When we think of an artist, we think of what they create and what their medium is. For the painter, we look at their canvas. For the writer, we look at their books. For the architect, we look at the houses they have made. However, we hardly investigate the spaces in which artists reside in. How does an artist’s home shape them? Creative Spaces: People, Homes, and Studios to Inspire by Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung dives into this very question. 

In 2003 Vadakan and Myung founded their art store, Poketo. The husband-and-wife team pulled the name from Myung’s grandmother’s mispronunciation of the word “pocket.” The Los Angeles store now has several branches, each hosting art exhibits, workshops and other events to foster a local art community. Walking into Poketo, you can expect to find a range of lifestyle goods “designed to provide art for your everyday.”

Creative Spaces looks at the homes of various types of artists, ranging from cooks, writers and musicians to architects, textile makers and everything in between. There is diversity in geography as well with artists located from coast to coast and in Canada. The book was written with the intention of diving into the spaces and lives of creative professionals to “motivate dreamers and thinkers to become doers and makers.”

The book is composed of 23 sections, each focusing on a different artist or pair of artists and their living spaces. The questions revolving around space echoes that of The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton: what human surroundings say about us and how human needs and desires manifest their ideals in architecture. Botton’s book, like the one by Poketo’s team, has a returning theme of how art and architecture complement one another. 

Credit: Poketo

Take Helen Levi, for example. As a ceramicist from Red Hook, Brooklyn, N.Y., she states, “I’m always trying stuff all of the time. I feel with ceramics the steps required to make them are really inspiring. Even with pieces I’ll never make again, or mistakes. I like seeing how it all comes out.” The same temperament she applies to making ceramics, she puts into creating her living space. Levi is one of the numerous artists in this book that deepened my understanding of how creativity manifests into all the nooks and crannies of our lives — especially that of an artist. Sometimes an artist’s life can be simplified down to just existing and waiting for inspiration to strike. However, this book shows that the artistic lifestyle floods every part of an artist’s life. 

But the chapters go beyond the scaffolding too; there are personal artistic touches throughout the book. For example, Sonoko Sakai’s chapter is embellished by one of her “favorite, everyday” recipes, miso soup. The handwritten miso soup recipe is something she makes in the morning and is a recipe “simple enough for anyone and so delicious.”In the chapter about Shev Rush and Kevin Lane from The Sea Ranch, Calif., the two state: “The house kind of tells us how to live.” 

In the same way the company around you shapes you, the same can be said about the physical space that surrounds you. Vadakan and Myung explore this concept beautifully and articulately throughout Creative Spaces. In addition to invoking reflection on your personal interior design choices, reading this book also inspires you with a peek into the minds behind Poketo (plus all 23 artists featured inside). Perhaps the dawn of a new decade is the perfect time to examine your living space and, as the book intends, to become a doer and a maker. 

Disclaimer: The writer of this post received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


  • Emily Lu Gao, Writer for Mochi magazine, is from San Diego and a proud daughter of Chinese immigrants. She graduates from Pitzer College in May 2021 with a double major in Asian American Studies and Sociology. At the heart of it all, she is an artist. Emily prides herself on being a creator of many mediums with a goal to heal, grow and decolonize. When not writing, she likes assembling playlists, eating ice cream and giving belly rubs to animals of all sizes. You can find Emily watering her houseplant Princess Mononoke or under her daring spoken word poetry moniker, Emdash.

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