Emma’s Memphis-Inspired Painting & Design Studio

published Jan 21, 2016
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Name: Emma Fineman of Weft + Hide
Location: Oakland, California
Size: 600 square feet

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When painter Emma Fineman decided to merge two of her great passions, art and fashion, into her fantastic clothing and accessories line, Weft + Hide, she knew she would need a multipurpose creative space that would allow both endeavors to continue to evolve. She found exactly that in her family’s spacious old garage that she painted white and furnished with a few ingenious Memphis-inspired DIY pieces. The result is nothing short of dreamy. She even built a couple of rolling walls to give the space further versatility, allowing the layout to be tailored to the type of project she is working on. Functionality certainly isn’t something that is overlooked in this masterfully styled space!

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

The short commute that she makes each morning from her bedroom in the house to the studio in the garage is definitely a perk that boosts her productivity. In this time of transition between travel and grad school, she has made choices that ensure that growing in her creative ventures remains her main priority. Having such an inspiring space in this season of life is definitely something that drives her to continue to create and evolve as an artist and maker, which is apparent in her imaginative work as an apparel and textile designer—as well as in her gorgeous paintings.

Brimming with so much talent, it’s no surprise that she comes from an impressive lineage of artistic ladies; her grandmother and mother were both painters—to this day, her mother still paints in her studio located in a different wing of the house. It’s safe to say that creativity runs in the family!

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My studio is a bit more modern/minimal and I quite fancy the Neo-Memphis trends in interior design for that space.

Inspiration: My space is very much inspired by local aesthetics. It is a combination of natural and handmade elements mixed with contemporary furniture that has been inspired by mid-century furniture designers like Henry Bertoia. There is a very strong culture and celebration of handmade elements here in the Bay. I think that is a very strong trend nationally as well, but nonetheless, I still love it. I love seeing so many amazing artists and makers using their hands instead of machines to custom make beautiful wares. I really appreciate the skill and time it takes to create objects by hand and am often drawn to them.

Favorite Element: The stories present in the objects that fill them. I would say that many things in my spaces aren’t simply ordered and shipped from some unknown far away place. I really like that.

Biggest Challenge: With being a DIY fanatic, things don’t come with out a fair bit of mistakes. Even just yesterday, I was building a copper ladder to put scarves on, and cut a whole 40 inches of pipe into 5-inch sections that instead needed to be 10-inch sections. Math is usually my greatest challenge.

Proudest DIY: My triangle shelf

Best Advice: Try your hand at making it! I think people often get discouraged by all the countless Pinterest fails they see on the web, or their supposed lack of hand skill, but I can assure you that with a bit of patience and tenacity, so many projects that seem impossible really aren’t as hard to do as you might think. It also might just boil down to needing the right tool for the job.


(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


  • Triangle shelf: DIY with plywood from Home Depot
  • Table: DIY using my uncle’s chop saw, wood I salvaged from an old brownstone that was burned in a fire across the street from where I used to live in Baltimore, and hairpin legs from eBay
  • Big banana plant: IKEA
  • Pots: IKEA, painted with white acrylic paint and tape
  • Monstera: IKEA
  • Other plants: Home Depot
  • Slack back chair: DIY made by repurposing a summer chair from IKEA, removing the fabric, and replacing it with leather and copper rivets
  • Cowhide: Tandy Leather Factory
  • Copper clothing rack: DIY with pipes from Home Depot
  • Copper hangers on rack: ANTHOM
  • Worktable: DIY from an old door from Urban Ore and my dad’s old sawhorses
  • Books: My books are all my favorite artists. My mom gets me new ones for birthdays and holidays. She finds the best artist books. I really love my collection. It features the works of Lars Elling, Kiki Smith, Neo Rauch, Adrien Ghenie, Antonio Lopez Garcia, Michael Borremans, Alex Kanevsky, Jenny Saville, Enrique Martinez Celeya,Euan Uglow, and Matthias Weischer.
  • (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


  • Pillows: DIY with mud cloth fabric from Albo African gift shop in Berkeley
  • White couch: IKEA
  • Chairs: Baxton Studios from Walmart
  • Rug: kilim from Istanbul
  • (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


    • Easel: Blick Art Supply
    • Cinderblock shelf: DIY made with pieces of wood I found on the side of the street while driving home one day and cinderblocks from Home Depot
    • Wire chair: Baxton Studios from Walmart
    (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)
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    Emma built a copper clothing rack to house samples of her silk clothing. Another one of her ingenious DIY projects: a leather slack back chair, made from the frame of an IKEA summer chair. (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

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    Thanks, Emma!