light can do all the work or kill it - never underestimate the power of light.
What advice would you give someone who wants to incorporate colors and patterns into their home but is hesitant to do so?
I actually just wrote a post exactly on this topic, you are welcome to read all about it here.