Michael’s Masculine & Modern Open Studio

published Aug 11, 2011
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Michael Yates, furniture designer and founder of Michael Yates Design
Location: South — Austin, Texas
Size: 800 square feet studio
Years lived in: Rent 6 years

It’s evident upon walking into the studio of furniture designer Michael Yates that this is a guy with a whole heap of style. Living in an apartment above a garage located deep in South Austin, Michael has filled his one room with fun, vintage Mid-Century Modern furniture finds, items from his world travels and of course, some of his own (stunning) creations.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

I’ll admit it: Michael’s a friend of mine, and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing his apartment grow more and more interesting as the years go by. He’s often rearranging furniture to make the most of his studio space and create divisions between living areas. He’s usually incorporating new finds into his collection, like something he’s recently added: the shoji screens he uniquely placed in the windows, creating architectural interest in a space that previously didn’t have much.

Very inspired by Asian culture and styles (he’s traveled to many Asian countries and even lived in Japan for a short time), you see it all mingle in the space, and beautiful patterns coordinate with lots of warm wood tones. Japanese inspiration plays a large part in his furniture craft, as well, and the many pieces he’s created that he has in his space are a great mix of modern lines and Japanese respect for craftsmanship. I can personally attest to what a fun and funny guy he is, and his personality shows through in his art choices, accessories and more.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: ScandinAsian. Collected artifacts. Lots of wood.

Inspiration: Prolific people. Architecture. Chocolate mousse.

Favorite Elements: The wall-lessness, the piano, 16 windows in one room.

Biggest Challenge: The wall-lessness (have to define spaces and create some sort of privacy with furniture arrangement alone).

What Friends Say: “What are you going to do with all of those shoji?”

Biggest Embarrassment: My dining table’s desperate need of refinishing, and my bush league desk made from a door

Proudest DIY: My inner-tube juice jug log lamp.

Biggest Indulgence: It was the couch

Biggest Advice: Given to me = Shoot the slowest buffalo. From me = Don’t be the slowest buffalo.

Dream Source: 1stdibs plus a jillion dollars.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:



    • Vintage Mid-Century Modern case pieces
    • Vintage Mid-Century Modern dining set
    • Vintage Mid-Century Modern couch
    • Bed – Michael Yates Design
    • Coffee table – Michael Yates Design
    • Stacking cabinets (Omikoshi) – Michael Yates Design
    • Chair prototypes – Michael Yates Design

    • Archeological
    • Vintage (family) tools
    • Maps
    • Family photos

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


    • Azeri Kilim under coffee table
    • Pakistani Bokhara under dining table



    • Sri Lankan Batik
    • Joseph Phillips print
    • Meg Stone miniatures
    • Matt Norris dynamic sculpture
    • Bobcat photo by Murray Burnham
Thanks, Michael!

Images: Adrienne Breaux

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