Mercator open studios - Abbotsford Convent

Yesterday I headed along to the open studios at the newly refurbished Mercator Building at the beautiful Abbotsford Convent. The main building at the convent is already home to illustrators, writers, painters, art therapists and various health practitioners who work in dorms that once housed the Sisters of the Good Shepherd from 1863 to 1975.
Floor tile detailing and some of the beautiful stained-glass window patterns in the main convent building.
The Mercator building is the newest development in the Abbotsford Convent's transformation in becoming a creative arts community. It houses 10 light-filled open studios set in the historic buildings and beautiful surroundings of the Convent, and includes jewellery designers, industrial designers, glass artisits, ceramicists, printers etc.

The open studio was a great opportunity to meet the designer-makers who have made it their home and take a peek into their creative workspaces (I always love seeing how other creative people work!).

One of the best studios in the building is home to the amazing lighting designer Volker Haug. A huge double room with ceiling windows and a section of see-through floor, original brickwork and exposed beams show-off Volkers unique pared back and industrial-styled lighting creations.
Some of Volker Haug's lighting creations

Industrial designer Dhiren Bhagwandas was next door with another huge studio space! Lots of windows for natural light and again the space had a mix of original features but with a contemporary and simple aesthetic.
Helen Punton the creative source behind the fabulous Zaishu also occupys a delightful studio and gallery space showcasing her eco-designed slot seat/tables and line of hand-printed fabric-based products.
The seat/tables are simple in design, but beautifully executed and considered - from the involvement and collaboration with other artists and designers, to their sustainable ethos and manufacturing process. Beautiful and smart - that's what makes good design! Zaishu also has a blog for more information.

Some of the historic outbuildings found around the convent.

I am so, so envious of the space the tenants have to work in, but mostly of the artistic community they share. I envy their opportunity to work with such a diverse and creative mix of people, who can inspire each other and offer the potential for collaboration. I dream to be able to share a studio space like this and to be able to work and talk design with people.....rather than my cat! What a fantastic place to work!

The public are welcome to visit the studio's in order to purchase directly or discuss design projects with the artisans. It's probably best to contact the relevant studio to find out opening hours first.

A big thank you to Volker, Dhiren and Helen for allowing me to take photo's of their studio's to share on this blog.
You can also read more about the Mercator Studio's here:


  1. I'm with you Lucy - *envious*
    When working on your own, inspiration is sometimes elusive. I once worked in a shared studio space for 12 months right after I finished uni and it was fantastic. The creative vibe was not only awesome but 'contagious' too. Definitely something that helps turn that pesky procrastination into productivity!

  2. Hi Allison! Lovely to hear from you and yep I definitely need some creative vibes to turn my procrastination into productivity!! Hope all is going well with your work :-)